Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Charles S. Peterson


Charles S. Peterson


Paul Ganster


The problem of an adequate fuel supply plagued the people of the Salt Lake Valley from the Mormons' earliest occupation of the region. The first type of fuel used in the area was timber from the surrounding mountains, but this proved to be insufficient to meet the demands of growing population. With the rapid increase in the number of homes and businesses in the Salt Lake area, a new source of fuel was needed. A universal feeling existed in the community that coal was the answer to its needs.

In the autumn of 1859 coal was discovered near the present-day town of Coalville, about fifty wagon-miles from Salt Lake City. The main deposits were on Chalk Creek in Summit County. Coal mines were opened immediately, and the coal was wagon-freighted to the fuel-short people of Salt Lake City and other Utah communities. This early method of transporting the coal by wagon failed to provide sufficient fuel to meet all demands, and a better way was sought,

In the spring of 1869, at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory, an event occurred which not only marked the completion of a great achievement for the United States, but appeared to be the answer to the Mormons fuel needs as well. On May 10 the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad joined their tracks in a rather obscure ceremony at Promontory. Brigham Young, in his position as spiritual and temporal leader of the Mormons, saw this event as Providence's answer to the problem of shipping coal from the recently developed mines.

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