*A new series for 2020-2021 will focus on frequently asked questions about mining in our region.
Mining has occurred in our region for over 1000 years.
Prehistoric mining by the Ho-Ho-Kam and Salado people focused primarily on jewelry making using turquoise, a copper mineral found in prevalent surface deposits.
White explorers in 1864 listed prominent mineralization along Pinto Creek, but modern mining didn’t begin until 1870 with the discovery of silver.
The next two decades saw numerous claims filed for this region, including the start of the Old Dominion Mine (OD) in 1881 that concentrated on silver extraction.
By the late 1880’s, silver had played out and copper became the primary focus. This was perfectly timed as the start of electrification required massive amounts of copper wiring.
In 1909, the monthly publication The Border stated there were over 35 operating mines in the region. The OD was the largest mine in the region until 1931 when it closed during the Great Depression due to falling copper prices coupled with vast expenses to pump water out of the mine shafts.
Over the decades, changing technology and fluctuating copper values resulted in the closure or consolidation of most smaller mines. Now a handful of multinational corporations continue to actively extract and process minerals in our region and/or steward heritage mining sites.
The Old Dominion Mine has come back to life, but now serves as a community mine park.
Thea Wilshire works as an author, psychologist, speaker, healthcare consultant, and AirBnB host. Her passions include community development, the creation of public spaces, trying new adventures, and sharing her therapy dog with schools and medical facilities. Find her blog at https://www.acornconsulting.org/blog.