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Silver Bear Shaft


This rather obscure mine was developed after 1881.  In November of 1882 a site was selected for a smelter, but this was never completed, some work was being done on the claim during 1882-1883 and a Dr. Chase an English mining expert visited the site. The inoperative smelter was still on the site in February 22, 1886. Around this time the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company purchased the property. Little was done on the site, but the mine was mentioned in Albert Des Sulles’ An Arizona Ranger *, a work of historical fiction. The mine was used to hide money after a stage robbery.


In early summer of 1912 Sinking began on the main Silver Bear Shaft. It was sunk to a depth of 153ft. and 243ft. of crosscut was driven. During 1913 “plugger” type drills were successfully used in sinking the shaft to a depth of 465ft. This shaft was eventually sunk to a depth of 1,050ft. In 1918 the shaft was retimbered and in late September early August considerable water was unexpectedly struck on the 600 level. It was necessary to pipe it to the lower levels, away from the mining areas on the 700 and 800 levels. Ore mined by the Silver bear were typically on the 400, 600, 700 and 800 levels and were mainly on the Copper Monarch and Keystone Claims, but did cross over onto the Silver Bear Claim. Most mining areas were about half way to the Spray Mine and on the Irish Mag Sideline. This mine was connected directly to the Spray on the 400, 600, 700 and 800 levels. It is likely that these levels connected to the Irish Mag Mine on these levels as well.


The mine shutdown in 1922 and all buildings and the headframe were removed in 1942.  During the 1950’s and 1960’s the Silver Bear Shaft was surrounded by a corrugated metal fence. The shaft had a timbered collar in decent shape, but with no manway. No signs of copper mineralization could be found on the dump. This was due to the fact little material other than rock mined from the shaft and some exploration crosscut was hoisted from the shaft. All ore would have been dumped down transfer raises and hoisted from the Sacramento Shaft.  The Silver Bear shaft was filled in 1968 and the site was covered by dumps from the Lavender Pit.

* This book published in 1906 by Broadway Publishing. Des Sulles himself came from an old Cochise County family and had worked in Bisbee’s mines. At the time, he wrote his book he was residing in Bisbee and the book gives detailed descriptions of the Portage Lake mine accident and Dan Hankins. It is work of historical fiction strongly based on actual events, some of which merely have the names altered.

Map of the underground  working on the 700 level Silver Bear

Excerpt from    Albert Des Sulles’ fictional book An Arizona Ranger p21

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