Old Tyrone a mining utopia in wartime – by Robert L. Conley (Silver City Daily Press – February 5, 2024)


Known today for their vast resources of copper ore, the Little Burro Mountains of Grant County were first famous for their deposits of turquoise. For countless generations, until interrupted by non-Indigenous visitors, Native Americans operated shallow mines to extract the decorative blue-green stone.

The name of the first white man to discover turquoise here is unknown, but it is said that anyone who entered the area before the early 1870s was never seen alive again. The Apache were thought to blame. But by 1879, prospectors had staked out workable claims and, perhaps due to safety in numbers, were less prone to disappearing. The turquoise found here, just a dozen or so miles southwest of Silver City, was judged to be at least equal with the stones from the best mines in Persia — and good enough to gift President McKinley during his tour of New Mexico in 1901.

Despite the world-class quality of the turquoise and the comparative ease of extraction, it didn’t take long for prospectors to prefer copper over the semiprecious stone. In 1881, a mining camp named Paschal was established.

Paschal took only a year to become the biggest copper camp in all of the New Mexico Territory, supporting more than 500 men. The Paschal post office opened on Jan. 23, 1882.
The post office in Paschal went through three postmasters before it closed down on Nov. 13, 1883, less than two years after opening. Only two postmarks are known to have been used. … There is only one known surviving example of each type.

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