Historic Resource Study
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Mining has played a prominent role in the history of Arizona. Many have been disappointed in their search for mineral wealth while a few succeeded in their quest for riches. Tucson came to play a prominent role as a center of mining activity, although the physical development of important mines did not take place in close proximity to that city. Silver and copper, the two most common ores, were excavated within a distance of thirty to 100 miles from that city. To this day fifty percent of the copper in the United States is mined, concentrated, and smelted within 100 miles of Tucson. One mining district, Amole, partly covered the Tucson Mountain unit of Saguaro National Monument. Although prospecting and digging have occurred there since the 1860s, the mineral deposits have proved to be generally small and of low grade. The only profit made there was from the sale of claims and not from mining.

A. A Summary of Arizona Mining

Mineral exploration in Arizona began during the Spanish period in the 1730s. Spaniards, in their search for precious metals, moved from central Mexico northwestward and in 1736 discovered a large deposit of native silver about twenty miles southwest of present day Nogales in what became known as the Planchas de Plata district. This strike caused great excitement and brought many men to the region. From this time through the Mexican period of the 1820s and 1830s sporadic prospecting occurred in the mountains of extreme southern Arizona. Although no deposits were found that approached the Planchas de Plata, some small amount of mining took place. Gold and silver were extracted almost entirely by using placers or by the crude smelting of richer ore found in the mountains bordering ranch settlements in the Santa Cruz River Valley. The Patagonia, Santa Rita, and Cerro Colorado mountains were the scene of most activity. [1]

American miners were attracted to southern Arizona after the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. Charles D. Poston and Herman Ehrenberg made a mineral survey in Sonora and southern Arizona in 1854. Poston obtained Eastern backing and began serious prospecting in 1856. The areas previously worked by the Spanish and Mexicans were rediscovered and several silver mines opened in the Santa Rita, Patagonia, and Cerro Colorado mountains. Among these mines were the Mowry, Heintzelman, and Saltero. In addition copper was found at Ajo, but, owing to transportation difficulties, that mineral was not extracted in any amount. Tucson played only a minor role in this early exploration for minerals. It was too far north and most companies headquartered in Tubac. [2]

Prospecting and mining nearly ceased at the onset of the Civil War as the recall of federal troops encouraged Apaches to increase their raids. Prospectors, however, returned when the California Volunteers, a Union force, arrived, but most of their activity occurred in the western portion of the territory and in the Wickenberg area. When the volunteers left at the close of the war, a period of bloody warfare ensued with the Apache and thus little mining occurred until 1872. [3]

In 1872 the Apache leader Cochise reached a truce with General O.O. Howard. Mining now seemed safe and the remainder of the decade proved a very active period for prospectors. High silver prices led miners to focus on that metal. The first new mine was the Silver King located three miles north of Superior. Tombstone received great notice after 1878. Nearly all of the large copper deposits were located at this time, but they remained relatively undeveloped from lack of adequate transportation. Since most copper mines and the territory's larger silver mines were in southern Arizona, the attention by 1879 focused there and Tucson soon became a mining center. [4]

Tucson became a mining center because of the Southern Pacific Railroad which reached that city from the west in March 1880. The crossing of Arizona by two continental railroads in 1880 and 1882 permitted a dramatic increase in mining activity, especially for copper, since it became feasible to haul that bulky ore. The boom was also fueled by high metal prices. This situation did not last long, for in 1884 the price of copper began to fall. By 1886 all copper mining camps had closed except the big ones at Bisbee, Morenci, Globe, and Jerome. The value of silver also declined, and when the federal government removed it from use for coinage in 1893, mining stopped and never resumed except for short periods. Seemingly in this period, Arizonans turned in larger numbers than usual to other methods of obtaining money from their claims. It was frequently reported in 1888 and 1889 that it was a common practice to have "outrageous transactions in palming off more or less worthless properties to innocent but credulous parties." [5]

Although many miners turned to a search for gold with some success in the last decade of the nineteenth century, copper soon proved its worth. By 1896 the price of copper began to inch upward as a growing electrical industry caused a greater demand. As the twentieth century opened, copper became the most important metal in Arizona, and during the period 1898-1930 very little mining other than for that ore was done. The financial depression of 1907 reduced production which did not completely recover until the First World War. Several factors added to copper production in 1912 with the simultaneous development of large-scale mining procedures to exploit low-grade ore deposits, and the discovery and perfection of the flotation process used for concentration. [6]

The 1930s depression severely crippled Arizona's mining industry. By 1933 copper production was only thirteen and one-half percent that of 1929. Many mines closed for a time. In 1939 copper prices increased and production rose, but only the large low-grade mines survived and answered the call of the Second World War. These have continued until the present day. Two sites were added in the 1950s at San Manuel and the Pima District south of Tucson. They joined those of Ajo, Clifton/Morenci, and Globe. [7]

B. The Amole Mining District

The Tucson Mountain Unit of Saguaro National Monument covers a portion of the Amole Mining District of Pima County (Figure 11). Geologically, this mountain chain was heaved upward and has many faults and folds. Lava flows, from the volcanics which occurred there, have been stripped off by erosion leaving the underlying rock exposed. The greater portion of the mountains is igneous rock. Ore bodies occur in veins along the faults and are generally small or of low grade. The most frequently occurring minerals include copper, lead, and silver, but occasionally some other ores such as molybdenum have been mined. In addition limestone on the western side of the range was used to manufacture lime. [8]

Figure 11. Principal mining claims—Amole District, Tucson Mtn. Unit. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Key to the Claims in the Northern Part of the Amole Mining District

1. Alta
2. Azurite
3. Bonanza Park
4. Bosques
5. Buena Vista
6. Cimaron
7. Copper Bell
8. Copper Crown
9. Copper King (Mile Wide)
10. Copper Mountain
11. Copper Queen
12. Copper Top
13. Esmeralda
14. Esperanza
15. Ferguson
16. Garcilla
17. Gould
18. Henry Waer
19. Jimmy Lee
20. L. Martin Waer
21. Margarite
22. McQuane
23. New State
24. Old Yuma
25. Orient
26. Ramage
27. Ronco Flores
28. St. Louis
29. St. Paul
30. San Fernando
31. San Francisco
32. San Miguel
33. Sibley
34. Silver Moon
35. Stinson
36. Washington
37. Woofenden

Although the Amole was a miscellaneous Pima county district, its history in the ebb and flow of mining activity paralleled that of the other districts except at the beginning. Spanish, Mexican, and early Anglo mineral exploration and mining was centered farther south in Arizona with no existing evidence to indicate any such activity took place in the Tucson Mountains. The Nequilla, just southeast of the National Monument's boundary, was the first mine located in the Amole District on December 11, 1865. Jesus and Ramon Bustamenti, and Domingo Gallego recorded their claim on February 17, 1866. Two of the partners sold their interest to James Lee and William Scott in 1867. Lee and Scott obtained the final third in 1871. When they patented their claim on September 28, 1872, it was the first mining claim to be patented in Arizona Territory. Apache warfare in the post Civil War period prevented Lee and Scott from developing their property. Three raids in 1867 resulted in the death of a hired hand and the loss of livestock. After the 1872 truce, the partners returned and by early 1875 had dug a shaft to the 120 foot level with plans to expand it another fifty feet. As was the case with other miners in the 1870s, they concentrated on extracting silver ore which they shipped to a San Francisco smelter via Guaymas, Mexico. Lee and Scott operated their mine until the early 1880s when the depression forced them to close. At that time they had reportedly produced $70,000 in silver. It was not to reopen for many years. In the meantime Austin Moss replaced Lee as Scott's partner by 1907. Scott, in turn, took over the operation and sold it to his son at the onset of the First World War. His son sold it to W.A. Weaver about 1922. Now called the Jimmie Lee Mine, Weaver reopened it for a short period in early 1923. It soon closed, never to be worked again, when profits were not forthcoming. [9]

Registration of mining claims began to increase after 1872. The description of claim locations, however, is so vague that it is impossible to locate most of them. Except for the Nequilla, few of the 1870s claims seemed to have had mining activity. Instead, they were mainly held for speculation. Richard Hinton in his 1878 book noted that there had not been a large amount of metals yet located in the Tucson area as compared with the region to the south. Ameliano Lopez was one of the more active prospectors in the period. In 1874 he filed a claim which he called Independence. This was followed in 1878 with the Cymbeline in partnership with Charles A. Shibell. The following year he, with James Blade and J.W. Murphy, flied on the Silver Moon, Lola Lopez, and New Strike. A. Caballero located the Buena Vista in 1877. [10]

The speculative ventures of the 1870s turned a profit in the early 1880s when high metal prices and the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad to Tucson increased the interest in the Amole District. Ameliano Lopez and his partners found a Grand Rapids, Michigan group that was interested in buying most of their claims. In early 1880 the Silver Moon Mining Company became the owner of the Silver Moon, Lola Lopez, and New Strike claims and went so far as to patent them between 1882 and 1885. The company concentrated on the Silver Moon claim (which today lies partly in the southeast corner of the national monument) where they dug two shafts - one a hundred feet deep and the other to the fifty-foot-level. Lopez sold the Cymbeline to William Zeckendorf, a Tucson merchant, and his Michigan partner. It was proclaimed one of the finest mines in the district. The Santa Rita Land and Mining Company, whose interests lay mainly to the south of Tucson, purchased the Buena Vista claim from Caballero in 1880. Despite the fact that part of the claim boundary was in conflict with the Silver Moon Company's New Strike claim, it was patented in 1884. Probably the most famous of the Tucson Mountain claims, the Old Yuma Mine, which is located just east of the National Monument's boundary, was filed during this period. Extensive exploratory work occurred with only limited production. Its greatest notoriety came from the quantities of beautiful Vanadinite and Wulfenite crystals found there. [11]

With great expectation of the silver potential of the Amole District, the Arizona Star cheered on the mining activity of the early 1880s. It stated, "even in the Tucson range to the west of the city, the precious metals are found in great abundance, and of no mean character." The yields did not bear out the enthusiasm and after 1884, with declining prices, the mines closed. [12]

All hope of a future for silver mining did not die in the latter 1880s. In 1888 there was a report of the discovery of ledges of silver/lead ore in the Amole District. This brief flutter of expectancy brought the sale of the Cymbeline claim to the Silver Moon Mining Company. Some other claims were sold to such eastern concerns as the Westinghouse and Disston Companies. The demonetization of silver in 1893 ended any prospects of developing silver mines. [13]

Gold, commanding a higher price than other metals, attracted the attention of miners for a time in the 1890s. Some thought they had found gold in the Amole District. Just east of the National Monument boundary Martha Woffenden filed a claim for the Woffenden Gold Lode in January 1891 and had it patented in August 1893. Bernabe Brichta reportedly found gold in such abundance that it held the potential for a "wonderful bonanza." The expected production never materialized and mining activity became so inconsequential that a feature on Pima County mining in the special 1895 New Years edition of the Arizona Citizen did not mention the Amole District. [14]

As the price of copper rose at the end of the century, prospectors focused their attention almost entirely on that metal. Copper was then thought to be the predominant mineral in the Amole District. [15] With that belief, the greatest rush to stake claims in the Tucson Mountains occurred in the 1897-1908 period. Again, the purpose of filing claims was mainly for speculation, since most attempts at mining occurred when others purchased the claims. Another period of low metal prices followed in the wake of the 1907 depression and caused mines to close.

Some of the first claims to be filed in 1897 were located in the southeast corner of the present-day monument. George Wheatley and H. Harrison staked adjoining claims to the Jumbo, Iron Mountain, Iron Chief, and Apex in April 1897. To this they added the Colorado in February 1900. Soon thereafter, they sold to Olin G. McWain, William Fox, and H.W. Westlake. These three men set about to develop their property. By late 1902 they had five discovery shafts, five discovery cuts, and three discovery tunnels on the five claims. The shafts were each ten feet deep, while the longest tunnel was thirty feet. Very little additional work was done, but the partners were sufficiently optimistic to obtain a patent on each claim in July 1909. [16]

In the late 1890s L. Martin Waer came to Tucson after having lived in several mining areas in Colorado, Alaska, and California. Still interested in mining, he and Pedro Pellon filed fifteen claims between 1899 and 1906 on land now situated around the Mile Wide Mine within the Tucson Mountain Unit boundary. Their claims included the Copper King (later called the Mile Wide) on which they did sink an exploratory shaft. By the 1907 depression they had reached a depth of eighty-six feet without great success. [17]

Between 1899 and 1903 Bernabe Brichta and his brothers switched from their pursuit of gold to copper. Among their claims were the Uncle Sam, International, and Josephine which were described as being two miles west of the Old Yuma Mine. That location would have placed them within the National Monument boundary. The Brichtas made an attempt at mining and sank several shafts to a depth of twenty-five feet. In 1901, however, they began to sell their claims to the Arizona Copper Mining Company which was headquartered in Los Angeles. Three years later the Arizona Star proclaimed that that company would become one of the largest bullion producers in Arizona because the hill on which the Uncle Sam mine was located seemed "to be full of rich copper," while the International had a ten-foot-wide ledge of that ore. Five months later the Star reported that "until recently very little faith has existed as to their [Tucson Mountains] mineral resources." That newspaper felt there was every indication of large mines to be developed. Its support for this belief was based on the findings of the Arizona Copper Mining Company. That concern, which had been at work for four years, had had a "splendid showing." The deepest shaft was on the Uncle Sam claim at eighty-five feet. Every foot of the shaft was in ore, according to a mining man who expressed astonishment at what he saw. It was obvious, the Star deduced, that the company had valuable property which only needed further development. The company, however, never proved the worth of its holdings and ended its operations in 1908 after suffering a setback in the depression. [18]

Some men, like Otto Metchke who filed at least two dozen claims between 1901 and 1908, had no success in even selling their property, but one company out of all those in the Amole District did succeed in developing a producing mine in the early twentieth century. Sometime around 1906 S.H. Gould filed on nineteen claims for the Gould Copper Mining Company. He proceeded to develop a shaft which by 1907 had reached a depth of 165 feet. As was the case with other mining companies, Gould encountered financial problems with the onset of the 1907 depression, but he succeeded in obtaining operating funds by taking a mortgage with the Pioneer Smelting Company from nearby Sasco. Gould's continued mining led to another burst of enthusiasm by the Arizona Star in 1908. The newspaper declared that recent developments at that operation showed that the Tucson Mountains had been overlooked as an important copper area. It reported that the company had a shaft down nearly 375 feet. A thirty-five foot wide vein of chalcopyrite (copper) was found at the 100 foot level. At the 200 foot level that vein broadened to a width of sixty feet. On this occasion, however, the Star did report a realistic assay of three to four percent copper content in each ton of ore. [19]

For some unknown reason Gould had a Los Angeles mining engineer, Walter Wishon, look over the mine in mid-1908. Wishon reported that the development consisted of a 360-foot-deep working shaft which had cross cuts and drifts on the 100, 200, and 300 foot levels. Thirty tons of ore that had been shipped to an El Paso smelter sampled 8.6 percent copper. Another 100 tons sent to the Old Dominion Smelter in Globe contained 3.2 percent copper. Wishon's own ore analysis showed 3.2 percent copper, 26.0 percent silica, 25.1 percent iron, 1.26 percent aluminum, 13.2 percent lime, and 19.0 percent sulphur. The gold and silver content was so low that no percentage was given. He felt that the construction of a smelter on site was imperative because shipping costs reduced the profit from such low grade ore. He concluded that since there was a geological similarity between the Gould and the very productive Silver Bell mine some thirty miles' distant, the Gould could be just as productive when it reached the Silver Bell's depth of 1,200 feet. [20]

Financial difficulty again beset the Gould Company by the end of 1908. It managed to survive for several years by shipping excavated ore which had been stockpiled at the mine. It probably ceased shipments sometime in 1911. By 1913 the Pioneer Smelting Company threatened to foreclose on the mortgage. A stockholders' meeting was called to discuss methods to resist foreclosure. The stockholders' lawyer advised that the election of a new board of directors might cause Pioneer Smelting to be receptive to a compromise and thus prevent foreclosure. Gould agreed to step down from leadership. Negotiations, however, did not bring a settlement. By early 1915 the company was forced into bankruptcy and on April 28 its claims were sold at a sheriff's auction. They were purchased by Douglas Gary of Tombstone who made no immediate attempt to operate the mine. For all the effort and investment only 45,000 pounds of copper with a value of $9,000 had been taken from the mine. [21]

High metal prices, engendered by the First World War, resulted in a resurgence of mining in the Tucson Mountains. Although this period witnessed the advent of large mining corporations in several Pima County districts, the Amole District remained the domain of the speculator and small-time operator. Mining continued through the 1920s although on a diminished scale. It also brought the only scandal of any note recorded for the district. [22]

Despite the returned enthusiasm, mines really did not prove to be as valuable as expected. Douglas Gary began to remove the water from the Gould mine in August 1916 and made plans to ship ore to El Paso. He failed to achieve his goal and by June 1918 sold his venture to a Utah group. The new owners did not take advantage of their investment either. H.S. Diller of New York purchased the mine in 1929, but he did no work on the property. [23]

The Old Yuma Mine, which had attracted little attention since the 1880s, was purchased in November 1914 for $50,000 by W.J. Laffey. He intended to mine molybdenum, but evidently changed his mind and sold the property to Epes Randolph in April 1915. Randolph immediately set out to open the mine. In early 1916 he constructed a mill which could handle 100 tons of ore a day. Some molybdenum was obtained from the mine, but not enough to draw attention. The owner concentrated on removing Wulfenite for its lead content. With expenses exceeding income, Randolph closed the mine in 1918. [24]

Since hope springs eternal, a group of New York financiers leased the Old Yuma Mine in September 1920. It was reported that a sample of ore exposed at the 300 foot level assayed lead, copper, gold, and silver at a value of $82.50 per ton. The sample belied the true worth of the mine's mineral content, however, and the New York group did not renew the lease. James Reilly, H.K. Love, and T.P. Stines of St. Paul, Minnesota in a flurry of optimism purchased the mine in April 1923. They formed the Arizona Concentrating Minerals Recovery Company and announced their intent to install machinery which would permit them to further develop the property. Soon it was reported that ore being mined was complex, containing gold, silver, lead, molybdenum, and vanadium. Love and Stines were not impressed, apparently, and left the company six weeks later. Reilly reorganized the concern as the International Ore Separation Company. Making slow progress, he had only shipped one railroad car of ore by June 1924 and had another ready for transport. Very little headway occurred through the remainder of 1924 and 1925. As a consequence, the mine closed in 1926 leaving a large pile of ore on the dump. In the period 1916 to 1926 the Old Yuma Mine produced 70,000 pounds of lead valued at $5,000 and some silver with an equal worth. The amount of molybdenum evidently did not merit mentioning, for it was never listed. [25]

In June 1914 L. Martin Waer, who came to Tucson in the late 1890s and filed a number of claims with Pedro Pellon, entered into an arrangement whereby the Morgan Consolidated Gold and Copper Mining Company took an option to buy his Copper King (Mile Wide) Mine along with thirty-one other claims and a mill site. Expectations ran high that L. Pierpont Morgan, the company president, would begin mining by September and would soon build a 250-ton smelter at the mine. A report on the claims indicated that the Copper King had the deepest shaft (Waer had supposedly reached the eighty-six foot level in the mine by the time he shut down in 1907). Despite finding a dearth of minerals, the report stated that surface indications showed the claims to be "very valuable" copper property. Morgan, however, seemed to be smarter than the average person interested in investing in Tucson Mountain mines. He let the option expire. [26]

Waer soon found someone else to take his mining claims and thus began the biggest scandal to involve the Amole District. Charles Reiniger arrived in Tucson in the mid-summer of 1915 from Mexico. The revolution there had forced him to leave his mining interests. After looking over the mining situation around Tucson, he became interested in property in the Amole District. Reiniger and J.H. King met with L. Martin Waer and together signed an option on January 21, 1916 to purchase Waer's claims. They gave Waer $1,000 as a down payment with another $74,000 due when the option expired in four years. Reiniger organized a corporation on May 24, 1916 which he named the Mile Wide Copper Company which reflected the fact that the width of the optioned land was one mile. Capital stock was listed at five million shares with a value of one dollar per share. Reiniger then went back east to Pittsburgh where he convinced Charles Freeman to purchase 80,000 shares of his stock at half price. Upon returning to Tucson by July 5, Reiniger appointed a board of directors who elected him president. Miss L.E. Jettinghoff, his secretary, was among the three directors whom he controlled. [27]

In the meantime Reiniger began to develop his interests with the money he received from Freeman. He concentrated on the Copper King mine which he renamed the Mile Wide mine. Work began on Waer's old shaft where he extracted some ore before he decided it was not adequate. As a result, Reiniger started a new shaft up the hill from the old one. His workforce of fifty men found ore at ninety-five feet which assayed four percent copper. Needing more money to continue, Reiniger contracted with the Lyon and Singer Company of Pittsburgh in September 1916 to begin selling 510,000 shares of stock at one dollar per share. [28]

Reiniger had very good timing. After keeping the country aware for most of 1916 that he was developing a mine in the Tucson Mountains, he quickened the pace in 1917. The Star broke the "sensational news" on February 2 that a chalcopyrite (copper) deposit had been found on a 200 foot level crosscut of the Mile Wide mine which had "remarkable purity." The ore averaged almost twenty percent copper. Not to be outdone, the Citizen followed on February 14 with a full page story, including pictures, of Reiniger and his operation. It concluded that the Mile Wide would be equal, if not superior, to the Magma or Verde Extension which were two of Arizona's biggest copper mines. A Star report on March 5 indicated that Reiniger had made the largest copper strike in southern Arizona. Ore was running thirty-five to forty percent copper. The mine superintendent was quoted as having said that the strike was "one of the richest I have ever seen in Arizona." Reiniger seized the opportunity to telegraph the Lyon and Singer Company of his find. The Arizona Mining Journal which had just been established, kept abreast of the activity. [29]

In early September 1917 Reiniger contracted to ship his ore to the Sasco Smelter. The first carload arrived on September 10. By October the Mile Wide workers had reached the 360 foot level with drifts each hundred feet. At that point the mine's six trucks began to haul more than fifty tons of ore daily to Tucson for rail shipment to Sasco. By this time the Citizen began to be more realistic by reporting the ore contained about eight percent copper. Reiniger, however, had gotten what he wanted from the earlier stories—an increase in stock sales. October also found Reiniger improving the road to the mine to make it possible to haul twice the amount of ore daily. [30]

In 1918 reports on the Mile Wide dwindled and generally repeated what had been printed toward the end of 1917. During 1919 Reiniger all but faded from public notice. Then came January 1920 and with it the due date for the remainder of the option payment to L. Martin Waer. At that point Reiniger could not be found. No funds remained in the company treasury. So, on May 20, 1920 the Mile Wide stockholders filed suit against Reiniger and the company. By August an application was made to place the Mile Wide into receivership. In March 1921 the story of Reiniger's dealings became public. It was learned that he had taken half the money derived from the sale of company stock for himself. In addition he had sold up to $100,000 of his own stock before he disappeared. The stockholders asked that Reiniger be declared a trustee for the corporation so he could be required to account for the money. During the hearings the judge referred to Reiniger as "a promoter in the fullest sense of the term." [31]

The case of the Mile Wide Copper Company came before the court on May 16, 1921. Newspapers reported that Reiniger was accused of disposing of $350,000 for which there was no accounting. Litigation lasted more than a year. Finally, in early January 1923 a decision was reached. As expected, it went against Reiniger. He was ordered to pay $134,350.98 into the company treasury as unaccounted money from the sale of stock and $15,000 in attorney's fees. In addition he was required to endorse over to the company all stock he held and to deliver all deeds of conveyance on his interests in the mining claims. In the absence of Reiniger and without assets the company was forced to liquidate its holdings. Its properties were sold on August 29, 1923 to the Union Copper Company of Pittsburgh. The equipment was auctioned in January 1924 and brought $3,000. [32] Reiniger's whereabouts remained unknown.

The Union Copper Company purchased L. Martin Waer's interests and had a mineral survey made of the claims in April 1925 with the intent to patent them. The claims, however, were never patented. After several hundred feet of development work on the Mile Wide mine, the company closed its operation. In early 1929 H.S. Diller and Associates purchased the property, installed mining equipment, and began operation. Later in that year the shaft had reached a depth of 425 feet. The largest ore vein was located at the 200-foot-level and averaged 3.5 percent copper. By early 1930 the depression forced the company to reduce its work. Although it was listed on July 1, 1930 as the principal company in the Amole District, its workforce was less than five men. It soon ceased to operate. A survey of the area in 1932 noted the buildings in the deserted mining camp and stated "the land is to be used for recreation purposes." At that point the Mile Wide had produced 70,000 pounds of copper valued at $10,000 and $15,000 in silver. Most of that production occurred in the Reiniger period. [33]

L. Martin Waer was a busy man promoting the sale of Amole District Mining property during the First World War. In addition to selling options on a number of claims to Charles Reiniger, he sold options on some twenty-two claims to three Chicago men the spokesman for whom was C. H. Holmes. This real estate, located east of the present-day National Monument boundary, comprised the Woffenden, Hamburg, Wedge, Ysabel, Blumide, Silver Glance, and Azurite claims. The new owners renamed their holdings the Bonanza Park mines. In his contribution to a promotional pamphlet, Waer left the impression that the property could prove to be more valuable than the United Verde at Jerome. After minor development the owners decided they would not find a bonanza and abandoned the operation. Waer, who got the claims back, found new buyers in 1929. He sold them with some other property to H.S. Diller and Associates of New York. That company concentrated on the Mile Wide mine and did not develop the Bonanza Park holdings before it dissolved in late 1930. [34]

Just outside the monument, near the Silver Moon, another highly touted claim, the Silver Lillie, came under development in late 1919. By the latter part of 1921 in an effort to presumably attract stockholders, it was reported that 40,000 tons of lead-silver ore had been blocked out in the mine. By the middle of the following year it was disclosed that the Silver Lillie contained an estimated $3,000,000 worth of high-grade ore. Work, though, had evidently not progressed as rapidly as the optimistic reports seemed to recount, for by early 1923 the company purchased equipment which would allow it to start active work. In August of the next year, after a five year development period, the owners had sunk a shaft through sixty feet of "marketable" ore. Before the Silver Lillie Mining Company ceased operation in late 1925, the mine shaft had reached the 200-foot-level. As had always been the case, expectations were never met by results. [35]

Another mine within the present-day National Monument boundary, the Mexicana, probably started just after the turn of the century under the spelling Mejicana. It had a hundred foot shaft before it closed during the 1907 depression. During the First World War some activity occurred on the property but, during its existence, it was never known as anything more than a "prospect." [36]

The 1930s depression dealt a severe blow to the limited mining in the Amole District. No mining occurred between 1932 and 1940, although Charlie Lemmon worked 500 tons of dump ore at the Old Yuma mine in 1933. W.E. Holt of Tombstone took an option on that mine in 1937, but let it lapse without operating it. [37]

The last hurrah for the Amole District began just before America's entrance into the Second World War. Three mines, Mile Wide, Gould, and Old Yuma were the sites of this activity. About 1941 L.M. Vreeland and Ralph Campbell leased the Mile Wide mine. The following year they applied for and received a Reconstruction Finance Corporation preliminary development loan to remove the water from the mine. By mid-1943 four carloads of ore had been shipped to the Hayden Smelter. The Mile Wide evidently proved unprofitable, for, by the end of the year, it had closed never to reopen. [38]

By 1940 John Greenwood acquired the Gould Mine. In response to a state inquiry in 1941, he stated that he was not in operation. Production on a commercial basis would require an investment of $100,000 for enough equipment to extract 3,000 tons of ore per month containing 3.5 percent copper, he felt. A state mining engineer visited the Gould in 1942. He noted that the 350-foot-shaft contained water to just below the drift at the 100-foot-level. The engineer estimated the mine contained 100,000 tons of ore with an average of four percent copper. Perhaps the engineer's report heartened Greenwood, for he soon applied for a $5,000 Reconstruction Finance Corporation preliminary development loan. In the application he stated there was 53,000 tons of three percent copper ore indicated within the present confines of development which would yield in excess of 3,000,000 pounds of copper. The loan was granted, the water pumped from the mine, and some development work undertaken before Greenwood quit. In April 1945 he leased the property to E.C. Ertel who milled some copper before he, too, quit at the end of that year. Soon thereafter, Greenwood sold the mine to a group composed of Louis Carrasco, Martin and Gilbert Waer, Elmer Dow, and Ed Brady. [39]

The new owners leased the Gould mine to Larry Drake in the early 1950s. With six employees, he extracted 130 tons of ore between November 1, 1953 and March 1, 1954 and shipped it to the International Smelter in Miami, Arizona. Drake labored in difficult conditions since most of the old workings had caved and were under water. The ore he obtained contained about two percent copper. In addition Drake received a yield of fifty-one ounces of silver. That limited return evidently caused him to decide not to make the large expenditure necessary to rehabilitate the entire mine. Drake ceased his mining activity. [40]

By 1957 the Banner Mining Company acquired the Gould mine. That company made a request to the Bureau of Land Management in 1959 to restore 7,600 acres of adjacent public land to mining. It had been withdrawn from mining in 1929 and leased to Pima County as part of that governmental body's Tucson Mountain Park. On August 25, 1959 the Bureau announced its decision to open that land to mining. The ensuing public outcry over that decision, which would turn an area of desert beauty into an open pit mine, caused the Bureau of Land Management to revoke its order. Banner without the additional land for mining made no effort to develop the Gould. Its right to such activity at that mine expired in 1975. [41]

About 1940 Grady Wilson leased the Old Yuma mine on which he sporadically produced dump ore and surface material. Extant Arizona Department of Mineral Resources records for the period 1944-48 indicated that Wilson's only activity for that time occurred in January to May 1944 when he milled a small amount of lead and molybdenum. Local mineral collectors often visited the mine in the late 1940s and 1950s to collect spectacular wolfenite and vanadinite crystals. In 1958 Joe Davis filed three claims across the then abandoned mine area and an additional twenty-one claims in 1959. For several years he recovered mineral specimens. [42]

The Bureau of Land Management Organic Act of October 22, 1979 required that all unpatented claims be refiled or they would be considered abandoned. Several months later Dick Jones checked and found that no one had refiled on the Old Yuma Mine so he filed a new claim under the name Comet. In early 1983 the Southwestern Mineral Associates purchased the claim from Jones. That concern, in turn, leased it to the Consolidated Mining and Milling Company. On May 3, 1983 the latter enterprise obtained permission from the Bureau of Land Management to operate a sodium cyanide leaching operation on the tailings. An area organization, the Tucson Mountain Association, out of concern over the potential effect of cyanide on the environment, worked to prevent access to the mine. The only two available roads crossed either private property or Saguaro National Monument. A United States District Court decision in October 1984 found that the mining company had no right to use either road. Consolidated Mining filed a counter suit. At that point it reached an agreement with the National Park Service. The company was given a one-year permit to use the road through the monument on a limited basis. Vehicles were limited to three-quarter ton vans and one-half ton pickups. During the year Consolidated Mining had to find an alternative access road. If such a road could not be found in that time, then a second, one-year permit would be issued. Any additional extensions would be granted only if the company could prove that it had actively tried to acquire another roadway. The company allowed its one-year permit to lapse without requesting an extension. [43]

Aside from the current operation of the Old Yuma mine, which, although outside the National Monument boundary, still affects it, only two other claims remain active in the district. These claims include the Copper Kittle 1-4 and the Desert View 1-2 of which both sites are in the south half of section nine, T13S R12E and, therefore, partly within the Saguaro National Monument boundary. No mining activity occurs there. The owners have to this date made only the required yearly improvements to retain their claims.

The Amole Mining District proved a disappointment with only erratic, low-grade mineral occurrence. Only two mines within Saguaro's Tucson Mountain Unit boundary ever produced any amount of ore. Even then, these two operations, the Gould and Mile Wide, provided more excitement to area residents about mining potential than any mining or economic impact they may have had on the community.

C. The Rincon Mining District

A portion of the Rincon Mining District covered the Rincon Mountain Unit of Saguaro National Monument. It proved to be the least of the Pima County districts with no known production ever recorded. Some of the earliest activity occurred within the monument boundary. In early 1897 as copper prices began to recover from a prolonged low period, L. Martin Waer and two partners filed several mining claims near the Tanque Verde Mountains. By July of that year they were reported to be rapidly developing the property which was said to hold a promise of value. When Philip Contzen surveyed the area in September 1897 he noted the location of their unnamed mining camp. [44]

Waer and his partners soon gave up on the venture. In April 1901 they sold their claims to the Loma Verde Copper Company of Los Angeles. That concern employed twenty-five men. By October a shaft had been dug to the 100 foot level. Ore of sixteen percent copper was reported to be located in "the full width." By the end of 1902 the shaft had reached a depth of 350 feet with a drift at the 100 foot level and stations at the 200 and 300 foot levels. The ore reportedly contained copper and gold which averaged $50 to $75 per ton. Despite the seeming value of the mine, it soon closed and faded from notice. By 1907 it was not included on a list which named four Rincon District mines. None of those mines was near the monument boundary. That 1907 publication, along with one of 1910, gave the district little attention, merely noting that it had not been developed as other mining areas of Pima County had been. The Loma Verde never revived and was filled by the Civilian Conservation Corps while working in the area during the 1930s. [45]

Numerous other prospect holes and mine shafts indicate that the Loma Verde was not the only place of mineral exploration. In the mid-1930s the CCC filled thirty prospect holes in the saguaro forest area. Other shafts and prospects have been located on the monument, especially in the upper Rincon Wash area. Much of this activity probably occurred during the First World War. Superintendent Don Egermayer stated in his monthly report for March 1947 that he had caught two illegal prospectors on the monument.

D. Lime Kilns

Limestone was mined to manufacture lime in both units of Saguaro National Monument. Although as many as eight kilns were said to exist in the Rincon Unit, the remains of only four (two in each unit) have been identified. It was here that the stone was reduced to lime which was used for area building purposes. The remnants of other kilns are found outside the monument's Rincon unit indicating the manufacture of lime was a factor in the local economy. The beginning date for this industry cannot be established with any certainty. Tradition states that the first kilns were operated within the Rincon unit boundary to supply lime in the construction of Fort Lowell in 1873. David Faust, the current superintendent of Fort Lowell State Park, has said, however, that a search of the Fort Lowell records indicates that lime was not used at that post until 1882. Frank Tuck wrote that lime for building purposes was first produced in Arizona in 1894. Tuck, however, must have referred to two large commercial lime making plants—one near Prescott and the other between Bisbee and Douglas. [46]

It is necessary to piece together what little evidence exists to reach a conclusion about lime manufacture in the Tucson area. The use of lime for whitewash and mortar in area construction would be a factor in the development of lime kilns. Anglos who passed through Tucson or resided in that village at least to 1875 seemed less than impressed with the collection of adobe houses. Writers of that period commented on the lack of whitewashed buildings. Street scene photographs taken during the period bear out the observations, for most structures had raw adobe exterior walls. There was only one brick building in Tucson by 1875. [47]

The demand for lime for use as mortar or whitewash probably did not begin much before 1880. Even in that year Will C. Barnes described Tucson as "a sorry-looking Mexican town." The major factor for change to the village was the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad track from the west to there in March 1880. The railroad brought prosperity as Tucson became an area center. Increased wealth produced a demand for better housing. An 1884 publication observed that Tucson had recently changed from a town of one-story adobe structures to one with many brick houses of more "pretentious" height and many brick buildings in the business district. Coincidentally, Tucson newspapers began to carry their first advertisements for lime in the early 1880s. Since this lime was specifically mentioned as having come from California, it would appear that local lime was produced in limited quantities at the time. Because low mineral prices brought a depression to Tucson beginning in 1885 and a consequent twenty-two percent population decline, there would not have been much of a stimulus for the development of a local lime industry through the remainder of the decade and into the first part of the 1890s. [48]

The first written statements about lime kilns appeared in the 1890s. In mid-1896 the Citizen reported that a Juan Romero had died while working at his kiln about three miles from Tucson. Philip Contzen, while surveying subdivision lines in township 14, range 16 in September 1897, encountered an "old lime kiln" at the site of the remnants of the two kilns in the Rincon unit of the monument. It was not in operation at the time. He did not give a construction date. As for the Tucson Mountain kilns, a 1920 publication stated that limestone on the west side of that range had been used for many years to manufacture lime, but that none had been burned for some time. [49]

Interviews have supplied additional information on kiln operations in the area. Ed Herreras said that the lime kilns at Snyder Hill southwest of Tucson began operating in the 1890s. Frank Escalante helped his brother make lime twice in the 1906-08 period in one of the two kilns in the Rincon Unit. They blasted the blue limestone rock from a nearby hill and hauled it by wagon to the kiln. It took four days and nights to make lime. The preferred wood for burning was green palo verde, but green mesquite was also acceptable. Ten to fifteen cords of wood would be consumed in the four day period. Finally, an article in the Citizen gave some further information. Carmen Moreno operated one of the Rincon Unit's kilns in the 1914 to 1917 period. He sold lime to Tucson building contractors for $10 per ton. Lime from those kilns was also used in the construction of the rock wall around the University of Arizona. The last two men to use the Rincon Unit kilns were Ygnacio Ramirez and Ramon Maldanado. They were forced to close the kilns by court order in 1920 because the operation had used so many trees that the local ranchers' cattle were deprived of the tree seeds which were used for feed. [50]

On the basis of the available information it would seem that one of the two Rincon Unit kilns was possibly built in the 1880s. Philip Contzen saw only one "old" kiln there in 1897. Since two existed by 1906, the second was probably constructed around the turn of the century. The Tucson Mountain Unit kilns were probably built around the mid-1890s and, if Jenkins and Wilson were correct in stating in 1920 that the kilns in that range had not been used for many years, probably ceased to operate by 1910. Using population growth as a guide for construction demand and, therefore, lime, the greatest demand for locally produced lime would have occurred from the mid-1890s to 1920 when Tucson experienced a rapid growth.

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Last Updated: 23-Jun-2005