Bradshaw Mountain Range

Bradshaw Gold Mining

The Bradshaw Mountain Range, in central Arizona, is 40 miles long and 25 miles wide and gives rise to a number of important gold districts. These gold districts are among the most productive placer fields in the state and still yield gold to individual prospectors working the area today.

The main geology focused on in the Bradshaw Mountain Range is Precambrian schist, granite and other intrusive rocks. These older rocks are part of the main North American crustal plate which had been brought to the surface by a geological uplift. There are some younger volcanic rocks, such as basalt, which covers the hills and mountains in certain areas with the older Precambrian rocks underneath. Many of the most productive districts are underlain by Precambrian schist known to prospectors as the Yavapai schist. Precambrian to tertiary age quartz veins within the schist and granite rocks provide gold which erosion has concentrated into placer deposits. The coarsest gold nuggets are about four to five ounces in size and tend to be found along the creeks in the upstream portions and in the lower portions fine gold is predominate.

The gold is extremely widespread and many smaller tributary gullies and ravines have been worked but these smaller deposits do not appear in any reports or other documentation. Reexamination of these smaller streams has led to some excellent discoveries with the modern day metal detector. Areas which present best results can be identified by exposed Yavapai schist outcrops, however there are many gold quartz veins in the region. Among them there are a number which stand out with rather definite characteristics as they occur in schist or granite, a rude banding of various constituents is locally apparent and may have ankerite or siderite. Tourmaline has been so often found that it is considered typical, although this is usually a scant mineral. The quartz is massive and invariably strained and crushed and occurs in lenses along the course of the vein. The sulfides consist of pyrite, chalcopyrite and galena. Free gold is present, often in visible particles. Undoubtedly the disintegration of the gold quartz veins has contributed to the coarser free gold found in many of the placer deposits. This part of the production has been considerable but difficult to estimate as younger veins have also yielded a lot of placer gold. The gold occurs in small shoots and a few of these Precambrian veins have been worked continuously and profitably. 

Arizona Mining Claims

The Richinbar mine has perhaps yielded more than other deposits, the Cherry Creek veins have contributed some and the Mesa vein on the upper Bigbug Creek is also a noted producer. Many others have been worked intermittently, first by arrastres using the ores in the oxidized zone, which were richer owing to the setting free of the fine gold in the sulphides through decomposition by surface waters. Silver is also present.  There seems to be two classes of deposits- one with bunches and pockets of free coarse gold and another in which the principal value lies in the sulphides, which carry finely disseminated gold. The difficulty appears to be the small size and irregularity of the shoots.

The silver veins are widely scattered and occur in the Black Canyon, Turkey Creek, Pine Grove, Tiger, Bigbug, Peck and Tiptop districts. By far the greater number of veins in the Bradshaw Mountain Range is gold-silver deposits. The relative amount of each metal may vary in the same vein. For instance, in the Walker district the Mudhole Mine yielded concentrates that averaged 3 ozs gold and 5 ozs silver per ton with some lead. In the Pine Grove district at the Crown King Mine ore was reported at ½ oz gold and 4 ozs silver per ton, though some of it was much richer in gold. The McCabe Mine in the  Bigbug district  carried 1 oz of gold and 10 ozs silver per ton.  By weight silver may exceed the gold in the ore; by value gold is more predominate and copper, lead and zinc have been recovered as by-products in the concentrates in many of the mines.

A 1926 geological report stated that mining from 23 mines produced 870,827 ozs  of gold and silver between 1875-1923 although the writer felt that number was inaccurate as not all mines were included and  placer gold was not represented.  He also made note that mining in the area began prior to 1875, which was also unaccounted for. In 1922, when his examination of the area was taken, the Bradshaw area showed evidence of serious decline due to the fabulously rich ore bodies being worked in the United Verde Extension Mine in Jerome and at that time Jerome was the center of mining activity for the region thus completely overshadowing the older Bradshaw area. He also attributed the decline in the Bradshaws to the war, scarcity of miners and the high prices of supplies and noted that with careful and economical work he hoped a number of deposits could be expected to prove remunerative.

The first known mining in the area was done by the Yavapai Indians, called Kwevkapaya, who built forts and mined copper. In the early 1800’s the area was occupied by the Apaches as a means of keeping the White settlers out. By 1863, the area became infiltrated by gold-seeking miners from California, one of the first being a party led by William Bradshaw. The mountain range prior to Mr. Bradshaw was known as Silver Mountain, but after the deaths of him and his brother Ike, the mountains adopted a new name after them. The brothers migrated to Arizona from California in the mid 1800’s. They established a ferry across the Lower Colorado River near La Paz, called the La Paz or Bradshaw’s Ferry. While William led his party into the mountain range in search of silver, his brother Ike stayed at the ferry and when William discovered ore deposits, Ike joined him. William was a heavy drinker and returned to the Colorado River area to “dry out”. He got a bad case of delirium and while suffering a severe hallucination, he slit his own throat with a razor. His body is laid to rest in an unmarked grave near La Paz. Ike fared much better, working the mountains for ore deposits until the ripe old age of 66. He is laid to rest in his beloved mountains near Bradshaw Springs with a crudely marked sign surrounded by a white picket fence. The findings of these brothers and gold discovery by the Walker party, sparked hundreds of men to flock to the mountain range and over the next 10-15 years placer deposits were discovered in many of the creeks draining the Bradshaw Mountain Range.

The highest period of placer mining activity occurred in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Lode mining began in 1875, the first being recorded in the Crowned King group, named Buckeye, discovered by Rod McKinnon on July 1, 1875. The Crowned King Mine is the largest mine in the Bradshaws. Years later the name was shortened to its current form of Crown King. Local legend has it that the first claim in the Crowned King group was discovered by a Walnut Grove school teacher named John Taylor who traded it to a man named Orrin Place for a solid saddle horse. Place then gave a storekeeper, Noah Shekels, half interest in the claim as payment for his debts at the store. In 1887, Place was visited by an eastern capitalist George Harrington, who had originally come to Arizona to investigate placer claims near Lynx Creek.

After a month in Crown King he went back east holding the mines in the Bradshaws in high esteem. Harrington, Place and Shekels went on to form Crowned King Mining Company. Shekels, acting as Superintendent of the newly formed mine, erected a sawmill and began assembled a ten-stamp mill. A post office was established for Crown King in 1888 and Harrington was its first postmaster. The company also erected a store at the mine site. The early town of Crown King sprang up and not surprisingly one of the first business ventures was a saloon, operated by Ike Patrick. Place applied for an injunction to prevent the Sherriff “Buckey” O’Neill from issuing a license for fear of creating temptation for the miners but Place was not successful. The old saloon, still in operation in Crown King, was originally constructed in the nearby mining town of Oro Belle (now a ghost town) and was brought in pieces over to Crown King in 1910 on the backs of mules after the Oro Belle closed. The building was a brothel and bar in both towns.

In 1890, a storm washed away the Walnut Grove Dam, the water washed away $20,000 to $30,000 worth of concentrates from the mine and caused a great amount of damage. Road ways continued to be a problem even after a wagon road was completed between the mine and Minnehaha Flat by way of Tiger Mine.  By 1891, the Prescott Weekly Journal-Miner called for a railroad to be built into the mountains to allow the mines to operate year round and by 1898 the Prescott & Eastern Railroad ran as far as Mayer.

Disagreements between Place, Harrrington, and Shekels created bad blood  and constant feuds with the men and in 1899 the mine was closed down due to litigation, despite all the mines success, producing earlier that year in its new shaft at the 500 foot level $180,000 per ton. Place sued Harrington and Shekels for mismanagement and also charged them with fraudulent issuance of stock and holding an illegal election and meeting of the board.

It is reported that $2,000,000 in gold was taken from the Crown King Mine alone, that is at 1899 gold prices ($20.67 per oz.), now convert that over to today's gold price of conservatively $1700 per oz!!

Many other notable mines and places with in the Bradshaw Mountains include (but are by no means limited to):

El Paro Bonito (the pretty dog) in Humbug was discovered in 1882 by Charles Champie. It was mined from 1882-1934 and passed through numerous hands. The Little Joe Mine (AKA Little Joseph, Columbia Gold Mining Property) was also discovered by Mr. Champie and produced copper, gold and silver from 1890-1936.

Big Bug Mine produced as early as 1866 and was worked sporadically through 1933. The Big bug district had a total recorded production from 1867-1959 of about 627,000 ounces of gold of which 42,700 ounces was from placers.

The Black Canyon District at the eastern foothills around Bumble Bee first had discoveries as early as 1873, but first recorded production was in 1904. Total recorded production from 1904-1959 was about 50,000 ounces of gold. South of Bumble Bee are the Gillespie, Blanchiana and Nigger Brown Mines, all of which were major lode gold producers, however this same area is also noted for rich placers. To the east is the Richinbar Mine which produced both silver and lode gold. Along Black Canyon is the Howard Mine and 1 mile below there were productive placer deposits. All along the canyon gold has been reported. Near Turkey Creek placers are worked annually.

The Black Rock District and Cherry Creek Districts were also very notable producers of both lode and placer gold. The Tiptop district and mine is most noted for its silver production, but it did produce a recorded 10,000 ozs of gold from 1875-1959.

The Springfield Mine in the Crown King-Pine Grove district was also owned by George Harrington located 2 ½ mi. from the Crown King Mine produced copper, gold, silver and zinc. Workings include a 175 foot shaft that connects to a 200 foot tunnel 80 feet below the shaft collar.

The Blue Bell Mine was an underground and surface mine discovered in 1895. It produced from 1896-1959 and was owned by the Consolidated Arizona Smelting Co. workings include a 1400 ft. deep vertical shaft and 30,000 feet of underground workings both north and south. The mine reported a production of 900,000 tons of copper through since 1906.

Cleator Property is a former surface and underground gold property\mine located east of Turkey Creek Station (present day Cleator) and was owned by J.P Cleator. Workings include a 50 ft shaft but the family did not record its production.

The Groom Creek District has many rich mines including Midnight Test, Monte Cristo, Home Run, Victor and Empire, all of which produced rich lode gold deposits.

The Bagdad area in the southwest Eureka District has a total recorded production of 60,000 ounces of gold.

There are, literally, hundreds of mines throughout the mountain range, some of which are unnamed, so this account is nothing more than a drop in the bucket as to the  gold production of the mountain range (although it must be noted that Yavapai County is the top gold producing county in the state of Arizona).  There are over 40 ghost towns, many of which small remnants remain and others still have inhabitants, such as Cleator, Bumble Bee, Cordes, and Crown King.  The area is not only rich in gold, silver and copper but in history as well and is fueled by the prospector, who remains an eternal optimist. How else can one explain their persistence in seeking out gold and other precious metals? A lucky few have had the pleasure of making a big strike, others lucky enough to have the satisfaction of finding enough to keep in bacon and beans and the joy of being out in these beautiful mountains.

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