When Sanford Bingham settled in the Salt Lake Valley, he and his brother Thomas were cattle ranchers. They ran a heard or cattle in the mountains bordering the west side of the valley. The canyon became known as Bingham Canyon.
While herding cattle, Sanford and Thomas discovered mineral deposits in the canyon and took samples to Brigham Young, the Mormon prophet and leader at the time. Brigham Young advised them not to engage in mining at the time, due to concerns about mining being an attraction to outsiders that would interfere with the need of the growing community to practice their religion in peace. Sanford and Thomas heeded this counsel and later their families settled in an area north of the Salt Lake Valley. Hazleton and Maria Campbell eventually farmed in Juniper, where I grew up and where my family still farms today.
Bingham Mine, which is now known as Kennecott Copper Mine, is one of the largest copper mines in the world, and produces 25% of our nations copper.
This afternoon we took the kids to visit Kennecott. We've gone before, several years ago, but as I've learned more about the history of my great, great grandfather, I thought it would be fun to go there again with the kids.
|Looking across the open mine several miles wide and 3/4 mile deep.|
|Side wall of Kennecott Copper Mine|
|Two cute miners|
|12 foot tire of the trucks used to haul the dirt containing minerals|
|Megan paying close attention to the sign.|
|Testing her strength|
|One of two places at the mine where we saw Sanford Bingham's name.|
|This display seemed to draw a crowd.|
|Second name spotting|
|Two more cute miners|
It's a real moment of introspection to be standing at the face of one of the world's largest copper mines, thinking that if history had been different, I may be the wealthy descendent of Sanford Bingham, instead of the farm girl from Idaho descendent of Sanford Bingham. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little part of me that wondered how my life would be different if my great, great grandfather had decided to be a miner instead of listening to the prophet.
Then in that moment I also had to imagine being raised in a family without the gospel, in a life where material possessions mattered more than following the plan of our Savior, which includes following the counsel of living prophets.
I wondered what that decision was like for Sanford Bingham. Did he deliberate? Did he think twice before leaving behind his discovery of rich mineral deposits for cattle farming? When miners entered the area several years later, did he ever look back and wonder if his life could have been different? Or did his heart yearn for the farm, and family and home like mine does when I've been away from Juniper for too long? It's funny how you come to love what you have.
Honestly, there was still a little part of me that wished for both the gospel and wealth. There are people who have both, right? At the same time, I also know that I, and hundreds, maybe even thousands of descendants of Sanford Bingham, will one day meet him again and thank him for his decision to put generations of our family on a gospel path.
Then I thought of this quote: "Never permit yourself to become a weak link in the chain of your generations." (President Gordon B. Hinckley from "Keep the Chain Unbroken", 30 November, 1999)
For those who gave me a strong chain of generations to belong to, I am thankful. I know in my heart it is a treasure that wealth cannot buy.