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Huachuca Mines
by David Swackhammer
Physical Geology
Spring 2007
                  

     

Mines, Miners, and Mining Equipment Employed in the Huachuca Mountains


 

One look outside at the Huachuca Mountains can take your breath away.  You immediately notice the sheer size and beauty they hold.  Even hiking through one of its many trails can bring great delight.  They are populated with various species of animals, some unique only to these mountains.  A closer, scrutinizing glance holds something entirely different.  All along it's ridges and cliffs the mountain range is pocked with the evidence of mining.  Large boulders, blasted from the mountains, sit in scraggly lines all over the slopes.  These trails of debris at first appear nothing but natural rock slides but follow any of these trails and at the top you will find the scar of mine penetrating deep into the mountain's slope.    These scars are from miners who came to the area from the late 19th century into the early 20th century.
 

Miners that came to the Huachucas came mostly from camps in Bisbee.  They had hoped to discover and claim new copper mines.  Rumors of gold can always be a culprit for the mining industries migration.  It's surprising to most natives of Sierra Vista that over a hundred mines and remnants of mining camps can be found throughout the Huachucas.  The extent of the mining is often overlooked; I think this is because of history's focus on Bisbee as a mining center and the fact that no copious amount of any mineral was discovered in this region.  That however doesn't mean that nothing was found.  Traces of gold are still being found in the Huachucaís to this day.   
 

In this paper, I will show several mines, mining equipment, and mining camps that I and others have discovered through out the mountains. I will also explain these camps, mines, and equipment to the best of my knowledge.  In a mining sense, the Huachucas are famous for two main mines in particular.
 

            The first mine I will discuss is known as the Lutz Mine.  Reaching it is only possible by foot.  It is located high in the mountains above the Ash Canyon area.  It is a two mile hike over a rugged, steep terrain, but if you're really into seeing preserved history, it is well worth it.  Several mines can be seen going deep into the mountain.  Heavy machinery (stationary engines, drills, etc.) are littered all over the area.  I often wonder how such machinery was brought up the mountain.  There are no roads and I saw no evidence of past roads. I did not dare enter the mines for they looked poorly maintained (obviously) and I had an ominous feeling about them.  The sign didn't help persuade me.....

 

 

 The second mine is located in Brown Canyon.  This mine is known as the Pomona mine and when it was in use, it was used to mine tungsten.  Tungsten is used for space oriented projects, light bulbs, and many other electrical appliances.  It is used because of its very high melting point.  Pomona mine can be found on an offshoot of Brown Canyon Trail.  I was personally fascinated with the Pomona mine.  It had all kinds of interesting equipment out for viewing.  However, what impressed me the most was the size of the actual mine.  It had an entire mine cart rail road system extending deep into the mine.  Outside of the mine was something known as a tramway.  Tramways were used to move the mined minerals up and down the slope of the mountain with great ease.   I was very impressed with Pomona mine but I often wonder why I had never heard of it before.     
                  

                        [pictures the tramway line]
 

On my searches for mines, I came across one quite by accident.  I found this mine while hiking in Miller Canyon on a path called "the perimeter trail" which connects Miller Canyon to Carr Canyon.  It was covered with brush and rocks and I could just barely make out the opening.  I entered this mine and found all kinds of fascinating tools.  The mine went about 20 feet into the mountain before it dropped off into a deep chasm. Fortunately I had a flashlight and did not fall into that abyss.  However, now I have a better understanding of why those signs are posted in front of mines.  This mine did not have a sign, so I wonder if the Forest Service is even aware of its existence.  Some of the items I found included; an ancient shovel, a pick, various beams, pans, and a small wooden ladder.  The mine also had strange cuts drilled into its sides which make me wonder if dynamite was used to clear it. 

 

Pictures and Descriptions of Mining Equipment:


 

Pictured above (Pomona1.jpg)  is some sort of engine used to power drills and other mining essentials.   I read online that these powerful engines were created in the late 1920ís by GM, however I cannot confirm that statement.  This device was found at the Pomona Mine. 
 


 

Illustrated above (device. jpg and propeller driven. jpg)  is a device I found near Pomona Mine.  I found the propeller on the back to be especially interesting.  I can only speculate that this device was used for drilling as well.   Below is a picture of this propeller driven device from a distance.

 

 

 


 

Above is a pan/barrel I found in Brown Canyon.  Perhaps it was used for water storage or sifted through for precious minerals.

 

.


 

Here is a ruined mining camp I found near Pomona Mine. (ichose2.jpg)

 


 

This is my favorite picture of them all. (lutz1.jpg)  This appears to be a gigantic engine or furnace.  This was found at the Lutz Mine in Ash Canyon by other enthusiastic hikers.
 

(lutz2.jpg)

Another engine or crank for a tramway.  Iím unsure of its true purpose.

 

 


 

I found the grave site of some poor individual. I donít know for sure but I think itís safe to assume this grave holds the bones of a miner.  The pick axe was a pretty good clue for my deduction.  Perhaps this miner died from a mining accident? Or maybe from the affects of aging.

 

 


 

My final picture is also one of my favorites.  I found this shaft, tower-like structure easily since it was taller then most of the trees in the area.  I assume it was used as a shaft or elevator for the miners to safely get in and out of the mines.