Book un­veils his­tory of Utah coal town Win­ter Quar­ters

Serve Daily - - FOSTERING INNOVATION - By Deb­bie Bal­zotti

Ide­cided to re­view my own book this month af­ter I dis­cov­ered it is ap­par­ently avail­able now as an ebook. This came as quite a sur­prise since I own the copy­right! I’m happy with my 5 out of 5 rat­ing, but I won­der who de­cided I was wor­thy of such high marks?

It ap­pears on more than one ebook site of­fer­ing a free down­load with a sub­scrip­tion fee, which is also sus­pi­cious, so don’t go there. It looks le­git­i­mate with the en­tire back page ap­pear­ing on the site. If you want to read my book, it would be safer to con­tact me for a copy or head to any school li­brary in Utah where they will lend you a copy.

“Utah Ghost Towns” fo­cuses on Win­ter Quar­ters Utah, “a ghost town locked be­hind gates in a nar­row canyon” near Scofield, Utah. It is fa­mous for the worst min­ing disas­ter in Utah his­tory when 200 men and boys died in a coal mine ex­plo­sion there on May 1, 1900.

The book de­scribes what it was like to live in this unique min­ing town. Al­though only crum­bling walls of the three-story com­pany store are all that’s left stand­ing of Car­bon County’s first com­mer­cial coal mine, Win­ter Quar­ters was once a thriv­ing coal min­ing town of 1,000 res­i­dents with five rail lines run­ning through its main street.

The town and the Pleas­ant Val­ley Coal Com­pany were founded in about 1875 by Mi­lan O. Packard of Springville. He hired lo­cal farm fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing the Burts, the Strongs and the Sum­sions, to grade the nar­row gauge line up Span­ish Fork Canyon. One of the many in­ter­est­ing sto­ries in the book tells how Packard paid his work­ers with cal­ico, which gave the new rail­road the nick­name “The Cal­ico Road.” He had pur­chased bolts of this pop­u­lar cot­ton fab­ric from a bank­rupt store back East and traded it for la­bor.

One dis­turb­ing story I found in jour­nals from Win­ter Quar­ters and con­firmed in an in­ter­view re­called how Chi­nese work­ers brought in to work on the rail­road and build the mine en­trance were loaded on a box car and pushed out of town. Newly ar­riv­ing Euro­pean min­ers were wor­ried about their jobs, so they pushed the box car filled with work­ers down the rails. When the run­away car over­turned 20 miles down the canyon at Tucker, the men were able to es­cape but never re­turned.

The mines pros­pered for sev­eral years and sup­plied coal to many cities in Utah. Even af­ter the tragic min­ing disas­ter in 1900, Win­ter Quar­ters con­tin­ued to pro­duce coal along with other nearby mines in Car­bon County. By 1928, coal min­ers had dis­man­tled their wood homes and moved them to other min­ing towns. Ag­ing equip­ment, the ex­pense of trans­port­ing coal and the de­cline in prices brought about the clos­ing Win­ter Quar­ters, Utah.

The book con­tains many his­tor­i­cal pho­tos from the Perry Spe­cial Col­lec­tions at Brigham Young Univer­sity, the Utah His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and pri­vate fam­ily col­lec­tions.

The book is avail­able for sale at the Western Min­ing and Rail­road Mu­seum in Helper, Utah, or by con­tact­ing the au­thor at deb­bal­zotti@ya­hoo.com. I would def­i­nitely not down­load it from th­ese new sites on the In­ter­net that gather your in­for­ma­tion and charge fees for mem­ber­ship.

*** Amer­ica will never be de­stroyed from the out­side. If we fal­ter and lose our free­doms, it will be be­cause we de­stroyed our­selves. - Abra­ham Lin­coln

*** Free­dom is some­thing that dies un­less it’s used. Hunter S. Thomp­son

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