Castle Gate received its name for a large rock formation featuring two sandstone walls resembling the gate of a castle, which stands near the town at the mouth of Price Canyon. The first mine opened in 1886 following the discovery of coal, initiating the establishment of a town two years later when the Denver and the Rio Grande Western Railroad built a track over the Wasatch Plateau, traveling right through the town site.
As the town grew, more mines opened, and a diverse group of people began migrating into the area. A large group of Latter-day Saints congregated to work at the mines as well as immigrants from European countries such as Italy, Greece, and Austria. Things were going well for the Castle Gate community. The Utah Fuel Company operated the Castle Gate coal mines until Kaiser Steel bought the company 1950 and built a coal-fired electric generating plant in Castle Gate.
Although Castle Gate had times of prosperity and success, it also experienced its fair share of misfortune, including several mining disasters, a flood, and the payroll robbery of 1897 by infamous outlaws Butch Cassidy and Elza Lay. While the mining payroll was being transported from the train to the town’s bank, Butch and Elza held the transporters at gunpoint and seized about $8,800. To get away, they cut telegraph and phone lines and arranged a series of horses they could relay ride at high speed for hours, enabling them to escape the area before word of the robbery could even spread.
In 1920, a flood swept the town, incurring immense damage to local property and the railroad. Unfortunately for Castle Gate, not long after this disaster an even larger one occurred: at 8:00 AM on March 8, 1924, the first of three violent explosions from coal dust and open flames erupted, causing extensive damage and collapsing tunnels. 173 people died, and it took nine days to recover all the bodies. The website Legends of America calls it the tenth worst mining disaster in United States history. Fiery tragedy returned seventy-six years later, in 2000, when the last mine in operation suffered another explosion, claiming two more lives and leading to the mine closing for good.
By the time this last mine shut down, Castle Gate had already been abandoned. The Kaiser Steel company razed the townsite in 1960 to make room for their electrical plant, forcing inhabitants to relocate. In 2015, the power plant closed due to its inability to meet environmental standards, and the once-productive coal mining settlement became a desolate ghost town.