Back in May, Claire and I visited the mining town of Copperton followed by a trip to the Kennecott Copper Mine (also known as the Bingham Canyon Mine). It was one of those blog posts I always meant to write for that other blog. But now I’m writing about it here. But fair warning: the pictures in this post might make you long for spring. (I have to keep reminding myself that it will come eventually.)
Let’s start off with a map (yay!).
Fact #1: The mine has been in production since 1906, and has resulted in the creation of a pit over 0.75 miles (1.2 km) deep, 2.5 miles (4 km) wide, and covering 1,900 acres (7.7 km²).
Fact #2: It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 under the name Bingham Canyon Open Pit Copper Mine.
Fact #3: Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon Mine is the largest man-made excavation in the world, and is visible with the naked eye from space.
I took Claire with me on a Saturday afternoon. I lured her out by promising to stop at a park. That would be the Copperton Park. Copperton is a mining town right next to the mine, and it has an awesome old-school park.
That playground is definitely not made out of plastics (at least, most of it). Those are some real discarded tires and cement tunnels and steel beams.
Can you see the mine behind the playground? It’s noticeable from almost every angle in Copperton.
There’s a little white church across from the playground (right next to the LDS one, of course).
It has a little gazebo next to it.
Copperton itself, is a really cute little town. I wonder what it was like in its heyday. I really wanted to take more pictures of the streets, but this is where I first realized the biggest obstacle to my project of documenting Utah towns – I feel really self-conscious about taking photos in public, non-touristy locations. It’s something I need to get over. But I am really good at taking photos from the privacy of my own car, so I did get a few shots.
Of course, those kids in the parking lot of the post office did see me parked across the street taking photos and yelled at me. I got out of there so quick. And we headed toward the copper pit.
Here’s a view of the Wasatch Mountains on the other side of the valley.
The Wasatch Mountains are the big mountains in the east. The copper pit is in the Oquirrh Mountains, the smaller ones in the west. I say smaller, but they are still real mountains. (Not like the hills that some people call mountains.) Even though Copperton is the mining town, the mine is still down the road a stretch.
Then once you pay your $5 fee for entering the canyon, you still have to climb quite a bit before you reach the mine.
But it’s worth it. The mine is seriously amazing. It’s incredible to look down into it. As the commemorative penny that I squished says, “It’s one hell of a whole.”
See those ant-sized trucks? They are the donors of the tires Claire was climbing on in the park. Or, for another look, they are these tires.
When I was younger, you used to be able to climb inside the tire. And I have proof. Over Christmas, Amanda found some pictures of an afternoon we spent circa 1987 at Copperton Park and the Copper Pit.
Some people think the mine is a blight on the landscape, but I actually find it quite beautiful. I love how the colors bleed into each other. And you have to admit, it really is impressive.