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  Oliver Shaft


Oliver mine site circa 1910 Bisbee Az

Oliver mine site circa 1910

Often overshadowed by its nearby sister mine the Irish Mag, this important mine was started in 1903. By the end of the following year stations had been cut on the 850, 950, 1050, 1100 and 1150 levels. Abundant ore had been discovered during the first two years of operation, so in 1905 a steel headframe was erected over the shaft and a tunnel was driven to the shaft from the surface at the 20ft. level. This adit was used to bring in timber and bring out waste rock. (Later waste rock was hoisted directly out of the main shaft to the toplander’s deck for dumping.) Cars of ore being hoisted were brought to the toplander’s deck on the headframe and pushed across the trestle to the ore bins. An electric locomotive was supposedly ordered to haul ore from the Oliver to the nearby Irish Mag shaft for hoisting.


In 1910 the heavy and caving ground resulted in the mining of the main orebodies to be put on hold and only quickly mineable ore was removed. At this time it was also, necessary to retimber the shaft. Three crews worked to exchange the rotted timbers for new at a rate of seven sets every 24 hours. The retimbering was from the 950-750 levels and from the 400 level to the surface. Essential supplies and men for the Oliver were lowered down the Irish Mag for the two weeks while this was being accomplished. During the following year the 1200 level was driven over from the Hoatson Mine. After reaching a position under the Oliver Shaft, a raise was driven into the bottom of the Oliver Shaft deepening to the 1600 level. Although, the company attempted to mine the fire zone between the 1050 and 1150 levels near the Irish Mag from the Oliver. The fire gasses prevented the mining of the fire zone. By 1914 ore was becoming difficult to find in the Oliver and both electric locomotives were removed from the workings. For its remaining years of operation by the Calumet & Arizona  Mining Company was limited to the Oliver’s upper levels and areas near the Irish Mag. Generally, these last years were mining ore surrounding ore bodies that had been largely depleted. On February 5, 1919 the Oliver was shut down leaving only some reserves of low grade ore in place. The condition of the shaft was becoming problematic and by 1920 the hoist and headframe were badly out of level due to mining subsidence.


The mine was later worked by lessees who mined intermittently until 1941, when the mine was permanently shut down.  Showing infinite wisdom of the relationship between ventilation and mine condition, the cages at the Oliver were hoisted to the toplander’s deck and secured. This small decision allowed the Oliver Shaft to ventilate properly and slowed down the rate of timber decay in the mine. The air flow would have allowed the Oliver Shaft to last for years in near operable condition.*  In 1965 the headframe was dismantled and the shaft was filled. Four years later, the site was covered by dumps from the Lavender Pit.


* When mines are shutdown they mistakenly put the cages even with the collar of the shaft. As a result the timbers rot rapidly and the shaft becomes unsafe to use. Although, leaving a shaft with raised cages necessitates the shaft be protected so, the curious do not fall down the shaft.

Drawing of the Oliver Shaft showing levels Bisbee Az
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