top of page

Wolverine & Arizona Mine

Wolverine #1 Shaft / Broken Promise # 1 Shaft / Broken Promise Shaft

Wolverine #2 Shaft / Broken Promise # 2 Shaft

Wolverine & Arizona Shaft (refers  to both #1 and #2 shafts)

Woverine Shaft (refers  to both #1 and #2 shafts)

Wolverine Interior (Higgins Tunnel Level)

Wolverine Interior (100 Level)

Georgia Tunnnel

Kentucky Tunnel





Map showing the Broken Promise claim in Bisbee, Arizona

Wolverine & Arizona Development Company was incorporated on March 10, 1903 and by April 5th they had brokered a deal to purchase the six claims of the Chicago group. This included the Broken Promise Claim.  On April 21 the first Wolverine shaft was started on the Broken Promise Claim. The beginning 80ft. were sunk using a windlass, then a hoist was installed. By October, the three compartment shaft was hand drilled to a depth of 438ft., with stations cut on the 200, 300, and 400 levels. Boarding and bunk houses were built on the property. For most of 1904 exploration focused on driving a crosscut on the 500 level and drilling a diamond drill hole towards the White Tail Deer Mine. Water was struck below the 500 level and a pump station was cut on the 500 level. A pair of single drum hoists was used to haul up the broken rock. At the end of 1904 the Wolverine & Arizona Development Company became the Wolverine & Arizona Mining Company.


Work during 1905 focused on driving drifts on the 300 level to a length of 1,150ft. and driving the “Fenner” drift on the 500 level to 1,650ft. F.C. Fenner was the second superintendent of the Wolverine Mine. He replaced Superintendent, Stewart Hunt, who was elected sheriff. These long crosscuts were necessary to explore the distant Cairo and Georgia Claims.


In 1906, arrangements were made to explore the Warren Claim. This claim was quite a distance and on the opposite side of Escabrosa Ridge from the other Wolverine workings. It was decided to set up a diamond drill on the property and use steam and water provided by the nearby Shattuck Mine. Oxide ore was struck by this drill hole at 410ft. Drilling continued in 1907, but with difficultly, bits were lost and drilling, when they into a small cave. Work was suspended as they were recovered.  In April the decision was made to mine the orebody on the Warren Claim through the Higgins Mine, rather than extend Wolverine workings to the claim. On September 6, 1907, the orebody discovered by the diamond drilling was struck from the Higgins side. When they were still 125ft. from the hole. The miners drove the tunnel 40ft. through ore.


 For the next few years Wolverine operations focused on mining the Warren Claim through the Higgins Mine. The only surface opening on the Warren Claim was the Warren Raise, which dropped into the top of a sulphide stope.  The discovery of theses ores resulted in the Uncle Sam, Shattuck and later Southwest mines exploring and developing ore right up to the Wolverine & Arizona property lines.  This area was significant producer of fine crystalline azurite with stalactitic malachite specimens. Most of these came from either the Shattuck mine 45 raise on the 200 level or the Wolverine workings from the Higgin’s, Since the specimens were from the same orebody they can be nearly impossible to identify exactly which mine they were collected in. Around 1908, to develop silver-lead- copper ores the Wolverine & Arizona sank two interior shafts; one was single compartment which extended from the Higgins Tunnel level down 100ft. to a level. A second double compartment shaft was sunk from the 100 level of the first interior shaft down another 100ft. to the 200 level. Both of these shaft were sunk on the Backbone Claim belonging to Thomas Higgins and not Wolverine & Arizona ground.

 During 1909, the Wolverine #1 Shaft, which had been sunk to a depth of 665ft., was shut down completely and work was totally done through the Higgins tunnel. Good ore was discovered on the Warren Claim. Production increased and the Wolverine and Arizona Mining Company became profitable. In 1911, all pipe and fittings were removed from the Wolverine #1 shaft and stored.

The years that followed were successful through the Higgins.  Part of the Warren Claim was leased in 1913 to M. J. Cunningham and Allie Sowles. Pneumatic drills were introduced in 1914. All work previous to this had been accomplished by hand. With profitable years, the company financed exploration in 1916 the Georgia Tunnel was started on the Georgia claim. At the same time William White, Cliff Winters and Carol Thomas began sinking a second shaft on the Broken Promise Claim. This shaft would later be known as the Wolverine #2 Shaft. Using a block and tackle they were able to drag a hoist to the new shaft site. Soon they had sunk and timbered a 240ft. deep shaft into an orebody. At the expiration of the lease in 1917, the Wolverine and Arizona took over the shaft. The shaft was sunk to the 400 level and shipped 1,000 tons a month from the 200 and 300 levels of Wolverine #2. This ore was on the property line with the Whitetail Deer Mine with ore continuing onto the Crescent Claim owned by the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company.


In 1920 the Wolverine #1 shaft was cleared and retimbered. During the following year ore was reported as blocked out on the 300 level of the #1 shaft, but no stopes are shown at the #1 shaft on available Wolverine and Arizona maps. The Wolverines were a small but consistent producer. The Kentucky Tunnel was cleaned out and a 150ft winze was sunk in 1925.  It was eventually sunk to a depth of 200ft. and then around 400 ft. of drifting was completed at the bottom. The #1 shaft was badly caved and repaired for use. During 1927 work at the Kentucky tunnel continued with the driving 600ft. of crosscut.   On the lease at the Crescent claim, 200ft. of crosscut was driven and a 130ft. winze was sunk.


The Wolverine & Arizona was weakening by this time and it appears they wanted to sell the mines. In a letter from Joseph Hodgson date September 13, 1927 he states, that Phelps Dodge was not interested in the Wolverine property.


On August 21, 1930, the following assets were listed as part of the Wolverine Property.

50 pieces steel

12 shovels

2 Cochise jackhammers

1 stoper

3, 50ft water hoses

3 50ft. air hoses

5 mine cars


As late as April 1930 there were plans to continue the Kentucky Tunnel to the Warren Claim.  In 1931 the Higgins lease was given up and the mines shut down and the last entry in their reports is July, 24, 1940. On February 23, 1953 the property was purchased by Phelps Dodge for $12,500.00


In the early 1960s, the Wolverine #2 shaft still had a wooden headframe over the shaft. The shaft timber was in deteriorating condition, but was open to the 200 level. This level was powder dry, which is unusual for Bisbee. The level was caving and partly with crawling, about 200 ft. of workings were open on the level. A good number of powdery blue azurite pieces could be found on the ground. These appeared to be spillage from mine cars. Another, odd feature was that the timber was extremely splintery. This was thought to be as a result of it being a less expensive standard of timber. Below the first level, the shaft manway condition was unusable. In 1974 a fire destroyed the headframe of the Wolverine #2 shaft.

During the 1990’s limited areas of the Wolverine workings were open. Both the Wolverine # 1 and #2 shafts were open, but raw. (All the timber had fallen out.) The dumps of the #1 shaft were barren of copper minerals.  Interesting malachite was abundant on the dumps of the #2 shaft indicating, it potentially produced mineral specimens. The shaft appeared to be only about 200ft. deep, possibly due to the timber falling down the shaft. At the Kentucky tunnel site, the entrance was covered over and yellow mimetite crystals could be found on the dump.  Over the mountain at the Georgia tunnel the adit was completely open, but contained little of interest except minor post- mining aragonite growth. On the dumps sat the rusting tub of a mine car. Another frame of mine car trucks and two wheels to a car were at the bottom of the waste dump. Near the Shattuck, the Warren Raise was accessible and a number of old -fashion diamond bits could be found on the surface nearby. These bits had used much larger diamonds than modern bits. The diamonds had been carefully removed, but the remaining rusting shells could easily be found. The raise itself was overgrown, but accessible. The upper part of the raise was a 45 degree incline and the last 40ft. being vertical.  It entered a portion of what appeared to be a much larger sulphide stope. The floor of the untimbered chamber was backfilled; any crosscuts leading off the stope were caved and indistinguishable from the collapsed edges of the stope. Only about a 50ft. section was open. With difficulty one Wolverine Interior Shaft was accessible through the Higgins Tunnel. The area was hot and partially flood with acidic mine water produced from the oxidation of the remaining sulphides. This unpleasant environment encouraged the growth of post mining iron oxides, which form rafts in flooded crosscuts and in others areas were beginning to seal of the drift by form a barrier of stalactitic formations. The tunnel level interior shaft was open with a stream of acidic water pouring into it. This shaft appeared to be steeply inclined around 70°. The black-colored, acid water around the shaft was around 36” deep and post mining iron hydroxides hand been deposited  two feet thick around the collar, the edge of the shaft could not be safely approached. It is possible the shaft has a different inclination.  The rusting remains of an incline skip (giraffe) and a sinking bucket remained at the collar. Heading off from the tunnel level, Wolverine Interior Shaft was an over 3,000 ft. long crosscut, driven to explore the Warren, George and part of the Chicago claims. It was possibly intended to connect with the Wolverine workings in Don Luis. Humorously, at the far end of this isolated crosscut a miner had written with a carbide lamp “Kilroy was here” with the appropriate picture. Obviously, even in the 1940’s the crosscut led to the middle of nowhere. This crosscut caved during the 1990s.

Ad for Stock in the Wolverine & Arizona
Diagram showing level in the Ad for Stock in the Wolverine mines, Bisbee Arizona
bottom of page