It was once a prolific mine and now serves as a self-guided mine tour and walking park
Though it still pumps water to the Pinto Valley mine about six miles away, things look a lot different at the Old Dominion these days. An area that flourished from the 1880s to 1930s with miners, a hospital and residents is now peacefully quiet, with nothing more than the remains of old mining machinery and equipment to remind visitors of the past.
During its reign, the Old Dominion mine, which sits in the hills overlooking highway 60 and Globe, was the major employer of this area.
Since its opening in 2011, this site now serves as the only self-guided mine tour in Arizona, says the park’s committee chairwoman Thea Wilshire, and one of few in the country. The Queen Mine in Bisbee hosts a walking tour, but it’s not self-guided. There might be another one in Kentucky, she says.
You don’t typically find the words “self-guided tour” and “mines” in the same sentence, she explains. Mine operators are big on safety, and the last thing they want is people walking around unsupervised.
Nonetheless, after 30 years of talking about it, with the help of lawyers, donations, volunteers and community support, Globe-Miami now has its walking park and mine tour. Around the time this paper hits the stands, the park should have several new trails cleared. The committee is also working to pull in historic mining artifacts to create a ‘bone yard’. Soon they hope to label some of the existing structures and put up old site maps explain what was once there, like the hospital, railroad, and machine shops.
The park is wide open, with six trails, both hilly and flat, and more to come. Open from dawn to dusk, people bring their bikes and dogs, go for runs, have picnics and of course, walk.
The park also answers the many questions people have about mining. The signs help visitors understand mining innovations, and answer questions like, “What was the slime tank for?”
For the sake of historical significance, every effort was made to keep the site intact, though not everything could remain. BHP had to clear old wood and nails before any trails were built, grade back black slag to prevent visitors from slipping, and fence off dangerous areas, Wilshire remembers.
If it seems a little barren for being a park, keep in mind you are touring a reclaimed mining site, she adds.
But the era was preserved in the design. The picnic ramadas are made of recycled, corrugated metal. Instead of knocking them down, Freeport McMoRan took apart the old buildings so parts could be reused. Barrels were turned into trashcans. The Gila County Historical Society provided old photos that were digitally scanned onto signs to help tell the story of the mine.
The committee named the trails after the original mine claim names. That’s how you end up walking the Globe Ledge, Mule Shoe, Silver Nugget or Interloper.
And, don’t forget, this was former governor George W. P. Hunt’s old haunts. He started out at the Old Dominion Store as a shop clerk and worked his way up from there.
In so many ways, the Old Dominion set the stage for Globe-Miami’s future. Take the tour and see for yourself!
Jenn Walker began writing for Globe Miami Times in 2012 and has been a contributor ever since. Her work has also appeared in Submerge Magazine, Sacramento Press, Sacramento News & Review and California Health Report. She currently teaches Honors English at High Desert Middle School and mentors Globe School District’s robotics team.