WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
ALEXANDER "ALEX" W. COLBATH
(mining executive and operator)
BIOGRAPHYAlexander "Alex" W. Colbath was born July 4, 1878 in Salt Lake City. He was very active in the social scene in Salt Lake during his early years. He served in the cavalry in 1898 during the Spanish American War.
Then Alex got involved in the mining industry in Park City. He attended the state normal school at Bingham, Utah. Alex started gaining experience buying mining claims and working as a mining engineer and superintendent. He gradually expanded his activities into other parts of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, and Wyoming.
In 1916, Alex raised $160,000 to buy most of the Silver Reef mine properties to take advantage of the World War I rise in silver prices. His Silver Reef Consolidated Mining Company had an office in the Newhouse building in Salt Lake City and fitted up the old Wells Fargo Bank in Silver Reef for their office at the mines. The property of the company was cleaned up, retimbered and fitted for resumption of work. Thirty men, all residents of Washington county, were employed and a branch power line was built from the Dixie Power Company's line to the mines. Three electric hoists were installed and all operations were conducted by means of electricity, including the ventilation of the shafts by electrically driven air compressors. He leased part of the property to a New York company in 1920, which planned to build a mill, but cancelled their plans when silver prices dropped again.
In 1922, Alex married Mary "Mayme" Elizabeth Olsen in Salt Lake City. Mayme was born in Leeds. She was previously married to David Oral Beal and brought a child from that marriage with her. Alex & Mayme lived in the old Wells Fargo Office in Silver Reef. He continued as superintendent of the Silver Reef Consolidated Mining Company. In 1928, the American Smelting and Refining Company purchased 51% of his stock and did a great deal of development work. When the price of silver dropped to 26 cents per ounce, work came to a standstill.
On the 1930 and 1940 census, Alex was an iron mine operator, living with his wife and stepson in Cedar City. He served on the mining, utilities and manufacturing committee of the Cedar City chamber of commerce in 1935.
In 1950, Alex sold his Silver Reef properties to Western Gold and Uranium, Inc. They worked the claims for uranium and in 1957 built a mill for processing the silver-uranium ore. It was still in operation in 1968.
Alex died of bronchial asthma on October 30, 1952 in the Dixie Pioneer Memorial Hospital in St. George. He was buried in Plot B_49_4 of the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.
He was a well-known mining expert throughout the West. He owned stock in multiple mining companies and was a member of the of the Alta Club, the American Mining Congress, and the Commercial Club in Salt Lake City.
Mayme died on July 12, 1962 in Cedar City and was buried in Plot B_49_3 of the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.
Vida remarried twice and died in 1969 in San Mateo, California.
REFERENCESAlexander W. Colbath
A research report by Elaine Young, PhD.
Find-A-Grave entry for Alexander Colbath
Find-A-Grave entry for Mary Elizabeth "Mayme" Olsen Colbath