SOPRIS MINES & COKE OVENS
The Company Houses in Sopris Canyon were demolished in 1928.
6 years after the explosion.
A Methane Gas explosion in 1922 killed 18 miners.
ORIGINAL SOPRIS CANYON 1901
Mine No.1 entrance
LATER SOPRIS CANYON
COMPANY OWNED HOUSES 1917-18
Railway leading to the tipple (Mule drawn cars)
Approx. 1/8 mi.
All of the coal mined at Sopris was converted to coke for use in many Colorado precious metal smelters, as well as the steel mill at Pueblo. The first 100 ovens (pictured above & right) were constructed in 1888 and another 100 were added in 1892.
R.C. Hills, a Colorado Fuel & Iron geologist, invented a far more efficient oven that could precisely control the amount of air introduced during the cooking process. In 1893, Colorado Fuel & Iron constructed 120 of these new ovens, and in 1900 added 50 more ovens. (Picture below) The coke ovens at Sopris could produce 3000 tons of coke per day.
A washer, to clean the coal prior to cooking, was constructed in 1894. A crusher also was added near the tipple structure. Daily coal production from the mine reach 1000 tons, and more than 300 men worked at the Sopris facilities.
From Ghost Towns
by Kenneth Jessen
SOPRIS NO. 1 MINE
Sopris Original Coke Ovens (Circa 1890). Mule-driven cars deposit "washed" coal into the oven's funnel, while coke fuel is loaded onto railroad cars for shipping.5
COKE OVENS 1954
Last two(2) remaining of 120 Coke Ovens 1973
View to the northwest of the Sopris Coke Ovens (1973)
Un-mined Coal Bed
In 1922 a Methane Gas Explosion in the No. 2 mine killed 18 miners which immediately shut it down. All the homes were razed in 1928. However, Mining operations in the No.1 mine continued operations until 1940. The Coke Ovens remained until 1970.
No. 2 Mine
Estimated that only 10% of the coal bed was mined.
No. 1 Mine
Mined Coal Bed
Sopris & surrounding area coal miners - Valdez Colorado
Some of the original homes in Sopris Canyon
Sopris mine #1 employees Nov. 1926