Ask Evaline: What is the Mining History of the Oracle Ridge Mine opening next year? Part I: First claims to 1910.

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HISTORICAL SITES Near Oracle Ridge mine.jpg

This map was made by the Oracle Mining Company specifically for the Oracle Historical Society, showing the Two Portals for the Newly named Oracle Ridge Mine, owned by the Oracle Mining Company. This map also shows how to get to the sites from Oracle and San Manuel.  Ore will be trucked to San Manuel to be picked up by buyers. Workers will drive up the Mt. Lemmon Road or the Black Hills Road and leave their vehicles at a parking spot near the junction of those roads, where they will be bussed to the mine portals to work. Note that the historical name of the mines group together was “Apache Camp” and the road from that mine to Summerhaven was the “Control Road” so that the Mine also became known as the “Control Mine” as it served as the spot where traffic was controlled: up to Summerhaven in the morning and down toward Oracle in the afternoon.  At the time of the establishment of this mine and road, there was no traffic up the road from the Tucson area. That came later than the establishment of the mine in about 1912. The Crier thanks the Oracle Mine for making this map. It is available in the files of the Oracle Historical Society, as is a large version of the map.

By Evaline Auerbach

Special to the Crier

After 134 years, a group of historic claims in the Old Hat district up the north slope of the Santa Catalinas (up Mt. Lemmon Rd.) is about to make its way into existence as a “real” mine, with profitable ore. Oracle Mining Corp. (http://oracleminingcorp.com/), a Vancouver, Canada-based company with “a focus on uncovering overlooked and undervalued projects,” has, for the last couple of years, been developing a group of historical mining claims at the site previously known as the “Apace Camp” or “Control” mine. In 2014, the newly-named Oracle Ridge Mine on Mt. Lemmon Rd. above Oracle and San Manuel, will become a working mine, sending its ore down Black Hills Road and Reddington Rd. to San Manuel, where it will be picked up by the buyers and processors of the ore (still to be announced).

Following the intervening successes of first the Mammoth mines and then the San Manuel Mine, this will be a historical reversal: Those mines have “petered out” while the new mine comes to life in the area where many had prospected and claimed, only to prove mostly unprofitable mines. Most who staked claims or even improved their claims and qualified for patents, sold out cheaply or gave up and turned to ranching in this Old Hat district.

Decline of Mining in Area

The outlook for the Oracle-Mammoth area was especially dim in 1938, when all the mines in the Mammoth area had ceased operation and no one had begun developing what was to be the San Manuel mining operation. In that year, a graduate student at the University of Arizona researched the “decline” of the Oracle and San Pedro areas noting that “Of the hundreds of claims that were recorded in [Old Hat] District during the first few years of its existence, only a few were sufficiently developed to deserve mention. The American Flag Mine was the first on which extensive work was done.

“By 1881 there were forty men working in the mine for the Richardson Mining Company of New York which had purchased the property early in that year. After that time little more was heard of the mine. The man who opened it became discouraged and started a cattle ranch. By 1885, the site of the Post office was moved to the Acadia Ranch and named Oracle.”

Of course, the mining claim for which Oracle was named seems not to have gone beyond claim stage, although at least some of the claimants had patented the New Year’s Mine and the Christmas Mine north of that claim (north of Grant street and across American Avenue where the culvert runs under that street).

Others, farther up Mt. Lemmon, were notable locally because of their owners—the High Jinks mining properties of Buffalo Bill Cody and Southern Belle, owned by Elizabeth Lambert Wood were not to be successful mines either: Cody’s is said to have been a bust and even though Mrs. Wood’s made money during the war, she didn’t care; she just wanted the land to live on because she loved it.

Stratton’s Prospects

Meanwhile, further south into Pima County, in 1880, O. A. Wyatt and Pete Dumphrey located the Apache, a copper property. E.O. Stratton, tells the tale of that claim’s beginning in detail, including his near-miss in having a claim to sell. Stratton had come to the area, visited the Oracle Camp of Alexander McKay (Oracle claim) and then gone on up the Mountain to prospect. Eventually, he established a ranch—instead of the mine he wanted—at the site of the current U-Circle Ranch. (He had wanted to claim the 3C site with its “beautiful spring” but after being delayed by a snowstorm that “reached all the way to Florence,” he found it already claimed.)

His father, a well-to-do construction company owner in San Francisco, would not support his prospecting, but said he would support a ranch. Stratton bought some cattle and moved his wife and first daughter to a dugout at this ranch, which he called Pandora, it having opened a bunch of troubles, like the mythical Pandora’s box.

APACHE CAMP – copper in the area

But Stratton kept on prospecting. His stories, dictated to his daughter Edith in 1925 and collected in a book, Pioneering in Arizona, 1964 — tell mostly of financial near-misses, even down to the selling of the mine claims themselves.

About the Apache Camp, he recalls that about 1880 he “found some good copper float in a wash” near the Pandora. He traced it five miles up and found Hyatt & Dumphy with a claim. Hyatt, in his early forties, was, ironically enough considering the current owners, a Canadian. Dumphy had been around the Santa Catalinas for some time. The two of them had been staked by George A. Foster, a saloonkeeper in Tucson who had come to Arizona with the U.S. Army’s California Column in 1862 to drive out the confederates in New Mexico Territory (of which Arizona was then a part). By 1880, the two had located four claims on the south slope into Rattlesnake Gulch which rises under Marble Peak into Alder Gulch.

Stratton seeing this, promptly staked a claim on the north slope and called it the “Comanche”.

Shortly, the grubstaker and another Tucson businessman interested a Boston company in the Hyatt-Dumphy claims and sent out Dr. S. K. Kane and a party to look them over. Dr. Kane “stopped when he got as far as [Stratton’s] ranch and spent his time loafing around the dugout and practicing with his new pistol, while the other men in the party went on. Later he lectured in the East on the subject of Arizona and her resources, and he always gave a full description of my ranch to illustrate his point.” Those in the Kane party who actually looked over the claims apparently liked what they saw because the report on the Hyatt-Dumphy claims was favorable, and the company bought them for the fantastic sum of $20,000. The Santa Catalina [some spelled it “Catarina”] Copper Company incorporated in Boston to work the Apache Mine, as the claims were called.

Be sure to check out next month’s Crier for more on the history of the Oracle Ridge Mine.

Pandora, it having opened a bunch of troubles, like the mythical Pandora’s box.

APACHE CAMP – copper in the area

But Stratton kept on prospecting. His stories, dictated to his daughter Edith in 1925 and collected in a book, Pioneering in Arizona, 1964 — tell mostly of financial near-misses, even down to the selling of the mine claims themselves.

About the Apache Camp, he recalls that about 1880 he “found some good copper float in a wash” near the Pandora. He traced it five miles up and found Hyatt & Dumphy with a claim. Hyatt, in his early forties, was, ironically enough considering the current owners, a Canadian. Dumphy had been around the Santa Catalinas for some time. The two of them had been staked by George A. Foster, a saloonkeeper in Tucson who had come to Arizona with the U.S. Army’s California Column in 1862 to drive out the confederates in New Mexico Territory (of which Arizona was then a part). By 1880, the two had located four claims on the south slope into Rattlesnake Gulch which rises under Marble Peak into Alder Gulch.

Stratton seeing this, promptly staked a claim on the north slope and called it the “Comanche”.

Shortly, the grubstaker and another Tucson businessman interested a Boston company in the Hyatt-Dumphy claims and sent out Dr. S. K. Kane and a party to look them over. Dr. Kane “stopped when he got as far as [Stratton’s] ranch and spent his time loafing around the dugout and practicing with his new pistol, while the other men in the party went on. Later he lectured in the East on the subject of Arizona and her resources, and he always gave a full description of my ranch to illustrate his point.” Those in the Kane party who actually looked over the claims apparently liked what they saw because the report on the Hyatt-Dumphy claims was favorable, and the company bought them for the fantastic sum of $20,000. The Santa Catalina [some spelled it “Catarina”] Copper Company incorporated in Boston to work the Apache Mine, as the claims were called.

Be sure to check out next month’s Crier for more on the history of the Oracle Ridge Mine.

Evaline Auerbach (13 Posts)

Born at the beginning of the just pre-baby-boom year of 1943, Evaline May Jones was a Kansan until she left, in1968, to teach at a community college campus in Centerville, IA. She grew up on a farm near Frankfort, finished a BA and MA in English education at Kansas State University and taught for a year at Washington, KS, High School and at Catholic high school in Manhattan, KS, the latter while finishing her MA. While in Iowa, she taught English and related courses (journalism, theater, photography). She also earned a Specialist degree in community college education at the University of Iowa (Iowa City) and had journalism courses at Iowa State (Ames). When arthritis in her spine became a real problem, she was advised to take a job in the Southwest, so when the first full-tiime English position at Aravaipa Campus, CAC, opened up, she applied. Although she had to convince them that she REALLY wanted to work at a campus literally on the edge of a wilderness area, she got the job. She began work at Aravaipa in the fall of 1975, moved from Kearney to Oracle in 1976 and has been in Oracle since. In Oracle, she began work with the Oracle Historical Society, was a founding member and President twice. Local history became her most-loved hobby, although she did not forget drama. She produced a play called Deadwood Dick, which became the first play for a theater troupe now known as SPATs: San Pedro Actors Troupe. It was a course taught under the auspices of CAC, but the group preferred to go ahead on their own - and are still going strong on their own. Meanwhile she married Abraham Auerbach in December 1980, in the historic Union Church, holding the reception in the Acadia Ranch Museum. She made sure they returned from their honeymoon in time to celebrate the centennial of the American Flag post office building and the installation of the history plaque (Dec. 28, 1980) They produced David in late 1982 and she took sabbatical to return to Iowa to complete a PhD (in instructional design) from May 1983 through summer of 1984. While back in Iowa City, with baby and husband in tow, she began to have more problems with the arthritis, Once back to Oracle, she was a little better, but eventually had three operations on the spine. She had to retire in 1995 on disability. Nevertheless, she continued to work at volunteer jobs: as a docent at Biosphere 2 (on her electric scooter), at the Oracle Library, at the Oracle Community Center, as a medicare counselor for the Pinal-Gila Council on Senior Citizens, and finally, back to the Oracle Historical Society. More recently she served at the Tri-Community Visitors’ Center and the Copper Corridor group, serving the Oracle through Superior area. Now, she is busy helping the Oracle Dark Skies Committee to nominate the Oracle State Park as a designated International Dark Skies Park. She has also taught some courses through CAC on local history, leading local and out-of-town people to see some of the historic places in and around Oracle. She started a small business selling books about local history which has expanded to be “Evaline’s Local Books, Oracle, etc.” Lately she has given talks on Oracle History and led groups on tours, such as a two-day tour for the Arizona Historical Society docents, coming up soon for the Arizona Historical Society Docent Council. She has written articles about history and done some reviews for local newspapers. David was off to China to work for a while and then to Boston, working in financial analysis at Boston Scientific. In March of 2011, Abe, whom she had been caring for at home for about four years as he became less able, had to enter a care home. In January of 2014, loyal and very supportive to the end - Abe passed away at Grace Manor in Oracle. Evaline plans to keep exploring history, Oracles and her own ancestry. She will continue to write and plans to travel as her own health improves.


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