Mining is Utah’s oldest nonagricultural industry. It is also the largest. The mining industry has directly employed thousands in mining, milling, refining, and transporting ores. That employment has in turn created thousands more jobs in the support sector: people who provide groceries, clothing, homes, and the dozens of other goods and services needed to maintain a population. Mining has contributed so much to the state that when the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee chose three mascots for the 2002 Winter Games, two of them honored mining. Despite mining’s importance to Utah’s people and their economy, a single-volume history of the industry in the state does not exist. This book fills that void, providing an overview of major mining ventures and guideposts to further research.
The book is organized into three sections. The first covers global issues that impact the entire state, beginning with the geology of the region that produced such a remarkable range of mineral wealth, from plate tectonics through the volcano at the bottom of the Bingham Copper Mine. The mineral wealth produced by that geology in turn has impacted the economic well-being (and occasionally ill-being) of Utahns ever since Patrick E. Connor, commercial mining-exploration pioneer, sent his soldiers out from Fort Douglas looking for mineral wealth. Though the folklore of mining and miners may not impinge directly on the state’s history or economy, nonetheless the tales miners told each other enliven all of us, whether we have ever gone searching for the lost Rhoades Mine or listened for Tommy Knockers haunting the depths of the caverns.
The second section of the book is devoted to particular mineral industries, some centered in one area, some found across the state, some extending over centuries, and others operating only for a short time, with each chapter focused on a specific mineral or ore: salt, coal, uranium, and beryllium.
The third part of the book explores Utah’s major mining regions, organized chronologically by the first major or commercial ventures in each one. Metal mining began in Utah in the late 1840s, and the first mining district was created in 1863, but when Congress passed a general mining law in 1872, it opened vast stretches of federal land to exploration and development, and within a few years Utah Territory had more than 90 mining districts. Obviously this book does not contain histories of all of those, but most . . .