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Lowell mine

Lowell & Arizona Shaft 

Lowell Shaft

Lowell mine Bisbee, Arizona

Lowell mine circa 1910's


     The claims which eventually made up the Lowell Mine were located by W.S. Salmon in 1879. Salmon completed no work upon the claims other than the basic assessment. In February 1899, Frank Hanchett of Lowell Massachusetts purchased the property and started the Lowell & Arizona Copper Mining and Smelting Company. At this time Hanchett order a large amount of timber to construct buildings and a headframe. During March 1899, sinking began on the double compartment shaft that became known as the Lowell Mine. Work continued on rapidly and the two compartment shaft was soon 900 ft. deep. In the fashion of the large mining companies the Lowell & Arizona Company acquired the medical services of Dr. L. Edmundson & Dr. C.L. Caven. These men became two of the districts important medical doctors. Work at the mine continued smoothly until December 1900 when a gear broke on the hoist. The mine hoist was down for about three weeks when the hoist was repaired by a man from the Union Iron Works. The importance of the mine is revealed by a monthly payroll of $10,000 with 60 men employed at this time. Water became problematic beyond the 1100 level. Originally, it was bailed by sinking bucket, but after W.L Clark of Butte, Montana, (not Senator W.A. Clark) took an option on the property he tried to acquire a pump. It did not arrive by the end of Clark’s option. A newspaper reporter stated, “As I came to the Lowell Shaft a bunch of miners came up so wet that moss was beginning to grow on their boots. They were wet on the outside and dry on the inside, but I could do nothing for them as I was dry on both sides. Judging from the size of the dump, I concluded that the shaft must be half way to China.”   By October 1902, the Lowell Mine had come into possession of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company. The new owners sank the shaft 30 ft. more and discovered an important orebody assuring the success of the mine. In 1903, a pump station was cut on the 1000 level and a third compartment was added to the shaft. A steel headframe was added in 1905 and a hoist taken from the Old Dominion mine at Globe, Arizona was installed. Soon after the Lowell Mine began to develop a tent community formed near the mine. This began to turn into the established town of Lowell. Particularly, after the beginning of the Junction, Hoatson and Briggs Mines. The Copper Queen Company decided that in 1906 that it would forfeit the $.50 land rent for homes and use the money to install a garbage collection and fire protection systems for the town. The town would soon have a railroad depot, saloons, banks, stores, trolley cars and at least on brothel. The deeper ground between the Lowell and Sacramento Shafts began to be explored by two winzes. The 1300 winze was connected to the 1400 level of the Lowell. In late 1909, the presence of a headless ghost began to be reported as haunting the mine. It was reported by a miner who found a man lying on a pile of timber. When he checked on him he discovered he was missing his head. Legends of this ghost were told decades later and even by the guides at the Queen Mine Tour. In 1910, the Sacramento Shaft replaced the Lowell as an ore hoisting shaft. At this time an incident occurred that reveals the difficulty in find ore in Bisbee. On the 800 level of the Lowell, lessees drove a drift searching for ore. They worked 35 days in the drift before they abandoned the area. Soon after, the drift began caving in and the collapse exposed a significant orebody just a short distance out of sight

On July 5, 1910, railroad, switch engine #305 was traveling between the Lowell and Hoatson and entered a deep cut on the surface. Locomotive Engineer C.H. Bodonheimer saw 2”x4” board tied to the tracks with twine. He tried to stop the locomotive, but the engine smashed the board. The locomotive crew examined the splintered board and discovered a part stick of dynamite tied to it. The rest of the explosive had been smashed to bits. The stick of dynamite was smashed by the locomotive and failed to detonate. Locals dis agreed whether it had been placed by children to hear an explosion or by someone trying planning a terrorist act.

A massive mine fire began during 1911. 1200-3 abandoned and gobbed stopes began burning in January causing initially little problems until drifts to the air raise venting the fire gasses caved. This forced fire gasses first to the 400 level and then to the 800 level. These gasses then vented through the main shaft. Originally, the sulfur dioxide levels were low and men were slowly hoisted through the gas flooded area of the shaft. Then the sulfur dioxide began destroying all steel components of the shaft such as the air and pump lines, hoisting cables and bolts for the guides. In October, the shaft became impassable from the 800 level to the surface and C.A. Mitzke was sent from Stag Canyon Fuel Company at Dawson New Mexico with Draeger helmets. These helmets allowed the shaft to be repaired and was operational by the end of December. At this time an underground precipitation plan was installed on the 1300 level. Water was sprayed into the fire zone on the 1100 and the copper rich water was collected on the 1300 in tubs of scrap iron and tin cans. Mine fires continued to be troublesome for years at the Lowell. Also, the Dallas shaft was reported as being sunk to provide ventilation for the Lowell. Undoubtedly, the exploration of the area near the Cole mine was an unreported reason. Lessees focused on mining lead-silver-gold ores that could not be profitably smelted at Douglas were shipped by lessees to El Paso, Texas. One boulder of galena was broken up and filled one and one half mine cars.

On August 19, 1915, a rather unique event occurred, the Lowell Mine was used to evade the law. George Holland, a highway robber was arrested and held at the County Jail in Bisbee. He fashioned a key from a silver spoon that was given to him with his dinner. He then went to the Neptune tunnel in Sac Hill and entered the mine. Holland than went through the mine workings until he reached the Lowell shaft and was raised to the surface. He was last seen heading towards the Junction Mine. It was believed that he was trying to reach the Hoatson mine, but the connection between the Lowell and the Hoatson had been gobbed. Holland had a brother working at the Hoatson.

With the start of the Sacramento Pit it became necessary for the Copper Queen Mine shops and warehouse to be moved. An area was cleared at the Lowell and the buildings constructed. Although, the supply house was short lived. On December 31, 1918, a fire broke out and destroyed the supply house and oil storage. Numbers of explosions occurred during the fire, from as small as an “army bullet” to much larger. The shaft itself was in serious danger and men were worried the fire would travel through the adit from the timber yard to the shaft. The “Spanish Flu” seems to have affected the Lowell Mine more than the other mines. At least five Lowell miners were reported to have suffered the flu. The Copper Queen Education Department was delayed in opening due to the flu outbreak until December 31, 1918.

A new change house was constructed in 1919 and a La France fire truck was purchased and station at the Lowell in 1921. Even with these improvements the end of the Lowell mine was insight. In 1926, the steel headframe was removed and installed at the Warren Shaft. Even without a headframe and the main shaft abandoned, mining continued in the Lowell Mine territory, but all materials and men were hoisted from the Sacramento Shaft and other mines. In 1929, the Lowell shaft pillar was being mined. This action condemned the shaft from effectively being ever used as a hoisting shaft again. With the Merger of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company and Phelps Dodge, the Lowell Mine was closed and the change house was moved to the Campbell Mine. From 1935-1940, parts of the Lowell mined were leased and mined. After this point, any ore remaining in the former ground of the Lowell mine were mined through the Dallas Mine. In 1969, the dumps of the Lavender Pit covered the mine site. During the early years the Lowell shaft was sometimes called the Galena Shaft (not to be confused with the much newer Galena Shaft) or the Lowell and Arizona Mine. When completed the Lowell Shaft had 3 1/2 compartments and was 1,603 ft. deep.






“The Lowell and Arizona Copper Mining and Smelting Company” Weekly Orb 26 February 1899 page 2

“Copperings” Tombstone Epitaph 26 February 1899 page 2

“Progress and Development” Weekly Orb 7 May 1899 page 2

“Ad” Cochise Review 14 November 1900 page 1

“Untitled” Cochise Review 6 September 1900 page 4

“Untitled” Cochise Review 22 December 1900 page 2

“Another Producer” Cochise Review 22 December 1900 page 1

“News of the City” Cochise Review 2 March 1901 page 7

“Notice” Cochise Review 2 March 1901 page 3

“Local Happenings in Brief” Bisbee Daily Review 31 December 1901 page 4

“Pottering Around” Bisbee Daily Review 7 September 1902 page 5

“At the Lowell” Bisbee Daily Review 11 January 1903 page 7

“Weekly Resume” Bisbee Daily Review 12 November  1905 page 13

“Fire Protection” Bisbee Daily Review 16 May 1906 page 5

 “Copper Queen Company” Bisbee Daily Review 5 September 1909 page 3

“Territorial Items of Interest Condensed” Tombstone Epitaph 19 December 1909 page 3

“The Lowell Mine” Bisbee Daily Review 13 March 1910, section 2 page 5

“Bomb is found Tied to Rails in Deep Cut” Bisbee Daily Review 6 July 1910, page 1

“Dallas Will be New Queen Shaft” Bisbee Daily Review 26 March 1911, page 5

“Rapidly Sinking the Dallas Shaft” Bisbee Daily Review 13 September 1911, page 8

“Lease Work is Important” Bisbee Daily Review 1October 1911, Section 2 page 7

“Escapes Jail Using Spoon as Key” Bisbee Daily Review 20 August 1915, page 1

“Jail Escape Still at Large; Peculiar Route Used by Him” Bisbee Daily Review 21 August 1915, page 5

“Fire Had in Lowell Mine Workings” Bisbee Daily Review 3 December 1915, page 1

“True Progressive Spirit of the West Responsible for Growth of Lowell” Bisbee Daily Review 28 January 1917 Society Section, page 5

“Have the Influenza” Bisbee Daily Review 27 October 1918, page 6

“Sick in Hospital” Bisbee Daily Review 10 October 1918, page 6

“Have the Influenza” Bisbee Daily Review 19 October 1918, page 6

“Fire Damage to Supplies Yesterday Quite Heavy” Bisbee Daily Review 1 November 1918, page 1

“Fire Damage to Supplies Yesterday Quite Heavy” Bisbee Daily Review 1 November 1918, page 2

“New Fire Fighting System Ordered by Mining Company” Bisbee Daily Review 24 August 1921, page 6


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