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The coal deposits of the Alkali Butte, the Big Sand Draw, and the Beaver Creek fields, Fremont County, Wyoming

Circular 152

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Abstract

Large coal reserves are present in three areas located between 12 and 20 miles southeast of Riverton, Fremont County, central Wyoming. Coal in two of these areas, the Alkali Butte coal field and the Big Sand Draw coal field, is exposed on the surface and has been developed to some extent by underground mining. The Beaver Creek coal field is known only from drill cuttings and cores from wells drilled for oil and gas in the Beaver Creek oil and gas field.

These three coal areas can be reached most readily from Riverton, Wyo. State Route 320 crosses Wind River about 1 mile south of Riverton. A few hundred yards south of the river a graveled road branches off the highway and extends south across the Popo Agie River toward Sand Draw oil and gas field. About 8 miles south of the highway along the Sand Draw road, a dirt road bears east and along this road it is about 12 miles to the Bell coal mine in the Alkali Butte coal field. Three miles southeast of the Alkali Butte turn-off, 3 miles of oiled road extends southwest into the Beaver Creek oil and gas field. About 6 miles southeast of the Beaver Creek turn-off, in the valley of Little Sand Draw Creek, a dirt road extends east 1. mile and then southeast 1 mile to the Downey mine in the Big Sand Draw coal field. Location of these coal fields is shown on figure 1 with their relationship to the Wind River basin and other coal fields, place localities, and wells mentioned in this report.

The coal in the Alkali Butte coal field is exposed partly on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Tps. 1 and 2 S., R. 6 E., and partly on public land. Coal in the Beaver Creek and Big Sand Draw coal fields is mainly on public land.

The region has a semiarid climate with rainfall averaging less than 10 in. per year. When rain does fall the sandy-bottomed stream channels fill rapidly and are frequently impassable for a few hours. Beaver Creek, Big Sand Draw, Little Sand Draw, and Kirby Draw and their smaller tributaries drain the area and flow northwestward to the Wind River.

This report is based almost entirely upon geologic investigations made in 1949 as a part of the program of the Department of the Interior for development of the Missouri River basin. Some coal sections were measured in 1950 and the additional information on the Big Sand Draw coal field was obtained in 1951. A geologic map of the Beaver Creek field was not prepared for this report because most of the significant coal occurs below a depth of 1,400 ft and is not exposed on the surface. Mr. George Downey, Lander, Wyo. , supplied much helpful information on the Big Sand Draw coal field and the area in general. Topographic contours shown on figures 11, 12, 13, and 14 are from unpublished plane-table sheets made by E. D. Woodruff in 1912.

Previous geologic investigations of the region have been made by E. G. Woodruff and D. E. Winchester (1912), by C. J. Hares (1916), by A. J. Collier (1920), and C. M. Bauer (1934). Except for the work of Woodruff and Winchester, which was an areal examination for the purpose of classifying the public lands, the geological investigatiohs were of a general nature and give little detail of the coal beds. Berryhill (1950) summarizes Woodruff and Winchester's work.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
The coal deposits of the Alkali Butte, the Big Sand Draw, and the Beaver Creek fields, Fremont County, Wyoming
Series title:
Circular
Series number:
152
Year Published:
1952
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Description:
iii, 24 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Wyoming