Copper Prince Mine

Copper Prince Tunnel / Arizona Prince Tunnel / Prince Tunnel / Drain Tunnel

 

 

 

 

Main Portal to the Copper Prince Mine in 1988

 

 The earliest owner of the Copper Prince claim was E.T. Hardy who sold the property to Col. James and F.A. Tritle for $30,000 in December 1880. It is known development began in 1880 when a German named Fred Heyne came to Bisbee to take charge of the property. In August 1881 of the same year the application was made to patent the Copper Prince claim by John R. James & Fredrick A. Tritle. At the National Mining and Industrial Exposition, in Denver Colorado a large sample of copper ore from the mine was displayed near samples from the Copper Queen mine. Soon the Arizona Prince Mining Company became embroiled in lawsuits starting in 1882, most notably was a series of apex suits with the Copper Queen Mining Company that lasted until 1886. The eminent geologist Wm. P. Blake was hired by the Copper Queen to defend its property and the Copper Prince chose, the former superintendent of Crysolite mine in Colorado a Mr. Rolker   The Copper Prince was later to win these lawsuits, but had difficulty operating their property at these times. In 1885 an inefficient smelter was built to handle Copper Prince ore. During October 1885 the Arizona Prince Smelter produced 403,825 pounds of black copper (96%) After the Arizona Prince won the final lawsuit in April 1886 in the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court with the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company it began producing copper again for a short time. Quietly, the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company began negotiating the purchase of the Copper Prince mine. In 1887 the Copper Queen acquired the property. The Copper Prince tunnel* is located on the hillside between the Old Copper Queen store and the U.S. Post Office. A badly damaged concrete stair case leads from the street level to the top of the dumps. These dumps are largely hidden by concrete walls protecting the parking lot for the Copper Queen store (Bisbee Convention Center). The tops of the dumps are exposed and occasionally an interesting azurite, malachite or more rarely spangolite specimen can be recovered. The mine portal remained open for decades protected by a simple iron gate. Recently, the entranced was sealed and stuccoed over with only a bat gate indicating it was a mine entrance. During the late 1950s the road cuts made for new highway 80 intercepted Copper Prince stopes with can be seen protected by large iron gates. One of these has served as an emergency escapeway for the Queen Mine Tour. In 2013 the entrance was modified with steel drift sets extending from the road cut. And the name Copper Prince was added in brass letters to the cement work. The location of these workings a tunnel extending into Queen hill under the Hendricks gulch and extending a few under feet west results in these workings being rather shallow and rarely at any given point more than 300 ft. from the surface. The Copper Prince tunnel level is roughly equal to the “A” level of the Copper Queen Mine. This somewhat limited future exploration A decade later the workings of the Copper Prince were examined for remining.  After 1915, a crosscut from the 3rd level of the Southwest mine was driven under the Prince workings. Drifts also were driven underneath the area on the 200 level of the Czar Mine. The Copper Prince was also under lease to small mining companies during the 1930s-1940s.

*Locally it is said that the Copper Queen  Mining Company drove the Copper Prince Tunnel  as a drain tunnel but, because of a surveying “bust” or error it end ended up on Arizona Prince ground. The Arizona Prince quickly adopted the tunnel as its own. This could not be confirmed.

Copper Prince stopes in Highway 80 road cut

1904 map of Copper Prince tunnel

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© 2013 by Doug Graeme