Tuesday, November 29, 2016

History of the Morenci Mining District, Greenlee County, Arizona

Smelter of the Detroit Copper Mining Co., ca. 1896.

The definitive mining history of Arizona's iconic Morenci mining district by geologist David Briggs is now available online at http://repository.azgs.az.gov/uri_gin/azgs/dlio/1695.  This 76-p manuscript with 41 illustrations exhaustively examines  mining activity in the Morenci area from 1870 to 2015.

From DISCOVERY 1863-1872

'During the early 1870s, prospectors who first ventured into the area that would become the Morenci mining district found evidence of primitive excavations at the site. Although Native Americans did not attempt to smelt the colorful copper-bearing oxides extracted from these ancient mine workings, it appears they used these minerals as pigments in their pottery and for other decorative purposes (Colquhoun, 1924).

The first record of copper mineralization near Morenci appears in a report prepared by soldiers of General Carleton's Regiment of California Volunteers, who camped near the junction of Chase Creek and San Francisco River for a few days in January 1863 (Watt, 1956). While there, they noted the presence of strong copper oxide staining on numerous outcrops that lined the slopes along Chase Creek and named the area Copper Mountain. Scouting parties also discovered placer gold along tributaries of the Rio Prieta, now known as Eagle Creek, in concentrations that ran as high as "forty cents (i.e. 0.02 troy ounces) to the pan" (Cogut and Conger, 1999a).

After learning of this discovery, Henry Clifton, the recorder of the Hassayampa mining district near Prescott, Arizona led a prospecting party to search for gold along the Gila and San Francisco rivers during 1864. Although the party also noted the presence of copper along Chase Creek, the remote location and hostilities with Apaches made further development imprudent at that time. '

Posted 11/29/2016 MC

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