Arizona January 20, 2017
These 18 Rare Photos Show Arizona’s Mining History Like Never Before
It’s no secret that mining has played an important role in Arizona’s history. It led to commerce boom and bust, brought in thousands upon thousands of American settlers, and has been the catalyst of some controversial history and legislature over the decades.
Here’s a peek at some historic photos from public and private collections that help illustrate what the job has looked like over the years.
First, let's take a look at what some of the working sites looked like. Here's a Globe copper mine from 1899.
Here's one copper mine in the Grand Canyon near Horseshoe Mesa (ca. 1907). The guy in the suit and nice hat is probably a supervisor.
And here's a gold mining operation happening near Lee's Ferry, also in the Grand Canyon (ca. 1911).
Once that ore was dug up, the prime method of transportation in the early days was by mule, as you can see here somewhere in Pinal County (ca. 1897).
You'll see later on how that changed.
What did those miners look like? Almost exactly like you would expect from the movies.
These were prospectors in 1900. If you have the time, check out the full resolution of this photo for a closer view of their faces and outfits.
Photos will show just the kind of rough life miners of the period knew: weathered faces, rough hands, and worn clothing.
This miner from 1930 looks like he'd seen some rough days. In 1900, Jerome miners saw their wages increase to $2.50 per day.
As the years progressed and the work became more industrialized, the work outfit hanged to include hardhats and clothes worn specifically for work (1942).
He looks like he's enjoying striking a pose for the camera.
These guys look like they enjoyed getting a brief moment to pose next to their container of explosives at a Morenci mine (1942).
The work wasn't all fun though; it was still a dirty job even as the decades progressed (ca. 1973).
Here's one miner in northern Arizona just completely coated in coal dust and whatever else may have kicked up during his shift (ca. 1973).
Here are some miners sitting near processing equipment in Globe (ca. 1920).
This one shows two men at the pumping plant in Globe (1912).
Here, we get into some of the interesting history of mining in Arizona. This photo shows the Bisbee Deportation in action (1917).
The deportation involved
kidnapping approximately 1,300 miners
and some of their supporters who were on strike for higher wages and better working conditions. They were immediately loaded into cattle cars with just the clothes on their backs and deported to New Mexico.
The fear of worker uprisings spread to other prominent mining towns, like Jerome and Globe, though on a smaller scale. This photo shows some men guarding the Old Dominion Mine in Globe (1917).
That fear probably lingered for decades, which you can catch a hint of in this 1942 photo. This copper mine guard looks like he means business.
This last set of photos show how mining conditioned to develop in the twentieth century, with strip mining taking place at the Peabody coal mines near Kayenta and Black Mesa (ca. 1973).
The process gained popularity in the last century by removing the top layers of soil to extract large amounts of ore without tunneling underground.
Mining had always been a dirty job , producing obvious air pollution and water pollution during ore processing.
If you want to get a better sense of what life in the mines was like, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s, you might want to check out a mining history museum, like the
Mine Museum in Jerome or the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.
Since saloons were a ridiculously popular establishment to frequent during leisure time, you might be interested to see some that still exist today! Check out our article,
A Visit To These 13 Saloons In Arizona Will Make You Feel Like You’ve Traveled Back In Time.