TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Wed, Oct. 16

1876-1926: HISTORY OF THE UNITED VERDE MINE & SMELTER, Part 1.

"HISTORY OF UNITED VERDE MINE AND SMELTER WELL TOLD BY HERBERT V. YOUNG."

"In the yard of the great smelter of the United Verde Copper company at Clarkdale, Arizona, mounted upon a concrete platform and enclosed by an iron railing stands a queer little contrivance which resembles in appearance a huge heating stove. Attached to this object is a bronze plate bearing the following inscription: 'This is one of two old furnaces found in place on The Hampton Lode, United Verde Copper company mines, at Jerome, Arizona, on March 5, 1888, when I first visited the property. I started operation of this furnace and also the other one on May 22, 1888. --- W. A. CLARK.'"

"Each of the two furnaces to which Senator Clark referred had a maximum capacity of about 60 tons of ore per day. The present great smelting plant of the United Verde Copper company furnishes a startling contrast to the little old relic in the smelter yard."

"The development by Senator W. A. Clark of the United Verde Copper company from its humble beginnings to its present vast proportions is one of the romances of modern American industry, and is an example of what may be accomplished by faith and application."

"Prior to Senator Clark's acquisition of the property, several efforts had been made to put production of the United Verde mine on a paying basis, but after some temporary successes, these had failed. Now, since the payment of dividends began in 1892, the company has a record of dividend disbursements of more than $70,000,000. Its mine at Jeome has been developed to a depth of 2500 feet underground and is recognized as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of the undeground mines in the world. Its smelting plant at Clarkdale is one of the most modern in existence, capable of producing at maximum operation 15,000,000 pounds of copper monthly."

"The United Verde mine is near Jerome, on the eastern slope of the Black Hills range of mountains in Yavapai county, Arizona, at an elevation of about 5500 feet. Clarkdale smelter is located in the Verde valley, four miles northeast of Jerome in an airline, the distance between the two plants being approximately 11 miles."

"FIRST DISCOVERY: The original claims of the United Verde mine were located in 1876 by M. A. Ruffner. At that time the nearest railroad terminal was in Kansas, and Mr. Ruffner's assertion that his mine would some day be worth a million dollars was ridiculed by his acquaintances. However, Mr. Ruffner maintained his faith in the property and later, by an arrangement through which they were to assist in the developing of the claims, George McKinnon and Alex McKinnon, brothers, were each given a third interest in the property. These men worked for several years attempting to develop the splendid surface showing, but on account of limited means and transportation difficulties they were not altogether successful. These showings consisted of large oxidized quartz croppings averaging about $5 per ton in gold and silver and also some smaller quartz croppings carrying high values in gold, silver and copper."

"In 1881, Hon. Frederick A. Tritle, then governor of Arizona, became interested in the property and was instrumental in organizing the United Verde Copper company. The three owners relinquished their interest for a consideration of $45,000. The new company was financed in a small way from the sale of stock. Two small blast furnaces were erected and operated for about two years and the mine was developed to a depth of about 160 feet. A high grade gold-silver-copper matte was produced from ore which averaged about $30 per ton in value. The Sante Fe railroad by this time had been built through Arizona, but the nearest station was about 50 miles distant from the mine; transportation was so expensive that the operations ceased to pay. Financial difficulties developed in 1884 and although a small amount of work was done in the mine during the following few years the smelter remained closed until in 1888 it resumed operation under the ownership of W. A. Clark."

"HOW CLARK ACQUIRED CONTROL: The attention of Senator Clark was first directed to the United Verde mine when he saw an exhibit of its ores at the World Industrial exposition at New Orleans in 1885. He later assumed control of the Oxford copper refinery to which the Unitd Verde matte had been shipped and was again impressed by the high grade shipments from this mine."

"In March, 1888, Senator Clark made his first visit to the mine, making the trip over mountain trails and through two feet of snow. He was accompanied by Joseph Giroux. They arrived at the mine at 9 p.m., had dinner and spent the remainder of the night underground. Senator Clark was convinced that the large area formed the capping of a copper deposit, and subsequent development proved the correctness of his theory. He secured an option on the property and purchased control. James A MacDonald, who was vice president and who still holds that office, encouraged the senator to purchase the property."

"Senator Clark immediately started to develop the mine to greater depth. The matte shipments financed this work and the general results were so satisfactory that larger and more modern furnaces were constructed."

"FIRST RAILROAD: In 1894 he built a narrow-guage railroad from Jerome Junction, on the Ash Fork-Phoenix branch of the Santa Fe railroad, to Jerome. Since then both the mine and the smelting facilities have been gradually developed to a stage which places the United Verde among the most important copper producers of the world."

"NEW SMELTER: The original smelter was extended to a capacity of about 3,500,000 pounds of copper per month. This smelter and the mine plant were constructed directly over the mine workings and were maintained with great difficulty and expense because of settling ground. The unsatisfactory location of the smelter suggested the construction of a new and modern plant, for which plans were started in 1911. The new Clarkdale plant was blown in on May 26, 1915."

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Friday, July 23, 1926; page 1, columns 2-4.)

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