Gardner Mine



The earliest mention of the Gardner property is the Tombstone Daily Prospector’s report November 22, 1890, rich orebody found in mine belong to Gardner and West Howell. Soon after the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company purchased the property. This was considered a substantial risk since the extension of the ore to this area was considered doubtful. In April 1891, the Copper Queen applied to patent the claim.

The starting date of the actual Gardner Shaft is unknown, but there was at least a small shaft on the property in 1895.  In December 1901, the Gardner was already 626ft. deep and a connecting drift was being driven from the 400 level of the Holbrook #1 Shaft. At this time it was considered an “experiment” and even when noted geologist Fredrick Ransome completed his field work in Bisbee for his U.S.G.S. Professional paper #21, it was considered a small prospect shaft. Ore bodies soon began to be developed, and the local newspaper commented that the waste dumps “sparkled” from sulfides. During 1903, it was decided to raise the third compartment from the 925ft. level to the surface. This additional compartment was added giving the shaft an unusual “L” shape. Eventually this was extended to the 1000 level.

Diagram of shaft layout showing compartment orientation

Plan of the Gardner Mine site, Note, the dinkey hoist is installed at a right angle from the main hoist to accommodate the third compartment.

Extensive ore was discovered, and it became essential to purchase a new larger hoist. In 1904, a new steel headframe and hoist house was constructed. The new hoist was the largest in use in the southwestern United States.

In August of 1906, it was decided to abandon the Holbrook # 1 Shaft. The Gardner and Czar mines took over lowering men, supplies and hoisting ore for the Holbrook. In a strange incident, Foreman Jim Finley had adopted a cat at the Gardner Shaft. On November 12, 1906, it fell 850ft. down the shaft. Its seemingly lifeless form was retrieved and added to the waste dump. Two days later it was discovered by Finley mewing for food at its normal place at the shaft collar.

Difficulties with getting a hoist for the Sacramento shaft forced all the Sacramento miners to be hoisted through the Gardner shaft. They would then walk over to the Sacramento mine. Slowly, the new haulage system was being brought into use. By 1910 even numbered levels were fitted with trolley locomotives and ore on odd numbered levels was trammed by mule or by hand. Exploration continued at depth, and a 100ft winze was sunk in 81 country on the 1000 level. Exploratory drifting was done from the bottom.

1912 was an important year for the Gardner.  The shaft was somewhat isolated and was not well connected with other mines and unlike in the Czar-Holbrook area, there were not numerous surface cracks that provided natural ventilation. The mine was hot and damp. Working temperatures were typically between 75° and 100°. This combined that the humidity levels ranged between 90% and 100% made working conditions challenging. Miners were rotated through the hot areas, working two-three days before being sent to a location with more agreeable conditions. Timber suffered as well the timber was damp and covered with abundant fungus growth. Wood deteriorated rapidly. New connections with other mine workings were tried, but only increased ventilation slightly and were ineffective. Ventilation plans were developed to install large fans but took a few years to implement fully. The ever expanding waste dump at the Gardner shaft moved closer to the Warren- Bisbee Trolley line and the conductors were forced to get off the trolley to clear rocks off the rails. This section of the trolley line was moved away from the Gardner and shortened by 2,000.’

During 1913, the first of the new fans arrived and were installed underground, and a winze was sunk from the 1000 level and began to develop an orebody. Drifting was done on the 1000 level under the 8-25 stoping areas of the Spray Mine. A 72,000 cu. Ft. fan was installed in1914 on the 900 level. The mechanical ventilation plan was successful and not only reduced working temperatures it also dried up the mine and reduced timber decay. It is interesting to note that the ventilation system was dependent on using both the Congdon (P&D) and the Irish Mag shafts of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company as exhaust shafts. Heavy mining of lead-silver ores occurred this year as well as development of ore in 1057 and 1065 drifts.

A mine fire in 9-7-41 raise on the 900 level became problematic and began venting fire gasses into the Irish Mag mine belonging to the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company. The Calumet & Arizona was no longer mining the Irish Mag itself, but they did have it leased. An agreement was made and the gasses were temporarily allowed to escape out the Irish Mag. Inside the Gardner, drifts were driven over the fire zone on the 800 level and water was drained into them in order to cool the fire. Also, a raise was driven from the 900 level up to the 800 level. Crosscuts were driven at an intermediate level in the 9-1 country (fire area). This was done to help isolate the fire from the active mining locations.

Interestingly on December 18, 1915, Principal R.E. Fortney arranged for a tour of the Gardner Mine for a group of teachers. The night school was developed in Bisbee to allow boys to continue to go to school and still work in the mines. The school had two sessions each day arranged around the mine shift changes. The mines in Bisbee did not employ large numbers of boys, but a few were employed in light duty positions underground, such as tool nippers and worked in the mine shops on the surface. Later a few were employed at the Sacramento Pit. Generally, these young men were at least 15 years-old. The trip into the Gardner definitely, gave the teachers greater insight in the lives of their students.

Tragedy, struck the Gardner crew when after midnight on June 6, 1916, popular shift boss left the shaft and walked towards home in the darkness and was attacked and stabbed. The mortally wounded man ran back to the mine and taken to the Copper Queen Hospital. Although, his assailant was never found, it was believed to be a man seen running wearing khaki pants and a dark coat. The police discovered a hat with a moist hat band and a pocket watch. Just before dying Kinsey in the hospital he accused a man named Taylor.

Bisbee Daily Review June 11, 1916

Profitable mining continued even though the lead-silver ores were depleted by the end of 1916. A narrow bed of oxide ore was discovered at the contact between the Sacramento porphyry and the limestone in the 8-198 drift on the 800 level. Then on May 8, 1917, the bull wheel broke on the Irish Mag Hoist and its night shift miners were brought out through the Gardner Shaft. During 1918, to further improve ventilation the 800 level was driven to intercept the bottom of the Silver Bear Shaft. The 600 and 700 levels already were connected. A 200’ X 175’ of 5% oxide orebody was discovered in the 10-106 drift on the 1000 level, and 6-112 crosscut on the 600 level found a sulphide body.

During this time period, an ambitious exploration project was started to explore the region underneath the Czar, and Holbrook mines search for a vertical extension. 10-113D drift on the 1000 level was driven out underneath these areas and by October 21, 1919 was over 2,000ft. from the Gardner Shaft. The shaft was deepened to the 1200 level, and a crosscut was driven from the Lowell Mine to explore the Gardner area. Around this time a Gardner crosscut was mined through by the Sacramento Pit and exposed in the pit wall. The crosscut was used for exhaust ventilation.  A waste raise was driven to supply waste rock for backfill. It extended from the 1000 level to the surface.

A map of the 1000 level showing the exploration crosscut to the Czar-Holbrook Area

 On January 29, 1921, the Bisbee Daily Review announced the Gardner would be closed that day, and the “Gardner sulphides” ores on 1000, 1100 and 1200 and  the “Silica” country will be mined through Sacramento Mine. Also, the Gardner 1000 level haulage drift to Czar- Holbrook area was to be taken over by the Sacramento  A few happy mules were brought out of the Gardner “blinking into the sunlight” for retirement. Although the shutdown was dramatically stated in the newspaper, in reality, it was short lived. In 1922, the mine reopened and continued operated for nearly a decade. Information becomes limited. By 1923, the shaft was extended to the 1400 level and new ore was developed on the 1400 level in the 14-44 area.  A new bell signal system had to be installed for the mine cages in 1925 at the substantial cost of $4,474.71. The mine operated through the 1920’s and was shut down for a few months in July 1930, but was operating again shortly until it closed on November 1, 1931, after Phelps Dodge merged with the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company.

The Gardner remained closed until 1936, when it and the Sacramento Mine reopened as Division “E”. In 1937, the shaft was repaired from the 1400 level to the surface. During this time leases were granted and this continued the mining. Unused buildings were demolished in the 1940s on the site and in 1942, the change house was torn down. In 1944, with the cessation of lease mining, the Gardner was closed again.

© 2013 by Doug Graeme