Adapted from: Watt, Ronald G. A History of Carbon County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1997; “About Us.” https://eastcarboncity.org/about-us/. Accessed April 24, 2020.
The story of East Carbon City is a reflection of some of the challenges and solutions of the surrounding area. East Carbon City is a merger of three different struggling coal towns. The first two, Dragerton and Columbia, merged in 1973 to create East Carbon City. The decision was motivated by a desire for better public services, since unincorporated areas were reliant on the county for their public services. The name, East Carbon city, matched the name of the high school that had served the area since 1958. The last Sunnyside, merged with East Carbon City in 2014.
Prior to the merger, all three towns were company coal towns. The 1973 merger coincided with a brief energy boom, but by the 1980s, the Kaiser Coal mine had shut down, bringing the jobless rate of the area up to 50%. It reopened briefly, but closed again. There was talk of extracting oil from Sunnyside’s tar sands, but the idea never came to fruition. The solution that did keep the town going was the construction of a landfill that solicited garbage from out of state. East Carbon City got fifty cents per ton of garbage as a tippage fee, which allowed for renovation and community improvement projects.
Even with the revenue from the landfill, the town’s population has slowly declined, with a brief spike in population recently with the merger with Sunnyside. The population today is about 1,500.