Panel 1: Mt. Harris 1914-1958
The Colorado-Utah Coal Company's Harris Mine was opened June 12, 1914 under the direction of George Homer and Bryon Harris. The camp was first named Harris, but later changed, due to another established post office in the state. The mine was a slope mine located just south of the Yampa River requiring a large conveyor system which crossed the river to reach the tipple at the tracks of the D.S. & L. railroad.
As the town grew, a business section was erected, the main structure was built of rock taken from the surrounding rim rocks. This building housed a general store, drug store, pool hall, barber shop, post office and the mine's business office.
Colorado-Utah and Victor American incorporated to build an elementary school. The first school was a frame building that burned - it was replaced by a modern brick building. The town was totally independent; the mine had its own power plant and water facilities. Employees were charged from $8.00-$35.00 for rent which included electricity and water.
Mt. Harris was considered a model mining camp. Along with the business district there were two churches, doctors' offices, theater, service station, two hotels, bunk house plus a large baseball field and grandstand. The Athletic Club was the only licensed club in
the area until 1933, drawing athletes from as far as Denver, Utah, & Wyoming to compete.
In the mine's 44 years of operation, it proved to be the safest mine in the area, keeping the loss of lives to approximately 7. The names available are: Bill Assmusson Jr., Burton Burns, Larry Phoenix, Gene Plaza and Van Close.
At the closing of the mine in 1958, the town was liquidated. The houses and buildings were sold at auction with the majority moved to neighboring towns.
Panel 2: Surrounding Mines
Within a 7 mile radius there were a number of other mines that were producers of high grade coal that was shipped out by rail to Denver, then on to other destinations.
The exact opening and closing dates of the mines and the liquidations of the camps are not available. It is known that they operated between the years of 1913 and 1965.
Some of the mines in existence at that time were:
Pennacle-Kemmer, also called the P-K or Wolf Creek Mine, was located east of the Wadge seam.
The Bear River Mine was in operation from 1913 to 1940. It was developed by Connel and Peltier as a slope-driven mine located east of Mt. Harris and north of the Yampa River.
Most of the homes were perched on a shelf on the canyon wall. The mine itself was opened again in 1975 under the direction of the original
owners, however it operated under the name of Sun Coal. The mine closed again in 1984.
Coal View Mine was located 1/4 mile east of Bear River and south of the Yampa River. It also had its own camp and company store.
McGreger was located west of Milner.
The camp had its own school, store, post office, pool, amusement hall, and power plant.
For 40 years the power plant furnished electricity for a large part of the county. The town was liquidated sometime in the late 30's but the plant was operated by Y.V.E.A. until the Hayden Power Plant went into operation in 1965.
Panel 3: Victor-American (Wadge) 1916-1951
The Wadge Mine was opened in 1916 by John Osgood's Victor-American Fuel Company. The area that Victor-American and Mt. Harris developed into prosperous mines and communities was previously homesteaded and mined (on small scale) by one James Wadge.
Like the Mt. Harris mine, the coal was taken from the seam cropping out just east of the Harris portal. A similar tipple-conveyor system was used. The operation later became the Victor-American when a new seam was opened beneath "Gibraltar Rock" just west of the townsite.
Both Victor-American and Colorado-Utah housed their workers on adjacent properties, making the camps virtually indistinguishable.
The mine had a company store, hotel and bathhouse
for its employees. The Mt. Harris business district, theater, post office, doctors office and churches were shared by both communities.
The loss of the 34 miners that were killed in the 1942 mine explosion at the Victor-American Mine left families and friends totally devastated. Of the 34 miners that lost their lives, 22 were from Wadge, 6 from Craig, 3 from Hayden, and 3 from Steamboat Springs.
After the mine closed in 1951 and the houses and business buildings were sold at auction, the closing of Mt. Harris followed in 1958, leaving the home town of so many people just a memory.
Panel 4: In Memory
of the 34 miners that lost their lives in the January 27, 1942 mine disaster at the Victor-American mine. Only 4 men escaped.
Antonio Adams · Plutarco Adams · Charles Baker · H.T. Been · Leo Beck · Walter Blount · Max Bustos · Ralph Cable · Raymond Cable · Ross Cable · Pete Creton · Don Ford · Jack Gasperich · Philip Gonzales · Joe Goodrick · Harvey Hardin · H.H. Hartman · Elmer Hindman · Kenneth Hockmart · Tom McKnight · Joe Martinek · Harry Moore · Bob Nance · Harry Oliver · Raymond Pope · George Searles · Frank Shepherd · Tony Skufca · Joe Sterteck · Tim Trujillo · Arthur VanCleave · Adrian Vriezema · Chas. Vukoman · Harrison Ward
Among the miners killed in separate accidents at the mines were:
Rhodes · Bill Steffen · Otto Burns · Bill McIntyre · Joe Skuka · Alex Urista