Sat, Sept. 19

VERDE HERITAGE 1900: JEROME: Cutting Wood in the Black Hills

"Rafael Lopez, who holds the contract for supplying the United Verde Copper Company with wood for roasting ores at Jerome, is in town, says the 'Phoenix Herald.'"

"For carrying on that work, Mr. Lopez has over a dozen burro trains, each consisting of a number of little, but essentially useful animals, who file along mountain sides over sinuous trails day in and day out, carrying their packs with apparent ease."

"A cord of wood is divided and packed on eight burros and each train removes three or four cords from the mountains eight miles away from the great copper camp. Later they are seen coming over a mountain and down into camp presenting a picturesque sight."

"Mr. Lopez has held the wood contract for years and although in that time the article has constantly increased in value, the margin of profit in hauling has been proportionately smaller. A few years ago wood could be secured within three miles of the town of Jerome, but a large quantity of it has been required to supply the demand of the roast piles, until now the land within a radius of eight miles of the town has been virtually denuded of its timber."

"An order from the Department of the Interior over a week ago enjoining the cutting of wood on non-mineralized public land has confined the operations of Jerome wood-haulers to a smaller area. There remains timber amounting to about 2,000 cords within the eight mile radius, but when that supply is exhausted and unless the Interior Department's new regulation is modified the haulers will find a still greater distance for conveying wood and its removal will be very expensive."

"The high price of wood applies not only to the United Verde company, but to consumers of fuel in the town and adjacent mining camps. The price is now $6 per cord and in the winter, owing to the great difficulty in conveying, the price of wood will be advanced probably $3."

(The Jerome Reporter; Thursday, January 11, 1900; page 2.)

Apparently, there was a disagreement about cutting wood, which was resolved during 1905.

"The Supreme Court of the United States has just decided the case of the government against the United Verde Copper Company, in favor of the latter. The suit was for the recovery of $38,000 for timber cut from government land in the Black Hills. The timber was used for roasting the ore from the mines. The decision was an affirmation of the decision of the Supreme Court of the territory. Justices Harlan, Brown, and Peckham dissented from the opinion of the majority."

(Weekly Arizona Journal-Miner; Prescott; January 18, 1905; page 2.)

Cord: a unit of volume used chiefly for fuel wood; now generally equal to 128 cubic feet (3.6 cubic meters), usually specified as 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet high.

Across the Verde River from the "Old Town Jail" at Cottonwood, a heavily wooded area composed of juniper, pinion, and dwarf ponderosa pines, stretched for miles. On September 11, 1899, the twice widowed Mary Ann Schlensker and her two sons moved onto the 160-acre old Ricker Ranch (now the Blazin' M). Mary and her son, Charles Stemmer, took their team of horses and wagon back of their house and began to cut trees into 4 foot lengths and haul the wood. Once they had a stock pile, Charles could load half a cord of wood into the wagon and haul it to Jerome where he sold it for $4 (or $8 per cord). They soon hired Native Americans to cut trees for $2 per cord.

(Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; 1954, 1972; Verde Valley Pioneers Association; page 113.)

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