Utah’s abandoned mines: Six-thousand closed, many more to go

Utah’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program has closed about 6,000 of the estimated 17,000 abandoned mines in Utah.

The work has taken place over the course of more than 30 years, and for the most part, is funded by way of federal fees collected from coal mines in operation today.

Check out the video to see the work being done near Gold Hill, Utah.

Below is a list of incidents which occurred in Utah’s abandoned mines, provided by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining:

SUMMARY:

Fatalities: 11

Nonfatal Incidents (injuries, falls, entrapment): 42

Occurrences of Explosives: 25

Nuisance Incidents (trespass, illegal or risky activity, reported hazards): 23

Incidents with Animals: 14

This information was collected and compiled by the Utah Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program (UAMRP) from Salt Lake City news media, local law enforcement officials, federal land management agencies, and other sources.  The summary figures above are for the period from 1982, when the UAMRP began, to the present.  There are also eight additional known fatalities and five nonfatal incidents that occurred before 1982 that are included in the detailed incident descriptions that follow.

FATAL INCIDENTS

January 30, 1903 (Friday)

Old Telegraph mine, Bingham Canyon

Salt Lake County (noncoal)

Two boys, aged 3 and 5, sons of James Thompson, a Finnish immigrant miner, died when a new room addition to their home collapsed into an abandoned stope in the Old Telegraph mine.

[Deseret News, Saturday, 1/31/03 page 8, “Two Children Die Together”]

March 9, 1953 (Monday)

Muddy Creek (Ricci) mine, Muddy Creek Canyon, 8.5 miles northwest of Emery

Sevier County  (coal)

Alfred Ricci, 45, of Helper and Wright M. Scott, 35, of St. George died when they entered the mine to recover mining equipment that had been left there three years earlier when the mine was sealed as a result of a coal seam fire.  Six five-man crews worked for three days to find the men, but were turned back by dangerous conditions, including cave-ins, fire, and smoke.  Ricci was the son of the mine’s owner, Albert Ricci.

[Deseret News and Telegram, Thursday, 3/12/53 page A9, “Emery Halts Mine Search”]

August 18, 1963 (Sunday)

Flagstaff mine (Site 4020332VO023, 24, or25), Bonanza Flat, 4 miles southwest of Park City

Wasatch County  (noncoal)

Paul M. Parmalee, 16, of Salt Lake City fell 300 feet to his death when a rotten ladder gave way as he was descending the shaft.  His companions, Gary Lamb, 16, David Nielson, 21, and Judy Brown, 19, all of Salt Lake City, observed from above.  The mine had been abandoned only ten years.

Shafts in the Flagstaff mine complex were backfilled in 1991 as part of the UAMRP’s Wasatch Project.

[Deseret News and Telegram, Monday, 8/19/63 page A1, “Tragedy in Old Utah Mine:  Plunge Kills Youth” by Keith Cannon and Jan Padfield; Deseret News and Telegram, Tuesday, 8/20/63 page A10, “Warning:  Avoid Abandoned Mine”; Summit County Bee & Park Record, Thursday, 8/22/63, page 1, “Flagstaff Mine Claims Life of Salt Lake Boy.”]

October 19, 1966 (Wednesday)

Cactus mine, San Francisco Mountains

Beaver County  (noncoal)

Willis Finch of Milford and Calvin Semallie of Arizona died when they encountered black damp in the mine, which had not been worked for many years.  The men were engaged in cleaning out the mine when they died.  Both were employees of the Cameron Mining Company.

[Deseret News, Thursday, 10/20/66 page B2, “Suffocate In Old Utah Mine”]

August 26, 1971 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine (Site 3061706HO025), Gold Hill

Tooele County  (noncoal)

David E. Cureton, 19, of Stockton, California, died from a rockfall while collecting minerals with his father, a noted mineralogist.

The adit was sealed with a concrete block wall on August 22, 2007, as part of the UAMRP’s Gold Hill Project.

[Ogden Standard Examiner, 8/27/71, page 11, “Student Rock Collector Killed in Mine Cave-In”; Provo Daily Herald, 8/27/71 page 8, “Youth Killed As Mine Roof Collapses”; Mitchell, Richard S.  1987.  Who's Who In Mineral Names:  Forrest E. Cureton II and Michael E. Cureton.  Rocks and Minerals 62(Jan/Feb 1987):38-40; pers. comm. Forrest Cureton, 8/15/07]

June 20, 1985 (Thursday)

Devil’s Hole (Site 3411301VO001), 2.5 miles east of Toquerville

Washington County  (noncoal)

Wayne Monnett, 25, of LaVerkin died when he encountered black damp while descending a shallow shaft during a Sunday school class outing.

The shaft was backfilled under the direction of the UAMRP by Washington County in a cooperative effort.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday, 6/22/85 page D1, “Mine Shaft’s Gas Blamed in Death”; Deseret News, Friday, 6/21/85 page 4B, “La Verkin man suffocates in mine shaft”]

September 1, 1985 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine (Site 2060507VO002), Promontory Mountains

Box Elder County  (noncoal)

Kris Marchant, 11, of Ogden died when he fell down a 475-foot shaft while riding a 3-wheeler ATV with his family.

The shaft was backfilled in early 1986 as part of the UAMRP’s Promontory Project, which closed 107 mine openings on Promontory Point.

[Deseret News, Monday, 9/2/85 page B1, “Fall into mine shaft kills Ogden boy, 11”]

December 22, 1985 (Sunday)

Elberta Shaft (Site 3110104VO001), south of Elberta

Utah County  (noncoal)

Dwayne McManness, 23, of Santaquin died when he fell 200 feet down a shaft while exploring the mine with two friends.

The shaft was backfilled in January 1986 as part of the UAMRP’s Bullion Beck Project.

[Deseret News, Monday, 12/23/85 page B1, “Utah County man killed in fall down mine shaft”; Utah County Sheriff Report #85-45054]

December 13, 1995 (Wednesday)

White River Oil Shale Project, 45 miles southeast of Vernal

Uintah County  (noncoal)

Rick Bildey, 36, of Vernal was killed while welding a grate onto a mine shaft vent pipe when methane gas in the mine exploded.  The explosion sent debris up to 200 yards away.  Tom Justice, 55, and Glen Kurtz, 65, both of Roosevelt, were working nearby outside the shaft at the time of the explosion.  They suffered cuts and burns and were hospitalized.  The mine had been out of production since 1984 and was under the control of the Bureau of Land Management.  The men had been contracted by the BLM to seal the shaft.

The site was studied for reclamation by the BLM and UAMRP and was later reactivated for mining.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Friday, 12/15/95 page B8, “Welder May Have Sparked Deadly Blast at Shale Mine” by Vince Horiuchi; Deseret News, Friday, 12/15/95 page B1, “Mine explosion claims 1 man, injures 2 others”]

January 13, 1996 (Saturday)

Honorine mine (Site 3040413VO001), Oquirrh Mountains near Stockton

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Jeremiah Etherington, 18, of Magna was exploring the mine with three other teens.  Etherington had lowered himself 30 feet down a 600-foot winze located 3/4 mile within the mine to a timber spanning the winze.  Falling debris knocked him to the bottom of the shaft, probably killing him instantly.  His friends summoned help.  An intensive search and rescue operation was called off the following Monday evening when unstable conditions prevented rescuers from reaching the bottom of the winze.  The family later successfully retrieved the Etherington’s body in a daring but dangerous independent recovery effort.

The mine was closed by the Tooele County sheriff.

[The incident received extensive print and broadcast media coverage at the time, including:  Deseret News, Tuesday, 1/16/96 page B1, “Search for Magna man called off indefinitely” by Cala Byram; Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday, 1/20/96 page B1, “Family Now Knows—Body Pulled From Mine” by Vince Horiuchi]

January 23, 1999  (Saturday)

Unnamed mine (Site 3070322VO001), Thorpe Hills near Sevenmile Pass

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Robert Bartholomew, 26, of American Fork died when he drove an ATV into a 50-foot-deep mine shaft.

The shaft was backfilled on February 16, 1999 as part of the UAMRP’s Fivemile Pass/West Dip Project.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, 1/24/99 page C2, “Death in Mine Shaft”; Deseret News, Sunday, 1/24/99 page B1, “Am.F. man killed when he falls down a mineshaft”; Tooele Transcript Bulletin online edition, 1/26/99, “ATV rider falls into shaft, dies”]

August 18, 2005  (Thursday)

Unnamed mine, east bench of Provo on Y Mountain east of the Seven Peaks Water Park

Utah County (noncoal)

  1. Blake Donner, 24, Springville, Scott K. McDonald, 28, Provo, Jennifer Lynn Galbraith, 21, Pleasant Grove, and Ariel R. Singer, 18, Orem, drowned after being trapped in an underwater passageway.  The media reports variably refer to the site as a cave or an abandoned mine.  It is apparently a natural cave or spring that had been opened and enlarged by people, qualifying it as a mine, though it may not have produced minerals.

The entrance was sealed with a concrete wall later the same day (August 18, 2005) by the landowner, Provo City.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Friday, 8/19/05 page A1, “Daredevil cave trip ends in tragedy - Four young Utahns die as they try to traverse a submerged tunnel; Searchers pull four bodies from cave”; Deseret News, Friday, 8/19/05 page A1, “4 drown in cave”; Provo Daily Herald, Thursday, 8/18/05, “Two women and two men found dead in Provo cave”]

January 8, 2015  (Thursday)

Unnamed mine, Warner Valley about 3.5 miles southeast of Washington

Washington County (noncoal)

Roy Dale Merrill, 70, of St. George died while searching for gold and silver about 100 feet inside an abandoned incline.  An avocational prospector, Merrill was pumping standing water from the mine.  The immediate cause of death was not established.  There was no physical trauma.  Merrill may have died from black damp, carbon monoxide poisoning, or a heart attack (he had a history of heart disease).

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management fenced the mine opening and posted warning signs the same day.  The BLM is planning to install a permanent closure.

[The Spectrum online edition, 1/9/15, “Man who died in mine shaft identified” by Theresa Worthington; KSL.com, 1/9/ 15, “Man looking for gold, silver dies in abandoned mine shaft, officials say” by Natalie Crofts; pers. comm. Kyle Voyles, BLM-SGFO, 1/20/15]

NONFATAL INCIDENTS

December 22, 1963 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine, near Holladay Gun Club at mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County (noncoal)

Connie Bushman, 14, of Salt Lake City fell about 40 feet down a ventilation shaft while exploring a mine with some companions.  She suffered a several injuries including broken bones and lacerations and required hospitalization.  The accident was reported to be the third major incident at the mine in three years.

The mine was reportedly later blasted shut by an unknown party.

[Deseret News and Telegram, Monday, 12/23/63, page 8A, “S.L. Girl Listed ‘Fair’ After Mine Shaft Fall,” Salt Lake Tribune, undated clipping, “Girl, 14, Suffers Fractures In 40-Foot Mine Tumble”; pers. comm. William Gilmour, 12/27/06]

April 30, 1972 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine, Bell Canyon

Salt Lake County (noncoal)

Randy Curtis, 14, of Salt Lake City, suffered facial injuries resembling a shotgun blast when he ignited a blasting cap he found in a mine while hiking in Bell Canyon with a friend.  He was treated at a hospital.

[Deseret News, Monday, 5/1/72, page B12, “Explosives warning for spring hikers”]

August 1, 1977 (Monday)

Unnamed mine, near 90th South and 3455 East near mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County (noncoal)

Benjie Suazo, 17, of Salt Lake City, required rescue after becoming stranded in a vertical airshaft.  Suazo was exploring the mine with four friends.  He climbed up an airshaft about 300 feet inside the mine and was unable to descend.  His friends summoned help.  Suazo was rescued uninjured by the Salt Lake County sheriff’s search and rescue and fire department crews.   Cottonwood Heights residents complained that the mine was dangerous.  Drugs and explosives had been found there.

The mine was filled by Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputies on August 8, 1977.

[Deseret News, Tuesday, 8/2/77, page B1, “Rescue spurs call to close mine”; Deseret News, Tuesday, 8/9/77, page B3, “Deputies close one mine shaft, seek others”]

July 2, 1978 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine, Rock Canyon

Utah County  (noncoal)

Don Bateman, 16, of Castro Valley, California, suffered cuts and bruises when he fell 25 feet into a shaft in Rock Canyon.  He was exploring the mine with two companions at the time.  His companions summoned help.  Bateman was rescued by the then new Provo City Alpine Rescue Squad.

[Deseret News, Monday, 7/3/78, page B2, “Teen rescued from mine” by Bill Klein]

July 25 (or 18?), 1979 (Wednesday)

Unnamed mine, above Evans shaft, southwest of Eureka

Juab County  (noncoal)

Sean Winters, 13, Christian Brown, 14, and Curt Conrad, 17, of Eureka, and their dog decided to explore the mine.  The dog ran ahead and fell down a winze, landing on a ledge of rotting timbers 35 feet down, with a shaft of unknown depth below.  The boys left and returned with a rope.  They lowered Winters down to the ledge to retrieve the dog, but he got stranded there instead.  The others summoned help.  Winters and the dog were rescued by the Juab County sheriff.  Williams suffered scratches and bruises, shock, and a possible concussion from a rock that fell on his head.

[Eureka Reporter, Friday, 7/27/79, v. 74 no. 30, page 1, “Boys, dog rescued from mine shaft”]

May 8, 1982 (Saturday)

Unnamed mine, Fivemile Pass

Utah County  (noncoal)

Kerry West, 24, of Lehi fell 25 feet into a shaft on his motorcycle.  He sustained a broken leg and other fractures and required rescue.

[Deseret News, Monday, 5/10-11/82, “Cyclist hurt in shaft fall”]

September 9, 1982 (Thursday)

C.C. Rich mine (Site 4042011WP001), Coal Mine Basin, 5 miles northwest of Vernal

Uintah County  (coal)

Scott Preston, 29, of Vernal drove his motorcycle onto an abandoned coal refuse pile and stepped off the bike.  He broke through a crusted layer into burning coal underneath, suffering severe burns on his feet.  He nearly lost the function of his right foot.

The fire was put out at the request of the state by a U.S. Office of Surface Mining emergency program project.

October 26, 1985 (Saturday)

Maxfield mine (Site 4020214HO013), Big Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County  (noncoal)

Brothers Dennis and Scott Workman, 26 and 25, of East Millcreek became lost while exploring the mine.  They were rescued after 2½ days underground.  Black damp was known to occur in the mine.

The mine was posted with “Danger” signs and put under UAMRP investigation for reclamation.  After a second incident in 1988, the mine was sealed in the summer of 1988 as part of the UAMRP’s Wasatch Project.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Tuesday, 10/29/85 page B3, “2 Men Found Safe in Canyon Mine”; Deseret News, Tuesday, 10/29-30/85 page 2B, “Hikers rescued after 2 days in mine”]

January 20, 1986 (Monday)

Jim Fisk prospect, Ophir Canyon

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Stephen Sandford, 65, a Boy Scout leader from Ogden was exploring the mine with five scouts.  About 300 feet inside he fell 60 feet down a winze and over a 12-foot cliff, suffering a broken wrist and sprains.  The scouts hiked nearly two miles to summon help.  Sandford was rescued by the Tooele County Search and Rescue Patrol.

The mine was posted with “Danger” signs in January, 1986, and put under UAMRP investigation for reclamation.

[Deseret News, Tuesday, 1/21/86, “Ogden Scoutmaster rescued from Ophir mine”; Tooele County Sheriff Case #86-0567]

August 19, 1987 (Wednesday)

Price River Coal Pile (Site 4130901WP004), two miles north of Helper

Carbon County  (coal)

UAMRP employee Louis Amodt, 36, of Salt Lake City was managing a reclamation project to extinguish a fire in an abandoned coal refuse pile.  He suffered second degree burns on his arms and legs when he broke through a crust covering burning coal.

The coal refuse fire was extinguished as part of UAMRP reclamation construction underway at the time and completed in 1991 (Price River Coal Pile Project, Phases 1-3).

November 28, 1987 (Saturday)

Unnamed mine, mouth of Rock Canyon

Utah County  (noncoal)

Mark Larson, 17, of Lindon suffered severe rope burns, minor cuts, and bruises when he fell approximately 30 feet down a shaft while trying to climb out.

The shaft was backfilled in the summer of 1988 as part of the UAMRP’s Wasatch Project.

May 21, 1988 (Saturday)

Unnamed mine, Fivemile Pass

Utah County  (noncoal)

John Carlson, 25, of West Valley City was lowering himself into the mine when the rope broke.  He fell approximately 50 feet and sustained minor injuries.  He required rescue by the county search-and-rescue team.

The shaft was backfilled on June 1, 1988 under the direction of the UAMRP in a cooperative effort with the Bureau of Land Management and the claimholder.

[Deseret News, Sunday, 5/22/88 page B18 “W.V. man survives fall down mine shaft”; Deseret News, Monday, 5/23/88 page A6 “W.V. man rescued from abandoned mine near Fairfield”]

July 9, 1988 (Saturday)

Monarch mine, North Willow Canyon, Stansbury Mountains

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Phillip Butterfield, 15, entered the mine portal without a flashlight or safety gear and slipped down a 30-foot winze.  His father, William Butterfield, 44, went after him and could not climb out.  They were rescued by the Tooele County Sheriff’s search and rescue unit.

The mine was flagged with “Danger Do Not Enter” warning tape.  See also the October 22, 1988 report for this mine under “Mines as Nuisances” below.

July 11, 1988 (Monday)

Maxfield mine (Site 4020214HO013), Big Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County  (noncoal)

John Mazuran, 16, and two companions tried to explore a winze located about half a mile inside the mine.  Mazuran lost his footing about 60 feet down and slid another 100 feet to the bottom.  He was unable to climb out.  His friends summoned the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office, which performed the rescue.  Lt. Mike Wilkinson, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office, also reported another incident of a group of four people trapped 1/3 mile inside the mine unable to climb out.  The mine contains vertical drop-offs and 18% grades.

The mine was sealed in the summer of 1988 as part of the UAMRP’s Wasatch Project.

[Reported by Lt. Mike Wilkinson, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office, 7/12/88; Deseret News, Thursday, 8/4/88 page B1 “State aims to seal off abandoned mines and hazards therein” by Jerry Spangler]

September 23 1989 (Saturday)

Hidden Treasure mine (Site 3030515HO030), Dry Canyon, near Stockton

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Joshua Dennis, 10, of Kearns was exploring the mine with his scout troop.  He became separated from the group and was lost for five days underground.  After an intensive search, he was rescued uninjured, but required hospitalization.

The mine was sealed under the direction of the UAMRP by the landowner, Sharon Steel, on October 5, 1989.

[This incident received extensive local and national print and broadcast media coverage at the time, including:  Deseret News, Monday, 9/25/89 page B1, “Searchers combing mountains around mine for missing boy” by Jerry Spangler; Deseret News, Tuesday, 9/26/89 page B1, “Hope fading fast for boy lost 4 days searchers now battling fatigue, despair” by Jerry Spangler; Deseret News, Thursday, 9/28/89 page A1, “Alive:  Boy’s faint cry for help leads to rescue after 5 days in mine” by Lisa Riley Roche.  The incident was given book treatment for young readers in The Hidden Treasure by Gayla B. Schmutz (2000, Granite Publishing).]

September 1, 1991 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine, near west rim of the Kennecott pit in Oquirrh Mountains

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Terry Blackburn, 16, of South Jordan was hiking with two friends after dark to camp near the rim of the Kennecott pit.  Around 10:30 or midnight Blackburn stumbled 20-30 feet into a 4-foot-wide ventilation shaft.  His friends summoned help, but were unable to relocate the shaft for some time.  Blackburn was not rescued until 5:25 a.m.  He suffered a broken leg, four broken teeth, and cuts and bruises.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Tuesday, 9/3/91 “Teen Survives Fall, Night In Mine Shaft” by Mike Gorrell; Deseret News, Monday, 9/2/91 “Teen hiker is rescued from Oquirrh mine shaft”]

November 2, 1991 (Saturday)

Unnamed mine (Site 4030305VO099), near Alta Guard Station, Little Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County  (noncoal)

Kent Parker, 16, of Sandy fell down a 50-foot shaft near Alta while snowboarding.  He did not see the shaft until he was airborne in it.  His companions did not see him fall and continued down the mountain.  He was trapped for 90 minutes before being discovered.  It took an hour for rescuers to remove him from the shaft.  He suffered a concussion and hypothermia and was hospitalized for several days.

The shaft was backfilled on Aug. 27, 1992 as part of the UAMRP’s Cottonwood Project.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, 11/3/91 page B11, “Teen Injures Head After Fall Into Mineshaft”; Deseret News, Sunday, 11/3/91 page B3, “Snowboarder in good condition after falling 50 feet into shaft” by Karen Owen]

December 7, 1991 (Saturday)

Rocky Mouth Canyon mine (Site 4030123HO002), near Sandy (11000 South 3000 East)

Salt Lake County  (noncoal)

Adam Smolensky, 19, of Sandy crawled through a steel barrier installed by the UAMRP to enter the mine around 8:30 a.m. and fell into a 25-foot-deep winze located about 20 feet inside the mine.  Passers-by discovered him around 1:15 p.m. and summoned his parents, who unsuccessfully tried to rescue him.  Smolenski was finally rescued by Sandy Fire Department and Salt Lake County Search and Rescue crews about 3:00 p.m.  Smolenski was hospitalized with a shoulder injury.  Sandy firefighter Tad Norris suffered a broken nose during the rescue when a steel bar being removed from the entry hit him in the face.

The mine was sealed on January 9, 1992 as part of the UAMRP’s Rocky Mouth Project.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, 12/8/91, “Curious Hiker Survives 25-Foot Fall Down Shaft” by Vince Horiuchi; Deseret News, Sunday, 12/8/91, “Sandy man rescued from old mine shaft” by Amy Donaldson; Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday, 1/11/92, “Crews Seal Mine in Sandy That Trapped 19-Year-Old” by Mike Gorrell]

December 28, 1991 (Saturday)

Standard Extension shaft (Site 3090214VC001), Tintic Mountains, 6 miles northwest of Elberta

Utah County  (noncoal)

John Flaker was descending the 260-foot mine shaft that accesses the Candlelight Cave with seven other members of the Wasatch and Timpanogas Grottos of the National Speleological Society.  He had too few friction bars on his rapelling rack to control his descent and at about 20 feet into the shaft began a free-fall down his rope.  He fell nearly 90 feet before his belayer, Rodney Mulder, managed to pull him into a cross-cut drift.  Flaker landed hard, but alive.  The grotto gave Mulder the Spirit of Utah Cave Award for his lifesaving action.  A subsequent incident at the same shaft by less experienced cavers prompted pressure for access control and a management plan for the cave.

The shaft was capped with a concrete slab fitted with a locking steel door in April, 1992, by members of the Timpanogas Grotto.

[“Accident at Candlelight Cave” by Rodney Mulder and other articles about the Candlelight Cave reprinted from The Utah Caver, vol. 4, no. 2, April 1992, posted online at the Timpanogas Grotto website at http://www.caves.org/grotto/timpgrotto/caves/candlelight_history.html.]

February 5, 1995 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine (Site 3060321VO002), Sunshine Canyon, Oquirrh Mountains

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Mark Hoefnagel, 20, and Anthony Ballif, 23, both of Sandy, crashed their Jeep through a fence and plunged 50 feet down a mine shaft around 3:00 p.m.  They survived the fall and were able to get out of the vehicle, but not climb out of the shaft.  The two were rescued around 7:30 by another party of off-roaders who heard their calls for help.  Hoefnagel was hospitalized in serious but stable condition with internal injuries; Ballif was treated for minor injuries and released.

The UAMRP capped the shaft with a rebar grate on August 23, 1999 as part of the Fivemile Pass/West Dip Project.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Monday, 2/6/95 page C3, “Sandy Men Survive a Drive Into Abandoned Mine Shaft” by Cornelia deBruin; Deseret News, Monday, 2/6/95, “4-wheelers rescue 2 Sandy men” by Dennis Romboy]

December 13, 1995 (Wednesday)

White River Oil Shale Project, 45 miles southeast of Vernal

Uintah County  (noncoal)

See description of this incident under “Fatal Incidents” above.

March 12, 1998 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine, Grizzly Gulch, Little Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County  (noncoal)

Matt Ure, 18, of Salt Lake City, ran into a wire cable from an abandoned mine operation while snowboarding.  Ure suffered internal injuries requiring professional emergency medical treatment and hospitalization.

December 4, 1998  (Friday)

Stateline mine, Hamblin Valley near Modena

Iron County  (noncoal)

Todd Meeks, 36, of Ivins, slipped and fell about 100 feet down a mine while prospecting.  He suffered a broken arm, broken leg, and other injuries and was not discovered and rescued until the day after the accident.  He was hospitalized in critical condition.

The specific mine opening involved in this incident is not known, but the UAMRP filled or sealed all of the mine openings in the area in 2004-05 as part of the Stateline Project.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, 12/6/98 “Prospector Survives Fall In Mine Shaft” by Ben Winslow; Iron County Sheriff Incident Numbers 98-2840, 98-2857, 98-2860]

April 4, 2000 (Tuesday)

Unnamed mine, 3.5 miles south of Eagle Mountain Development, Lake Mountains

Utah County  (noncoal).

Randy Gatton, 26, of Provo, was riding a motorcycle with a friend when he fell approximately 30 feet down a mine shaft and landed with the motorcycle atop him.  He suffered a sprained ankle, scrapes and bruises.  He was in the mine for three hours before being rescued.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Friday 4/7/00 page B2, “For The Record:  Motorcyclist Injured”; Deseret News, Wednesday, 4/5/00 page B2, “Utah County dateline briefs”]

June 20, 2004 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine, Fivemile Pass area

Utah County (noncoal)

A 21-year-old Riverton man was hospitalized after falling about 60 feet into a gravel pit on his all-terrain vehicle.  Utah County Sheriff’s deputies say he was riding with a group of friends around 3:30 p.m. in the Fivemile Pass area when the accident happened.  Officers say he drove his four-wheeler through a break in the wall and fell.  The man suffered neck and back injuries and several broken bones. He was flown to the University of Utah Hospital.

[Mine Safety and Health Administration, Stay Out, Stay Alive campaign website; http://www.msha.gov/SOSA/NearMisses/2004/20040620.asp, from a KUTV-TV news report]

August 28, 2004 (Saturday)

Unnamed mine; Hidden Valley trail above 22nd Street trailhead, Ogden

Weber County (noncoal)

Steve Mahoney, 46, of Ogden suffered a broken leg (tibia-fibula fracture) from a fall in a mine.  He had descended an 85-foot winze located 150-200 feet inside the mine using a 75-foot polypropylene waterskiing tow rope.  He jumped the remaining ten feet and was injured (how he planned to reach the rope to exit is unknown).  A companion summoned help, although she originally denied being in the mine and gave changing stories to emergency responders.  The rescue by Weber County Search and Rescue required a difficult in-mine litter hoist and a scree slope evacuation to get the victim to an ambulance.

[Weber County Sheriff Search and Rescue Training Newsletter, September 2004; Weber County Sheriff Case #GO WC 2004-36278]

March 30, 2009 (Monday)

Unnamed mine; Deer Valley Resort, Park City

Summit County (noncoal)

Bruce Rogers, 50, an expert skier from Hailey, Idaho, fell into an abandoned mine adit while skiing off a groomed trail near the Lady Morgan Express lift.  He had paused to survey the terrain when the snow collapsed beneath him.  He fell about six feet down and could see into the mine void.  He was not injured, but was trapped and needed assistance out of the hole.  The resort ski patrol marked the adit and blocked off the area.

[Park Record online edition, Wednesday, 4/1/09, “Deer Valley skier falls into mining tunnel” by Jay Hamburger, http://www.parkrecord.com/newsupdates/ci_12047121; Park Record online edition, Friday, 4/3/09, “Skier tells of mine-tunnel episode at Deer Valley” by Jay Hamburger, http://www.parkrecord.com/ci_12066212; pers. comm., Chuck English, Deer Valley ski patrol, 4/6/09]

July 16, 2011 (Saturday)

Copper Leaf mine (Site 3100210VO001), east of Eureka

Utah County (noncoal)

Twelve college students were burned while playing with fireworks and gasoline at a grated mine shaft, seven seriously.  The site has become a popular date/recreation hangout for students, who drop things down the shaft, including gasoline bombs and fireworks.  Several spectators were burned when a jug of gasoline was spilled, sending a pillar of flames out of the shaft.  Victims were taken to area hospitals; seven seriously injured victims were transferred to the University of Utah Hospital burn unit for treatment.  See also a similar incident without injuries on April 16, 2005.  The Utah County sheriff’s office reported multiple arrests at the site on previous dates.  Police were considering filing felony charges against participants.

This shaft is one that the UAMRP had capped with a rebar grate on November 23, 1992, as part of the Tintic Project.  A vandal had cut an opening in the grate.  The damage was repaired on July 7, 2009.  A second opening was repaired by the AMRP on July 21, 2011.  The private landowner and Utah County were planning to seal the shaft following this incident.

[Utah County Sheriff Incident Report 11UC07117; Salt Lake Tribune, Monday, 7/18/11 page B1 “BYU students, others burned while firebombing mine shaft” by Erin Alberty; Deseret News, Monday, 7/18/11 page B2, “Mine shaft incident results in injuries, burns” by Benjamin Wood; Deseret News, Wednesday, 7/20/11 page B2, “Details emerge in mine bombing” by Pat Reavy; Provo Daily Herald, Wednesday, 7/27/11, “Mine shaft where BYU students were injured to be sealed,” by Billy Hesterman; BYU Daily Universe, Sunday, 7/31/11, “Utah County to close abandoned mine shaft,” by Benjamin Tateoka]

May 7, 2017 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine (Site 3060320VO100), Sunshine Canyon

Tooele County (noncoal)

Trent Widdop, 27, of American Fork, fell into a mine shaft on his UTV (utility task vehicle) at about 2:00 a.m. while searching for firewood.  The UTV lodged in the shaft at a depth of about 15-20 feet, but Widdop fell off the vehicle.  He fell 15-20 feet to a ledge and then slid another 50 feet to the bottom of the shaft.  His family began searching for him when he did not return to camp and finally located the UTV around 5:00 a.m., when they called 911.  Crews from the Utah County Sheriff’s office, Tooele County Sheriff’s office, Unified Fire Authority, and Tooele County Search and Rescue responded.  Search and Rescue retrieved Widdop from the shaft and he was flown to the hospital with serious injuries.

This shaft is one that the UAMRP had backfilled on August 19, 1999, as part of the Fivemile Pass/West Dip Project.  The fill had collapsed.

[Tooele County Sheriff Incident Report 17-S02930; Utah County Sheriff Incident Report 17UC04378; Deseret News, 5/8/17, “Rescuers pull missing man from mine shaft” by McKenzie Romero]

OCCURRENCES OF EXPLOSIVES:

(No personal injuries.  Includes dynamite, blasting caps, ammonium nitrate, misfires and undetonated charges in place, det cord, fuse, packaging with unknown contents, etc.)

April 30, 1972 (Sunday)

Unnamed mine, Bell Canyon

Salt Lake County (noncoal)

See description of this mine under “Nonfatal Incidents” above.

[Deseret News, Monday, 5/1/72, page B12, “Explosives warning for spring hikers”]

August 1, 1977 (Monday)

Unnamed mine, east of Wasatch Boulevard near mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County (noncoal)

See description of this mine under “Nonfatal Incidents” above.  Cottonwood Heights residents complained that blasting caps had been found in the mine before the incident.

[Deseret News, Tuesday, 8/2/77, page B1, “Rescue spurs call to close mine”]

April 1, 1991 (Monday)

Unnamed mine, Muddy Creek area near Goblin Valley

Emery County  (noncoal)

Jim Graehl of Salt Lake City reported finding an open box of dynamite just inside the mine portal while visiting the area on the previous weekend.

The situation was reported to the Emery County sheriff for proper disposal of the dynamite.  Paul Sjoblom, UAMRP, Jim Graehl, and Captain Dave Owen, Emery County Deputy Sheriff destroyed the dynamite on April 12, 1991.

June 3, 1991 (Monday)

Hattie Green mine (Site 3420118HO001), Cockscomb Mountains

Kane County  (noncoal)

Frank Olson, Kanab Resource Area Bureau of Land Management, told Paul Sjoblom, UAMRP, that there was dynamite reported in the area.

On July 11, 1991, Rod Schipper, BLM Kanab Office, Shaun Draper and Lamont Smith, Kane County Deputy Sheriffs, and Paul Sjoblom, UAMRP,  inspected the Hattie Green mine and found eleven sticks of dynamite.  Shaun Draper, demolition expert with the Kane County Sheriff’s office, brought the dynamite out of the mine and destroyed it by soaking it in diesel fuel and then burning it.  The mine was sealed with a steel gate on May 29, 2009, as part of the UAMRP’s Grand Staircase-Escalante 2 Project.

May 17, 1994 (Tuesday)

Blackhawk (Summit #1) mine (Site 1030636ES003), 12 miles east of Coalville

Summit County  (coal)

Mike Jones reported finding three cartons of blasting caps in a storeroom while dismantling a shop building at the mine.

The UAMRP notified the Summit County Sheriff’s office, which destroyed the caps safely on June 7, 1994.

September 20, 1996 (Friday)

Joseph adit, north end of Fish Springs Range

Juab County  (noncoal)

Dan Seeley reported finding a drillhole with an unexploded dynamite charge and blasting cap inside the mine.

November 15, 1996 (Friday)

Blackhawk (Summit #1) mine (Site 1030636ES005), 12 miles east of Coalville

Summit County  (coal)

Dave Donnelly, UAMRP Project Manager, while supervising the reclamation of the abandoned Blackhawk mine, opened the mine’s powder magazine and discovered approximately 600 pounds of old, unstable, and deteriorating dynamite.  (This amount has one third the explosive force used to blow up the Oklahoma City Federal Building.)  The dynamite was located within 200 feet of three 18-inch pipelines that supply Salt Lake City with 85% of its natural gas.

This dynamite was successfully burned in place on November 25, 1996, in a cooperative effort with the 62nd EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team from Tooele Army Depot, the Utah Highway Patrol Hazardous Materials Team, and Summit County.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Monday, 11/25/96 page D2, “Explosives From Mine Being Destroyed Today”; Deseret News, Tuesday, 11/26/96 page B1, “Crew ignites dynamite found in Coalville mine”]

January 16, 1997 (Thursday)

Silver Reef Project Site PH3 (Site 3411306HO001), 14 miles north of St. George

Washington County  (noncoal)

UAMRP employee Chris Rohrer, while supervising the Silver Reef Project, encountered 10 to 12 deteriorated bags of ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil) and 15 sticks of NIPAK explosive inside an abandoned explosives magazine on Paulmar Hill.

The 62nd EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team from Tooele Army Depot and the Leeds Volunteer Fire Department successfully disposed of these explosives on February 1, 1997.

September 7, 2000 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine, Mineral Basin, American Fork Canyon

Utah County  (noncoal)

Ben Warnick and a 17-year-old friend, both of Alpine, found a cache of old explosives about 50 feet inside a remote mine in Mineral Basin.  They brought seven sticks of booster explosive home.  Warnick’s grandmother reported the find to the Alpine Police Department, which notified the Utah County Sheriff’s office.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad located the mine and detonated the explosives on September 8.

[Provo Daily Herald, Saturday, 9/10/00 page A3 “Old explosives detonated” by Pat Christian; Salt Lake Tribune, Friday, 9/9/00 page B2 “Explosives Detonated”]

April 2, 2002 (Wednesday)

Camp Bird 7 mine (Site 4241127PR002), Temple Mountain

Emery County (noncoal)

A construction crew backfilling the mine for the UAMRP unearthed a carton of Atlas “No. 6” blasting caps buried in some rock rubble near the mine.  The carton contained about 50 caps.

The 62nd EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team from Tooele Army Depot and the BLM HazMat officer successfully disposed of the caps on April 2, 2002.

[62nd EOD Incident Response Report #62-32-02; UAMRP files]

April 18, 2002 (Thursday)

North Mesa mine (Site 4241135HO007), Temple Mountain

Emery County (noncoal)

A construction crew installing a steel gate in this mine for the UAMRP unearthed a stick of dynamite and a length of fuse buried under a small amount of soil near the mine entrance.  The crew stopped work, evacuated, flagged the site with “Danger” tape, and barricaded the roadway with a backhoe to prevent vehicle access.  BLM and county law enforcement were notified.  In the 24 hours before authorities could respond, someone vandalized the backhoe and stole the dynamite.  Subsequent investigation revealed several blasting caps buried with the fuse.

The 62nd EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team from Tooele Army Depot and the BLM HazMat officer successfully disposed of the caps and fuse on April 23, 2002.

May 25, 2002 (Saturday)

Stardust mine, Gold Hill area

Tooele County (noncoal)

An unidentified citizen reported finding explosives in the mine to Randy Griffin, BLM, who reported it to the 62nd EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team from Tooele Army Depot.  A search of the mine found nine cases (332 pounds) of Atlas 40% gelatin-based dynamite, eight 50-pound bags of Dupont Ammonium Prills, and detonator cord near the entrance and about 120 feet inside the mine.  The explosives were deteriorated and unstable.

The 62nd EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team from Tooele Army Depot and the BLM HazMat officer successfully disposed of the materials on May 25, 2002.

[62nd EOD Incident Response Report #62-37-02]

October 14, 2002 (Monday)

Yellow Cat Project Site #28 (Site 4232206HO209), Yellow Cat Flat, southeast of Thompson

Grand County  (noncoal)

A construction crew installing a closure in this mine for the UAMRP found two torn paper bags, totaling approximately 50 pounds, of ammonium nitrate prill in the mine.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office and the BLM were notified.  The material disappeared before authorities could investigate.

June 25, 2003  (Wednesday)

Circle Cliffs Project Site 34, Colt Mesa

Garfield County  (noncoal)

UAMRP employees Ken Wyatt and Luci Malin found two unexploded dynamite charges in drillholes and fuse in the mine while performing an inventory of the abandoned mines in the area.

The 62nd EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team from Tooele Army Depot, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, and the BLM investigated and successfully disposed of the dynamite on July 1, 2003.

[UAMRP files; BLM e-mail 7/2/03]

May 20, 2004 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine (Site 4260907HO001), John Brown #7 claim, San Rafael Swell

Emery County  (noncoal)

UAMRP employees Tony Gallegos and Connie Garcia found a closed cardboard carton of Atlas Powder Company High Explosives and an open box of Ensign Bickford Company detonating cord in the mine while performing an inventory of the abandoned mines in the area.

The find was reported to the BLM Price Field Office.  The BLM HazMat officer investigated and found the carton to be full of dynamite.  The dynamite was destroyed by controlled burning in place on July 16, 2004, by BLM HazMat officer Sam Espinoza and Emery County Sheriff’s officers Kyle Ekker and Ray Jeffs.

[Emery County Progress, Tuesday, 7/27/04 page 1, vol. 104, no. 30,  “Old Dynamite found in Uranium Mine”; BLM staff report 10/13/04]

October 20, 2005 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine (Site 4282316HO004), Browns Hole

San Juan County  (noncoal)

UAMRP employees Tony Gallegos and Dan Smith found a closed cardboard carton for Hercules Tamptite high explosive and a length of fuse in the mine while performing an inventory of the abandoned mines in the area.

The find was reported to San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.  The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office investigated on or before November 3, 2005 and reported that the carton was empty.  However, they found a live blasting cap in the mine that they properly destroyed.

[UAMRP files; BLM e-mail 11/4/05]

March 6, 2006 (Monday)

Tecoma mine, Pilot Range, north of Wendover

Box Elder County  (noncoal)

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologist Adam Kozlowski reported finding dynamite in the mine while studying bats living there the previous weekend (March 3-4) and three weeks earlier.  Items belonging to a squatter were present in the mine, but it was vacant at the time of Kozlowski’s visits.  There were 24 sticks of deteriorated nitroglycerin dynamite on a shelf and another on the floor.  Nitroglycerin from the dynamite had soaked into the shelf.  The bats living in the mine were Townsend’s big-eared bats, and considered a sensitive species by wildlife officials.  They would be put at risk by a detonation of the dynamite or from fumes from burning the dynamite in place inside the mine.

The dynamite and shelf were removed from the mine and destroyed by controlled burning on March 24, 2006, by explosives expert C.W. ‘Mickey’ Bradley of Bradley Safety Consultants, Inc. of Wilburton, Oklahoma, in a coordinated effort involving the UAMRP, UDWR, and the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office.

June 5, 2007 (Tuesday)

Unnamed mine (near Site 3050414IO028), Ophir Canyon

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Amber Fortner, UAMRP Project Manager, while supervising the reclamation of abandoned mines in the Serviceberry Project, found a single stick of old dynamite near one of the mines.

The dynamite was destroyed by detonation by the Tooele County Sheriff’s Department on June 7.

June 17, 2008 (Tuesday)

Hidden Treasure mine (Site 3030515HO030), Dry Canyon, near Stockton

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Participants in an abandoned mine exploration group’s online forum posted an account of a visit to the mine that noted a room containing dynamite sweating nitroglycerin.  Accompanying photos showed approximately 30 loose sticks of dynamite.

[Mojave Underground online forum discussion thread “Hidden Treasure Mine” at:  http://www.mojaveunderground.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=911, posted 6/18/08, accessed 6/19/08.]

September 27, 2008 (Saturday)

Ophir Hill mine, Ophir Canyon, near Ophir town

Tooele County  (noncoal)

A Forbes Magazine writer, in an account of a visit to the mine, noted the presence of “sticks of explosive in wrappings labeled Dynamite Nobel Inc.”

[Forbes Magazine, “Forbes Life:  Abandoned Mines” by Alan Farnham and Zack O'Malley Greenburg, 11/10/08, pp. 158-160, online version available at:  http://www.forbes.com/magazines/forbes/2008/1110/156.html, accessed 10/23/08]

October 6, 2008 (Monday)

Unnamed mine (possibly the Daly-West mine), near 9100 Marsac Avenue, Park City

Summit County  (noncoal)

A Layton Construction crew building the Montage Hotel and Resort at Deer Valley unearthed a cache of six cases of dynamite believed to be remnants of the Daly-West mine.  The worksite was evacuated and 200 workers were sent home.  A 1000-foot safety zone was cordoned off, but most residences in the vicinity were empty in the off-season in the ski resort town.

The dynamite was removed and destroyed on October 9 by a private contractor.

[Deseret News, Tuesday, 10/7/08 page B2, “Dynamite discovery forces evacuation” by Aaron Falk; Deseret News, Thursday, 10/9/08 page B2, “Removal of dynamite planned for today” by Aaron Falk]

October 17 or 18, 2009 (Saturday or Sunday)

Unnamed mine, east side of Tintic Mountains

Utah County  (noncoal)

An unidentified hunter reported to the BLM Salt Lake Field Office that he had found a case of dynamite about 30 feet inside a mine adit on the east side of the Tintic Mountain range.  Attempts by the BLM to obtain a more precise location of the mine from the informant were unsuccessful.

[pers. comm., Larry Garahana, BLM-SLFO, e-mails:  10/22/09, 10/29/09, 11/13/09, 11/16/09]

February 22, 2010 (Monday)

Hidden Treasure mine (Site 3050415HC034), Dry Canyon, near Stockton

Tooele County  (noncoal)

The Tooele County Sheriff’s office notified the UAMRP that an unnamed father reported to them that his teenage son had posted photos on the boy’s Facebook page of dynamite in the Hidden Treasure mine (the page was subsequently removed).  The date the dynamite photos were taken and the date of the Facebook posting are unknown.

[pers. comm., Lt. Herrera, Tooele County Sheriff, 2/22/10]

July 11, 2010 (Sunday)

Globe mine, Mary Ellen Gulch, American Fork Canyon

Utah County  (noncoal)

Participants in an abandoned mine exploration group’s online forum posted an account of a visit to the mine that noted the presence of an explosive, described as a large plastic tube about two feet long filled with a grey claylike material and covered with warning labels.

[Mojave Underground online forum discussion thread “Mary Ellen Gulch” at:  http://www.mojaveunderground.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6513, posted 7/11/10, accessed 7/12/10.]

June 14, 2011 (Tuesday)

Unnamed mine (Site 4211433HO009), Buckmaster Draw, San Rafael Swell

Emery County  (uranium)

URS Corp. biologist Valerie Porter, while performing an underground survey of the mine for bats for the BLM, discovered a single stick of dynamite on a rock ledge inside the mine.

The find was reported to the BLM, which notified the Emery County Sheriff’s Office for disposition.

[pers. comm., Terry Snyder, BLM-UTSO 7/18/11]

December 6, 2011 (Tuesday)

Hilltop mine, Spor Mountain, 45 miles northwest of Delta

Juab County  (noncoal)

A URS Corp. field crew performing a mine inventory for the UAMRP discovered a box of dynamite in a shallow prospect.

The find was reported to the Juab County Sheriff’s Office for disposition.

January **, 2013 (*****day)

Unnamed mine (Site 3081730HO004), IP-9 claim in Goshute Wash, Clifton Hills

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Transcon Environmental biologist Greg Gryniewicz, while performing an underground survey of the mine for bats for the AMRP, discovered two boxes of detonating cord (Primacord and Cordeau Detonant) about six feet inside the mine.

The find was reported to the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office and to the unpatented mine claimant for disposition.

[pers. comm., Transcon Environmental 1/3/13]

MINES AS NUISANCES

(Mines as locations for risky or illegal activity, trespassing incidents, or reports of hazardous conditions.  No personal injuries, but possibly injuries unrelated to the mine hazards.)

August 1, 1977 (Monday)

Unnamed mine, east of Wasatch Boulevard near mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County (noncoal)

See the description of this mine under “Nonfatal Incidents” above.  Cottonwood Heights residents complained that heroin had been found in the mine before the incident.

[Deseret News, Tuesday, 8/2/77, page B1, “Rescue spurs call to close mine”]

September 26, 1985 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine, Bountiful foothills above Vineyard Street

Davis County (noncoal)

Martin D. Porter, 18, and Michael Bartz, 18, both of Salt Lake City, and Brian Pierce, 19, and Richard Bartz, 22, both of Bountiful, were arrested on multiple charges after an explosion at the mine.  The men had used the mine as a clubhouse or hideout.  They tried enlarging the opening using a stolen backhoe and stolen explosives, setting off an explosion shortly after midnight.  Police recovered two cases of dynamite at the scene.

[Deseret News, Friday, 9/27/85, page A8, “3 men arrested, 1 sought after Bountiful mine blast”; Deseret News, Friday, 12/6/85, page B15, “2nd man involved in blast at mine receives sentence”]

February 19, 1986 (Wednesday)

Lucky Bill mine (Site 4020433VO008), Bonanza Flat

Summit County  (noncoal)

The county sheriff reported that snowmobilers were using a cornice formed by a shaft opening as a jump.  The mine had sloughed open recently.  This is near the site of the 1963 Flagstaff mine fatality.

The area was immediately flagged by the UAMRP.  The shaft was backfilled in September, 1986 as part of the UAMRP’s Alta Project.

April 5, 1988 (Tuesday)

Unnamed mine, Unknown location

Probably Salt Lake or Tooele County (probably noncoal)

A 19-year-old Roy woman testified in court that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint from a Salt Lake City street and sexually assaulted by a Kearns man, who then took her to a mine and handcuffed her to a piece of equipment.  She managed to escape and summoned police.

[Deseret News, Friday, 12/21/88, page B3, “Kearns man to stand trial in rape”]

October 22, 1988 (Thursday)

Monarch mine, North Willow Canyon, Stansbury Mountains

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Jim Cook, U.S. Forest Service Wasatch District, reported that deer hunters had reported encountering a hazardous situation at the mine to him on October 22 and October 25.

The mine was sealed in April 1989 as part of the UAMRP’s Wasatch Project.  See also the July 9, 1988 incident at this site under “Nonfatal Incidents” above.

May 28, 1990 (Monday)

Mutual Metals Tunnel (Site 4020214HO001), Little Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake County  (noncoal)

Several reports of parties of explorers entering the mine over the previous weekend.  All groups reported encountering bad air and nearly passing out.

The mine was closed in June 1990 as part of the UAMRP’s Wasatch Project.

1990

Unnamed mine

Piute County  (noncoal)

Sheriff Brent Gottfredson found a group of four juveniles a mile and a half inside a mine with only a single flashlight.  The youths were arrested for trespassing.  The incident was cited in an article on Gottfredson’s concerns about the increased potential for injury or death at abandoned mines with the opening of the Piute ATV Trail.

[Deseret News, Tuesday, 12/4/90 page B3, “Sheriff warns of dangers of old mines” by Reed L. Madsen]

February 28, 1998 (Saturday)

Unnamed mine

Cache County  (noncoal)

Paul Baker, UDOGM Coal Regulatory Program, reported his son’s scouting trip to an abandoned mine:  “My 14-year-old son went on a Scouting trip with several other boys and three adults.  They skied and snowmobiled to a cabin then to the ghost town of La Plata in Cache County.  There’s an open shaft and, according to the map (USGS 7.5’ Sharp Mountain Quadrangle, T8N R2E Sec. 11), there are a few adits in the area.  Someone knew almost exactly where the shaft was and took the group there.  According to my son’s description, the shaft is about six feet across and was almost bridged over with snow.  They got the snow to collapse, then, by holding on to an aspen tree, they were able to lean over and look down the shaft.  I understand the shaft is about 500-1000 feet deep.”

August 26, 2000 (Saturday)

Unnamed mine, near Motoqua Ranch in Santa Clara

Washington County  (noncoal)

Three young men poured gasoline down an old mine shaft just for kicks.  One of the boys threw a burning stick into the mine shaft.  The gasoline blew up and burned all three boys.  They returned home and their parents took them to the hospital for treatment.

September 28, 2000 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine, Corn Creek Canyon, east of Kanosh

Millard County  (noncoal)

Jeffrey P. Gleave, 47, of Monroe was arrested by Millard County sheriff’s deputies following an all-night armed standoff at an abandoned mine.  Gleave, a former lawyer, had been convicted on September 27 on charges stemming from a previous armed standoff.  Instead of checking into jail, Gleave fled to the mine, where he started a generator in a shaft and passed out.  Deputies descended 125 feet down the shaft to retrieve him and took him to the hospital for treatment.  Two suicide notes at the scene led the deputies to conclude that Gleave was trying to kill himself with the generator exhaust fumes.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday 9/30/00 page C2, “For The Record:  Ex-Lawyer Arrested”]

April 16, 2005 (Saturday)

Copper Leaf mine (Site 3100210VO001), east of Eureka

Utah County (noncoal)

Fourteen BYU students and three others were cited for trespassing for throwing and igniting milk jugs filled with gasoline down a grated mine shaft.  No one was hurt in the incident.  The site has become a popular date/recreation hangout for students, who drop things down the shaft, including gasoline bombs and fireworks.  A video of this or a similar incident was posted briefly on the YouTube.com website in 2006 until it was removed in December, 2006.  Other videos of similar activity have since been posted on YouTube.  See also the multiple injury incident that occurred at this site from the same type of activity on July 16, 2011.  Following that incident, the Utah County sheriff’s office reported having made multiple arrests at the site on previous dates and were considering filing felony charges against participants.

This shaft is one that the UAMRP had capped with a rebar grate on November 23, 1992, as part of the Tintic Project.  A vandal had cut an opening in the grate.  The damage was repaired on July 7, 2009.  A new opening was cut in October, 2010.

[BYU Daily Universe online edition, 5/9/05, “Cougars cited for trespassing” http://nn.byu.edu/story.cfm/55456; original video formerly at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_EdENclPLg; also these videos:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq-NSTsTiSA, youtube.com/watch?v=ZzqnCveAs0k, youtube.com/watch?v=4gq10IYuZ-w, youtube.com/watch?v=XQxqAWygaZg]

August 24, 2006 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine, Jacob City Project

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Amber Fortner, UAMRP Project Manager, while supervising the reclamation of abandoned mines in the Jacob City Project, found a pipe bomb made of PVC pipe hidden at one of the mines.

November 15, 2007 (Thursday)

Cobb mine, Silver Reef Project Site WH180 (Site 3411412HO012), 14 miles north of St. George

Washington County (noncoal)

Southern Utah University biology student Phillip Rhoades conducting bat research at the Cobb mine discovered that the gate had been cut and electronic monitoring equipment used in his research had been stolen.  The break-in and theft had occurred since his last visit to the mine at the end of September.

The gate was repaired by the UAMRP on July 9, 2008.  SUU has not replaced the stolen equipment nor resumed bat studies at the mine.

[pers. comm., Kate Grandison, SUU, 11/16/07 and 12/7/07.]

March 13, 2008 (Thursday)

Honorine mine (Site 3040413VO001), Oquirrh Mountains near Stockton

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Salt Lake City television station KTVX (Channel 4) reported on a video recently posted on the YouTube.com website showing three men exploring the Honorine mine where Jeremiah Etherington was killed on January 13, 1996 (see the description of this incident under “Fatal Incidents” above).  A Tooele County sheriff’s office representative interviewed for the news story noted that the activity was dangerous and illegal.  Etherington’s family called the video “disgusting.”

[“Abandoned mine exploration raises safety concerns” reported by McKay Allen, KTVX ABC-4, Salt Lake City, Utah, 3/13/08.]

Summer 2008

Unnamed mines, Dry Canyon/Jacob City area

Tooele County (noncoal)

Landowner Tommy Love reported to the UAMRP and the Tooele County Sheriff repeated incidents of trespass and vandalism of mine closures the UAMRP had installed on his property.  A remotely activated camera he had hidden onsite to photograph trespassers was stolen.

[pers. comm., Tommy Love 6/3/08, 7/23/08, 7/24/08, 8/12/08; Tooele County Sheriff case #2008-003341]

October 17-18, 2008 (Friday & Saturday)

North Mesa mine (Site 4241135HO007), Temple Mountain

Emery County (noncoal)

Participants in an abandoned mine exploration group’s online forum posted an account of two visits to this abandoned uranium mine, which has radiological and radon gas hazards.  Radon is particularly a problem at depth in mines where ventilation is poor.  Accompanying photos showed a group of people exploring the mine.  No safety gear, respirators, or radiation monitoring equipment was evident in the photos.  Entry was achieved through an opening vandals had created in the steel gate that the UAMRP had installed in 2002.  This same gate had previously been vandalized and repaired in 2003.  A radon warning sign installed in the mine had also been removed by vandals.  Prior to closure, mines in this group had been visited often, as evidenced by graffiti, vehicle tracks in the mine, and fire rings.

The gate was repaired a second time on March 18, 2009.

[Mojave Underground online forum discussion thread “Vanadium King – San Rafael Swell” at:  http://www.mojaveunderground.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1612, posted 10/19/08, accessed 10/20/08.]

June, 2009

AS&R Shaft (Site 3411401VO019), Silver Reef

Washington County (noncoal)

A Harrisburg teen four-wheeling in the area reported to the Leeds Fire Department that a hole had been cut in the steel grate over the shaft and that he had seen a man descending the shaft on a rope.

The grate was repaired in August, 2011, along with two other compromised closures nearby.

[pers. comm., Russell Schreiner, BLM, 6/15/09, 6/16/09]

Unknown date

Unnamed mine, Oquirrh Mountains near Tooele

Tooele County (noncoal)

Weber County resident Sylvia Ward recounted an outing with friends to several abandoned mines.  People entered one mine through a vandalized steel gate.  It had been frequently visited and had a sign-in book to log visitors.  She was concerned because small children were allowed to explore the mine.  She also was concerned about a deep vertical shaft next to an ATV trail that could easily trap an inattentive driver.

[pers. comm., Sylvia Ward, 2/6/11, 2/11/11. 2/26/11]

Unknown date

Unnamed mine, Scotia Gulch, Sheeprock Mountains

Juab County (noncoal)

Utah resident Chris Brimhall reported finding a hazardous abandoned mine shaft in the Cherry Creek area of the Sheeprock Mountains.  The area was the site of an AMRP project that closed 132 mine openings in 2004, but this shaft had apparently been missed.  Brimhall was concerned that the shaft was a fall hazard.

[pers. comm., Chris Brimhall 5/23/11]

May 24, 2011 (Tuesday)

American Flag Shaft, Empire Canyon near Park City

Summit County (noncoal)

A United Park City Mines Company worker doing routine monitoring discovered that the 1100-foot deep American Flag shaft had collapsed, leaving an opening 15-20 feet across next to a road used by hikers and sightseers.  The collapse was attributed to an unusually heavy snowpack and wet conditions.  Mine company officials described the shaft as “treacherous” and “a serious issue, a serious hazard… a dangerous situation.”

The landowner, United Park City Mines Company, cordoned off the shaft and issued a safety warning to the public after it discovered the collapse.  It was filling the shaft with rock and soil at the time of reporting.

[Park Record online edition, Wednesday, 5/25/11, “Mine shaft collapses at American Flag”, http://www.parkrecord.com/ci_18134801; Park Record online edition, Friday, 5/27/11, “Empire Canyon mine caves in, leaving gaping hole” by Jay Hamburger, http://www.parkrecord.com/ci_18156698%5D

June 21, 2011 (Tuesday)

Unnamed mine, Empire Canyon near Park City

Summit County (noncoal)

A consultant working for United Park City Mines Company discovered a sinkhole near the intersection of the Custer and Webster ski runs on the Deer Valley Resort not far from the Montage lodge.  Upon inspection, it was found that the sinkhole led to a mine shaft.  A Deer Valley spokesperson called the situation dangerous and warned people to stay away.

A Deer Valley crew fenced the shaft and posted warning signs.  At the time of reporting, it was expected that Deer Valley would fill the shaft with rock and soil.

[Park Record online edition, Tuesday, 6/21/11, “Sinkhole discovered in Deer Valley, mining-era link suspected”, http://www.parkrecord.com/ci_18134801; Park Record online edition, Friday, 6/24/11, “Confirmed:  opening in ground at Deer Valley is a mine shaft” by Jay Hamburger, http://www.parkrecord.com/ci_18348143%5D

June 20, 2013 (Thursday)

Unnamed mine (Site 1030117HO001), Farmington Canyon, about 1.5 miles east of Farmington

Davis County (noncoal)

A video posted on an outdoor recreation website shows a couple exploring an abandoned mine.  Inside, the mine had been tagged with graffiti and littered with trash, beer cans, and drug paraphernalia (hypodermic syringe).  The comment posted with the video made the common but dangerous and unwarranted conclusion that, “It must be ‘safe’, because the government is still allowing people in it and have not barred it up yet.”

The mine was closed with a concrete block wall on September 5, 2014, as part of the UAMRP’s Foothills Project.

[BushcraftUSA online discussion forum, http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php/95650-Farmington-Canyon-Mine-Exploration!-06-20-13.  Posted on 06/22/13 by “btcobalt1.”]

May 8, 2015 (Friday)

Daly West mine, outside the Montage Deer Valley resort, 9100 Marsac Avenue, Park City

Summit County (noncoal)

The 85-foot tall iron headframe over the Daly West mine shaft collapsed into the shaft ten days before the landowner, the Jordanelle Special Services District, had scheduled work to stabilize it.

[Park Record online edition, Tuesday, 5/12/15, “In dramatic collapse, a mining-era relic comes down in Deer Valley” by Jay Hamburger, http://www.parkrecord.com/ci_28101794/dramatic-collapse-mining-era-relic-comes-down-deer%5D

May 22, 2015 (Friday)

Unnamed mine (Site 3100313SH001), Eureka City Maintenance Yard, West Main Street, Eureka

Juab County (noncoal)

The ground collapsed beneath a water truck that had just finished filling up at an adjacent hydrant as it was leaving the Eureka City Maintenance Yard.  The back end of the truck was trapped in a sinkhole nearly twenty feet in diameter and some 85 feet deep.  The sinkhole was believed to be the result of a previously unknown mine shaft buried under fill in the maintenance yard.

City workers barricaded the sinkhole with orange barrels, plastic construction fencing, and “Caution” tape and then backfilled it on May 26.  A permanent closure capable of bearing traffic loads will be constructed later.

[pers. comm., Eureka City officials, 5/26/15]

Mine Closure Vandalism

Mine closures installed by the UAMRP or others are often vandalized, particularly at well-known mines or popular destinations.  Backfills are dug out and masonry walls are breached.  Steel gates and grates have their bars bent or cut or padlocks broken.  Warning signs and mine markers are shot up, defaced, or stolen.  There have been too many vandalized closures to itemize here.  Vandalism has occurred statewide at coal, uranium, and hardrock metal mines.

Since 1997 it has been unlawful in Utah to tamper with a mine closure [Utah Code 76-6-206.1(2)(b)].  Vandals put the public at risk.  Even though the first person to break into a mine may do so without incident, subsequent visitors may not be so lucky.  Three Colorado teens died when they went into a mine near Grand Junction that had been sealed by the state and later vandalized.  Theft of warning signs exposes people to hazards that may not otherwise be apparent, such as the presence of radon gas at uranium mines.

Besides being illegal in its own right and endangering others, vandalism of mine closures can facilitate unlawful behavior by others.  Under Utah law, it is considered trespass to enter an abandoned mine that has been closed or protected from entry [(Utah Code 76-6-206.1(2)(a)].  This abandoned mine trespass law supplements and amplifies the existing conventional trespass law.  That law defines the presence of either signage or devices intended to exclude intruders (including fences) as sufficient to communicate a landowner’s intent to give notice that entry onto a property is prohibited [Utah Code 76-6-206(2)(b)(ii) and (iii)].  A mine closure clearly falls into the category of “enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders.”  The language of both trespass laws taken together suggests that any mine closure, even one damaged by vandalism or natural processes so that the mine is accessible, can be considered as having “been clearly marked as closed or protected from entry.”  It is the closure’s intent to exclude, not its functional ability to exclude, that matters.  From this interpretation, it follows that entry into a mine through a damaged closure may fall within the definition of trespass and that those exploiting a vandal’s work to enter a mine may also be breaking the law.

Vandalism also necessitates repairs.  These are often more expensive than the original closures due to inflation and because the economies of scale for mobilization and materials for a large project cannot be realized for a single closure.  Vandalism wastes scarce public and private funds on repairs that could be spent on other priorities.  Repeated vandalism of gates that provide authorized underground access can lead to their replacement with permanent seals and complete loss of access.

An unusual phenomenon related to vandalism is the recent practice of dropping firebombs down shafts closed by the UAMRP with steel grates.  The practice was first noted in undocumented reports around 2000 at the AS&R shaft (Site 3411401VO019) at Silver Reef in Washington County and more recently at the Copper Leaf mine (Site 3100210VO001) in Utah County (see the 4/16/05 and 7/16/11 incidents above) and elsewhere.  It seems to have spread virally, aided by online video postings on YouTube.  This activity is risky for the participants at the surface, who can get burned— seven people were severely burned at the 7/16/11 incident.  At the Copper Leaf mine, vandals repeatedly cut holes in the grate, presumably to drop large burning objects down the shaft.  Firebombing mine shafts may compromise the integrity of the closure.  It can also create additional dangers underground by burning support timbers and depleting oxygen from the mine atmosphere.  Due to underground cross connections between mine workings, changes to mine atmospheres could affect mines some distance away.

INCIDENTS INVOLVING PETS, LIVESTOCK, OR WILDLIFE

July 25 (or 18?), 1979 (Wednesday)

Unnamed mine, above Evans shaft, southwest of Eureka

Juab County  (noncoal)

See the description of this incident under “Nonfatal Incidents” above.

July 27, 1982 (Tuesday)

Unnamed mine, Dutchman Flat, American Fork Canyon

Utah County  (noncoal)

Sherm Evans of American Fork was leading his horse along a trail.  The horse fell 40 feet into a shaft that had been obscured by vegetation and was killed.

The shaft was capped in 1983 as part of the UAMRP’s Alta-Brighton Project.

[Harry D. Opfar, Pleasant Grove District Ranger, USDA-FS, pers. comm. 7/28/82]

  1. 1983

Allen Hollow mine (Site 1020504UF001), Coalville

Summit County  (coal)

UAMRP staff found a mule deer carcass in a subsidence crevice that was venting fumes from an underground coal fire.  The deer presumably was seeking the fire’s warmth in the winter and was overcome by the fumes.

The fire was excavated and extinguished and subsidence holes filled in 1984 as part of the UAMRP’s Allen Hollow Project.

April 11, 1991 (Thursday)

Silver Reef Project Site BV101 (Site 3411401VO048), 14 miles north of St. George

Washington County  (noncoal)

UAMRP staff found a mule deer carcass in a 20-foot deep shaft on the north end of Tecumseh Hill.

The shaft was filled on May 21, 1996, as part of the UAMRP’s Silver Reef Project.

March 13, 1992 (Friday)

Unnamed mine, Hidden Valley area above Ogden

Weber County  (noncoal)

Rowdy, a black Labrador retriever belonging to Paul Benstog of Roy, was found in a shallow shaft by Roy resident Dave Falls and his son Alan.  Rowdy had run off and not returned to Benstog while hiking in the mountains a month earlier.  The dog’s weight had dropped from 80 to 37 pounds and it was dehydrated, but otherwise it was uninjured.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, 3/15/92, “‘Lucky’ Labrador Is Rescued After Month in Mine Shaft”; Deseret News, Monday, 3/16/92 page B5, “Luck leads to dog’s rescue from shaft”]

February, 1993

Unnamed mine, west side of Oquirrh Mountains

Tooele County  (noncoal)

The Tooele County Search and Rescue team and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources rescued two female cougars from an 80-foot vertical mine shaft.  Houndsmen had chased one cougar into the mine, but the mine was too dark to attempt a rescue.  The second cougar was discovered when a climber descended into the mine the following day.  It had apparently been there some time.  Both cats were tranquilized, removed from the mine, and released.

[Deseret News, Thursday, 2/25/93 page D5, “Outdoor Notes”]

October 21,1996 (Monday)

Unnamed mine, Poverty Flat, 6 miles south of Monroe

Sevier County  (noncoal)

A dog was trapped in a 90-foot shaft.  Sevier County Search and Rescue successfully retrieved the dog from the shaft unharmed.  (This may be the shaft mapped by USGS on the Antelope Range quad in T26S R4W S24, but there are many mines in the area.)

[Sevier County Sheriff Incident #9610-165]

December 18, 1998 (Friday)

Unnamed mine, Stansbury Mountains

Tooele County  (noncoal)

Tip, a dog belonging to Gary Sandberg, chased after some deer and became lost in early December.  Sandberg was unable to find him after days of searching.  Two Grantsville rabbit hunters found Tip at the bottom of a shaft on December 18, rescued him, and nursed him back to health.  A newspaper story later connected the hunters to Sandberg.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Friday, 1/9/99 page D3, “State of the State”; story originally in the Tooele Transcript Bulletin]

April 14, 2000 (Friday)

East Reef Project (Site 3411320VO001), Duffin mine area, Requa claim

Washington County  (noncoal)

University of Nevada researchers tracking radio-tagged desert tortoises located one in Site 3411320VO001, a 28-foot-deep vertical shaft.  A local climber summoned to rappel into the shaft found that a second tortoise had also fallen into it.  It had apparently been in the shaft for about six months.  Both tortoises were retrieved alive, although one was injured from the fall.  The injured tortoise was provided veterinary care while the healthy one was released on April 17 after observation.  Desert tortoises are federally listed as a threatened species and are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The shaft was filled on May 18, 2000, as part of the UAMRP’s East Reef Project.

Unknown date

Montezuma’s Gold mine (Site 3415430HO001)

Kane County  (noncoal)

A family was exploring the mine when their dog fell down a winze inside the mine and was killed.

[Reported by James Holland, BLM (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Kanab Field Office) via Doug Powell, BLM  (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Kanab Field Office) on 4/2/08.]

July 5, 2008 (Saturday)

Amazon mine (Site 1140417HO001), in Logan Canyon 28 miles northeast of Logan on US-89

Cache County (noncoal)

Five teenaged cousins, children of Troy Holland of Davis County and Todd Holland of Cache County, were exploring the mine while their families were camped nearby.  Kia, a dog belonging to Troy Holland, ran ahead of the group and fell about forty feet down a winze inside the mine and was killed.

The mine was closed with a steel gate on December 11, 2008, as part of the UAMRP’s Amazon Project.

[Reported by USFS Logan Ranger District via Maggie Manderbach on 7/11/08.  Additional info from Ron Vance, USFS Logan RD by e-mail on 8/6/08; pers. comm., Todd Holland on 11/3/08]

May 13, 2009 (Wednesday)

Unnamed mine; Park City Mountain Resort, Park City

Summit County (noncoal)

Foxy, a terrier belonging to a Park City resident, fell into an abandoned mine shaft during a hike with its owner.  The 20-foot shaft is located at the top of the Park City Mountain Resort’s Silver Queen run.  Foxy was rescued uninjured by a crew from the Park City Fire District after being trapped for two hours.

[Park Record online edition, Friday, 5/15/09, “Dog tumbles down mine shaft at PCMR” by Jay Hamburger, http://www.parkrecord.com/newsupdates/ci_12379905; KCPW radio online edition, Thursday, 5/14/09, audio file “Dog_in_Mine_Shaft_mp3.MP3”, http://kpcw.org/%5D

October 15, 2010 (Friday)

Unnamed mine, Blawn Wash, Wah Wah Mountains, 35 miles west of Milford (T30S R15W S6)

Beaver County (noncoal)

A bull elk carcass was found floating in water in a flooded vertical shaft.  According to the livestock grazing permittee for the area, numerous animals have fallen into the shaft in the past.

The BLM Cedar City Field Office has proposed covering the shaft with a metal barrier.

[BLM Environmental Notification Bulletin Board, NEPA Log Number:  DOI-BLM-UT-C010-2011-0021-CX.  Pers. comm., Molly Galbraith, BLM Cedar City FO, on 2/22/11]

January 26, 2011 (Wednesday)

Unnamed mine; Red Hills, 7 miles northwest of Parowan (T33S R9W S19)

Iron County (noncoal)

Buster, a black Labrador retriever mix belonging to Parowan resident Bob Giles, fell into an abandoned mine shaft while chasing a rabbit.  Giles observed the fall and noted, “By the time he saw (the hole) it was too late, he was already committed to sliding down in there, and the rocks were so loose, he couldn’t stop himself from sliding.”  The 30-foot shaft is located in the Red Hills about two miles north of the Parowan Gap and seven miles northwest of Parowan.  Buster was rescued uninjured by the Iron County Search and rescue team.  According to local legend, this same shaft claimed the life of a prized Brahma bull around the turn of the twentieth century.

The BLM Cedar City Field Office has proposed backfilling or fencing the shaft.

[Saint George Spectrum, Thursday, 1/27/11 page A1, “Canine recue successful” by Nur Kausar.  Available online at http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20110127/NEWS01/101270308/Canine-rescue-successful.  BLM Environmental Notification Bulletin Board, NEPA Log Number:  DOI-BLM-UT-C010-2011-0020-CX.  Pers. comm., Nate Thomas and Ed Ginouves, BLM Cedar City FO, on 1/31/11]

SOME NOTABLE ABANDONED MINE “NON-INCIDENTS”

There have been several somewhat bizarre hoaxes and criminal incidents that speak to the hazards of abandoned mines and their potential for harm or criminal misuse, even if no one was actually hurt at a mine.  These include:

In July, 1988, mine owner Barney Powell hired three transients to help him work some claims located near the top of Blind Stream Canyon about 15 miles northeast of Tabiona in Duchesne County.  The three were apparently investigating what appeared to be an old mine shaft.  One man stayed behind while the other two climbed over the ridge to look for a second mine exit.  While they were gone, a cave-in occurred.  Fearing the first man was trapped inside the mine, they summoned help.  Rescue workers toiled for twelve hours to open the mine, including six hours of digging by hand before heavy equipment could be brought in.  Sheriff’s officials concluded the incident was a hoax and believe the third man ran away when the cave-in occurred, fearing he would be blamed for it.  No charges were filed, but the county planned to press to recover costs of the rescue effort, which exceeded $4,000, from Powell.  [Deseret News, Saturday, 7/30/88 page B3, “Mine owner unlikely to face charges in ‘rescue’”]

Harry Frederick Campbell, a British citizen, was convicted for an Oct. 29, 1992, attempt to kidnap a daughter of a Salt Lake City banker.  At his sentencing hearing on May 17, 1993, he offered an explanation for the crime, saying that he had been writing a novel or television screenplay about the kidnapping and it gradually took on reality.  The novel’s plot called for the girl’s abduction and, as a contingency if she died, the disposal of her body down a mine shaft.  The judge did not buy Campbell’s story and sentenced him to the maximum penalty.  [Salt Lake Tribune, Tuesday, 5/18/93 page B1, “Child-Kidnap Plotter Gets 5 Years To Life” by Stephen Hunt; Deseret News, Tuesday, 5/18/93 page B4, “Convict says his novel about kidnapping girl just turned into reality”]

Salt Lake County resident Sally Michelsen pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges for the fatal shooting of her husband Fred Michelsen on October 12, 1995.  At her sentencing hearing in April, 1999, Sally Michelson argued for probation on the basis she had been repeatedly physically and emotionally abused by her husband during their troubled marriage and that she had acted in self-defense.  In testimony recounting the abuse, Sally Michelsen’s daughter said that Fred Michelsen had talked about killing Sally and dumping her body down a mine shaft.  [Salt Lake Tribune, Monday, 4/13/99 page B2, “Wife Gets Maximum Sentence for Killing Husband”]

In June, 1997, fugitive Michael John Smith of Tooele County faked a suicide at an abandoned mine near Stockton.  Smith had been convicted of child sexual abuse and was free on bail awaiting a sentencing hearing on June 23, 1997.  Smith placed some clothing and personal belongings near the shaft along with a suicide note saying he planned to kill himself by throwing himself down the shaft.  He then fled.  The Tooele County sheriff’s office knew the note was a fake because Smith had previously told a fellow jail inmate of his plan.  Smith was eventually arrested in October, 1999, in Oregon and sent to prison.  [Salt Lake Tribune, 10/24/99, “For The Record:  Missing Fugitive Found”; Salt Lake Tribune, 11/9/99, “For the Record:  Sex Offender To Be Evaluated”; Salt Lake Tribune, 3/1/00, “For the Record:  Abuser Imprisoned”; Deseret News, 10/21/99 page B3, “Utahn who faked his death is found -Tooele man fled in 1997 to avoid prison for assault” by Jennifer Dobner]

The December 4, 1998, Stateline mine personal-injury incident reported above took an odd twist four years later when victim Todd Meeks reportedly regained memory lost in the fall and claimed that the accident might have been an attempted homicide.  [KTVX-TV and KSL-TV news reports on Thursday, 1/9/03; Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, 1/19/03, “State of the State”]

Salt Lake City police detectives consulted with the UAMRP during the Elizabeth Smart abduction case (June 2002 – March 2003), investigating the possibility that her kidnapper might have hidden in a mine or might have disposed of her body in one.

West Valley City police detectives consulted with the UAMRP after the Susan Powell disappearance and presumed murder (Dec. 6, 2009), investigating the possibility that her body might have been disposed in an abandoned mine.  The UAMRP searched numerous mine shafts in the West Desert using a downhole camera.

Rangeland firefighters and search-and-rescue teams looking for lost hikers often have to curtail their efforts after dark in mining districts due to the risk to crews.  Mines complicate search efforts because they endanger search crews with potential fall hazards and because they present searchers with additional places that need to be searched for the victim, at additional risk and difficulty to the searchers.

Abandoned mine hazards are not new.  The Deseret News reported in 1888 that a 14-year-old girl, Maggie Ryan, fell 80 feet down a long-abandoned shaft in Virginia City, Nevada, while chasing after her windblown hat.  She survived the fall and was rescued by miners from a nearby active mine.  [Deseret News, 6/1/1888, page 3, “News Notes”].  In Utah in 1903, two boys died when their Bingham Canyon home collapsed into an abandoned stope.

Soapstone Basin Snowmobile Incidents

There have been four reported incidents where snowmobilers in the Soapstone Basin area of the Uinta Mountains east of Kamas (Wasatch County) fell into deep shaftlike holes covered by snow.  The incidents all occurred within 1.6 miles of each other; two of the incidents were at the same hole.  Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, but all required rescue by others.  News and police reports described the holes as mine shafts, which they appeared to be.  There are patented mining claims and mines in the vicinity.  The UAMRP investigated and determined that holes were actually natural in origin, apparently caves or sinkholes in the area’s karst topography.  However, the similarity between these holes and mine shafts highlights the similar risks that snowmobilers, skiers, and snowshoers face when recreating in mining areas.  Details of the snowmobile incidents follow:

March 23, 2001 (Friday)

Rick Young, of Draper, fell into a shaft while snowmobiling in Soapstone Basin.  His machine wedged upside down in the top of the shaft leaving him dangling.  He was able to summon help using his helmet radio and was rescued by his companions.

[Sled-necks website:  http://www.sled-necks.com/ridelog0323.htm, http://sled-necks.com/rick.htm, accessed 7/13/10; KSL-TV news report, Monday, 3/26/01 “Snowmobile Accident in Mine” by John Hollenhorst]

January 31, 2009 (Saturday)

Dale Zollinger, of Centerville, fell into a shaft while snowmobiling in Soapstone Basin.

[“Caving at Soapstone!” discussion thread at SnoWest Magazine online forum, posted 2/3/09, http://www.snowest.com/forum/showthread.php?t=130710; Dale Zollinger, pers. comm.]

March 1, 2009 (Sunday)

Wendell Page, 70, of West Point, fell into a shaft while snowmobiling in Soapstone Basin.  He landed on a ledge about 30 feet down (the shaft was much deeper) and sustained minor injuries.  The Wasatch County Sheriff Search and Rescue team responded and rescued him.  This is the same shaft as the similar incident on January 31, 2009.

[Wasatch County Sheriff Search and Rescue Incident Report #0903-0018; Lt. Winterton, Wasatch County Sheriff Search and Rescue, pers. comm.]

March 20, 2010 (Saturday)

Robert Dalton, 44, of Roy, fell into a shaft while snowmobiling in Soapstone Basin.  His snowmobile lodged about 12 feet down and he fell another 40-50 feet.  He sustained shoulder, ankle, and arm injuries.  The Wasatch County Sheriff Search and Rescue team responded and rescued him; he was flown to the hospital for treatment.  This shaft is about 1.6 miles south of a shaft where similar incidents occurred on January 31 and March 1, 2009.

[Wasatch County Sheriff Search and Rescue Incident Report #1003-0689; Salt Lake Tribune online edition, Saturday 3/20/10, “Snowmobiler hurt in Wasatch County” by Lindsay Whitehurst, http://www.sltrib.com/News/ci_14719162, accessed 3/29/10]