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Arizona is truly a mining state. Mineral deposits and occurrences are abundant all over the state. Early mining for silver occurred during the Spanish occupation when monks utilized Indian labor to work rich surficial deposits. Shortly after Arizona became a territory, prospecting in earnest began. Some of the first local governments were formal mining districts organized by the local mine operators to establish rules for, and enforcement of, claims and other issues of common interest, thus, mining districts in Arizona are significant. Descriptions and historical details for the more significant districts are provided under each district's locality file.
A brief primer on terminology for Arizona is in order since the usage of names is confusing at times. A claim can be either patented or unpatented. Patented claims are, in essence, private land. Claim size has been limited by law, usually 200 feet by 2000 feet and claims may have individual names and/or a number. As a result, more than one claim may constitute a mine and a mine may have several sub-names based on individual claims. Often a mine is named after the claim upon which the principal workings, such as the shaft and mill, are located. A mine property may be constituted of patented and/or unpatented claims. Mine shafts are also often named, as well as adits or haulage tunnels. The names applied may correspond with the mine name, the claim name or another designation. Mines often have multiple shafts, either named and/or unnamed. A "property" can be a single claim or a group of claims. A "property" may also be an agricultural site such as a ranch upon which a mineral occurrence was discovered, but this term is usually applied to the aggregate land holdings owned by, or under the control of, an individual or corporation involved in mineral exploitation. A mine is a working on a property or claim(s). A property may have more than one mine on it. A vein is a continuous, or otherwise traceable, mineralized fault or fissure, that may be over one mile (1.6 km) long in some cases. There are often several claims on a single vein which may, or may not, be held by the same claimants. Often the claims staked on major veins are adjacent to the first claims filed and are termed "extensions" using the name of the original mine on the vein. Some mines have several named veins or ore bodies. These veins may have separate shafts (veins) or open pits (ore bodies). New names have been applied to some mines in recent years based on refiling of claims and resumption of mining operations for the retrieval of specimens (Pure Potential Mine, Purple Passion Mine, etc.). Common terms encountered in Arizona place names are "washes" or "dry washes," which are basically dry stream beds that may become violent torrents of water during storm episodes. These washes can run for many miles and have many tributary dry washes. Often the washes are the lower reaches of canyons and may have steep, rocky side walls. Thus, mines may be in washes, that is, in the sides of the wash canyon. Another term is "tanks." These are most often natural basins weathered into rock that might contain water. They might rarely also be shallow mine workings that likewise contain water. Mesas and buttes are natural flat-topped hills or mountains that may, or may not, be capped with a horizontal lava flow. Collapse structures are vertical geological chimneys, often filled with breccia collapse material, and may be mineralized. Paleochannels or "channels" are geological structures wherein ancient streams or rivers eroded a channel into existing rocks and these were subsequently filled with sedimentary matter belonging to a younger rock group, which may also be mineralized.
Early prospecting was principally for gold and silver. Later copper became significant. The world wars drew attention to other critical metals and non-metals alike such as molybdenum, vanadium, tungsten, mica and beryllium. Finally, during the cold war, uranium became king. Ultimately Arizona became a state producing a wide range of ores. Many veins and deposits carry at least small amounts of gold and silver.
The History of Arizona, published by the 2nd. state legislature shortly after Arizona achieved statehood (circa 1914), presents the statistics for mining claims, by County, as of 1876: Yavapai - 7,298; Pima - 975 (includes present day Santa Cruz Co.); Maricopa - 200; Yuma - 580 (includes present day La Paz Co.); Pinal Co. - 552; and Mohave Co. - 2,000, for a state total of 11,605 (NOTE: some data by counties apparently missing).
Mining Districts usually, but not always, lie within a single county. A district may constitute a mountain range, part of a range, or several districts may lie within a single range. Several districts have multiple names just as is often the case with mines. Districts may also overlap. Many geographical place names associated with mining activities no longer exist (except as ghost towns). The prime example of this situation is Tiger - it was bulldozed down by subsequent large-scale mining interests.
Arizona is substantially a desert and mountain wilderness state and many localities do not have "names" per se. Some localities are best identified using the township and range grid system coordinates and/or the US Geological Survey (USGS) quadrangle designations. Both systems specifically and uniquely delineate quadralateral areas of land. Several USGS publications pertaining to specific areas within Arizona, designate specific localities, perhaps named or not, with a numerical designation (e.g., site No. 52, drywasher site 85, collapse structure 201, or channel [paleochannel] 60). These designations are perpetuated for the most remote areas of the state.
The names given to claims and mines were often duplicated by the prospectors and miners since there was no central repository for names, nor were there any restrictions on names. The frequent duplication of names requires diligence to ensure that the proper locality is attributed to any given specimen. The prevailing social customs of the time may have allowed for names which are now considered racially or ethnically insensitive. Such names are an unfortunate historical fact and are only presented for historical accuracy with no intent of any offense.
Due to the extremely voluminous list of pertinent references for Arizona, only the most significant (usually state-wide or regional [spanning more than 1 county] references) are listed under this state file. Detailed references are listed under individual locality files up to the mining district and county levels.
Mineral ListMineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities
898 valid minerals. 82 (TL) - type locality of valid minerals. 2 (FRL) - first recorded locality of unapproved mineral/variety/etc.
Rock Types RecordedEntries shown in red are rocks recorded for this region.
Note: this is a very new system on mindat.org and data is currently VERY limited. Please bear with us while we work towards adding this information!
Rock list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities
- Igneous rock
- Normal crystalline igneous rock
- Glassy igneous rock
- Volcaniclastic igneous rock and sediment
- Sedimentary rock and sediment
- Metamorphic rock
- Superficial deposit