Mammoth man finds mining relics

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Richard Colvin holds the wire rope cable found with the mine artifacts on his property in Mammoth. John Hernandez | Miner

San Manuel Miner

Richard Colvin lives in Mammoth along the San Pedro River. His home and property are part of the old mill site that once belonged to the Mammoth Mine. While digging to extend his property Colvin uncovered what he believes are equipment pieces from the old mine and mill. He has found four different sized buckets, crusher parts, some pumps and a piece of one inch steel cable that could have come from the wire “rope” tramway that was used to haul ore from the mine to the mill.

Colvin is familiar with mining equipment as he worked for Magma Copper Company and BHP for 34 years. He has worked underground, at the mill, the tailings dam and was the lead operator at the lime plant from 1972 to 1989 when he retired and moved to Mammoth. He ran the lime kiln. Colvin said that the pump parts he found are similar to the ones used at Magma. He even found some of the pump parts filled with lime. The equipment could be over 100 years old. He has offered to donate some of the equipment to the Mammoth Historical Society. Colvin says there may be more equipment buried underneath his property. He invites anyone to come by and take a look at the equipment at 312 N. Main St.

In 1897 the Mammoth Collins Gold Mines, Ltd. invested in a 2 3/4 mile long automatic wire rope tramway which transported the ore from the mine to the mill at Mammoth. The tramway eliminated the cost of hauling ore by wagons. The average cost to haul the ore by wagon was $1.10 per ton. Using the tramway cost only 20 cents per ton. A year later the tramway was enlarged but there were problems with frequent breaks of the wire rope. They purchased a higher quality steel rope to resolve the problem. The tramway transported fifty 560-pound buckets of ore down to the mill. The buckets then carried water back to the mine at Schultz. Production from 1897 to 1901 from the Mammoth and Collins mines was 150,000 ounces of gold from 350,000 tons of ore. In 1901 a massive cave in at the mine collapsed the surface of the old mining works down to the 750 foot level. No one was working in the mine at the time. This along with some financial difficulties shut operations down. The company failed to pay its lease payments and the owners sued to take over the properties. In 1908 the Mammoth Mill was destroyed by a fire.

John Hernandez (129 Posts)

John Hernandez lives in Oracle. He is retired and enjoys writing and traveling. He is active in the Oracle Historical Society. He covers numerous public events, researches historical features and writes business/artist profiles.


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