John A. Reeves, Sr. (97) passed March 1, 2023. Raised in Price, Utah, he joined the U.S. Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After World War II (1946), he attended the University of Utah and received a B.S. in Mining Engineering. Reeves held several positions before L.S. Wood hired him in 1956 to develop, and manage its operations in Coal Basin near Redstone, Colorado as part of his company Mid-Continent Coal and Coke. When L.S. Wood passed in 1968, Reeves together with other corporate officers effected a management buyout. Reeves continued in his role as the corporate executive responsible for the operation of the Coal Basin mines.
Reeves would be instrumental in many important changes. Among them was exporting coal to Asian customers, which enabled the mine to continue production despite reductions in U.S. steelmaking. Another key change he implemented was the introduction of longwall mining at Coal Basin in the early 1970’s. The Coal Basin mines were the deepest and gassiest mines in the U.S. at the time and longwall mining mitigated numerous safety hazards.
In 1991, a mine fire would bring Mid-Continent to its knees. Although the miners managed to extinguish the fire, the economic loss proved to be too much and the decision was made to close and reclaim the Coal Basin mines.
Reeves received the Distinguished Mining award from the University of Utah in 2001. Gaining his pilot’s license in 1970, he enjoyed flying with his family and boating on Lake Powell. As an engineer, he was always adapting to new technology, becoming proficient with today’s modern devices in his later years.