Carbon City, Carbon County, Wyoming
An Account of Past Events
Page compiled by Bob Leathers
The History of the Town of Carbon, Wyoming written by Thomas Henry Butler appears below. Thomas was well known in the coal mining business. He was born in Carbon on November 27, 1870 to John and Susan Butler. He attended school in Carbon, but school was set aside early in life to work in the coal mines. Some reports have Thomas working as a trapper boy in the coal mines as early as ten years old. He worked his way from trapper boy to Mine Superintendent. He worked as Superintendant at Superior, Rock Springs, and Hanna. He became Superintendent of the Hanna Mines after the 1908 Explosion that killed 59 men. He eventually became General Supervisor of all the coal mines owned by the Union Pacific Coal Company. Thomas died July 9, 1940. He was buried in grave 16 next to his wife in the Carbon Cemetery.
History of the Town of Carbon, Wyoming
by Mr. T. H. Butler, One Time Superintendent of Union Pacific Coal Mines.
Written in 1932.
With the advent of the Union Pacific Railroad, there came into being the one time busy and bustling town of Carbon, Wyoming. Nestling at the foot of the Saddle Back foot hills, twenty miles west of the town of Medicine Bow, and forty miles east of the city of Rawlins, and eleven miles south east of the present town of Hanna, her population of a thousand souls enjoyed life by toiling in the mines, practicing that Christian teaching of self sacrifice and devotion to their fellow man. Carbon first came into history in the year 1868, when with the construction of the railroad, Thomas Wardell, Mike Quealy and William Hinton, of Bevier, Missouri, and their associates entered into an agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad Company, whereby they acquired permission to open and develop the coal mines on the land controlled by the railroad, which work progressed under the management of John Tompkins as Mine Superintendent, under the direction of Thomas Wardell. In the year 1869, Tompkins was replaced by James Williams, who was in charge as Mine Superintendent until the year 1873, at which time he was replaced by William Robinson, who filled the position until the year 1878. In the year 1874, the railroad company feeling that the developing of the mines was not progressing fast enough and that the country needed more and cheaper coal, organized the Union Pacific Coal Company. The entire operations were taken over by them, with the exception of the store, which remained in control of Thomas Wardell for several years after the transfer of the mines was made. Later the stores were taken over and conducted by Beckwith and Quinn, and later by Beckwith Commercial Company, and finally by the Union Pacific Coal Company, by whom it was operated until the town closed. No. 1 Mine was operated by a shaft approximately eighty feet in depth, coal chutes for coaling the railroad locomotives, being built in connection with the tipple, so that pit cars were taken off cage and coal dumped directly into the pockets, thus making the one handling of the cars suffice for all purposes. In the spring of the year 1878, flood waters entered the mine by way of surface caves, flooding the workings which caused the mine to be idle for several weeks until workings were dewatered. The writer distinctly remembers that the women of the town sewed sacks which were filled with earth and used as an embankment or dyke to turn the flow of water into another channel so as to avoid the surface cave.
This mine operated from the year 1868 until the year 1881, at which time it was abandoned on account of all marketable coal having been recovered. In the year 1869 Mike Quealy and William Hinton moved farther west to Rock Springs field, and the Carbon operations were left in the hands of Charles Wardell, brother of Thomas and John Wardell. No. 2 mine was opened in the year 1868 by John A. Creighton of Omaha, Nebraska; it later came into the hands of Thomas Wardell. This mine was originally opened by a drift running level for a distance of several hundred feet, on the strike of the seam, and connected with a slope driven on the pitch of the seam, coal being hauled by mules one car at a time from the workings to the drift, from which point it was then taken by mule power to the tipple. Later a steam hoist was installed at the point of intersection of drift and slope, and the one car trip haul was eliminated, and later again a new opening was made on the pitch of the seam and a new tipple built. Also a boiler house and boilers were installed, all of which eliminated the mule haulage to the surface. This mine was in operation from the year 1868 until the year 1900, when it was abandoned on account of all marketable coal available having been recovered. Mines number 3 and 4 were never more than prospects, and the only coal produced from them was an amount sufficient to prove the coal seam.
No.5 Mine was situated approximately five miles North of Carbon, and was opened during the year 1880, and abandoned in the year 1885. This operation was in charge of L. R. Meyer, Mine Superintendent and David Thomas and W. R. Gardner, Foremen. Mr. Meyer was also Mine Superintendent of the Carbon Mine at this time. The coal being of poor quality, the mine was abandoned.
No. 6 Mine was opened in the year 1880 and abandoned in the 1890 on account of all marketable coal available having been recovered. Thomas Quealy, brother of the late P. J. Quealy, was in charge as Mine Foreman from 1880 to 1882 being replaced by Joseph Cox who was in charge from 1882 to 1889 at which time he was transferred to Hanna, and opened the Hanna mines, under the direction of L. R. Meyer then Mine Superintendent at Carbon. With the transfer of Joseph Cox to Hanna, Alex Briggs was placed in charge of No. 6 mine as Mine Foreman and served as such from the year 1889 to 1890, at which time the mine was abandoned on account of all marketable coal available having been recovered.
No. 7 Mine: (Sand Creek) This mine was situated approximately two miles South of the town of Carbon, and was opened in July, 1899, and closed April the 30th, 1902. Coal being of poor quality, and seam full of impurities, caused the abandonment of this mine. With the abandonment of this mine, all mining operations in or adjacent to Carbon ceased and the population which had dwindled from one thousand in the heyday of the town to approximately two hundred now, deserted the homes they occupied for a number of years, and secured employment in Union Pacific Mines at Spring Valley, Cumberland, Rock Springs, and Hanna.
Dana: This mine was opened during year 1889 by W. H. Brown, Mine Superintendent, who acted in that capacity until the year 1890 when W. R. Gardner was made Mine Superintendent and served as such until the year 1891 when the mine was abandoned on account of the poor quality of coal.
The following named persons acted in the capacity of Mine Superintendent during the operations at Carbon.
John Tompkins From June, 1868 to 1869
James Williams From 1869 to 1873
Wm. Robinson From 1873 to 1878
L. G. Smith From 1878 to June, 1881
L. R. Meyer From July, 1881 to Dec. 1891
E. J. Hall From Jan., 1892 to June, 1892
Alex Briggs From July, 1892 to April, 1902
More About Carbon
Until the No. 6 mine was opened, the Lancashire men were the predominate workers in the Carbon mines. Following the opening of the sixth mine more men of different nationalities drifted into Carbon. Stores began to multiply along the south side of the tracks and more and more houses were erected on the hills. The different nationalities tended to be clannish, making their own settlements in separate sections of the hills. The one melting pot where all nationalities mixed freely was the business district. The steady backbone of the business district were the saloons. Milliken's and Rosses Saloons were the Town's most prominent of the liquor houses. Miners would convert their hard earned dollars on each payday into a mug of ale or glass of alcohol. Besides the three saloons located in the Carbon business area, the businesses included three merchandise stores, a shoe shop, the meat markets, the bank, the printing, a barber shop and the blacksmith shop. The hotels which included The Scranton House, The Wyoming House, The American House and Bob Jacks House were more pleasing to the ear than the eye. Hotel life in the 1880's in Carbon was closer to camping life. (Highlights of Old Carbon by Velene Cormier)
For additional images and information about Carbon, Wyoming click on the button below.
- 1897-1898, State of Wyoming Inspector of Coal Mines Report, Rock Springs, Wyoming
- T. H. Butler, The Town of Carbon, Wyoming, One Time Superintendent of Union Pacific Coal Mines. Written in 1932. Document obtained from the Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
- Hanna Basin Museum
- Velene Cormier, Highlights of Carbon, Daily Times, July 26, 1978.
- Wyoming State Archives, Department of State Archives, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources
- Page compiled by Bob Leathers