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The Gallagher, Manila, Brunckow and Dean Richmond Mines near Tombstone Arizona

Last Updated: 5th Oct 2016

By Rolf Luetcke

The Gallagher, Manila, Brunckow and Dean Richmond Mines near Tombstone
By Rolf Luetcke

When I moved to Southeastern Arizona in 1971 I started a mineral business and needed quantities of material to put into the sample mineral sets I was making. I explored the mines of Cochise County by using topographic maps and found mine symbols and then found my way to the mines. I have noticed in the newer versions of the topographic maps out now that many of the mine symbols have been eliminated. A good example is a 1902 topographic map of Bisbee, it shows hundreds of mine symbols, before the mine was under one company's ownership. The modern maps no longer have most of these old mines. I was looking for low grade material for those collections so many of the old dumps had just what I needed. Of course, if a nice specimen came along, it went into our own collection.
Since Tombstone was not very far from my home in Bisbee, where I lived at the time, I explored the area around Tombstone a lot. I had discovered a couple of small mines near the paved road between Tombstone and Sierra Vista, about 3 miles east of the old mill site at Charleston on the East side of the San Pedro River. The mill site is often mistaken for mine dumps but is the foundation built for the mill buildings to sit on.
There was a small dirt road that went in from the Tombstone paved road directly to the Gallagher mine on the south side of the road. I could drive a vehicle directly to the mine dumps which made collecting quite easy in the early 1970's. A few years later the Tombstone road was fenced because of cattle and the little dirt road closed off. Since the mine is abandoned there was no gate put in at the highway, simply fenced off. There was still another road that went to the mine but it was so brush covered it was easier to walk the quarter mile of old dirt road and leave the car by the fence. The land here is public land and there are no current claims on the Gallagher mine and from what the rangers have told me, collecting is allowed. With a four wheel drive one can still get in this way but the small road going in from Brunckow lane is now posted "keep out" so we have not gone this way in years. In past years driving this road there were a few diggings along both sides and they had a similar kind of mineralization. These small prospects had no names I could find and were possibly under the same claims as the Gallagher mine.
The Gallagher Mine had a couple of small shafts right next to each other, that had all the timbering collapsed now and there was no way into the mine. The sides of the shafts were all loose dirt and rock with no possible way to climb down without equipment and then the collapsed lower areas looked quite unstable. The dumps covered about half an acre and there was plenty of loose rock lying about. There was one problem at the Gallagher and that was if you dug into the dumps, things were so coated with dirt it was nearly impossible to see crystallization this way. One could identify the galena and anglesite nodules because of their weight and it was this way I found some of the more interesting lead and copper associations but breaking everything open was not possible. Mostly when I dug, it was to uncover material so rains would wash it off and I was eager to return after some rains to see what had been washed clean. A friend remarked that a blade which would turn over the dumps would probably uncover all sorts of nice specimens.
At the Gallagher an attempt had been made to do some leaching but no permits were gotten to do the leaching and the project was halted by the county. This was still the "old west" and often people just started things without getting any permits and often they got away with it. The dumps had been trenched and the material taken to a pad to be leached and it was here I found one hand size chunk while exploring the mine with an English friend. I picked up a good promising piece of quartz and broke it and it popped in half right at a seam. Half of the specimen had nothing on it but the other half was coated in a thin layer of gold. It was the nicest piece I had seen from there and I gave it to Rob and from recent talks he said he still had it in his collection.
I had always wondered if the people who had worked the mine had left anything underground but the bad shape of the two shafts kept me from ever going into the mine. It was the great wulfenite finds of the Red Cloud and Rowley mines that got me to thinking what could have been left here also since that mineral was not often considered an ore mineral. The Gallagher Mine has had the dumps very well picked over on the exposed surfaces and it is hard to find any larger pieces there now. One visit I found a nice hand size piece of dark brown vanadinite with good crystals. It was lying on the surface and the sparkle from reflections off of the crystals alerted me to the piece. It was one fortunate piece that had been missed. I have since sold that piece and to this day I think it was one I should have kept since it was the nicest piece I ever found there. We needed to earn a living so the piece was sold. I saw it again years later at a mineral show but the price was over five times what I had sold it for and I was not willing to pay the high price. I had found it was also a great help to come collecting when there was sunshine otherwise the material with crystals was hard to spot. I have tried to tell friends who like to collect at mine dumps, sunshine is very useful in making reflections off of crystal faces and in locating the colors of mineralization that is not easily seen in cloudy weather. The Gallagher and Manila mines, actually many of the mines in SE Arizona, have one issue in rainy summers. Certain times the tiny insects called no-seeums, a type of biting fly that is the size of a speck of ground pepper is out in large numbers. We have often been driven from a mine dump by these irritating insects. Their bite often causes a reaction and my wife is allergic to their bites. They love eyes and faces and make it impossible to enjoy being out at the times they are breeding. Luckily in a couple of weeks their season is over and one can again go out to collect.
One spot near the mine shafts is an area with very small, crushed looking material. It lies on an old metal sheet, which is mostly rusted away now. There are two of these near the shafts. I think these were storage of crushed ore to be taken away or possibly leached and when the mines closed, left at the mine. In this I have often found tiny but well formed loose wulfenite crystals. While collecting on the old dumps over the years I have found where the best areas are to find the various minerals but specimens can be found just about anywhere on the dumps.
At the Gallagher and Manila my favorite mineral to collect is wulfenite. I have found wulfenite in a wide range of crystal habits and have a small sub collection of wulfenite from these mines that show all the habits I have found. Everything from the most often seen yellow, bladed crystals to long extended pyramids that come to a point at the one end. Not too long ago my wife was looking at some ore we had at our house from the many trips to the mine and found one piece of interest and she broke it and examined it under the microscope and saw it had colorless wulfenite, the purest form of the mineral. I have found a couple of very tiny, less than a millimeter, crystals that have such a perfect shape they look faceted. As tiny as they are, they are some of my favorite wulfenites from there.
There are other small diggings that followed the same veins along the valley and I have walked to a number of these and found similar mineralization at most of them. It seems the vein system in this area ran in a northeasterly direction to the southwest. There were diggings done in many places along this system but none seemed to large and probably didn't pan out like the Gallagher and Manila. The quartz veins they followed were lying in a vertical vein and I believe they were crack fillings from eons ago where mineral bearing fluids came up into the fractures. A nearby drilling project, looking for silver showed exactly this process. Veins were hard to hit since they were vertical and not horizontal so it was easy to miss them. Drilling had to be done at an angle to intercept these veins. This project was a few miles away but I believe the same system of veins was present at the Gallagher and Manila Mines. In places one can still see the tops of the quartz veins at the surface but these spots are now in the Riparian and cannot be collected.
Driving about a mile west there is Brunckow lane that went to some ranches in the distance. In the 1970’s the road was open and a hundred yards in were the remnants of buildings and an open area for working with the ore brought out of the prospects. This was not the original Brunckow mine, which lay about a half mile to the south. This area only had small holes and pits and I never found much interesting ore.
Half a mile west was another mine called the Manila Mine. The main shaft had a fence surrounding it and the dumps by the mine shaft were nothing but small, loose waste rock. The fencing was a good idea since the ground here was all small and loose gravely rock and it would be quite easy to slip and fall down into the mine shaft. The earlier dumps and trenches to the west of the main shaft, possibly going much farther back than the main Manila Mine, had larger rock that had been dug out by hand and had specimen material. One deeper trench had been worked a little underground following the quartz vein but ended only about 50 feet in. The ceiling here was sparkly with vanadinite. People had carried down ladders to gain access to the ore in the ceiling and that area had been worked a lot. There was still material but getting to it was getting much harder. The end of the little underground tunnel had thin veins of quartz going into the rock. There was a bit of mineralization here but the veins were pinching out. I collected some of the quartz here and found it was mostly mixed with jarosite but had a bit of wulfenite and a fair amount of micro gold in the mix.
At one time there had been an attempt to smelt some of the ore from the mine but it was apparently not a big project but one can still see the slag lying in one area just below the main Manila Mine shaft. There is also a cement platform at ground level just north of the Manila Mine where equipment had at one time been bolted down, a hoist motor possibly. The smelting project and the shallow diggings besides the main Manila shaft I believe predate the shaft here by quite a while, maybe even as far back as Brunckows exploration of the area.
Since the collectors that had come into the trench had mostly worked the ceiling I thought it would be a good idea to work the floor. There was a dip toward one wall where at one time a shaft had angled down. I moved a lot of rock here and collected on several occasions. It was in this material I found some of the best mineralization. So many pieces had fallen while people worked on the ladders that had not been picked up but filtered down into the lower angled shaft I was surprised other had not done the same thing. The floor was extremely dusty and working this area required something covering ones mouth and nose since the dust here was loaded with lead, vanadium and other elements that were not good to breathe. One of my favorite finds here was a specimen that had calderonite on one surface of the specimen. I also have one nice vanadinite I worked from the ceiling with wulfenite on the back side. Some of my favorite wulfenite finds were also from this floor area in the Manila trench.
Another small trench at the Manila Mine had followed a quartz seam that was rich in jarosite and part of the end of the tunnel was nothing but jarosite. The gold I found at the Manila Mine was usually in with the quartz and jarosite association.
As I had wondered about the Gallagher and Manila mines in my early days of collecting here I contacted the USGS and they sent me several pages of printouts from their database. This information was very useful to pinpoint which mine was which. There had been some confusion as to which mine was the Gallagher and which was the Manila among collectors. The papers I had been sent showed the exact location of the mines.
Both the Gallagher and Manila mines in their present names were claimed in 1952 and worked for vanadium during world war two but the history of the vein structure here goes back to the 1850’s. The mineralized vein structure was the first mineralization found in the Tombstone areas. There is a bit of confusion about the early people who filed claims and worked the area. The one that is best known is Fredrick Brunckow who came into the area in the 1850’s. Another person was Dean Richmond who was also there at the same time and some sources say originally discovered the mines here. Some say Richmond was the first to file a claim, some say Brunckow. In the accounts I found about the area it seems numerous early prospectors filed claims on the early mines. The names included the aforementioned and a well known name from later Tombstone, Thomas Jeffords. A number of the early claimants were killed at the Brunckow mine and it became one of the deadliest claims of the area with at least 21 people being killed here over a number of years. Since the veins of mineralization were close to the San Pedro River, which is where most of the early prospectors came up and down the valley, they were the first ones to be found and claimed, a number of years before the rich ores of Tombstone were discovered.
Unlike the finds in Tombstone, the Brunckow, Gallagher and Manila mines played out in only a couple of years. While the early workings had only minimal shaft development, the Gallagher went to a depth of 240 feet and the Manila to 400 feet. These two mines were mostly worked during the second world war because of the strategic metals needed for the war effort and abandoned when those ores were no longer needed and mining became unprofitable.
I collected only in the dumps and the few open trenches by the Manila and at the Gallagher mine, with the help of our friend Rob Bowell, an English geochemist we have identified 54 mineral species and 29 species at the Manila Mine.
Almost all of the minerals are found in micro crystals but a few are found in larger specimens. Vanadinite, wulfenite, galena and quartz are just a few that can be found in slightly larger specimens. In collecting at the Gallagher and Manila mines since the early 1970's, I have found a wonderful suite of minerals from there. Not all were found at one time but took many a trip finding a good piece one time, a good piece another. Nice finds can still be made at the Gallagher but it takes a lot of looking and some good luck. There is a lot of quartz at the mines and some has wonderful but small crystals. I have found some very solid looking quartz that when broken open revealed open pockets of fine, long, clear crystals. Some specimens had quartz in such fine needles they were only a portion of the thickness of a human hair. One piece had a nice scepter quartz crystal.
Recently there have been some changes that we found out about in the summer of 2014 when we had stopped to collect at both the Gallagher and Manila. While at the Manila Mine a ranger stopped from the nearby San Pedro Riparian area. He said we were not allowed to collect at the Manila Mine and it was inside the Riparian boundary. There was no fence here and certainly no signs that indicated this. We had often seen the Riparian sign about a quarter mile West of the Manila and I assumed this is where the boundary was but there were no signs whatever by the mine. Another ranger had stopped a couple of years before this and we had talked to him also. It seemed he was curious about what we were doing there and said he had seen our English friend over by the walls of an old building. Rob had gone over to photograph this old building. This ranger said it was fine for us to collect mineral specimens at the Manila Mine but not to disturb any of the old structures, they fell under preservation laws with strict fines for disturbing them. A few articles in treasure magazines had mentioned that people often hid money and other valuables in the adobe walls of their old houses so the treasure hunters had gone around to many of the old ghost towns and started tearing down the walls, looking for any stashed loot. As far as I know, nobody ever found anything but they ended up destroying may old historic structures because of that rumor.
Turns out that this ranger was from a different agency, the forest service and he was not aware of the different rules for the Riparian land. The second ranger had to call his home office to figure out exactly where the boundary of their area was. When we told him another ranger had said it was fine to collect at the Manila he said that was not true and was certainly going to talk to people from the other agencies about this. I sure wish the various government agencies were aware of each other's rules and regulations. It seems that a land swap had taken place 6 years earlier and that was when the Manila became part of the Riparian area. The Brunckow Mine now also falls under the Riparian boundary and no collecting is allowed. One can still visit the Manila and Brunckow mines to hike and look around but one is not allowed to collect anything. I asked why it had not been posted but the ranger gave several reasons, none of which made any sense to me. We were not ticketed but our minerals were seized. A close friend said that because the land had not been posted that seizing of our minerals was actually not right but I was not going to argue with them and let him take the material. I made sure to tell him when he passed the material along to the geologist they had working for them that there were some nice things in the material I had found. Even maps from the various offices are extremely hard to interpret to figure out where you can go and where you can't, the maps are just too vague. When asked why the land here was not posted he simply said people steel the signs or shoot them up.
The mineralization discovery here went back to the 1850’s and the filing of claims had to be done through the land office in Tucson. Since this was quite a trip in those days with Apaches still roaming the area and no roads at all, it took days to weeks to get anything done. There was a lot of claim jumping in those early days and it seems a lot of things were done that didn’t follow the law. Frederick Brunckow was born in Germany and was a mineralogist who was from the eastern US and came out to Arizona to make his own fortune. From one report I had read, Dean Richmond had found the mineralization at the location first and went to Tucson to file a claim when Brunckow also came across it. When Brunckow got to the office in Tucson he knew the government agent who ran the office and somehow persuaded him to file on the claim under his name, even though Richmond had already filed the claim. This led to legal battles and from what the one article said, even got the president of the US involved who was responsible for appointing the claim agents and ended up firing the agent over this matter. Since the legal issues took so long to resolve I never did find that there was a resolution. The one paper I had found was only a window into the situation and other articles on the same matter could not be found. The mine was worked by Brunckow using labor from Mexico and what happened to Dean Richmond I never did find out.
Brunckow had built a very sturdy stone cabin and also a store to sell supplies to prospectors and anyone coming into the area. He had a couple of partners who had gone to El Paso to buy supplies for the small store and were not there when trouble started. Brunckow was using labor from across the border in Mexico and apparently was not paying the miners and was killed over this. That is when the subsequent ownership seems to get a bit sketchy. There were other partners to the claim at the time and they were not in the area when Burnckow was killed but it is unclear if they stayed in the area or let the claim lapse. The Brunckow cabin was used by many as a shelter to explore the surrounding area and had even been used to set up a small assay lab. The cabin may have played a key role in the discovery of the Tombstone ores when they were found.
A friend of ours had known Richard Bideaux a well known mineral collector and author from Arizona and had been working to pack up his old office after Richard died and the family said he could take a box of minerals that had come from the "Dean Richmond" mine. They were all micro minerals and he didn't have an interest in micro material and on one visit he gave us the box because he knew I loved micro minerals. While going through the material I had no idea where the Dean Richmond mine was and found no reference to it in books or on the internet. In looking at the material I recognized the association since I had collected so much at the Gallagher and Manila mine and thought it must have come from here. I wrote a German friend about the box of minerals from the Dean Richmond and a short time later he sent me a reference from an 1800's government journal. In it was described the early legal wrangling over the claim of the Dean Richmond and the above mentioned information and it seems that Brunckow ended up working the claim which ended up in his possession and then I knew the material had come from the Brunckow and not the Gallagher. Why Richard Bideaux who collected there many years ago had called it Dean Richmond I never found out since he had passed away. Since no collecting is allowed now it was one interesting way to get a nice suite of minerals from there. Apparently the material found at that time was quite rich in copper and lead minerals. I don't know if it was collected on the dumps or underground.
What is interesting to me is that the mineralization of the Brunckow that was so fought over and so many died over was not very rich by today's standards and the later Tombstone ores were much, much richer. The Brunckow was the first of the area to be claimed and led to the later discovery of the Tombstone rich silver ores. The cabin had been used by the early prospectors as a base when exploring the area so it did play an important part in the early history of mineral exploration of the Tombstone area.

Past the Manila Mine is a wash that goes down to the Tombstone paved road and then goes under the road there. Following the wash down from the Manila Mine were a few other small mines and near the Tombstone road I found the most copper mineralization of any of the mines in the vicinity I had come across. This area is now closed to collecting since it is within the Riparian preserve. Hiking across country on this trip I saw many places where the quartz veins reached the surface and minor hand digging had been done.
I have collected at these mines since about 1971 and have tried to make a couple or more trips a year to see what new material has been washed clean by rains. In recent years we have not stopped to collect since we still have a few piles of larger material that we brought home and placed in piles, so we still have material from those mines to look at. The Gallagher Mine is one of my favorite small mines in Southern Arizona.




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