The history and legacy of Helper

- HELPER, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Helper may not seem like much more than a speck on a map; main street has slowed and store fronts are empty, but it hasn't always been that way.

Jim Boyd from the Western Mining and Railroad Museum explained the start of Helper came, "In 1892 the trains came through and put in standard gage."

Boyd may be able to tell the history of Helper better than anyone else, he runs the city's museum right on Main Street. Even the name of the city has a story.

Boyd said, "Because the engines were steam, they didn't have the power of modern diesel so they positioned five helper engines at the railroad yard and then the town took its name."

While trains came to Helper first, it was Mining that sparked the growth explosion in the early 1900s.

Boyd explained, "Most of the coal companies were developed to serve the railroad and they became export to salt lake and the rest of the west."

To get the coal, you need people to work the mines. That brought people from around the world to Central Utah.

Boyd said, "We ended up with this hodge podge of people; but the thing that made them all come was that they all had one goal and that was to build a better life for their kids."

The story of Helper hasn't always been positive; in 1900 there was an explosion at one of the major mines in the community and 264 people died.

That was the potential for miners; each day they would leave his home and go to work and kiss his wife goodbye not knowing if that was the last time they would see each other. Despite that risk, they would also go to work to provide for their family. It is that work ethic Boyd said is what makes Rural Utah so important.

Boyd explained, "That's the role of a small town in today's world; all the small towns provide to Utah as a state a sense of success and ability to make things happen and know that you can succeed."

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