Mine Tales: Copper Creek history includes recent discovery – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – April 19, 2015)


Sometimes referred to as the Bunker Hill district, the Copper Creek district is located on the steep banks of the western slopes of the Galiuro Mountains in southeastern Arizona 75 miles northeast by road from Tucson.

Mining in the area dates back to 1863 with the Blue Bird mine with ore transported to Yuma and sent over to Swansea, Wales, for reduction.

Two decades later, prospectors William N. Miller, Theodore H. Peters and Ely H. McDaniels sought to further develop the outcropping of breccia pipe deposits officially organizing the Copper Creek Mining District in April 1880.

Prior to the 1900s, the focus was on lead-silver ore freighted from Mammoth to Willcox. Ore shipments were later shipped 35 miles northwest of Copper Creek to Winkelman for enhanced transport by the Phoenix & Eastern Railroad.

By the turn of the century, copper mining became prevalent in the area and involved three mining companies, including the Calumet & Arizona, Copper Creek and Minnesota-Arizona Mining Co. Copper concentrates were shipped to the Douglas and El Paso smelters.

Ten miles east of Mammoth, a town by the name of Copper Creek was established in 1907 with its own stage line, commissary, physician and post office. More than 200 miners and their families lived in the town that consisted of 50 buildings.

By 1914, a 150-ton gravity concentrator operated at the site along with an electric hoist, dam, power plant, three Wilfley tables, a machine shop and an aerial tramway across the Gila River. Production occurred at the American Eagle and Old Reliable mines — up to 30,000 tons prior to shutdown in 1919.

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