Some would beg to differ. “A few thin beds” of coal have been found north of Horseshoe Bend and in the surrounding area. Also, geologists have found some coal near the Utah border in Cassia County. None of that amounts to much. But, how does 11 million tons sound? That’s the estimated amount of coal in several seams in the Horseshoe Basin near Driggs.
A small mine operated there beginning in 1905, but it was 1921 when things really got going with the development of a branch railroad to the Brown Bear seam where the Gem State Coal Company began working on a tunnel. By the following year the tunnel went 650 feet into the seam and coal had been shipped to nearby communities in Montana and Idaho. They mined into the 1930s, but a declining market for coal killed the operation. Most of that 11 million tons is still in the ground where, with the cost of other energy sources undercutting it, the coal will likely remain.
On a personal note, in 1924 my father-in-law was born in Sam, Idaho (long since abandoned) where his father was working for the Gem State Coal company.