The Little Daisy: A Miner’s Hotel Transformed into a Baronial Mansion

The Little Daisy, as we have all come to know it, holds many happy memories of living in Jerome, Arizona.

Before it was so elegantly and lovingly restored by Walter and Lisa Acker, it was a playground for children, a great party hotel for weddings and barbecues, the site of the first Jerome Music Festival, and a favorite place to draw, paint and photograph from. My friend the photographer Bob Swanson took some amazing photos of these ruins, reproduced here with permission. You can see many of his photos of Jerome, some of which were reproduced in my book, Home Sweet Jerome (now out of print) taken in the late eighties, by going to https://bobswansonimages.photoshelter.com/index/G00006o16Pm6vmRY

daisy ruin ex. door9403-001 copy.jpg

Photo by Bob Swanso, reproduced with permission

daisy interior ruin JeromeStuff_04 copy.jpg

Photo by Bob Swanso, reproduced with permission

Daisy arch:ruin Mex townjerome_various__015 copy.jpg

Photo by Bob Swanso, reproduced with permission

daisy ruins 9210-003 copy.jpg

Photo by Bob Swanso, reproduced with permission

Swanson daisy ruin exterior with J:Cleopatra JeromeVarious__106_Crop copy.jpg

Ths week, the Little Daisy was put up for sale.

http://www.flexmls.com/cgi-bin/mainmenu.cgi?cmd=url+other/run_public_link.html&public_link_tech_id=20180810040808897381000000

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-08/this-40-room-hotel-is-now-a-6-2-million-mansion

Jerome was once one of the nation’s largest copper producers and one of Arizona’s wealthiest cities. Large quantities of zinc, silver, and gold were also mined. Legend has it that the value of the gold and silver was enough to cover the expenses of mining the copper and zinc. These mines made billions of dollars in profits.

Jerome’s two great mines, the United Verde Copper Company (UV) and the Gold, Silver and Copper Mining Company (UVX), operated within a mile of each other, but its ore bodies were quite separate.

The United Verde comprised the open pit and buildings just outside of town and below Sunshine Hill. William Andrews Clark, the robber baron who was reputed to be richer than Rockefeller, owned the UV.

James Stuart Douglas was the owner of the UVX mine. Its shafts were located on the land below the beautiful white mansion that Douglas built for himself and his family. The UVX nicknamed his mine the Little Daisy and pulled out 3.9 million tons of copper, 221 tons of silver, and 6.25 tons of gold.” The mine was fable among geologists throughout the world because of the high concentrations of ore it contained. The UVX averaged 12 to 14 percent copper to the ton, with some concentrations as high as 45 percent, which made it one of the two highest-grade deposits found in the world at that time.

Jimmy Douglas closed the UVX in 1938, because the high-grade copper ore had played out. Afterward, many of the mine buildings were demolished. The tram and the railroad carried away the tools, the large earthmoving equipment, and ore carts to other mines. After the trains made their last trips down the hill, the tracks were taken up. The large elevator shafts below the Douglas Mansion, a few office buildings, and tailings piles remained.

The Little Daisy Hotel, a monument to the largesse of Douglas’ reign, was de-roofed and gutted to its walls and arches but not before vandals had broken in and carted away furniture, bathtubs, and fixtures.

The Ackers graciously took me on a tour of this most amazing restoration, which included a maze of copper tubing under the main floor of the Daisy for radiant heat, a photo of which can be seen in the listing photos (second link in this blog).

 

Advertisements

Jerome AZ Seesaw: Riches to Rags to Riches

Marshall Terrill, an author and a reporter for the East Valley Tribune, emailed me and said he loved my book Home Sweet Jerome and wanted to write something about it.  It’s every author’s dream. After I got his email, I looked him up. He is noted for his biographies of Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen and Pete Maravich, basketball great. Wow, I thought to myself, what an honor.

Terrill wrote me questions and asked me to write the answers and to please stick to two paragraphs. They were good questions and I thought a long time about how to answer them. The article Terrill posted was wonderful. My answers, way too long, were shortened. Here’s his article, which was generous and praiseworthy: http://eastvalleytribune.com/eedition/page_42427fd9-1903-594e-9f23-e06eb4f4ee05.html#page_a14

For the historical record, here’s the long version of my answers.

Difference between Aboveground and Below Ground Jerome AZ

Terrill: 1.) Give us a taste of what Jerome when it was a thriving copper town before 1953?’

 The major boom years were 1895 to about 1930 with a population peaking at about 15,000. Two mines worked full time, employing about 4000 people, and pulling out some of the richest copper ore ever seen in America. Aboveground, Jerome AZ was a rich and glamorous city, the center of Northern Arizona with the finest hospitals and schools; and plenty of social activities, not all savory.

Below ground, in the city of 88 miles of tunnels, life was not so glamorous. For the working miner, it was a 12-hour hardscrabble life, with plenty of dust to infect your lungs, and where being able to shower after work on company time was considered a ‘perk.’

The Dry

“The Dry” where me showered after work— first they showered off all the muck; then took off their clothes and hung them high in the rafters to dry, headless ghosts of the men below, Photo by Bob Swanson (www.SwansonImages.com). The Dry no longer exists. It was razed circa 2005.

In the nineteen thirties, a number of events began to turn Jerome in a downward direction, including the depression, the sale of the United Verde to Phelps Dodge, and the drop of copper prices after World War II.

Environmental Degradation: Mining’s Biggest Insensitivity

Terrill 2) You cite 1953 as a sort of Ground Zero for Jerome when Phelps Dodge discontinued mining. My jaw dropped when I read about how the company not only pulled out of town, but salvaged parts of buildings and took anything of value before leaving Jerome. Was this sort of behavior par for the course with other copper mining towns or was Jerome’s case particularly insensitive?

It was standard operating procedure, however insensitive and cruel it was. You close down a mine and salvage what can be re-used. If you could give employees jobs in your other mines, you did. The rest of the people you forgot about and took no responsibility for. Move or stay was their problem. The Mexican laborers and their families who had built their own houses, pulled them down, salvaging what they could, and went to find jobs elsewhere. The houses that Phelps Dodge built for employees, usually management and middle management, were either torn down or shut down or put on flatbeds and carted away to other towns. The hospital, United Verde apartments and company hills houses were boarded up and the electricity shut off. The 4-story Miller Building, the company store, was pulled down to avoid taxes and potential liabilities from what Phelps Dodge called ‘safety issues.’ Nor was their any expectation that the 140 or so adults and 86 children that stayed behind, would have the wherewithal, the money or the will, to continue living in Jerome and maintain the infrastructure. “Jerome is finished,” one mining official said. “Within a year grass will grow on Main Street.”

Perhaps the biggest insensitivity, if you could put that rather bland word on it, was the immense environmental degradation Phelps Dodge walked away from. Not just in Jerome, but in the Verde Valley. But remember, this was the fifties. There were no environmental laws in place. No law equaled no responsibility.

Toxic tailings

When it rained, water that was contaminated with copper sulfate flowed through the taiiings and into Bitter Creek, turning the water azure. Photo by Bob Swanson (www.swansonimages.com)

Supernatural Attachment.

Terrrill 3.) Jerome was literally a ghost town in the 1950s and 1960s. For the few people who stayed behind, what did they state their reasons were given the poor conditions of homes, sewer, water and power?

First, Jerome was never a ghost town. That was an invention of the Jerome Historical Society as a way of encouraging tourism. Jerome was a village that 220-300 people lived in, with perhaps 100 houses and maybe eight buildings that weren’t being lived in. The high school, with the exception of a few years, was still operating in 1972. If you stayed in Jerome after the fifties, you kept up your house as much as you could. The houses that were not lived—such as those on Company Hill— in deteriorated pretty fast. And the big problem that emerged with advertising Jerome as a ghost town was that many tourists became predators who thought they somehow entitled to the ‘leavings.’ They would wander into houses that obviously looked lived in and become entirely surprised to find someone quite offended.

Jerome's "Pretend Ghosts"

Jerome Historical Society members dressed up as “Spooks: on Main Street in the nineteen fifties to help publicize Jerome as a ghost city. Courtesy Jerome Historical Society

Virtually everyone that stayed, or moved there in the fifties and sixties, talked about the love they had for Jerome, one that I characterize as a supernatural attachment. They always talked of the superb views. People that left and came to visit told me they always wanted to come back to live there again. And people that did live there in the fifties and sixties told me what how peaceful, enjoyable and quiet village life was. For sure the kids had a superb life, the mines, the tunnels, the empty buildings and homes were just one big massive playground that was entirely open to them. And then, layered into all that, was the sense that everyone was working towards the town’s restoration, and there was some sense of hope that someday, Jerome would become a history Mecca, and later, an art Mecca—even though towards the end of the sixties, the town needed something of a miracle to stay alive, not just in terms of fixing its deteriorating infrastructure but its very poor economy. In those years, Jerome was one of the poorest towns in the state.

Love, Need and Hope

Terrill 5.) The late 1960s and early 1970s saw an invasion of dissatisfied hippies move into town and had to not only intermingle with the old-timers, but had to come together in planning the future of Jerome. How did that happen?

Well, that’s the whole book and more, and it’s the question that impelled me to writing it, and what probably makes the book a fascinating read. Love, need and hope make powerful allies. That’s what binds uncommon people together, overcomes antipathy and impels them forward in a common mission. Virtually everyone shared a love of the town, a need to make sure it didn’t fall down the mountain, and a hope that it could become a viable place to live.

“The way I felt about it, I kind of resented it at first, this hippie group moving in,” said John McMillan, one of the most respected of the town elders. “But I found there were some pretty smart kids among them and they got into the politics of Jerome and took over the Town Council and did a pretty good job. I don’t resent that at all because these old timers, they can’t run the damn place forever.”

Restoration didn’t happen all at once, but what made it start to happen, is that the hippies became ‘joiners.’ Some joined the fire department; some joined the historical society; some ran for town council, and so on. And it wasn’t so much that there was a plan, but a need to get infrastructure in order, town accounting organized in order to get grants. And the other piece, the one that’s the most controversial, is that the hippies began to grow large marijuana gardens that brought cash into town and enabled everything from artists starting their own businesses to having the money to rebuild their houses. When you add income to love, hope and need, and begin to build a viable economy, then suddenly a future for Jerome became a whole lot more possible.

Riches to Rags

Terrill 5.) What inspired you to research the history of Jerome and make you want to put it all down in book form?

I wanted to know the history of where I had chosen to live. When I moved to Jerome in 1979, several layers of history were entirely visible and wove in and out of each other, but without context. There were large amounts of mining wastes and a big open pit; a denuded mountain; large houses on Company Hill that looked like they were ready to fall apart and were emblematic of what I heard was a ghost town; large, boarded buildings, such as the hospital, or the Daisy Hotel which was windowless and roofless. And because the town was encompassed in about one square mile of real estate and only had about 400 people living there, my first question was how did Jerome swing from rich to decrepit.

A typical house wreck in Jerome AZ

One of my all time favorites ruins, now the cover of the book Rich Town Poor Town. In 1985, the building was in perfect splay when Bob took the shot. Then it fell down. (Photo by Bob Swanson, www.swansonimages.com)

Although there was a fair amount written about the boomtown mining days, what happened afterwards was scant. So I started asking. Old-timers and newcomers began telling me stories that edged on preposterous—how Jerome’s mortician flew over the town in the sixties and threw out seeds of paradise trees; how the historical society acquired most of downtown for $10; how the biggest theft in Jerome was money hidden in the church and discovered after the priest died in 1979. So if you were a historian, like me by education and curiosity, you became a detective that was sucked into researching the veracity of those stories. I became hooked. And the more I heard and studied, the more devilishly contradictory and intriguing it all became. It was as though I found myself in the middle of a movie, in which I was playing some role that wasn’t quite clear to me, with a cast of extraordinary heroes and scoundrels that had already been part of many dramas. So there we all were, careening towards a future for Jerome that was not possible to predict, in a falling down town. Better than any novel you could concoct.

Rags to Riches: America’s Loveliest Town

Terrill 6.) What is your view of Jerome today, and has it reached its full maturity?

I would use the word restoration instead of maturity. With a few exceptions, Jerome has reached full restoration. Jerome has become the art and history Mecca that residents had hoped for. The town draws more than a million visitors a year. Business is booming. If you visit Jerome in the early morning or even after five when the visitors more or less disappear, what you would see is an astonishing lovely village, perhaps one of the most beautiful in America, surrounded by empty land that is beginning to be reforested and a breathtakingly beautiful eighty mile panoramic view of valleys and canyons that changes with the weather and time of day—“heaven on earth” as photographer Ron Chilston likes to say. Buildings on Main Street, the Grand Hotel, Douglas Mansion, The Little Daisy, have been lavishly restored. Many rebuilt homes are beautiful and comfortable. Those old decrepit Company Hill houses are now jewels on the hill. The whole town has become an oasis—one huge garden of flowers with thousands of pine and fruit trees. A variety of activities can accommodate visitors of every taste and age, from looking for ghosts to sipping wine or cappuccino, dancing to rock ‘n roll, to visiting Jerome’s mining museums, to going to the quirky museum of old trucks at the Gold King Mine (which was never a gold mine).

Fall in Jerome AZ

“Fall in Jerome” by Mark Hembleben, a plein air artist currently living and painting in Jerome. Hembleben has an art studio in the old Mingus Union High School. The painting shows why artists love to paint this lovely village. (www.markhemleben.com).

But for many residents, there is a downside to success. Lots of cars and motorcycles go up and down the hill daily and with them a lot of noise and low rumble. Quite a few people own homes right on the main highway and noise and fumes from cars creeping into the houses are intolerable. A kind of frenetic people bedlam makes it less pleasant to be uptown or even near it during the day. And then there is some fear that the income that can now be commanded from vacation rentals will mean a decrease in residential population, a decrease in taxes coming into the town, and a degradation of the community spirit that once re-built the town.

Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City by Diane Sward Rapaport

Leaverite Society of Jerome AZ

In 1982, I showed an interesting rock that I found near Jerome to the President of the Mingus Gem and Mineral Club. “Could you please tell me what kind of rock this is?”

“Young lady, what you have there is a genuine leaverite.”

“What is a leaverite?” I asked.

A smile curved into his lips: “One you leave right there.”

Leaverite bridge by Michael Grab

Oh, what Michael Grab does with leaverites. www.gravityglue.com

The Leaverite Society

In 1985, Dana Driver, Susan Dowling and myself formed the Leaverite Society of America to provide some humorous counter balances to Jerome’s contentious politics.

Before two months went by, The Leaverite Society had 75 paying members, most of them Jeromans. All had a major love affair with rocks. Rocks were fun. They weren’t jealous or possessive, weren’t political, and didn’t talk back! The ideal companion for us leaverite philanderers!

‘Leave No Stone Unturned,’ was the first motto of the Leaverite Society. “Hot Rocks or No Rocks at All” was the second. After the disastrous pot bust of 1985, which led to the arrest of sixteen Jeromans, including two members of the Jerome Town Council, a Leaverite Society member who wished to remain anonymous proposed a third motto: “Everybody Must Get Stoned.”

At our first official meeting, Georgia O’Keefe was given an honorary membership. Once a week she arranged her living room around a special rock.

The Leaverite Society made commemorative hats, held potlucks, complete with rock scavenger hunts, and published two newsletters. The second issue featured a love story by Tikky Trachyte (the inimitable Katie Lee), and an article by Ayers Rock (Joe van Leeuwen’s moniker) on the Cock-of-the-Rock, a bird that inhabits the rocky ledges and shallow caves of South and Central America.

Cock-of-the-rock

The cock-of-the-rock is the national bird of Peru. Jo van Leeuwen of Jerome, Arizona proposed that the bird be adopted as the mascot for the Leaverite Society of America in Jerome AZ. Image is in the public domain. See: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30221/30221-h/30221-h.htm. From a free e-book, Birds: illustrated by Color Photography first published in 1897 by the Nature Study Publishing Company, Chicago, IL.
Book is on-line and the photographs of birds and their descripts are beautiful.

It also included a fiendish British-type crossword puzzle by Whitecliff (Dana Driver’s Dad) called “100 Arabs-Egyptian Rock Group.” British crosswords are known for containing clues that are both straightforward and cryptic. I couldn’t even guess the straightforward answers to “Seek complaint in first-class rodent,” “Utah resident hunting antelope in Nepal,” or “He takes his half of the road out of the side.” I did not know one Leaverite Society member who solved the puzzle.

Geologists

Geologists you’d expect among the rock lovers of this fabled billion dollar copper camp. They’re serious leaverite hounds.

In the seventies and eighties, dozens of world-renowned geologists roamed the area around Jerome to figure out when and how the super rich massive sulfide ore bodies formed. They’re the ones that turned Jerome into a fabled and very wealthy copper mining city.

Jerome Arizona’s ore bodies are called massive sulfides not just because they are large (some geologists describe roughly shaped spheres that can extend a mile or more down into the earth), but because they are so dense with precious ores, like copper, zinc, gold and silver. The official definition massive sulfide ore bodies are those contain more than 50% minerals to a ton of rock.

The ‘when and how’ answers that geologists came up with are straightforward—the massive sulfide ore bodies are 1.738 years billion years old, and were formed in hot springs vents in deep undersea volcanoes virtually at the same time as the large undersea volcano that hosted them—the copper colored Cleopatra formation that dominates views when people look up at Jerome from the Verde Valley.

Jerome AZ illustration by Anne Bassett

The twin pyramid-shaped mountains that dominate Jerome are the Cleopatra formation. Illustration by Anne Bassett-www.jeromeartistannebasset.com

Incredibly more convoluted are answers to the questions about how the ore bodies remained intact over immense and varied cataclysms over such a long period of time and the dynamic processes that led to a tip of the United Verde ore body being exposed to the air, which enabled its discovery. The geology of the Jerome area is a giant, intricate puzzle with quite a few missing pieces.

According to Verde Valley geologist Paul Handverger, “The Jerome area is one of the most interesting geologic phenomenons of North America. Much more interesting than the big ditch,” (the Grand Canyon.)

One could earn a PhD in geology by studying just this small patch of real estate.

The Quest for Gold

During his quest for gold in Northern, Nevada, John McNerney found a new method for its discovery—and a new use for gold. He designed a mercury detector that used gold film sensors to analyze minute quantities of vapor rising above the soil deeply buried gold deposits. John founded Jerome Instrument Corporation in 1979 to manufacture these detectors.

One irony: although some geologists bought a few mercury analyzers as a prospecting tool, the major market turned out to be the United States Navy. Its submarines needed to instantly know when mercury based instrumentation broke and fouled the air. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system and can turn people into mad hatters.

As an aside, John’s wife Iris was convinced all Jeromans were wacky because of the mercury that exists in the soils underneath Jerome’s feet.

The second irony is that John is now avidly against the opening of new gold mines because of their environmental destructiveness. He helped lead a major movement in Todos Santos, Mexico against a mine that would have likely fouled an area aquifer. ‘Aqua vale mas que oro’ was their rallying cry. (Water is worth more than gold).

Jewelers

While geologists were combing the hills, perhaps many as forty people in Jerome were jewelers, carvers and sculptors. Dana Driver and Susan Dowling, two founders of the Leaverite Society were jewelers. I just liked leaverites. (My husband liked to build retaining walls on our property.)

Flamingo pendant by Dana Driver

Jeweler Dana Driver’s beautiful pendant beach stone and silver pendent. See others at: http://www.danarocks.com

For a few years, Dana Driver, president of the Leaverite Society, became fascinated with beach stone. She polished them, incised them with gold and silver, made them into pendants, flowers and insects. www.Danarocks.com. Dana is among artists that continuously reinvent themselves and stretch artistic boundaries. A few years after her fascination with beach stone, she got into making fine jewelry from bottle caps, tin cans and bits of rusty metal.

Susan Dowling collected malachite and azurite from Jerome’s mines and made rings and pendants.www.foxazhandmade.com

Malachite ring by Jeweler Susan Dowlng

Malachite ring by Jeweler Susan Dowling.

As a child, Jesse Dowling, Susan’s entrepreneurial son, sold leaverites to tourists for extra candy money. (Today, Jesse serves on the Cottonwood City Council.)

I’ve always marveled that Bob Hall, who makes some of the most delicate hand-faceted bead necklaces, has also built some of Jerome’s largest hand-stacked retaining walls, including the wall behind the Jerome fire station and the wall flanking the basketball court, adjacent to the sliding jail. Retaining walls are Jerome AZ’s most overlooked architectural treasure, even though hundreds are in view every day.

Ghosts of My Verde Street Home

If you are a student of Jerome AZ’s history, as I am, you study ghosts, the people that came before you, that grew up in the house you live in, planted the crab apple and apricot trees you eat from, plundered the mountain where you now walk your dog and try to figure out what they created or destroyed has to do with the present and future.” (From the prologue to Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City.)

Meeting the Ghosts  Sometimes you get to meet the ghosts that built the house you lived in; who whispered to you when you buried Whiskers the Manx cat near the apricot tree, “Thanks for giving us a cat to be our companion. We’ve been wishing for one for a long time.”

Verde Street Home in Jerome AZ

The house at the end of Verde Street in Jerome AZ built by Nikolai Domjanovich in 1926. (Photo by JoAnn Braheny)

I was visiting Jerome AZ in May and received a phone call from Barbara Beneitone, one of the children that lived in our home at the end of Verde Street before the mines closed. “My Mom and sister and brother are going to be in Jerome. We’d love to take you to lunch.” I had been corresponding with Barbara through Facebook: she was one my loyal blog readers. At Grapes Restaurant on Jerome’s Main Street, I met Barbara’s 91-year old mother, Doris and her first-born son Don Schumacher and his wife Mary, Barbara and her sister Suzy and her partner Roy Harbin. Missing were Louis and Debbie, two other children. Doris was a sturdy, lovely woman with a lot of energy and a big heart, much like her children. After lunch, we went over to their old house, unlived in since we sold it three years ago, full of foxtails, neglect, and a lot of memories. My husband Walt and I, children Max and Michael, Amanda the dog and Whiskers the cat lived there for 35 years. The house sits sentinel over Deception Gulch.

The Beneitone family in Jerome AZ

The Beneitone family in May 2014 on the driveway of the Verde Street home in Jerome AZ: left to right: Suzy, Barbara, Doris. and Don. (Photo by JoAnn Braheny)

History of the Ghosts

“The house was built in 1926 by Marguerite and Nikolai Domjanovich, my parents,” Doris told me. “They were Croats from Delnice, Yugoslavia.  I was 3-months old when we moved to the house. Mr. Lopez, Sr. helped us build it. He lived in the house below you. Sometimes the kids threw stones to see if they could hit his tin roof.” Doris and her husband and four kids lived on the bottom floor of that old house.  Suzy slept in the closet in the bedroom Louis, Don and Barbara slept in the hallway in bunk beds. Upstairs lived Mitzi Bobbitt, Doris’ sister and her husband. “We were one big happy family in a little house,” Barbara said.

The first house that Marguerite and Nikolai lived in was near the baseball field (now a big, open flat spot near the Gold King Mine). Nicolai’s brother George was accidentally killed by a baseball hitting his chest. The family built the home at the end of Verde Street because they did not want to confront the ghosts of that memory every day. The family and I walked back to the patio where Walt built his last wall, the one with the drill press embedded in it, and stood under the mesquite tree. It was a particularly tranquil, private spot. The men admired the walls. I told them Walt built ten massive walls to protect the house from tumbling down the mountain. Don showed me the remnants of the walls his father built. I showed him the one Mr. Bobbitt built.

Drill press wall Jerome AZ

Wall with drill press in Jerome AZ built by Walter Rapaport. (Photo by Diane Rapaport)

The apricot tree their family had planted just below the patio was still there, barely alive through a few winters of drought and disregard. They made jam from the fruit, Don told me. Just below was the garden his parents kept, full of beets, turnips, cabbage and carrots. Doris made sauerkraut from the cabbages in barrels located in the old shed. She’d serve it with ‘pigs in the blankets.’ The spot was protected from the smoke of copper smelters in Cottonwood and Clarkdale AZ. “On special occasions, we’d go up to Walnut Springs for a picnic and a swim with pails full of sauerkraut and potato salad,” Don said. The remains of the concrete swimming pool are still up there.

The old Walnut Springs Pool near Jerome AZ

The swimming pool at Walnut Springs, two miles up the mountain from Jerome AZ circa 1918. (Private collection)

Their father and grandfather were miners, such a different life than the one we led in Jerome. What seemed like plundering the mountain to me was a better job for their grandfather and his brother than ones in the mines in Michigan, where it was brutally cold, and those in the low-ceilinged coal mines of New Mexico, where her grandfather to had to work stooped. He was six feet, nine inches tall and had to work stooped. Most of the family moved away in 1950. The men helped tear down the interiors of the electrical plumbing and woodworking buildings on the 500-level and recycle tools and materials for mining elsewhere. Doris’ widowed mother stayed behind. She did not want to leave Jerome. I stood with Doris at the top of the steps. “My grandfather made the copper railings and set them in iron pipes.” It gave us something to hang on to when we went down the two sets of steps. By now they were tipping toward the patio ten feet below the wall. Where my peace roses still bloomed was the location of an old bin for storing coal for the stove her mom and she cooked on.”

The Tug of Jerome

I didn’t have much desire to go down those steps with Don, Barbara and Suzy and look around. Neither did Doris. We hadn’t back since we left and we felt sad.  Lifetimes had passed, not to be measured in years. We both had tears. What we had in common is our love of Jerome, the home that meant so much to all of us in our lives, the children that grew up there and scrambled over those craggy cliffs like goats. We understood without words what it was to feel the tug back as we left Jerome for another life in another city, another set of people and circumstances. Doris and her family had always hoped to move back to that house. For them, as for me, Jerome was a favored place on earth and we shared an almost supernatural attachment to it. For us this crazy, patchwork town will always be home sweet Jerome.

Gold Mining in Jerome AZ 1980’s

Outfitted with overlarge Wellington boots, a hard hat with a flashlight and a self-rescue device, which would give us breathable air in case of a fire, Walter and I are ready to descend 1100 feet down the hoist located at the Audrey Shaft in Jerome, adjacent to the Douglas State Park.

Audrey Headframe, Jerome, AZ.

Audrey Headframe, Jerome, AZ.

In 1984, Budge Mining Ltd. leased mineral rights from Phelps Dodge and United Verde Exploration and sunk quite a few bucks into fixing up the Audrey Shaft and elevator of the old Little Daisy Mine and fixing some of the tunnels. Mining, albeit on a small scale, threatens to come back to Jerome.

The new mine is after red- and black-banded jasper and other types of quartz chert and intend to haul the ore to New Mexico. There it will be crushed and used as a flux to process copper. The flux is heated and the gold will float up as a byproduct.

The gold is electron gold, microscopic and invisible. The only way geologists know it is there is to assay the rock. Paul Handverger, who was managing Verde Ex’s properties, was excited because he discovered the new prospect.

I’m there as part of a newly formed organization called the Jerome Protection Foundation, which is objecting to the proposed mining. Too noisy, especially at nights with dumping and sounds of trucks backing up, too disruptive to tourism that comes to the State Park, too much wear and tear on our already damaged roads, and so on. The road from Highway 89a to the State Park (Mine Road) is narrow and twisty. We’ve seen drivers who can’t always see around the curves drive much too fast and not quite on their side of the road.

The mine personnel are trying to appease us and have invited me to go into the mine. I’m all smiles and charm. I’ve always wanted to see the inside of a mine.

Pete Flores, mine foreman, reassures me that it’s perfectly safe. “You’ve been seeing too many movies. It’s not too bad at all down there. I even took my wife.”’

“How much gold is in the ore?” I ask. “Oh about .2 percent to a ton of rock,” says Flores. “I’ve been mining gold for 4-5 years and the only gold I’ve ever seen was in my teeth.

Down in the big tunnel, Flores shows us the safety rules, the emergency 
stretcher, the stepladder that would allow us to climb out if the elevators have a problem, the pneumatic tube that flows and circulates air. “I never had an accident and none of my men have either,” Flores says.

My big surprise is how roomy, high and long the tunnels are. My two-story house would hardly touch the ceiling. The ceiling of the tunnel is netted with wire mesh and embedded with bolts that go five feet into the rock. Flores also showed me some soft spots that could possible lead to cave-ins, which he likens to rotten apples.

We’re slowly walking in muck towards the high school. The muck is from water that needs to be used in diamond drilling through the hard rock jasper. We’re also shown two types of ores that hold massive amounts of copper—one a black schist that looks like coal and is very dense. I’m told it assays out at 30% copper to the ton. In the other or type, you can see copper seams—Jerome’s Apache gold— that assay out as 50-70% ore to the ton. They’re part of the extremely high concentrations of copper that are common to Jerome’s massive sulfide deposits.

I ask Flores what he likes about mining.

“The temperature,” he says. “My first job out of school was doing surveys in Grants New Mexico. It was windy, cold and miserable. Then I got a job mining. Down there the weather’s always perfect, an even 70 degrees all year round.”

While walking around, Flores told us about old mining superstitions.

“The miners of Arizona’s copper districts belong to many different nationalities. If they worked as miners in the Old Country, they bought their superstition with them. Many nationalities believe that mines are inhabited by impish “little people” called kobolds by the Germans, duendes by the Mexicans and tommyknockers by Cornish miners. They like to play pranks, like carrying carry off small tools. In the old country, miners kept them appeased with food offerings. The superstition that lingers on is that a woman will invariably bring bad luck into any mine. So whether true or not, it is very difficult for women to go down into the mines.

Tommyknockers, in mining folklore, are the spirits that knock on walls just before cave-ins.

Tommyknockers, in mining folklore, are the spirits that knock on walls just before cave-ins.

Anti-Mining Activism: The Jerome Protection Foundation

Barbara Blackburn, who had a level head and was a great organizer, started the Jerome Protection Foundation in the late 80’s. I was secretary. We were the black hippie crows creating as much an uproar as we knew how. Joining us was Mayor Francesca Segretti, who became livid when she had to drive to work at a crawl behind eleven ore trucks. Our members called and wrote a barrage of letters to officials at ADOT, the State Preservation offices, Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C., UVX; Phelps Dodge, Budge Mining. We flew off press releases, held meetings, got residents of Jerome engaged in doing something with their anger besides spouting off.

John McNerney, founder of JErome Instrument Corporation, which manufactured mercury detectors, used a noise detector to take formal measurements. “You need a baseline, something to compare potential noise levels to,” John said.  Joey van Leeuwen made a list of trees along Mine road that might be cut down if the road was widened. The strategy was to create a big bother along many fronts.

In one rancorous town council meeting, one mining geologist shook his fist and said, “You’ll see big mining return here in the next century. The biggest zinc deposit in North America is right underneath Jerome.”

There is a lot of zinc up there near the open pit and underneath the Company Hill houses, but it’s low grade and so far there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in mining it.

Fortunately, although four different mining companies professed interest as buyers of the chert, contracts for the ore were not forthcoming. Then there was an accident down in the mine, which nobody could get any details about. A big hush-up. A first for Flores. The mine shut down for repairs and never reopened. Today, the Historical Society constructed The Audrey Headframe park.

Would our protests of the Jerome Protection Foundation have amounted to anything? Maybe a few small concessions by the mine. At best. we probably did little more than spook them. Mining is a big Goliath. We were saved by either fate or serendipity.

It did not give us much hope against successfully protesting against an even bigger mining Goliath that may loom from discoveries of new massive sulfide deposits.  (See a previous post: “The Future of Mining in Jerome.”)

The Audrey Headframe  Park

In 2010, volunteers led by Allen Muma, President of the Jerome Historical Society, and Mayor Jim Kinsella, constructed the Audrey Headframe Park. The big draw is not just the restored headframe, but a glass platform where visitors can walk and peer down into the shaft—the same one that held the old elevator that took us down into the mine. Special zenon lighting and mirrors heighten the effect of looking down into the tunnels. The shaft is surrounded by old mining artifacts, such as ore cars, drills, water cannons, and an old mining cage. http://www.jeromehistoricalsociety.com/projects.html

Looking down the old Audrey shaft. In the 1980's, I was taken down by elevator to  tour a proposed new gold mine.

Looking down the old Audrey shaft. In the 1980’s, I was taken down by elevator to tour a proposed new gold mine.

The mirror walk was built by the same company that built the spectacular glass skywalk on the portion of the Grand Canyon owned by the Hualapai nation.

http://www.grandcanyonskywalk.com/

New Mining Threat in Jerome AZ

Author Note: This post was written in 2014.  That ‘threat’ seems to have evaporated. If anyone knows differently, please write to me.

The potential for mining to return to Jerome flew on the e-Mail hotlines because of newly announced information from Cornerstone Metals, a company located in Vancouver BC, to explore for a new cache of high-grade copper ore on property within a few miles of Jerome, Arizona.  “The West Jerome” prospect was one of four purchased by Cornerstone Metals, a British Columbia company in August 2013, from Copper One, Inc., which is based in Montreal, Canada.

Their website plays on the massive, and now fabled, tons of copper, gold and silver mined out of the old United Verde Copper Company, purchased by Phelps Dodge in 1935, and sold in 2006 to Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc., the largest publicly traded copper producer in the world and one of the world’s largest producers of gold.

According to the Cornerstone Metals website, “West Jerome was optioned to Lowell Copper Ltd. in February 2015 to advance the project to drill stage. Lowell Copper conducted 2 gravity surveys by Zonge International Inc. (“Zonge”) over the Project, which generated two anomalies, one being open-ended. Zonge recommended further work to better define the open-ended anomaly, however due to market conditions and other priorities, Lowell Copper has preferred not to proceed further with the Project. As a result, Cornerstone retains a 100% interest in the Project, now supported by gravity anomalies.” http://www.cornerstonemetals.ca.

What follows is some historical background and a few perspectives to think on when considering the question of whether a new ore body exists and if it does, how and when it might be mined.

Massive Sulfide Ores

The ore deposits mined in the Jerome area are described as massive sulfides.

As used by geologists, the term ‘massive’ refers to an ore body whose concentrations of all minerals exceed fifty per cent. The major  deposits that have been mined in and close to Jerome include the United Verde Copper Company (UV), the United Verde Extension (UVX) and the Verde Central Mine (about a mile outside of town going up towards Mingus Mountain).

The UV was the largest mined massive sulfide deposit in the United States. The copper ore was doubly famous for  its unusually high concentrations of copper. The UVX averaged twelve to thirteen per cent copper to the ton, with some concentrations as high as forty-five per cent, making it one of the two highest-grade copper deposits found in the world. The UV averaged five per cent copper to the ton. The majority of copper mines worldwide average less than one per cent copper to the ton (called porphyry copper). Low grade mines include the former Phelps Dodge copper mine in Bisbee, AZ and the still operating mine in Morenci, Arizona, both properties now owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc.

Billions of dollars of copper, gold silver and zinc were mined before the last of the Jerome area mines closed in 1953, when the price of copper plummeted after World War II.

The term ‘massive’ could equally apply to the size of the ore bodies. At the Jerome State Historic Park (old Douglas Mansion), a three-dimensional display that takes up a large room, shows a city underneath Jerome that is larger than the one that used to be above it: eight-eight miles of mining tunnels going deep under the surface. The UV ore body, which resembles a deformed spheroid, extends some 4500 feet below the surface. According to one geologist, it weighed 150 to 200 million tons.[1] The more obloid-shaped UVX ore body extends to a depth of 2400 feet below the surface and is perhaps almost as wide as it is deep.

The display was built in 1938 to help settle legal disputes about the cause of the 1937 landslide that wiped out three city blocks in Jerome and shows the location of the areas of the ore bodies that were being mined underneath Jerome, as well as the areas that have already been mined.

The display shows that as much as 50% of the remaining ore has yet to be mined. Geologists also tell me there is ore remaining in the Verde Central Mine. Geologists tell me there is a rich lode of low-grade zinc at the upper part of the open pit; and that a lode of copper exists not far underneath Jerome’s Main Street (the Hermit Claim).

Where is the West Jerome property?

Mapshown on Copper Oner's web site before sale of the West Jerome and other properties to Cornerstone Metals, Inc. in August 2013.

Map shown on Copper Oner’s web site before sale of the West Jerome and other properties to Cornerstone Metals, Inc. in August 2013.

Map shown on Cornerstone Metal Inc.'s web site.

Map shown on Cornerstone Metal Inc.’s website.

Map on Cornerstone Metal Inc.,s web site. Purple may indicate the lower Cleopatra rhyolite, some of it buried by other sediments.

Map on Cornerstone Metal Inc.’s website.

According to the maps that are shown above, the first shows a map published on Copper One’s website before the August 2013 sale: “The West Jerome property consists of approximately five square kilometers of claims on the west side of Freeport McMoran patented lands”

The other two maps are provided on Cornerstone Metals website identify the site as lying “2.4 kilometers south of the past producing United Verde Mine.” One target area shown on the Cornerstone website is a boundary area between two types of the Cleopatra formation, the lower and upper Rhyolite. The UV, UVX Hull and Verde Central ore bodies were located in the lower Cleopatra Rhyolite.

Both maps show the long vertical boundary to be on the left side of highway 89A as you go up towards Mingus Mountain at an elevation of about 6400 feet, with the exception of a corner that crosses the highway. The lower side of the boundary shown on the Cornerstone map is somewhat opposite the Woodchute campground (right side of the road) its upper edge south of the old UV at about the same elevation. (A more accurate location can be had by driving the curves (which I can’t do because I’m in Oregon right now). The land on which the prospect is filed is likely owned by the US Forest Service, but this needs to be checked out. I do not know.)

How Jerome’s Massive Sulfide Ores Were Formed

Geologists working in the Jerome area in the nineteen seventies proposed a new theory about the formation of Jerome’s ore bodies, among them Paul Lindberg, a distinguished geologist, who still resides in the Verde Valley.

According to the new theory, the massive sulfide ore bodies were volcanic in origin and were formed underneath the ocean 1.738 billion years ago, virtually at the same time as the formation of a large undersea volcano, the remnants of which are called the Cleopatra formation in Jerome. This Precambrian formation, varnished a deep burnt copper sienna, is an integral part of the town of Jerome and surrounding areas.

After this undersea volcano erupted, its large crater collapsed and developed fissures through which cold flowed. As they widened and deepened, the water heated up from the hot magmas (lavas) underneath. Sulfur and minerals dissolved in the super-heated water and began to concentrate and be carried upwards through hot spring vents. Massive sulfide ore deposits spewed out and were dumped out onto the ocean floor. This was happening on a gigantic scale, beneath the pressure of 3000 feet of seawater.

Robert Chaplin (“Chappy)”, an exploration geologist working for Newmont Mining[2] during that period estimated the size of the ancient pile of sulfides that was to become the UV ore body as being approximately “two miles long, up to 1,500 feet wide and 500 feet deep.” I wish I could ask Chappy how he estimated the size.

The phrase that accurately describes these types of ore bodies is “volcanogenic massive sulfides” (VMS).

Black Smokers

What occurred in the Jerome area so long ago is still happening today in other undersea environments, which helped prove the new theories about how Jerome’s ore bodies formed.

In 1977, scientists descended into the ocean in deep-sea submarines to explore volcanoes and hydrothermal hot spring vents associated with sea-floor spreading at their plate boundaries that were located near the Galapagos Islands.[3] There they made two astonishing discoveries, the second of which was relevant to the formation of Jerome’s ore bodies.

First, scientists discovered large chimney-like columns, some as high as a mile, growing out of the hot spring vents. Inside them, in temperatures exceeding 600 degrees Fahrenheit, they found an array of eerie life forms, species without eyes, eight to ten foot tube worms, snails the size of tennis balls, weird shrimps and crabs, sea creatures that had no relationship to life as many people had been taught to regard it. Photographs of an array of these fascinating creatures are posted on: http://www.deepseaphotography.com/vents.php

Second, scientists discovered large quantities of sulfide metal-laden fluids spilling out of the columns onto the sea floor. They termed the columns ‘black smokers’ because of the color of the smoke that resulted when the hot fluids met the icy water. They gave the term white smokers to columns that release cooler water (250-300 degrees F) and emit lighter-hued minerals, such as calcium. Paul Lindberg likened them to gigantic pressure cookers.

“Oceans of Ore: How an Undersea Calder Eruption Created Jerome, Arizona,” written by Dana Hunter is a more in depth article on the black smokers. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/rosetta-stones/2012/06/03/oceans-of-ore-how-an-undersea-caldera-eruption-created-jerome-arizona/.

At the Galapagos Islands, samples taken from the metal fluids inside black smokers, ones that had solidified on the volcanic floor as well as samples of the chimneys themselves were virtually identical to those found by geologists in Jerome. Samples of black and white smokers and other minerals that were found by Paul Lindberg in the Jerome area are displayed in the Jerome State Historic Park (the old Douglas mansion). Two fascinating videos posted on youtube show the black smokers (1) Ore Factories of the Deep, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xywO4j7k2g8 and (2) Hydrothermal Vents: www.youtube.com/watch?v=D69hGvCsWgA

Because of the enormous quantities of copper-, zinc-, lead-, gold- and silver-sulfide minerals that are being produced in these undersea smokers, some scientists call them “industrial ore factories.”[4]

Today, various newspapers report potential undersea ventures to mine these deposits, perhaps with the use of robots. A 2011 report was titled, “Will Deep-sea Mining Yield an Underwater Gold Rush.”[5]

How Jerome’s Ore Bodies were Discovered

A tip of the UV ore body was exposed at the surface of the Cleopatra formation (near the top of today’s open pit) when violent earthquakes shook the area surrounding Jerome some five to eight million years ago. The exposed ore oxidized into vibrant blue and red colors, signaling the presence of riches underneath.

As early as the 1500’s, and perhaps for hundreds of years earlier, Hopis from Northern Arizona began mining the ore body for azurite and malachite, minerals associated with copper deposits, and used them as pigments for their pictographs and for body paint.

In the sixteenth century, a group of Hopis led two Spanish expeditions to the Jerome mine from the Hopi village of Awatovi in Northern Arizona to Jerome, a distance of about 200 miles.

In 1583, Antonio de Espejo came with a small expedition to look for gold.  He was likely the first European to see the Verde Valley and he named the Verde River, “El Rio de Los Reyes” (River of Kings).  Diego Luxan, the expedition’s chronicler reported “the mines were so worthless that we did not find in any of them a trace of silver [or gold} as they were copper mines, and poor.” Espejo’s official report stated, “I found the mines and took from them with my own hands ores, which, according to experts on the matter, are very rich and contain a great deal of silver.” They turned back almost immediately.[5]

In 1599, Marcos Farfan de los Godos came to Jerome and reported a shaft about sixteen and a half feet deep and a nearby mining dump. He also reported his encounters with small bands of Yavapai Indians. According to him, the Yavapais used the blue rock they obtained from Jerome as coloring their blankets and for personal adornment.

The valley and the Jerome mines remained essentially untouched by the white man until 1871, when the Yavapai and some Apaches were driven into a large reservation centered near Cottonwood. It extended ten miles on either side of the Verde River from Camp Verde and 40 miles to its headwaters in Chino Valley.

In 1875, the reservation was summarily closed by federal order and 1476 Native Americans were herded out and force-marched to the San Carlos Reservation to the East of Phoenix some 180 miles. It was snowing when they started; many were barefoot. One hundred and fifteen people died and 15 babies were born, some stillborn. It was the Yavapai and Apache ‘trail of tears.’

In 1876, the first mines were staked in the Jerome area.

Does Another Massive Sulfide Ore Body Exist?

If it does, it would be big news.

As I look at geologic maps that show the area of the Cleopatra formation, it occurs to me that in this ancient remnant of a huge undersea volcano, there could have been a lot of undersea hot springs vents and more than just a few large sulfide deposits than those already mined.

With as much exploration and mapping as has occurred from the nineteen seventies onward by a number of geologists from a number of very large mining companies, it seems somewhat likely that some may have already been found, and held in deep pockets of mining companies, and other prospects, like “West Jerome” not quite fully explored.
In the late nineteen sixties, a group of geologists from a number of the largest mining companies in the world challenged old theories about how the ore bodies were formed inside the Cleopatra formation. Up to that time, geologists thought that there were channels outside of the Cleopatra through which rich metal-laden fluids flowed and replaced sections inside it.[6]

“This theory was developed by people who first to Jerome looking for ore and were involved inside the guts of the ore body,” said geologist Paul Lindberg, who was working for Anaconda at the time. “We needed to get out into the terrain.”[7]

Handverger was one of a group of geologists that systematically drilled holes from Potato Patch on Mingus Mountain down to find evidence either supporting or contravening the old theory. “Most Arizona copper deposits are surrounded by one to three miles of channels that lead to the ore bodies,” Handverger said. “We found no evidence.[8]

Lindburg did a lot of drilling south of Jerome, remapping all of the geology over to the Copper Chief mine above Cottonwood.

When geologists took samples of all the different sections of the Cleopatra formation, they found that it was divided into two volcanic formations, not one, as was previously thought. The bottom layer, now called the Lower Deception Rhyolite, contains intrusions of old basalt (lava) and other outcrops. The top layer, which they called Cleopatra tuff, contains virtually no rock intrusions. It is a self-contained host for the ore bodies. (Crystal tuffs are the remains of consolidated volcanic ash that contains minute crystals or crystal fragments.)

As an aside, C. Anderson, one of the geologists who helped with the reinterpretation of the genesis of the ore bodies, was part of the team that once proposed that the two formations were the same and that the ore bodies had formed through hydrothermal intrusions.[9] He was a scientist that was not uncomfortable at being proved wrong.

Lindburgh built a geologic model of the Verde Mining district that collates some of the information gleaned from exploration work from the nineteen seventies onward. The model shows the surface geology (all the different rock formations that surround the area and their depths) and and an interpretation of features and major events that affected the geology.

The model is at the Jerome State Park (Douglas Mansion). It shows just how complicated and messy the geology of the area surrounding Jerome is and why geologists consider to be one of the most unusual geologic phenomenons in the world.

Much more interesting than the big ditch,” as Geologist Paul Handverger of Verde Ex said about the Grand Canyon in a class that he gave at Yavapai College in the nineteen eighties.

The model summarizes most of the dynamic processes that have altered the area from 1.8 billion years ago to the present. You could earn a PhD in geology by studying just this small patch of real estate.

Jerome’s Messy Geology

Even superficial knowledge of how and when the Colorado Plateau formed its sedimentary layers, so clearly bedded in many parts of the Grand Canyon, will  help you understand that in the Jerome area, the ‘bedding’ is not alway so neat and straighforward.

Most of the formations can be seen on a drive out Perkinsville Road—the Tapeats sandstone, the Redwall limestone, Supai sandstone, the Martin dolomite (a type of limestone). However, if you stand near the post office where Perkinsville Road veers off the main highway, you can see that the Redwall limestones has dropped below the elevation of the open pit. Earthquakes occurred here about 10 million years ago, at a time when there was no Verde Valley and no San Francisco Peaks, causing the Redwall to downfault.

During that same period (ten to fifteen million years ago, the boundary area near what is now Jerome and Sedona began to stretch and bulge, thinning the earth’s crust and producing cracks or fissures. Lava poured out of them. New volcanoes were created, including Casner and House Mountain. (The volcanic field that encompasses the San Francisco Peaks did not start erupting until about eight million years ago.) This volcanic activity covered many area sediments with thick layers of basalt, called the Hickey formation. Today, you can still see their evidence all over the Verde Valley, covering some of the sediments around Cleopatra, Mingus Mountain and Woodchute and forming large pillars in Sycamore, Beaver and Oak Creek canyons.

If you walk to the edge of Verde Street, you can get a clear look at the Verde Fault, as it dips slightly south towards the Black Hills and causes a seam. When it crosses Gulch Creek, the precambrian Cleopatra formation  will be on one side of the seam and the other will be Redwall limestone, merely 350 million years ago. (The  Verde Fault follows the base of the rust-colored Cleopatra formation through the top of town just below the hospital and top of the Company Hill houses and then parallels Perkinsville Road for perhaps a mile before heading northwest.

If you climb Cleopatra (one way is up hospital wash) to the top, you’ll come to a place where the Cleopatra is sliced by another earthquake faultline, as though by some giant knife. The other side is Redwall limestone, high above where you see it at the end of Verde Street or by standing at the post office.

The earthquakes and volcanic activity that occurred has given area geologists a great puzzle as they try to figure out what lies under these formations and where a new massive sulfide ore body might be.

Aside from substantiating new theories about where the ore bodies originated and mapping the layers of area sediments, geologists were looking for evidence of undiscovered ones. (During the nineteen eighties, my son Mike traipsed up and down Mingus Mountain with Chappy, armed with John McNerney’s Jerome Gold Film mercury detector that was being manufactured in Jerome in the nineteen eighties, looking for new ore bodies. Mercury vapor is strongly associated with copper, gold and zinc deposits.)

Cornerstone Metal’s attempt at finding a new VMS deposit references the similar ‘stratigraphy’ and similar geologic features to the old UV.  The similar stratigraphy refers to the large Precambiran formations in and around Jerome, which are identified today as lower Cleopatra Rhyolite. The company says they identified electromagnetic anomalies that might indicate the presence of a new VMS deposit.

Upper Cleopatra formation and Walkway near Hull Canyon below Highway 89 A. Photo by Bob Swanson
Upper Cleopatra formation and Walkway near Hull Canyon below Highway 89 A. Photo by Bob Swanson, www.Swansonimages.com. Near this area is the shaft that was dug by George Hull in the early part of the twentieth century.

However, at an 6400 foot elevation, the Cleopatra formation is nowhere in sight. It lies buried under other sediments, notably limestones and basalt (the lava capping Mingus and Woodchute Mountains and seen exposed in some areas near Jerome). The Cleopatra disappears from view after passing Walnut Springs on the way up to Mingus on Highway 89A. This means that drilling in the target areas show on the cornerstone maps will mean going down as much as a thousand feet or more to reach the buried Cleopatra and pull out samples of any potential massive sulfides.

Mining in Jerome after 1953

In 1954, small mining rights to dig ore from the open pit were leased by Phelps Dodge to three Verde Valley folks, who called it The Big Hole Mine. Between eight and twelve men, some from Jerome, scaled the sides of the pit and drilled into the pit or exploded out the ore-bearing rocks with dynamite, separated waste from ore-bearing rocks and took it down to Clarkdale in pickup trucks where it could be loaded up into a railroad car that was sent weekly to the Phelps Dodge smelter in Douglas, Arizona. Maybe 20-30 pickup loads a week went down the mountain at a time when work of any kind was very welcome. According to Paul Handverger, The Big Hole Mine shipped over 200,000 tons of ore containing 25 million pounds of copper (12,500 tons), 2,800 ounces of gold and almost 200,000 ounces of silver.[10]

In 1980, geologist Paul Handverger of Verde Ex discovered an unexploited source of microscopic gold in the old UVX mine. The gold, perhaps less than .02 ounces to the ton, was part of silica-rich quartz chert that could be used as flux in smelting operations. The gold would become a profitable byproduct.[11]

In 1985, Verde Ex leased mining rights to A. F. Budge Mining Limited (Budge), a company located in Scottsdale, AZ. Repair and exploration took about three years and in early 1988, Budge started production. Their goal was to take out 100,000 pounds of chert daily, using five to eight twenty-ton trucks going up and down the hill from Jerome to Clarkdale and to employ about forty people.[12] The mine was located just below the Arizona State Park (Douglas Mansion).

Like many issues that affect residents in a small village, strong arguments for and against the mine became increasingly negative and emotionally charged. Fortunately, the ruckus never quite exploded into a full-scale civil war because the mine never went anywhere. Although four different mining companies professed interest as buyers of the chert, contracts for the ore were not forthcoming. Budge shut down in 1989.

Will Discovery of a New Massive Sulfide Ore Deposit by Cornerstone Metals Lead to Mining It?

At that location, not too likely in any near future I can imagine. Here are some of my considerations:

  1. High concentrations of ore still exist in the three Jerome mines already mentioned. They are not being mined. Duff Sorells, who works in Jerome for Freeport-McMoRan, told me that, currently, the company prefers operating on foreign turf where the environmental laws are not as stringent as ours and where labor is far cheaper (the exceptions being the copper mines which were still operating when Freeport bought Phelps Dodge, such as the mine in Morenci.
  2. In the target areas shown on Cornerstone Metals maps, any new VMS deposit will mean underground mining at depths of many thousands of feet and building the infrastructure to sustain it.
  3. The environmental and mining permitting for opening or reopening mining in the United States is very stringent and can take fifteen years or more to accomplish.
  4. How the mine will protect water resources from contamination of waste products is a big issue, as is land reclamation. Phelps Dodge Corporation and Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc., its successor, spent multiple millions to clean up wastes and create new drainage pathways on the UV mine site that could potentially contaminate Verde Valley water resources. The problem was so severe that for years the EPA kept threatening to make the old UV property a Superfund site.  (The story of the “blue water streams ” in Jerome is the subject of a future blog).
  5. Mining uses a lot of water. Where would that water come from? And who has the rights for permitting it?
  6. How and where will ore be trucked out? Will it be taken to Clarkdale or over the mountain to Prescott. Will a road have to be built or rebuilt to not impact traffic on Highway 89A, perhaps over Mingus to Perkinsville Road and then down to Clarkdale?
  7. How does the ore get to a smelter?  Will a new one be built? Currently the nearest smelter is in Southern Arizona.

My final question to interviews conducted in the last few years with area geologists about whether mining would return to the area were answered like this:

Paul Lindberg” “I’ve been asking similar questions of mine managers ever since I began to understand the new geology of the area. If big mining did occur, the ore would be taken out through Hopewell [near what is now called the 500 level across and down from the big open pit] and people in Jerome wouldn’t know there was an operation.”

Paul Handverger: “As of the seventies, the second largest zinc reserves in the United States were identified up there near the open pit. It’s low grade, however, and Phelps Dodge was never interested in it. The Hermit ore body goes right down Main Street and a few hundred feet under is a lot of mineralized rock.”

What might be expected if a new massive sulfide ore body is found by Cornerstone Metals is for the company to sell the property to a large mining company that might, in the future, have the money and desire to exploit it and or other minerals that are already known to exist in the area.

So far, no dice.


 

 


[1]  Lindberg, Paul A., “Early Proterozoic Volcanogic Massive Sulfide Deposits,” Jerome, Arizona, USA Annual Geological Society Digest 22, 2008, page 605.

[2] Chappy, “Historical Notes: Geologically Speaking,” Jerome Times, April 29, 1983.

[3] The expedition included geologists, geochemists, and geophysicists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Oregon State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the U.S. Geological Survey who used cameras and a manned dive in the smaller submersible Alvin.

[4]  Miner, Meghan, “Will Deep-sea Mining Yield an Underwater Gold Rush,” National Geographic Daily News, 2/1/2013. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130201-underwater-mining-gold-precious-metals-oceans-environment/

[5] Byrkit, James, W., “The Palatkwapi Trail,” Journal of the Museum of Northern Arizona, 1988, page 12.

[6] Lindberg, op. cit.  The selective placement theory.

[7] Author interview with Paul Lindberg 2012.

[8] Author interview with Paul Handverger 2012.

{9} Anderson, C.A., and Creasey, S.C., 1958, Geology and ore deposits of the Jerome area, Yavapai County, Arizona: U.S. Geological Professional Paper 308, 158 p.

[10 ] Email to author.

[11] Verde Independent, Nov 11, 1987 and author interview with Paul Handveger 2011.

[12] Author conversations with Budge mining foreman Pete Flores and geologist Don White.