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The Blind Miner Of The Wasatch

James Leroy "Roy" Newman (1894-1974) - Back To Utah Historical Sites

Roy Newman was blinded and nearly killed when a stick of dynamite misfired in this mine in 1929. But the determined miner recovered and returned to work his mine alone - for another 45 years!

The belief that rich lead, zinc, and sliver ores lay deep in the mountain kept Roy working; he did encounter low-grade veins of oar. He drove 1,600 feet using only hand-held drills, a four-pound hammer, explosives, and his ingenuity.

Though blind, Roy could faintly detect light in the corner of one eye and he used this ability to keep the mine workings straight. Roy would set a carbide lamp in the middle of the track, several hundred feet from the mine's working face. Then he would stand a pick, with its handle up, in the track a few feet from the face. Standing between the pick and the face, Roy moved his head back and forth until the pick block the light. Repeating this process, he was able to continually center and straighten the workings.

Roy lived alone in a cabin near the mine through the pleasant summers and long, harsh winters. With the help of friends and family, who kept him supplied with food and other basic needs, he maintained his optimism and persevered. "I like the challenge that Mother Nature presents the miner who searches for her secrets," he said.

Directions: This historical marker is located approx 7.5 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon. After you pass the S turn you will continue approx 2.8 miles. Look for a very large pull out with several signs that tell you about the area. The mine entrance and the area around the mine are posted No Trespassing. But if you stand on the other side of Big Cottonwood Creek you can get a good view of the mine entrance and a little ways inside the mine. With a good zoom lens you can get a pretty good picture. Please obey the No Trespassing signs and do not enter the mine.

  • Location:
  • Big Cottonwood Canyon
  • Big Cottonwood Canyon from Salt Lake City. Take I-215 to the
  • 6200 South Exit. Follow the signs to Solitude and Brighton.
  • Big Cottonwood Creek runs the entire length of the canyon.
  • Respect Private Property.
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