• Happy New Year to all Bingham Miners!

Academics and Activities at Bingham High (1909-1912)

September 9, 2021 marks the 113th birthday for Bingham High School. Bingham High first opened its doors on September 9, 1908. As Bingham Miner Alumni, we can all celebrate the beginning of our alma mater in the narrow confines of Bingham Canyon in the upstairs room of the town’s community center known as Canyon Hall. Since that first year in the City of Bingham’s Canyon Hall, Bingham High has had five different locations: three in Bingham Canyon (1908-1931), one in Copperton (1931-1975) and the current location in South Jordan (1975-2021). Although it may be difficult for some to believe, as of 2020, Bingham High School’s South Jordan campus surpassed the 44 years Bingham High was located in Copperton.


Last year I published the happenings of Bingham High’s first school year of 1908-1909. This year I want to focus on academics and student activities at Bingham High in its first years at the Canyon Hall location in Bingham Canyon from 1909 to 1912. We have certainly come a long way since then. For more information on Bingham High’s history see Bingham High School—The First Hundred Years (1908-2008) by Scott Crump.


          In the 1909-1910 school year, Bingham offered two years of high school instruction, and Mr. F. G. (Farley Gilbert) Eskelson (1909-1910) was hired at a salary of $1,100 for nine months as Bingham’s supervising teacher to replace Mr. Hart, who accepted a position at the Weber Stake Academy.  Miss Bernice E. Day was also employed at Bingham to help teach the 12 freshmen and 19 sophomores enrolled. (54)  Just three months into the new school year, communication problems between the Sandy and Bingham campuses became apparent.  Principal Jorgensen, who was not receiving regular reports from Mr. Eskelson, petitioned the Board of Education in November to require Mr. Eskelson to send the reports he requested.  District minutes recorded:

 A communication (was received) from Mr. Jorgensen at the high school setting forth some requests for information asked of F. G. Eskelson, teacher at the Bingham High School.  Mr. Eskelson had answered Mr. Jorgensen in a very abrupt manner and stated if he or anyone else wanted to know about Bingham High School, it was their place to come and then to see for themselves.  Mr. Dunn moved that the clerk write Mr. Eskelson to the effect that Bingham High School was a branch of the high school held at Sandy, and Mr. Jorgensen was principal of the two, and he was just as much under Mr. Jorgensen’s supervision as if he was teaching in Sandy. (55)


Mr. Eskelson replied to the Board that the distance between the two schools made communications difficult and suggested the separation of the Bingham Campus from the high school in Sandy. (56)  After considering the request for a couple of months, the Board acquiesced and voted on January 17, 1910, to make Bingham High School independent of Jordan High and to appoint Mr. Eskelson as Bingham’s first principal. (57)  The towns of Bingham, Lark, Copperfield, Highland Boy, and later Copperton attended Bingham High School, and all the other communities in the southern part of Salt Lake Valley, including Sandy, Draper, Riverton, Bluffdale, Herriman, South Jordan, West Jordan, Welby, Midvale, Crescent, Butler, Union, and Granite, attended Jordan High’s Sandy location. (58)

          Although the required academic courses for graduation at both Jordan District high schools were the same, with only two teachers and 31 students, Bingham’s academic electives were somewhat limited during its second year.

Mr. Eskelson taught the basic science and mathematics courses and Miss Day instructed the language and history classes.  First year students were required to take algebra, English, general history or a foreign language, oral expression, physical geography, or bookkeeping and could choose music or domestic arts as an elective.  Required courses for second year students included geometry and English with choices from zoology, botany, English History, a foreign language, music, or domestic arts as electives.  Students who had not taken general history, geography, or bookkeeping during their first year could complete any of these courses the second year. (59)

          Third year course work was offered during the 1910-1911 school year with three teachers, E. E. Dudley, Ira H. Masters, and Effay Van Cott, instructing all required courses and a fourth-year curriculum was available in the 1911-1912 school year with three teachers on the faculty—all new to Bingham—Fred Reber, Estelle M. Ise (who resigned in November and was replaced by Ernest Young), and Royal H. Daw.  The principal, who also instructed classes and supervised the grammar school, earned $126.31 each month on a ten-month contract and teachers’ salaries ranged from $85 to $111.11 a month for nine months. (60)

          Juniors and seniors were required to take English, history, math, science, and whatever electives they needed to attain the 16 units of credit required for graduation.  The catalog for Jordan and Bingham High Schools for 1910-1911 listed the following courses:


First Year Classes

  1. Algebra (A)
  2. English (A)
  3. A foreign language
  4. Ancient History
  5. Oral Expression
  6. Physical Geography
  7. Bookkeeping
  8. Music
  9. Domestic Arts (sewing)
  10. Domestic Science

Note—Required 1 and 2

Second Year Classes

  1. Plane Geometry
  2. English (B)
  3. Zoology or Botany
  4. A foreign language
  5. Medieval History
  6. Oral Expression
  7. Domestic Arts
  8. Domestic Science
  9. Music

Note—Required, boys 1 and 2; girls 2.

Third Year Classes

  1. English (C)
  2. Algebra (B) and Solid Geometry
  3. English History
  4. A foreign language
  5. Physics
  6. Music

Note—Required 1. Students may make up studies missed in first or second year.

Fourth Year Classes

  1. English (D)
  2. A foreign language
  3. American History and Civics
  4. Chemistry
  5. Physiology
  6. Plane Trigonometry and review Algebra
  7. Geology
  8. Psychology
  9. Review common branches

Note—1 required.   No class will be organized for fewer than five students.  (61)

          With student enrollment fluctuating between 30 to 50 students from 1910-1912, and with only three teachers on the faculty, curriculum offerings at Bingham continued to be limited.  No class was organized for fewer than five pupils, but students desiring courses not offered at Bingham were given travel expenses to go to Jordan High. (62)  Students were admitted free to school although they had to purchase their own textbooks and supplies.  Small laboratory fees were required of those who studied domestic science (basic cooking and economics), or a science class. (63)

          The hard work and academic achievements of all Bingham’s students continued to be celebrated at commencement exercises held with Jordan High in Sandy.  At the school’s second commencement held on May 20, 1910, Utah Governor William Spry delivered the keynote address before one of the largest audiences ever assembled in the Sandy Chapel.  Speaking before the 30 plus freshmen and sophomores being promoted from Bingham and the 60 plus freshmen, sophomores, and juniors being advanced from Jordan, the governor placed special emphasis upon the fact that he was working hard for the betterment of high schools in the state.  Following the program, the students served their graduation guests a banquet in the basement of the church. (64)

          Further academic motivation came to Bingham’s students at the third commencement in May 1911, when not only did they receive their promotions to the next grade, but they witnessed the first students from the Jordan School District receiving their diplomas.  In celebrating the occasion with the 11 Jordan graduates, Bingham’s classes knew that their first graduates were but a year away. (65)


          Sports made their debut at Bingham High with the organization of a football team in 1910. (This was no small feat considering there were only around 30-40 students in the entire student body at the time.)  Sports had always been popular in Bingham Canyon, and their addition to Bingham High greatly enhanced the school’s spirit and identity.  As early as 1908, Swen Hakenson, a teacher at the old Bingham Central School, tried organizing student sports teams.  Hardening and smoothing the ground next to the Central School (on property that would become the site of Bingham’s first gymnasium in 1915), he recruited intramural football, basketball, and baseball teams. (66)  Finally, on October 7, 1910, Bingham High played its first game in competitive sports—a football game against the Collegiate Institute of Salt Lake City.  Playing on its home field, the Bingham gridders, coached by Ira Masters, made a good showing against the heavier and more experienced Salt Lake team, but lost by a score of 5 to 16.  (Touchdowns only counted 5 points until 1912).  The Salt Lake Herald and Salt Lake Tribune reported the following:

          Bingham High School met defeat in her first football game, played against the Collegiate Institute team of Salt Lake today, by the score of 16 to 5.  Considering the fact that it was the first football game ever played by the local high school, the showing made against the fast bunch from the city was more than satisfactory…  Bingham was good at line plugging, but has not had sufficient time to work up the new game.  Later in the season the Miners will be in the running.  Coakley, at fullback for the locals played a brilliant game on offense.  (67)  The visitors outweighed the locals by nearly twenty pounds to the man.  The (main) features of the game were the forward passes by the visitors and the long runs by Coach Johns of the Collegiates. The locals did some splendid line plugging and the defensive work of Joe Cushman and Coach Masters were excellent. The referee was Daley of Boston Technical.  The linemen were Principal E.E. Dudley of Bingham High and President George Sweasy of the Collegiate Institute.  The attendance was large.  About 40 enthusiasts accompanied the Salt Lake team here. (68)  

          Jordan High came to play the Bingham eleven on November 5, 1910, for the first ever meeting between these sister schools.  In a hotly contested game where Jordan was forced to earn every foot of ground on what was described as Bingham’s “rocky field,” the Jordan team defeated the Miners 11-0. (69)

          Bingham High School’s first sports victory came against the rival mining town of Park City.  The following account recorded the event:

By the score of 6 to 0 Bingham High School won from the Park City High School today.  The game was fast and hard fought, and the local victory caused much enthusiasm here for Coach Masters and his boys.  Woods of Park City was forced to retire in the first quarter with a wrenched knee, but there were no other injuries.  Baker, Roper and Sorensen starred for Bingham with Martin, Buck, Jones and Potts playing strong games for the (Park City) Miners.


                    The lineup:

                              Bingham                                              Park City

                              Cook                                 c                  Mitchell

                              Eskew                              rg                 Sutton

                             Thomas                            rt                  Evans

                              Cushman                         re                 Martin

                              Murphy                           lg                 Schaeffer

                             Thomas                           lt                  Stanley

                              Roper, Dean                    le                 Jones, Buck

                              Sorensen                         fb                 Dalglish

                              Coakley                           rh                 Woods, Jones

                              Jessop                             lh                 Potts

                    Referee – Daley (note – quarterbacks weren’t listed) (70)


          On their return trip to Park City, Park City’s players let reporters know of their dissatisfaction with what they deemed “unfair” decisions made during the Bingham game and the rocks that stuck out in the Bingham field.  They said, however, that they would give Bingham a square deal in a return game in Park City and beat the Bingham team there. (71)  When the game did not materialize, Park City was even unhappier as the Salt Lake Herald reported:

Park City High football authorities are a little bit up in the air over the way Bingham High School handles its football games.  Park City went to Bingham two weeks ago and was defeated by one touchdown.  Bingham promised a return game at Park City on Thanksgiving, but later sent word that the team was out of condition and had disbanded, and called the game off.  On Thanksgiving, however, Bingham played the Liberty Team of Salt Lake and won.  That Bingham had cold feet on playing Park City a return game is the opinion here. (72)

It is not certain what happened to the scheduling of the Park City game, but after playing the Liberty team, the Bingham High football team was disbanded, and the Miners would not play football again until 1925.  The complete 1910 football schedule comprised these contests:

Bingham Scores                                     Opponent Scores

5                       Collegiate Institute           16

5                       Payson                                 30

0                       Jordan                                 11

6                       Park City                             0

6                       Liberty Team                     5  

                                     Record 2-3

22                       Total Points                    66          (73)   


        Numerous dances, socials and other gatherings were held throughout the early years of Bingham High to keep alive school spirit and to raise funds to support athletics which received no subsidy from the Board of Education.  Typical of these activities was the Grand Halloween Ball in October 1910.  The Salt Lake Tribune advertised the event as follows:

       The Halloween party in Canyon Hall next Monday evening to be given by the Bingham High School is being looked forward to with much interest.  Decorations are well underway and a large attendance is assured.  Pumpkin pie, apple cider, etc. will be sold by the refreshment committee. (73A)

The Tribune summarized the event the next week with this paragraph:

The grand Halloween Ball given by the Bingham High School Monday evening was one of the most delightful social functions of the season.  The decorations were unique and artistic.  About $55 was cleared for the benefit of the football team. (74)

A typical Get-Acquainted Social given at the beginning of the school year in October consisted of the following events.

The high school pupils gave a Get-Acquainted Party Saturday evening in the Opera House at which parents, teachers and pupils met.  All reported an enjoyable time.  Several matters pertaining to studies and the young people’s work were discussed. (75)

          Most all these events took place at the Canyon Hall-Opera House which served as a social hub for the entire community.  The facility was so busy that the Board of Education approved a salary increase for the high school custodian.  Board minutes recorded:

 Mr. (C.L.) Countryman moved that Dan Coakley be paid $25 a month for janitor work in the Bingham High School.  There was a great deal of extra work attached to the janitor work in this room on account of it being used four nights in the week for lodges (and other functions), and the school furniture had to be removed at night and put back in the morning. (76)  

          Another popular school activity started at this time was drama.  One of the Bingham Dramatic Club’s first publicly performed plays was entitled The Professor’s Predicament. The Bingham Thespians performed this play, which became a popular silent movie in 1913, before large audiences in Canyon Hall on April 20, 1912.  The Salt Lake Tribune rated the student’s performance of “high order.” (77)

Bingham High’s developmental years in Canyon Hall were years of pioneering and progress; however, three issues became limiting factors in the school’s progress.  These included the limited facilities of Canyon Hall, the small size of the student body, and the high turnover rate of faculty members.  The facility issue had been an important topic since the school’s establishment.  The solution, however, would not come until a new eight room building was ready for use in 1912. (78)

          The student body’s size played a big role in not only what courses could be offered, but in whether additional grades would be given to Bingham.  Each May as the highest grade at Bingham finished its course work, the Board of Education approved the addition of another grade until Bingham had all four grades by the beginning of 1911-1912 school year.  However, the approval of additional years of high school course work was conditional on having enough students who wanted to take higher level courses.  The Board set ten students as the minimum number necessary to certify the course work of a grade.  Grade enrollments in the spring of 1911 showed that there were 20 freshmen, 15 sophomores, and 11 juniors.  After surveying the community for potential seniors, the Board calculated that there would be sufficient numbers and approved a fourth-year course. Nevertheless, in its early years the school constantly feared that its enrollment numbers might not meet minimum Board requirements. (79)

          The high rate of teacher turnover would trouble Bingham High throughout its Canyon Hall years and remained a problem until it moved into a building of its own.  In its first four years of existence, the school had five supervising teachers/principals and most of the assisting teachers stayed only a year.  F. G. Eskelson, who left in 1910 and eventually became a prominent doctor in Vernal, was replaced by E. E. (Elwood) Dudley (1910-1911).  Mr. Dudley, who had been a pillar of Bingham’s educational system for many years as headmaster of the grammar school, was not only given the position of principal of Bingham High School but presided over all the grades of the Bingham Schools and taught languages and history at the high school.  (The Bingham High principal would be the administrator over all grades, 1-12, and a teacher at the high school for the next 10 years.)  Mr. Dudley resigned in the middle of the school year and later became a prominent Bingham judge.  He was succeeded by Ira H. Masters (1911) who had been teaching science and mathematics at Bingham High and had been the school’s first football coach.  He would serve as principal for only the rest of the year.  Mr. Masters went on to become a newspaper publisher (the Bingham Bulletin being one of his endeavors), a Idaho legislator, and eventually the Secretary of State for Idaho.  Fred Reber (1911-1912) of Santa Clara, Utah, served as principal for one year before being replaced by Howard Alston (1912-1916).  In addition, none of the assisting teachers stayed more than a year until the arrival of Royal H. Daw in 1911.  Mr. Alston, who moved Bingham High to its new building and remained as principal for four years, and Mr. Daw, who taught at Bingham for six years, both helped bring a degree of stability and continuity to the school.  The Deseret Evening News summarized the general conditions at Bingham High in 1910:

          Another live high school in the Jordan district is the one at Bingham, which opened its doors in 1908.  It too has had a steady growth until now three years of regular high school work is given.  Owing to the lack of room in the regular school buildings, the Bingham High School has been handicapped, and the teachers have been working under difficulties, but the district is soon to complete a $35,000 building, part of which will be used as a permanent home for that school.  E. E. Dudley is the principal of the Bingham High School with I. H. Masters and Effay Van Cott as associate teachers….In the Bingham High School the total attendance is 29. (80) 

          May 17, 1912, when Bingham graduated its first class of seniors, was a time of celebration and pride for the entire Bingham Community and the Jordan School District.  Before an overflowing audience, Reverend Elmer I. Goshen delivered the commencement address, and music was given by individual students and the Jordan High School Orchestra.  Jordan principal Enoch Jorgensen spoke after which James R. Rawlins of the Jordan School Board of Education presented diplomas to the five Bingham and 17 Jordan graduates.  The ceremonies served as a tribute to the pioneering work of the first graduating class of Bingham High – the Class of 1912 – whose members included Elvira Christensen, Davis I. Geffen, Mona G. Heaston, Clifford A. Mayer and Agnes McDonald. (81)


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Academics and Activities at Bingham High (1909-1912)