Winter Quarters #4 mine after the disaster

Coal was discovered in the Scofield area in 1875 but it took two years to get an operational mine in place. In those early days, the coal was transported by wagons but there were no railroads close by until 1881. As usual in western coal camps, business dealings were pretty shady. The Union Pacific Coal Company made a false claim on the land of the Scofield townsite, forcing workers who lived there to lease the land their cabins were built on. Eventually folks found out and Union Pacific sold their mine operations the Utah Fuel Company, which was then bought by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. But the coal in the ground seemed inexhaustible and Scofield grew to where the town had a population of about 1,800 in 1900. Then in May of 1900, a spark in the fine coal dust hanging in the air deep underground blew up the Winter Quarters #4 mine. 100 men died immediately, another 99 died shortly thereafter from beathing the carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide gas left after the explosion. It was one of the worst coal mine disasters in history.

The mine reopened four weeks later but production suffered. The mines struggled on into the 1930's but eventually closed because of declining profitability. Today, the only indicator that Scofield was ever a town of any size can be found at the cemetery. Officially, Scofield is only a few people from being a true ghost town, although there is some growth from the buildling of new vacation homes in the area. The big draw is nearby Scofield Reservoir and Scofield State Park.