Cuprite Mine

 

Cuprite shaft

 

 

Concrete foundation at Cuprite Shaft site

Rich discoveries in the Shattuck Mine provided the interest to explore the Brother Jonathan Claim in Uncle Sam Gulch and provide ventilation for other mine workings exploring the area. In late August- September   sinking began under contract with Pete Moon. By October 1, 1905 the shaft was 130ft. deep and by December 17 it had reached 320ft. In March 1906 the shaft was 460ft. deep and a crosscut was being driven towards the Uncle Sam Claim and it was proposed to drive a 200 level drift from the Czar-Holbrook area to the shaft. After the San Francisco Earthquake and fire, the men at the Cuprite Mine were recognized for their generosity in the amount of money they gave to support the victims. That year they also had high hope for a unnamed and only referred to as a “dark horse” single hand driller they hope would bet champion  driller Fred Yockey at the El Paso 4th of July drilling contest On August 30 the hoist broke down and for a few days the Cuprite miners reported to work at other mines.  A drift on the 200 level was driven to connect with the 800 level of the Shattuck mine on June 6th 1907 it was completed. Not long after at 12:30 am smoke was discovered coming out of the Shattuck Shaft. Shattuck miners were sent down the Cuprite Shaft to try to enter the mine through the connection on the 200level. They found the crosscut choked with smoke and could not reach   the Shattuck 800level. The crosscut was bullheaded off to keep smoke from filling the Cuprite workings. During late April- May 1908 an oxide orebody containing native copper was hit in the Cuprite Mine on the Uncle Sam Claim. The Uncle Sam Shaft was still sinking and had not reached the ore level at the time of the discovery. From mine maps this appears to be from above the 200 level to the 300 level on the Brother Jonathan claim but extending onto the Uncle Sam and Cuprite Claims. In 1921 it was proposed that the Cuprite Shaft be deepened first by raising up from the 400 level to the bottom of the shaft at the 300 level.  The hoisting equipment was moved over from the Uncle Sam Shaft. The Cuprite Shaft was retimbered to the 300 level and then was finally sunk to the 600 level a connection was made to the 400 level Holbrook Mine. The goal was to explore the Woodchopper Claim, but maps reveal that only a single crosscut was driven through the Amazon Claim and into the Woodchopper Claim on the 300 level. Prospecting on the 600 level was focused on the western end of the Brother Jonathan Claim, Cuprite and Uncle Sam Claims.  During the late 1920’s and early 1930s, the western end of the Brother Jonathan Claim was leased, but these were probably mined through the Southwest Mine and possibly the Czar and Uncle Sam Mines below the 3rd level of the Southwest Mine. In 1936 the steel headframe was removed and rebuilt to be used at the Galena Shaft. In 1942 the hoist from the Briggs Mine was installed at the Cuprite.  A headframe must also have been built over the shaft, but the details are unknown. It was likely a simple wooden structure. Moving the headframe and constructing a headframe cost $15,250.86.   During this year, 1,198ft. of crosscut was driven and a station was cut either on the “B” level or the 400 level. It is likely, it was the 400 level. This work was done under contract. During World War II, a group of African-American soldier miners worked for a short time in the Cuprite Mine.  This had poor results and according to Al Hirales a Bisbee miner who was a teenager at the time. The lack of success was because the men were coal miners (soft rock) and were put into a hardrock mine which used mining methods that were foreign to them. During the 1950’s and 60s the shaft was fenced without a headframe, but the shaft timber was in relatively good condition. In 1968 the shaft was filled and later covered by the dumps from the Lavender Pit. During the 1980s the 3rd level Southwest station was accessible, but the shaft was filled. In 1988, a cave in a few hundred feet away blocked access.

San Francisco earthquake and fire donations by Cuprite miners

April 27, 1906

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© 2013 by Doug Graeme