1918: VERDE; U.V. Extension Smelter Begins Operation, July 12.

"SMELTER BEGINS OPERATION: Fires are aglow in the furnaces and the smoke is now curling out at the top of the big stack at the new smelter plant which commenced operation at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. There was no excitement about starting, the big wheels turning and everything seems to be running just as smoothly and as matter of fact as if it had always been in operation." (Verde Copper News; Jerome; Saturday, July 13, 1918; page 4, column 4.)


By Ernest Douglas

"They will be turning out copper bullion down at Verde in a day or two. At last it can be announced that the United Verde Extension smelter, as modern a smelting plant as there is in the world today, though there are many larger, is ready for 'blow-ing in.' In fact the blast furnace has already been fired up twice. Those test runs did not prove successful but that does not prove anything. It was not expected that all would work smoothly right from the start. Now, however, to insure against any further trouble, a few tons of slag have been shipped down from Clarkdale. There is little doubt that at the third attempt the blast furnace will begin to turn out matte for the three converters that are standing ready."

"BLAST FURNACE: That blast furnace will treat 500 tons of ore in a day. Approximately 10,000 tons of ore that runs around fifteen or sixteen per cent copper is now in the receiving and bedding bins. If fifteen per cent of copper is recovered daily from 500 tons of ore, that will mean 150,000 pounds of copper worth 26 cents a pound, or a total of $39,000, delivered at the Atlantic seaboard."

"This practically means 150,000 pounds added every day, or 4,500,000 pounds a month, to the world's supply of the red metal that is so badly needed in the war of humanity."

"True, the United Verde Extension has been producing approximately this amount of copper every month for many months. But the ore has been smelted at Douglas and Humboldt. The completion of the Extension smelter means that the entire capacity of these places is now available for the treatment of other ores. To say that the Verde smelter will increase America's copper output close to 5,000,000 pounds a month is no exageration."

"ONLY A STARTER: But that will be only a starter. A reverberatory furnace capable of handling another 500 tons of ore will be completed in two or three months. Eventually there will be a second reverberatory for emergencies."

"UNAVOIDABLE DELAYS: Had it not been for delays in securing equipment and material, all directly traceable to the war, the Verde smelter would have been placed in operation last April. The original plans of the company called for its completion at that time. But for the layman looking over the plant today it is hard to believe that it has all been built in one short year."

"PRELIMINARY OPERATIONS: On the first day of April, 1917, there was nothing where the U. V. Extension smelter now stands except a not particularly luxuriant growth of sagebrush and mesquite. Not many people even knew that it was the future site of a vast industrial plant. A few months before, A. G. MacGregor, the leading smelter designer of the country since the retirement of Dr. L. D. Ricketts from active life, had been engaged to draw the plans."

"Fom a quarter to a half mile to the northwest of the particular site that had been selected for the smelter, a temporary town of several hundred frame buildings was going up for the housing of the army of workmen soon to be gathered from all corners of the earth. That is the town today known as Verde; the Verde of brick and concrete, will be half a mile or some such matter south. Today's Verde, the temporary Verde, will pass into the limbo of things forgotten."

"THE MASTER BUILDER: The man selected to build the plant was Thomas A. Stiles. Building smelters is Stiles' business, his play, his passion. The last one he built before he came to Verde was in Spain, for the Rio Tinto. The next one that he will build after he leaves Verde, some time next month, will be in Peru for the Cerro de Pasco."

"Stiles arrived in Verde April 13, 1917. Grading began the next day. At that time the Arizona Extension Railroad company, a subsidiary of the U. V. Extension, had already started to build a three-mile spur connecting the smelter site with Clarkdale, the terminus of the Verde valley branch of the S. F. P. & P. railroad."

"On the twenty-seventh day of July the first concrete was poured. Today the smelter is complete to the point where the first unit can be operated. The main building is up and it is surrounded by seventeen large and small buildings, practically all finished. The landscape is dominated by a great stack 425 feet high, from which smoke will be pouring before the end of this week."

"A VAST BEEHIVE: One approaching the plant and fortunate enough to get past the eagle-eyed watchman employed to shoo away curiosity seekers who have no legitimate business there, is amazed and bewildered by the magnitude of the buildings, by the noise and orderly confusion that he observes on every hand. Here is a concrete mixer grinding away; there are dozens of men scurrying about with wheelbarrows full of bricks, mortar and concrete. Locomotive bells clang; trains and trams roar along over rails that are not yet worn smooth. Belt conveyors hum; a mighty din that means industry and prosperity for America."

"MEN EMPLOYED: There are 779 men on the payroll at Verde today and they are all on one shift; therefore it can be seen that there is some work going forward. Of the 779 workmen, 555 are employed in construction and 124 in the operating end. When the smelter is in full operation it will employ about 300 men constantly. Those now working on the construction end will gradually drift away in the months to follow. Their work if far from finished, it is true, but the finish is in sight."

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Wednesday, July 17, 1918; page 4, columns 1-2.)


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