ASARCO celebrates 100 years: Part 1

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By Rosalind Padilla

By now residents in Arizona should know that Arizona will be 100 years old on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. However the whole year 2012 will be dedicated to celebrating this anniversary.

The Copper Basin Area residents will have a chance to attend two major events within one month’s time celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday and commemorating events that have made this area so rich in history.

During the month of February, you will read about ASARCO’s celebration of the 101st anniversary of the concentrator and the 100th anniversary of their smelter in four parts. Many changes have been made to both over the past 100-101 years. Conversations with some of the employees involved in these changes will be featured.

In addition to the history of ASARCO’s copper production there are the settlements that were the homes to the employees which included Cement Hill, Smelterside, El Canyon including Hayden, San Pedro and Winkelman just over the hill from the smelter using a trail that still exists. Recreational facilities were provided to the employees and their families not to be confused with the Town of Hayden which was a Kennecott town until approximately 1958 when it was incorporated.

From a booklet entitled ASARCO, Hayden Copper Smelter, “Copper, the finding, mining and smelting of it, began in Arizona as early as 1854. At that time, the ore was shipped to Wales for smelting. But the mining of this resource did not begin on a large scale until 1875. Pioneers of the 1850s. 1860s and early 1870s thought so little of copper that when prospecting for gold and silver, copper deposits were discarded. The arrival of the train, the electrical revolution, the telegraph and telephone caused a demand for copper.”

Copper has produced far more wealth for Arizona than its gold and silver mines combined. Today the mining industry pays a large share of the state’s taxes and employs a large proportion of the workers in the state.

Hayden, named after an early mine developer, was once a tent town. Its sole reason for existence was to serve the miners. Around 1890, the area’s high grade copper ore deposits began to run out, and many feared Hayden would become a ghost town. ASARCO, a pioneer in the custom smelting and refining industry, believed otherwise. In 1911, construction began on the Hayden copper smelter. Hayden’s growth as well as that of nearby Winkelman, was stimulated by an influx of construction workers. In 1912, the year Arizona became the 48th state, the first copper from the plant was poured.

Old timers when speaking of ASARCO still call it AS&R. The following time line gives you an idea of changes made that affected the whole Copper Basin area.

• 1912 the construction of the Smelter was completed.

• 1960s there was major construction and Cement Hill and Smelterside were demolished and residents moved to Dudleyville or Kearny.

• 1983 the flash furnace was installed.

• 1986 Ray unit was purchased from Kennecott including its smelter and the Hayden concentrator.

• 1989 modernization of the Hayden concentrator.

• 1991 Ray complex formed.

• 1996 Modernization of concentrator completed.

• 2000 Ray Hayden operations formed.

ASARCO LLC will celebrate the Hayden Operations Centennial Saturday, Feb. 25, from 8 a.m. to dusk. This celebration which is free to the public will take place at the Hayden Golf Course Park. Activities for the whole family will include inflatables for the children, drawings all day for all ages, free food for as long as it lasts, mariachis and much more ending with fireworks at dusk.

Join ASARCO as they salute Arizona and their own 100 years.

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