Way We Were: Empty promises at the Nelson Queen Mine
Park City Museum research coordinator
Next Wednesday, Sept. 16, Park City Museum members will visit the site of the Nelson Queen Mine as part of our Historic Hikes program. Most, if not all, of you will not have heard of the Nelson Queen, but the same cannot be said for Parkites from 1906 to 1930.
On June 30, 1906, The Park Record announced a “big consolidation” of 21 mining claims of the Nelson Mining Company and the Silver Queen Mining Company in the Elkhorn District in Peaceful Valley, just east of present-day Jordanelle Reservoir, forming the Nelson Queen. With the announcement came mentions of a shaft already sent down 100 feet with ore exposed all around.
“There is a large body of this material (ore) in sight,” The Park Record noted, “and within ninety days, we are informed, the proposition will look big and permanent.” The promise of a big strike would become a theme for the Nelson Queen.
In November of that year, The Park Record reported a full and new mining plant was being installed and almost complete, and “fine” ore about ready to ship. In December, the paper reported that “much good shipping ore” was coming out of the mine and that the owners were readying to build a concentrator mill that would “place the (Nelson Queen) in the front ranks of big properties.”
The next month, The Park Record relayed that the Nelson Queen would become a “regular shipper of high-grade ore” by the summer of 1907. Apparently work actually ceased over the summer with flooding problems, but in September, The Park Record noted “the property has all the ear marks of a coming big mine.” By the end of the year, there had been more reports of flooding and “promise,” but in December, miners “bumped into ore at every turn.”
In January of 1908 the boilers in the works broke down, but The Park Record noted experts and anyone who’d seen the mine believed “the property is destined to become a mine of great wealth. Apparently the breakdown occurred just as an incredible vein of ore came into sight. New boilers and other machinery were to arrive in June, but were apparently “lost in transit.”
The boilers had apparently not arrived by the end of 1908 and the next mention of the Nelson Queen in the newspaper was June 1909, which noted the owners would not start work back up until the mine was powered by electricity.
The next mention came in April of 1910, when The Park Record noted the pumping plant idea was scrapped and a drain tunnel started instead. Not to mention the great promise the mine showed to be a consistent ore-shipper. As the tunnel progressed, the newspaper expressed disappointment that a pumping system could not be funded to allow the Nelson Queen to bring “new life to Park City for many years to come” (later specified to be 100 years of life).
From 1912 to 1918, articles put out every few months continued to note the Nelson Queen had funding again and work could resume — plus, the mine showed great promise; in one instance, the owner predicted it would be the next Ontario Mine. Its prospects were also “getting brighter all the time” and “attracting a good deal of attention” from the likes of mining mogul Jesse Knight. That was the last mention of the Nelson Queen until 1922.
Then in January 1922, the hoopla started again, with The Park Record noting the Nelson Queen would be “the talk of the mining world before the end of the year.” The property was reincorporated in June, and then nothing was heard from it until 1926, when it was found to be the location of a major whiskey still (the country was in Prohibition).
The owners were bought out in May 1927, and several articles per year through 1929 noted the promise the mine showed, after which the mentions mostly stop. While it did ship some second-grade ore throughout its time, the Nelson Queen never did live up to the promise of shipping high-grade ore, becoming the next Ontario, or bringing life to Park City for 100 years to come.
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