Mining and Miners in
James Harvey McClintock in 1913
1909, by West Coast Art Co.
available for photographic prints and downloads
Arizona Mining Articles:
Optimists Of The Hills
A Blind Miner And His Work in Mohave County
Mining the Investor, Not The Mine
It is a curious
and little appreciated fact that the miner is the scout of civilization.
He braves the savage, the desert's heat, the Arctic's cold. Alone, he
fearlessly penetrates regions wherein his foot is the first to tread. It
was the pursuit of golden dreams that sustained the weary marches of the
Spanish explorers of America. Thus it was with
Coronado's quest, four hundred years ago, was for the gold of the Seven
Cities. Though the Spaniards found no gold in Cibola, they found it
elsewhere, and for centuries the greatest revenues of the Spanish Crown
were from mines now included in Southern Arizona.
The Spaniard mainly confined his operations to the valleys of
among peaceable Indian tribes.
The Anglo-Saxon went even farther when he came into
possession of the land. There is not a valley in Northern or Eastern
that has not its tale of prospectors ambushed by the
Yet, step by step, the Apache
were driven back. Following the prospector and the miner, came the trader,
the cattle rancher, the farmer, the home seeker, until Arizona's
civilization, based upon the mine, is as sound and as modern as is that of
much older commonwealths. No longer is mining the only industry, but it is
still the chief. It is well that it is so, for the dollar from under the
ground is a new dollar and a whole dollar. The bright golden bar from the
assayer's den in the stamp mill means so many more actual dollars added to
the money in circulation; every drop of the fiery stream from the
converter's lip, means just so much more permanent wealth brought into
being for the good and use of mankind. And mining has passed the
experimental stage. "Luck" counts for little in the business. Nearly every
great fortune of the West has been made in mining, and nearly every
fortune, has been made by men of good, hard horse sense, who went in on
their judgment and not on their hopes and enthusiasm.
Though many of the people of Arizona
for years, clung in affection to the 16-to-1 theory, it was a fact that
the demonetization of silver really had little effect upon Arizona.
Broadly stated, almost every silver mine within the territory had closed
before silver had sunk below a dollar an ounce. The famous mines at
Silver King, Richmond Basin, Mack Morris and in the Bradshaw Mountains had
about all been closed down and there remained very little exploration for
silver outside of Mohave County.
Optimists Of The Hills
The professional prospector of the Southwest is practically
of the past. As a rule, he lived on a "grub stake" furnished by some
gamblesome group of individuals in the town where the prospector made his
headquarters. The law of such co-partnerships was definitely recognized.
As a rule there was no very close agreement made between the parties;
rarely was any contract put down in writing, but the unwritten law of the
land was that the man who furnished the "grub stake" got a half interest
in any location that was made by the prospector during the time when he
fed upon "grub" furnished by his
urban partner. It was rare indeed that such agreements were
violated. The prospector nearly always kept faith. The system came into
from Nevada and California, where many of the fortunes realized by country
storekeepers, saloonkeepers and gamblers came through modest "grub stakes"
furnished some old prospector.
The prospector's outfit was of the simplest, in keeping
with his life and taste. There was always a burro, usually one that had
had years of experience in the prospecting game, and that never strayed
far from the camp, however transient it might be. Wonderful tales are told
of these prospecting burros of old; they were fond of bacon rinds, and
would always leave the sage brush and cat claw, upon which they were
supposed to thrive, to join the prospector in consuming the last of the
baking powder biscuits.
The prospector of old was a man sustained by a boundless
faith and never-quenched hope. In reality, he was a gambler of the most
pronounced type; every hill held for him the chance of a bonanza, and no
rocky point was passed without an investigating tap from his hammer; every
iron-stained dyke had to be sampled in his gold pan.
Most of the
prospectors were overly sanguine; they fairly loaded themselves and their
principals down with prospects, on which the annual assessment work would
have cost far more than the value of the ground. Many a prospector
boasted that he held some 100 claims. To have fulfilled the letter of
the mining law, such a number of claims would have necessitated the
expenditure of $10,000 in annual assessment work, yet the individual speaking might have assets on which could not
have been worth even $10.
All through the hills of Arizona
are to be found the monuments left by these prospectors, where they first
located and then tested claims that were worthless in nearly every
instance. They were looking for sudden riches, and failed to understand
the philosophy of the latter-day miner, worked out by hard experience,
that mining, after all, is a manufacturing industry, and that the greatest
profits are not found in rich pockets of silver and gold, but in the
percentage of income over expense that can be gained by the working of
large quantities of ore of fairly uniform grade, handled almost
mechanically and under the most economical conditions.
The prospector's life was rough, and yet not particularly
laborious; he drifted through the hills on trips that were limited only by
the quantity of grub he carried or could command. As a rule, he slept out
in the open, whatever the weather, and his diet was based unendingly upon
bacon and black coffee, with sourdough or baking powder bread on the side.
Tobacco, of course, was an absolutely essential feature of his ration.
When the trip was up and his locations had been recorded, rarely did the
professional prospector ever work upon the mines he had found. If the find
proved good, he sold out for some modest
sum, which he often spent quickly. Then, it was back
again to the hills with the same old burro, living a life which he would not
have exchanged for any other.
A very different type was the miner who did occasional
prospecting, usually when he was out of work or when he got tired of the
darkness underground and wanted a trip into the hills in communion with
the face of Nature, instead of her heart. A man of this sort usually paid
his own way and held fast to anything good that he found. Not necessarily
of higher type than the professional hunter of mines, he was of more
substantial character and in hundreds of instances graduated into the
class of mine-owning capitalists and became one of the leading citizens of
A Blind Miner And His Work in Mohave County
Mohave County has given the world many instances of rare
courage in its pioneer days, but nothing finer than the tale of how a blind
miner named Henry Ewing, unaided, sunk a shaft on his Nixie Mine, near Vivian,
not far from the present camp of Oatman.
It was in 1904, after Ewing, a gentleman of
culture, had lost his eyesight. Despite the warning of friends, he
persisted in returning to his mine, where he rigged up leading wires, to
assure him a degree of safety and then set up a windlass over his 20 foot
He blasted and dug and hauled the ore buckets
to the surface and cared for himself in camp, his worst adventure was an
encounter with a rattlesnake and narrow escape from death on the trail.
Another experience was falling from a ladder a distance of 30 feet,
receiving serious injuries, yet managing to climb out and seek assistance
at a nearby mining camp.
Almost as much pluck has been shown by several miners who
have developed their claims alone. In the Hualpai Mountains, Frank
Hamilton started upon such a work in 1874 and alone sunk two shafts, 100
and 50 feet deep. In the same district, a memorandum has been found of J.
L. Doyle, who alone sunk two 65-foot shafts and connected them with a
drift. Enoch Kile, a Yavapai County miner, single-handed sunk a 75-foot
shaft and doubtless many other such instances could be found.
James Harvey McClintock in 1913, compiled and edited by
of America, updated May, 2017.
Notes and Author:
This article is primarily a tale told by James Harvey
McClintock between the years of 1913 and 1916, when he published a three
volume history of Arizona
called Arizona: The Youngest State. However, the article that
appears here is far from verbatim. While the story remains essentially the
same as originally published, heavy editing has occurred for spelling and
grammar corrections, revisions for the modern reader, and updates to this
McClintock began his career working at the Salt River Herald
(later known as the Arizona Republic). He later earned a teaching certificate, served as Theodore
Roosevelt’s right-hand-man in the Rough Riders, and become an Arizona
State Representative. He died in
California on May 10, 1934 at the age of 70.
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