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Irish Mag Shaft


Mag shaft

Calumet & Arizona Mine

C&A mine

Irish Mag Mine  Bisbee, Arizona

Irish Mag Mine Circa 1908

One of the earliest residents, of Bisbee was Irish Mag a small dark haired woman of the ill-famed profession. She lived in a small house with her pet, parrot near the house of Sherriff Billy Daniels. She is remembered tenderly caring for the body of Sheriff Daniels after he had been killed by Apaches. A prospector/miner decided to name a mining claim to honor this charming lady. It is possible she helped finance development of the claim, but there is no evidence.  The woman, Irish Mag must have left Bisbee after a couple years. She just disappears from history, like so many of her profession.

James Daly a half-crazed tough character owned the Irish Mag group of claims. This consisted of the Copper Frying Pan, Copper Monarch, Old Republican, Angel, Irish Mag, Old Canreen, Intervener and Diadem Claims. This disagreeable man had been in a shot by Dan Simmons and threatened to Kill Ben Williams of the Copper Queen Consolidated. Daly was unhappy with the Copper Queen over a railroad right of way issue and felt the company was trying to force him to leave Bisbee. On April 11, 1890 , Constable W.W. Lowther a popular man, needed to serve Daly for beating a young Mexican boy. As Lowther arrived at his house, he hitched his horse to a tree and opened up the gate. Then Daly fired a double barreled shotgun from the door of the house, killing the constable. Daly was last seen running up the side of Sacramento Hill.

Arizona Weekly Citizen April 26,  1890 murder Bisbee

Arizona Weekly Citizen April 26,  1890

On September 12, 1890 a deed appeared transferring the property of James Daly to Andy Mehan. Purportedly, Mehan had caught up with Daly in Pueblo, Colorado and had exchanged the deed for his freedom. By September 29th the first lawsuit over the Irish Mag had begun when, Adolph Cohen tried to get $299 plus $12.55 in lawyers’ fees to pay for work on the claims. At a Constable’s Sale the claims were turned over to Cohen.  A divorce suit was started on October 18, 1890, by Angela Diaz de Daly, the common law wife of James Daly to allow her to claim ½ ownership of her husband’s property. Angela in another suit she accused Mehan of attempting to defraud her. She wanted the court to allow her to sell the claims and give Andy Mehan and Dewit C. Turner their half of the sale money. In 1891 Costello developed a partnership with  P.A. “Paddy” Cunningham and began  purchasing claims or staking claims these included the Irish Mag, George Washington, Angel Old Republican, Gibraltar, Hope, Wagner, Senator, Senator no.2, Pride, Buckeye, Belflower and Smogler claims.

Newspapers record a confusing series of transactions that began on March 15, 1891 Dewitt Turner sold 1/2 of Irish Mag group to F. C. Fischer for $1.00. This was followed in December 19, 1891 by Mrs. Laura Buck selling to Laura McDowell ½ Irish Mag for $200. In turn, Laura Mc Dowell sold her half  to Martin Costello a Tombstone saloon owner for $3000 on July 17,1892. During this time Costello acquired the rest of the ownership from Angela Diaz de Daly for $1,800. The property continued to be held up in the courts largely because of issues with the Adolph and Dave Cohen over ownership and Mehan’s deed. In  November 1892, Andy Mehan died from consumption in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was believed at the time of his death he knew where James Daly was hiding. In 1894, another Mrs. Daly appeared from  Leadville ,Colorado with divorce papers and a son. She protested giving patents to Martin Costello ,but the effort was half-hearted and soon dropped. Finally, 0n May 15 1899 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in U.S. 174 Cohen Vs Daly in favor of Martin Costello in the suit with the Cohen brothers.  Costello sent Cunningham a telegram notifying him of the court victory. Then on June 28, 1899, Cunningham was killed in an accident at the Holbrook shaft. He was riding a cage with a mine car and the car shifted pinning him against the side of the shaft while the cage was moving.

Lawsuits quieted for a time and around October 24, 1899 the Irish Mag and 10 other claims were sold to Lake Superior and Western Development Company. This company began sinking the Irish Mag Shaft on the Irish Mag Claim on the morning of November 4, 1899. Initially, a windlass was used for hoisting. In 15 months the shaft was 850ft. deep and was developing the 750 and 850 levels. On March 1, 1901 the Lake Superior and Western Development Company became the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company. Mining continued and ore was first encountered on the 850 level By June 6, 1901 a new hoist and headframe had been installed. Stoping began in November of 1902. Then in December another alleged wife, Sarah Daly along with her son John F. Daly tried to lay claim to the property, but again this disappeared quickly.

In 1903, the Irish Mag shaft was deepened to 1,298ft. and the 1050 level was widened to hold double tracks to increase the tonnages from the Northeast end of the mine. The following years saw massive changes on the site. A new drill press and lathes was added to the machine shops and a new change house was built. The old change house was remodeled, two-story engineering building and a new blacksmiths shop were constructed. Underground a station was cut on the 1250 level and a pump was installed.  Connections were made to the Oliver Mine in a great curving drift that avoided Copper Queen property. On the 850 level a connection was made to the Congdon Mine. Oxide ores and native copper were discovered on the 850 and 950 levels with sulphide ores being discovered on the 1050 and 1150 levels. In December the shaft was closed for the 8th and 9th so the collar could be retimbered. Also $1,300,000 in dividends were paid out during the year..

Interest developed in the upper areas of the mine in 1905. The Irish Mag Air Shaft had a new hoist installed and a headframe erected to assist in the exploration. Diamond drilling was tried, but caving holes was problematic and one diamond bit was lost. One hole did manage to extend 900ft. below the 1250 level. On the surface a hoist was installed to serve the shaft’s timber compartment.  The Crook tunnel, a railroad tunnel located along the Mexican border between Bisbee and Douglas collapsed and left the mine unable to ship ore. The Irish Mag was shut down for 48 hours until the tunnel was reopened. At this time all of the ore mined in the nearby Oliver Mine was hoisted from the Irish Mag.

Even after “religious” backfilling, subsidence cracks began to develop on the surface from collapsing stopes in 1906. By January 1907 the land had moved 3-4ft. southeasterly and the surface cracks ranged from a few inches to two feet across. This subsidence resulted in the planning of an electric haulage level in preparation for a time when the Irish Mag shaft was no longer useable. On November 15, 1907 fire gasses began to seep into the 950 and 1050 levels. The fire was located in an inaccessible stope along the property line and gasses and also flooded the 600 and 700 levels of the Spray and Gardiner mines. Bulkheads were installed to stop the spread of the gasses. The tools from the Irish Mag Machine shop were removed and taken to a new machine shop being built at the Junction Mine site.

In 1908 in was decided that the main hoist was so badly out of line from subsidence that it would soon become inoperable.  The company considered shutting down the shaft and tearing out the hoist and foundations and rebuilding it on new foundations, but since this would take at least six weeks A new electric hoist was ordered to be installed in the summer of 1909 instead. October 6, 1908, two men were working off the dinkey cage, repairing the shaft and the cable broke. The caged jammed in the shaft between the 750 and 850 levels. Luckily no one was hurt. As was fashionable at the time the employees of the Calumet & Arizona formed a baseball team in 1908 named the Maggies after the Irish Mag Shaft. They played other teams like the Copper Queen Engineers and the Bankers. All named after their role in the community.

Bisbee Daily Review April 26, 1908 Baseball

Bisbee Daily Review April 26, 1908

In April 1909, gas leaked from old fire zone into 24 crosscut on the 1050 level. This was sealed and a few weeks later the gasses began seeping between the 1150 and 1250 levels. At 10:00 pm on June 15, faulty wiring set the saw mill on fire. It quickly spread and engulfed the blacksmiths shop and part of the machine shop. Water from the Irish Mag and Gardner mines allowed for seven hoses to be sprayed onto the blaze. The flames were driven back after approaching within forty feet of a timber pile worth $50,000 and within 30ft. of the hoist house. At about 11:00 pm the fire was under control and by 11:30 largely out. In August the new hoist order arrived and was installed with the shaft being retimbered during the shutdown. The work underground in the Irish Mag continued, only hoisting ceased. Exploration was focused on the area north east of the shaft. This area was moving ground from both collapsing Irish Mag and Gardner stopes and for a few years was considered inaccessible. Stations were cut on the 450, 550, and 650 levels and ore was developed in the area. Just above the 550 level a natural cave filled with oxide ore was hit. Around 50’ x 100’ in size, the treacherous ground conditions surrounding it, delayed its development.

For a time during 1910, the Irish Mag again became the main hoisting shaft as the Oliver was shut down for retimbering. The shaft was sunk 96ft. to a final depth of 1393ft. A rumor  started in El Paso and published in a number of newspapers caused some panic when it state the Irish Mag was going to be closed and 500 men laid off, but this was quickly denied by the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company. On August 11, early in the morning a watchman noticed the light were out in the mine office, but he had just left there a few minutes before and had left them on. As he entered the office a dark figure brushed by him and made his way to a side door. The watchman fired twice at the burglar and the thief fired twice back before escaping. Only a few employee credit statements were stolen and these were later found on the hillside.  For most of the year mining focused on driving crosscuts on the 450 and 550 levels around old stoped areas to search for extensions of the old orebodies. A local bowling team named the Irish Mags was formed in similar manner to the earlier baseball team.

By 1911, the Irish Mag was beginning to show its age. All levels above the 750 level were abandoned and little new ore was discovered. In November hoisting from the shaft was discontinued and all ore was hauled out the Oliver.

On April 15, 1911, Martin Costello suffering from cirrhosis chose to end his life with a pistol in a Los Angeles apartment. His death soon resulted in a lawsuit filed by the widow and children of Paddy Cunningham, who felt that   they had not been paid there fair share during the sale of the Irish Mag and other claims. The first steps were taken towards a lawsuit began on March 27, 1912 .

Underground drifts were driven on the 950 and 1050 levels out towards the fire zone in an attempt to recover ore lost by the fire. In 177 stope on the 1050, a nice sulphide orebody was mined, but in general exploration continued to look around old orebodies for extensions of ore. On May 6, 1912 it was decided to reactivate the Irish Mag shaft as the Oliver Shaft had difficulty handling all the ore. In May of 1913 the Irish Mag Shaft was closed and the remaining work on the 1350 level was completed from the Oliver Mine. Only 102ft. of crosscut was driven on the 1350 level of the Irish Mag during 1914

On February 18, 1915 the Irish Mag Mine reopened under a lease with Tom Stafford. This lease included all ground above the 1050 level. Finally, after a appearing at the Arizona Supreme Court and being remanded to a lower court on Sept 21 1915 courts felt Patrick “Paddy” Cunningham owned had paid $1,000 of the original $6,000 of the Irish  Mag purchase price and owned half of three other claims. The  settlement for Patricia Julia Cunningham and  Mary Aileen Cunningham his daughters, was between $37,000 and $90,0000.

The Irish Mag continued to operate on the 550 and 650 levels. In 1917, the shaft was retimbered from the 900 ft. level to the surface. Later, a problem with the bull wheel on the hoist breaking forced the night shift to be hoisted from the Gardner Mine.   During 1918, 608ft. of crosscuts and raises were completed on Irish Mag Ground from the Oliver Mine. Under the Irish Mag Leasing Company, the mine worked to around 1928.  In 1929 the hoist and headframe were removed and installed at the Saginaw Mine.

By the 1950s the Irish Mag was a raw open shaft without a headframe and some workings were likely accessible from the Gardner Mine, but without these would have been difficult to determine without detail mine maps. In 1968, the shaft was covered by the dumps of the Lavender Pit. It remains covered by dumps on the far side of the pit. No workings are believed to be exposed in the pit wall.

Diagram of Irish Mag Shaft Bisbee, Arizona
Irish Mag Court case Bisbee

Tombstone epitaph December 19, 1891


“Murder in Bisbee” Tombstone Epitaph 12 April 1890 page3

“ Murdered in Cold Blood” Arizona Silver Belt 19 April 1890 page3

“Murder at Bisbee” Arizona Weekly Citizen 26 April 1890 page4

“Getting Complex” Arizona Weekly Enterprise 25 October1890 page4

“Deed” Tombstone Epitaph 20 December 1891 page4

“Deed” Tombstone Epitaph 17 July 1892 page4

“Untitled” The St. John’s Herald 24 November1892 page1

“Daly’s Mining Claim” The Oasis21 June 1894 page8

“Untitled” Tombstone Epitaph 9 July 1899 page2

“Decision Rendered” The Weekly Orb 21 May1899 page4

“Cunningham-Costello Litigation Ends in Favor of Plaintiff “Bisbee Daily Review 21 September1915 page1

“Costello Suit to be Revived “Bisbee Daily Review 27 March1912 page8

“Martin Costello Commits Suicide” Tombstone Epitaph 17 September 1911 page1

“Bisbee Jottings” Tombstone Epitaph 19 November1899 page1

Arizona, Prehistoric, Aboriginal, Pioneer, Modern: The Nation's ..., Volume 2

 By James H. McClintock

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