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The road into Nine Mile Canyon takes you past an abandoned coal mine: Soldier Creek Coal Mine. The name of the mine was inspired by the Buffalo Soldiers, a troop of African American soldiers who were responsible for building the road through the canyon. The coal mine represents one of the most influential economic drivers in Price and Carbon county: coal mining. The mountains in Carbon County and Emery County, to the south, contain veins of coal. The mining of that resource has generated thousands of well-paid jobs for 150 years. The valuable, burnable product was first discovered in the area in the 1870s. Early on, locals would load up horse-drawn wagons at what was nicknamed "country banks,” where exposed veins were easily accessible. But it was the construction of the Denver and Rio Grande Western rail line into Utah in the early 1880s that stimulated an increased production of coal. Coal mining history is filled with fascinating stories of hardship, union strikes, labor violence and expansion throughout the area. It also brought immigrants looking for good jobs from around the world. They were lured to the area -- with false promises of wealth -- from Italy, China, Finland, Greece, the Balkans, Japan and Mexico. It was this influx of immigrants that contributed to the colorful history of Carbon County and supported the area economically for many years. Soldier Creek Coal Mine is still operating from the same coal seam, but a new mine, called the Dug Out Mine, has since been built to access the opposite end of the vein. You can still see remains of the original mine from this road. They will soon be dismantled, and the area will be reclaimed. Utah coal mines produced 26 million tons of coal in 2006. That was 2.2% of the U.S. total, which made Utah the 12th-biggest coal-producing state in the country. That year, Utah employed more than 2,000 coal miners, 73% of whom were non-unionized.
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