A post office opened in
March, 1896, and soon dozens of other businesses followed, including the
Soto Brothers & Renaud General Store, which still stands today. Listed on
the National Register of Historic Buildings, the old structure has been
lovingly restored, providing an extremely accurate view of the past.
Though the store is not open for business, stopping for a photo
opportunity is a must.
Peak production of the
Commonwealth Mine was realized quickly in 1896, but, it would continue to
operate for years. Other businesses included a school, hotels, several
saloons, and a motion-picture theater. Many of the town’s early buildings
were actually transported over the mountains from
The population of
Pearce increased to some 1500 residents.
Like other mining towns, Pearce was not always a peaceful place, as miners and cowboys made their
way to the new boom town. Though never as lawless as Tombstone, Pearce needed a constable and in 1896 hired
George Bravin, who
in turn, hired a tough deputy named
Burton Alvord. At that time, Alvord still had a reputation as a fearless
Later Alvord would join up with
Billy Stiles and the two would
Alvord-Stiles Gang, robbing trains throughout
Territory and often using Pearce as their headquarters. But, in 1896,
Alvord had not yet begun his crime spree and after working as a Pearce
deputy for about six months, Bravin decided that there was no longer a
need for the toughened
and Alvord moved on the Willcox. There, Alvord would gain a reputation as a killer and by the turn of the
century would be robbing trains.
Ironically, George Bravin, who
by 1900, had moved to Tombstone
as a lawman,
would again come face to face with Burt Alvord inside his own jail. There,
Billy Stiles would help Alvord to escape and in the resulting melee would shoot of two of
Meantime, back in
the new Commonwealth mine owner, John Brockman built a 200-stamp mill.
With the rampant thievery going on throughout the territory, the mine
deliberately formed their gold bars to heavy that they could not be
carried out on horseback. The stamp mill burned to the ground in 1900;
however, business was so good that they soon built another. Brockman
continued to operate the mine for two more years until he sold it in 1902.
In 1904, a cave-in caused the mine to temporarily shut down. But, the
shut-down was brief and the following year, a cyanide plant was erected
and another fortune was made extracting the tailings.
Great Depression took
its toll and in the early 1930’s the mine closed and the railroad pulled
up its tracks. Over the years, the Commonwealth Mine was one of the
producing over 15 million dollars in Gold.