AZentertain: Arizona Gold Rush: Old Hat Mining

The start of the gold rush of the 1880s at Old Hat

By Robert Zucker

The first mining district set up in the Santa Catalinas from early wildcat claims became known as the Old Hat mining district.

"In the late 1870's and early 1880's many locations were made in the Old Hat Mining District so called because an old hat was found on the discovery location in the area.4 This original location, also known as Old Hat, was made by Louie Depew and W. E. Guild in 1878.

Although in an early day it was described as the most promising mine of the district, it never was developed beyond the prospect stage. Of the hundreds of claims that were recorded in this district during the first few years of its existence, only a few were sufficiently developed to deserve mention. The American Flag Mine was the first on which extensive work was done. It was located in the late 1870's by Issac Lorrine, a Frenchman.

By 1880 there were enough people at the mine to warrant a post office, December 28th of that year the office was opened under the name American Flag with Peter H. Loss as the first postmaster. By 1881 there were forty men working in the mine for the Richardson Mining Company of New York which had purchased the property early in that year. 10 After that time little more was heard of the mine. The man who opened it became discouraged and started a cattle ranch."

"Mrs. Lalie C.Dodge, Letter to Dr. Frank Lockwood of Tucson, San Francisco, California , Sep. 23, 1919; Arizona Blade and the Florence Tribune, Florence,Arizona, Nov. 14, 1903. This paper tells a different story which does not seem very probable. It states that there were a number of "tar heels" from North Carolina settling in this area. They all wore large white hats which soon became very old; thus the district became known as Old Hat." 1

Old Hat Mining District Index

Campo Bonito, Arizona

Campo Bonito is one of the major mining areas in the Old Hat mining district. Most of these mines were owned at one time by Buffalo Bill Cody.

The Southern Belle Mine

One of the mines in Campo Bonito owned by Cody, near Campo Bonito is the Southern Belle gold mine.

Return to Old Hat Index | Arizona Gold Rush

Camp Bonito Buffalo Billl Cody

Photo: The Camp Bonito remains of the fireplace at the mess hall, near the old Cody-Dwyer mine south of Oracle in the Catalina Mountains. Photo by Robert Zucker. © BZB 2010.

By January 1882, the Old Hat mining district was producing ore:

"Parties returning from the Santa Catalina mountains sty there are a great many prospectors in the district and a largo amount of ore is being put on the dumps. The Haskell prospects, in the Old Hat district, have at least $4S0,000 worth of ore in sight. The copper mines are developing most encouragingly." 2

And another article discussed the possibikity of a railroad through what was called the Santa Catarinas. This railroad would follow the route of the Santa Catarina Stage Coach:

"Another railroad project is on foot which promises to add to the importance of Tucson and bring our city in direct communication with the rich mines of the Santa Catarinas, the extensive coal fields on the Deer Creek, and the timber lands in the northeastern portion of the territory.

Dr. K. Kane, whose means and enterprise are always on the lookout for projects which tend to develop the great resources of the territory and profitably employ capital, is earnestly engaged in pushing this movement. The company which is to take this matter in hand propose to build a three-foot gauge road along the route now traveled by the Santa Catarina stage line round the point of the mountains to the Oracle mine, where, in addition to the mines in the vicinity, ex-Mayor R. N. Leatherwood, who is also actively furthering the project, has a large ranch. From the Oracle camp the road will be run by tho most feasible route to the American Flag mine; from the American Flag to the camp of the Santa Catalina Copper Company; from that point, over the road already built by the Santa Catarina Company to tho San Pedro valley; down the valley to tho Gila river; up the Gila to the mouth of Deer Creek, and from thence to the coal fields, where numerous coal fields have been secured by tho projectors of this enterprise.

It is the further intention of this company, as we are informed, to continue the road until it reaches the Atlantic & Pacific. This line will open up one of the richest mineral sections in the territory pass through rich river valleys, bring the coal fields into direct communication with the mines which need their product to extract bullion, and also bring in the timber of the northeast to supply the destitute sections of the southwest. It will also, if constructed to the Atlantic & Pacific, give us an eastern outlet which ' will benefit every miner's Interest of this city and the country through which it is projected. We are informed that a number of our loading business men and capitalists are backing this scheme, and that eastern capital has already considered tho project favorably." 3

The name of Santa Catarina was changed in the beginning of the 900s, probably because of a similar name for a river in Mexico.

Another early references to explain the origin of the Old Hat name was published in 1903:

"Up about Mammth, we find the 'Old Hat' district. Years ago a number of "tar heels" from North Carolina settled there for the purpose of prospecting and truck farming on the San Pedro. They all wore the broad-brimmed white hat seemingly much in favor with men from that state. Their success did not become burdensome and eventually from ythe effects of time and rough usage those hats became worn and considerably "flopped." Thus their neighborbood became known as the old hat settlement and finally the "Old Hat" district." 2

Mining got its steam in the Old Hat in February 1900 when

"George F. Metz left Sunday for the Catalina mountains where he has reently purchased for T. G. Condon a number of valuable mines in the Old Hat district. One group of twelve claims secured from E. O. Stratton is valued at nearly $35,000. The purchase money for all the claims contracted for aggregates over $65,000. Mr Metz Is now kept busy looking after Mr Condons interests at Dos Cabezas and in the new field." 3

But, less than two months later

"The Stratton-Condon deal is off in the Old Hat district, and George E. Metz has entered into an agreement with Babcock, in that district, for other claims for account of Condon, who. resides in New York." and in the same article,

"Bob Leatherwood, ex-sheriff of Pima county, thinks he has found what he has been seeking in the Old Hat district, in the Catalina mountains, assays showingt 27 per cent copper and ten ounces in silver." 4

In July 1900, it was reported that

"The company engaged in developing the Geisman copper group in the Catalinas east of Oracle, encountered a line body of ore, this week, at a depth of 69 feet. A cross-cut, says our informant, proves the body of ore to be about forty feet wide and some of It very high-grade. The latter will make the average of the entire body high. It looks as if the Old Hat district, in which this group is situated, would yet fulfill its old time promise." 5

Then, in September of 1900

"On the Panama mine in tho Old Hat district, Capt. J. D. Burgess, who has charge of the property, has sunk a doublo compartment shaft which for Its entire depth is in ore, the assay value of which is 213 ounces of silver, 1140$ gold, 8 ounces copper and 39 ounces lead. The above is an assay of the entlre face of the shaft. At present Capt. Burgess has a large force of work, not only developing tho different properties, but clearing and grading grounds for a large concentrating plant shortly to be erected, is also in progress." 6

In November 1900, "R. N. Leatherwood who has the Apiche claim in the Old Hat district, Catalina mountains, reports that Geo. Metz, agent for Condon, New York, has located the hoisting plant on the Condon properties." 7.

By January 1903, it was reported that Leatherwood is enthusiatic over the future of the Apache, his property in the Old Hat district north of the city. 8

Plans for a railroad line expansion were abdandoned in 1904 because of pressure by the Southern Pacific Company. The Phoenix and Eastern Railroad rached a point opposite of the mouth of the San Pedro River. A line was planned to extend south along the east side of the San Pedro River to Benson. 9

By 1907, the Apache Group was productive.

"Mr. R. N. Leatherwood, one of the original owners of the Apache group of claims located in the Old Hat mining district, which Is In the country on the north side of the Santa Catalina mountains, was In the city yesterday. Mr. Leatherwood says that the group is now under option and, that a force of 25 men are steadily at work on the property. Whenhe left there three feet of snow covered the ground, which is one of the 'heaviest falls in that section for many years. The group is being developed under the direction of Superintendent Cassett and the option on the claims is held by the Western Development company. It has worked in a desultory sort of fashion for the past quarter of a century, but the intention Is now to push the work consistently and permanently. It is very rich in copper and bears some silver and gold ore. At present a tunnel Is being driven through the property and It has already reached a depth ot 400 feet, while a shaft has been sunk to the 160-foot level.Mr. Leatherwood is a former sheriff of Pima county and during the World's Fair at St. Louis on 1904 was in charge of the exhibit from this territory. " Discussing political conditions In Arizona now, Mr. Leatherwood marked that he is opposed to the idea of sending a delegation to Chicago under instructions to support anybody for president Like all the pioneers, he was opposed very determinedly to joint statehood, and he has a very warm feeling in his heart for Senator Foraker of Ohio, who was the Baylor of the Interests ot the territory at that time. He thinks that the Republi cans of the territory will emphatically rebuke the effort to adopt any other course. 10

In 1909, it was announed that a "ledge six feet wide and running 60 per center copper and $6 in gold is the report from the Old Hat district in th Santa Catalina mountains, on property owned by William Reed of Prescott. 11

Two years later, in 1911, it was reported that the Reid (sic) mining district has produced some excitement

"over recent strikes and the continued good showings of the more important properties being worked there. It is asserted that ev ery available foot of ground in the vicinity of the activities has been located. The Reid district is perhaps more familiarly known in Tucson as the Old Hat district.

The Cooper Queen company, which recently acquired thre Giesman Leatherwood, and Billy Reid properties in that district, has done considerable work on the Giesman and Leatherwood claims. On the Gieseman claim, at a depth of 300 feet, there had been struck a vein of 13 per cent ore. This ore was almost reached by former operators who save up the work and the Copper Queen began where the others left off.

Immediately adjoining the Copper Queen property the Copper Range in Arizona company is busy ar work. Attorney Fran Francis M. Hartman being worked lies within 1,000 feet of the end of the Copper Queen tunnel, and the later company is working toward the Copper Range property. The latter has over a mile contract vein of sixteen foot ore which runs six and a half per cent copper and thirty percent lead with small values of gold and silver. A tunnel has been run in sixty feet with a cross cut of ten in sixty feet with a cross cut of ten feet. The camps are near together and present a busy scene, fifty or sixty men being employed. There are other properties which are showing good prospcts. but the Copper Queen and Copper Range companies are doing the chief developing and have the test prospects." 12

In October, 1911, the Old Hat district gained new owners.

"That the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining oompany continues to have faith ln the property In the Old Hat district, contiguous to this city, is indicated by the fact that payments have been made on the claims held there under option. An amended agreement with F. Geessmaan (sic) was filed for record In the county recorder's offlce here yesterday. The agreement just filed Involved the Eagle, Copper Peak, York, Eagle No. 2 and Golden Peak No. 2 claims in the Old Hat district ot the Catalina mountains. Thus far $4,260 has been paid on the claims, one paymout having been made September 1. Another paymeut is to be made on February 15, 1912. and the balance of $59,750 will be paid on August 15, 1912.

The Geeseman property was optioned by the Copper Queen company at tho same time as the Leatherwood, Lovell and Reid claims, which have likewise been partially paid and the balance extended. It is stated that the Copper Queen comany, now operating at Apache camp has found tho claims to be good ones, and will continue the the development work steadily and rapidly. It is to this property that a movement has been started to have a highway constructed from this city, in order that the business of the camps, which now goes to the other side of the mountains, will come back here." 13

The property again changed hand when E.O. Stratton gave a bond on the claims

"A bond has been given to Boston parlies by E. O. Stratton on the Chalcopyrite Peacock and Copper Matte claims which he owns lying south of the Geesiman (sic) claims and north of the Leatherwood claims in the Old Hat district and which have now been purchased by the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining company Mr Stratton stated Friday that he had received his first payment on the bond and that another payment of considerable size is due in about 30 days He declined to state either the total purchase price or the names of the bondholders. He said they are arranging to commence development work upon the property before Oct 1. The group adjoins the Geesiman claims upon which a large orebody of chalcopyrite high grade has been developed at a depth of about 500 feet from the surface. Prof C. F. Tolman now connected with the mining department of Standard university made a report on the Stratton group while he was still head of the department of mines at the University of Arizona and stated that the Stratton group deposits are similar in character to the neighboring ore bodies which deeper developmentsprove to have commercial value He also stated that the Stratton property has as strong an outcrop as and a longer outcrop than any on which deeper work has been done." 14

By January 1913, four of the claims in the Old Hat District changed hands.

"For $20,000, A. A. Trtippel and other have sold to R. N. Leatherwood four claims of the group in the Old Hat district of the Catalina mountains. The deal was closed Friday and made public Friday evening. The closing of the deal followed the expiration of a 60 days option which Leatherwood had taken on the property for the purpose of thoroughly examining it. He is understood to have purchased the group for eastern properties whose identity has not been disclosed.

The claims are located in the timber belt about two or three miles above the Camp Apache property of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining company Trippel, in speaking of the sale, declared it is certain that the same rich dyke on which the Copper Queen property is located extending through the group which he has just sold. He said he and his associates traced the dyke for ore than 3000 yeards without an interruption.

"It is a high-grade copper proposition," he asserted. "The poorest assays we secured were 10.10 per cent copper, and the highest, 22 per cent. The ore also carried gold and silver values." 15

By the time Arizona became a state, in May 1912, mining in Southern Arizona had already gained a foothold.

"It is only in recent years that any methodical and systematic development of the mineral resources of the Catalinas has been undertaken, but the demands of a progressive day warrant the search for additional ore bodies of commercial utility and intensive operations are now being carried on vin the very shadow of the pines.

The Apache camp is located on the northern slope of the range, well towards tho eastern extremity, and has a commanding view of the San Pedro valley. Hera close corporation of national reputation is operating under bond the Giesman and Leatherwood properties. The working shaft is down about 450 feet, with extensive lateral development at the different levels, but the results of the work are not 'authoritatively given for publication. About fifty men are employed. Adjacently located to the above are the Daly claims, fourteen In number; the Hartman group and in the near vicinity the property of E. O. Stratton and associates and in all of which considerable money has been expended. The Foran group, under option to has been equipped with machinery capable of deep exploration. The Del Monte property, under the management of Donovan & Walker, of nine claims, the Simpkins and Martinez claims, are all located In this vicinity. The prevailing character of the ore of this district is a chalcopyrlte, carrying gold and sliver in addition to the copper values.

Campo Bonito. To the north and west of Apache camp and at a lower altitude is the scene of the Cody-Dwyer M. & M. company's operations. The company has thirty-six locations here and a forty-ton mill has been installed. There is a scheelte gold ore that yields to the milling and concentrating pro cess. The Southern Bell, owned by the Cody-Dwyer Interests, is now under bond to Capt Jack Burgess.

Both Apache Camp and Campo Bonito are In tho "Old Hat" district and are easily accessible to Tucson by excellent wagon road. The E. P. and S. W. railway has surveyed to the former camp and the course of line runs approximately near to all tho important mining interests now known in that locality. Its construction is well within the realms of the possible." 16

The Old Hat claims again changed hands in May 1913

"Thirteen copper claims at Apache camp owned by Daily brothers have been deeded by them to the Daily Arizona Copper company capitalized at 500,000$ divided into 500,000 shares. Two hundred thousand shares of this stock has been placed in the treasury of the company to be sold for development purposes The company has just secured from the Arizona Corporation Commission a permit to offer 25,000 shares of stock for sale at 20 cents a share The claims are in the Old Hat district at Apache camp and are immediately between the two properties purchased by the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining company The Dailys believe the property will develop into a mine as valuable as the Calumet & Arizona." 17

Three months later, a brief article reported that

"Engineers of the Copper Queen Consolidated Copper company are making thorough investigation of E. O. Stratton's copper claims In the Old Hat district of the Catalina mountains. Tbe Copper Queen has a bond and option on the property, as well as on considerable other property in that neighborhood." 18

But, by October 1913, the Copper Queen was idle, even though there were still reserves of copper ore available..

"The Copper Queen mining property in the Old Hat district, In the Catallna mountains, has been lying dormant since the presence of 8 per cent copper- sulphide ore In large quantities was fully proven by the company and the option on the claims taken up by final purchase. This was more than a year ago It was then "predicted that an extension, of the E. P. & S. W. from Tucson, around the west end of the Catallna mountains and back through the San Pedro valley to Apache camp where the claims are located, would be necessary in order to get the ore out for shipment to the Copper Queen smelter at Douglas.

It is believed that the purchases now being made by General Manager Simmon of the E. P. & S. W. have a bearing on the program.

San Diego railroad authorities "profess to see in this move a step toward the long-discussed and often denied juncture between the E. P. & S. W. and the Spreckles, the San Diego and Arizona, at Yuma. Its construction is of the highest type corresponding to that of the E. P. & S.W. Ties and rails are heavy and all bridges and culverts are of concrete." 19

A few days later, an article titled "the Prospects for Early Railroad construction into the Old Hat causes immediate movement," revealed the plans for the rialroad further.

"After spending several weeks here placing the stock of the Dally Arizona Copper Co. on the market, president W. H. Daily will leave tomorrow for his home in Tucson. He will spend a short time there with his family and then leave for Apache camp in the Old Hat district, where the properties are located, and commence development work.

While in this city he Interested over 75 people as stockholders In the company and late last week when the announcement was made that manager H. J. Simmons, of the E. P. & S. W., had made purchases of lumber In San Diego for the purpose
of building a railroad through this district, Mr. Daily decided that he would not stay here any longer but go to the property and develop it so as to be ready to make shipments when the railroad is built to the district.

The Copper Queen Mining Co. owns ranch property about the Daily-Arizona and have done considerable development work. The district is pronounced to be a very rich one, and old timers who are familiar say that it will be a second Bisbee camp in time to come." 20

By the end of November 1913, the proprty in the Old Hat district was in acquisition by the Phelps Dodge company.

"The silent acquisition of mining property in the Old Hat district by the Phelps Dodge people and the surveying of a linn by the El Paso Southwestern Railroad company to reach the distiict is of marked importance to the region. The Old Hat district is located in Pinal county about 26 miles in a northerly direction from Tucson The country rock consists mainly of limestone, quartzile, gneiss and porphyry, which have been fractured and faulted to a large extent. The majority of these faults are well mineralized carrying values in lead silver and copper. Work to date has been confined to the mining of the oxidized ores and as a result sufficient depth has not been attained to determine the extent of the secondary enriched zone. Considerable ore has been shipped in the past lo the El Paso smeltery via Tucson." 21

By April 1915 the "Old Hat district covers an area of 25,000 acres, with an average thickness of 150 feet. it has been very difficult to determine the value of this, owning to the fact that the gold is not equally distributed." 22

Read the original newspaper articles digitized by the Chronicaling America Newspaper Project, a National Endowment for the Humanities project of the Library of Congress. Select a link to open the newspaper page in a new window. Choose from several viewing formats from PDF to JPG.

1. The History of the Lower San Pedro Valley in Arizona by Bernard W. Muffley, 1938. A Thesis submitted to the faculty of the Departmentof History in partial fulfillment of the requirem ents forthedegreeof Master of Arts in the Graduate College University of Arizona, p. 24-25

2. Tombstone Epitaph, January 16, 1882, image 5.

3. Tombstone Epitaph, January 16, 1882,

2. Bisbee Daily review, November 18, 1903, page 6

3. "The Mining Field," February 22, 1900, image 1

4. The Arizona Daily Orb, Bisbee, Arizona, April 26, 1900, image 1

5. Mohave County iner, Mineral Park, A.T. Arizona, July 14, 1900, image 1

6. Mohave County Miner, September 8, 1900, image 1

7. Mohave County Miner, November 3, 1900, image 1

8. Bisbee Daily Review, January 23, 1903, image 7

9. The History of the Lower San Pedro Valley in Arizona by Bernard W. Muffley, 1938. A Thesis submitted to the faculty of the Departmentof History in partial fulfillment of the requirem ents forthedegreeof Master of Arts in the Graduate College University of Arizona, p. 72

10. "Apache Group Making Progress," Bisbee Daily Review, February 23, 1908, page 6, image 6;words=Old+mining+Hat

11. Daily Arizona Silver Belt, November 23, 1909, page 3

12. Bisbee Daily Review, Bisbee, Arizona, January 13, 1911, page 2

13. Bisbee Daily review, Bisbee Arizona, October 13, 1911, page 7

14. "Stratton Has Given Bond on Claims," October 5, 1912, image 4

15. "Sells four Claims Near Camp Apache, Group Is Reported as Disposed of and COnsideration $20,000," Bisbee Daily review, Bisbee, Arizona, January 21, 1913, page 3

16. "Santa Catalinas and the Old Hat Mining Districts," Bisbee Daily Review, May 14, 1912, page 5m, image 5

17. Mohave County Miner, Mineral Park, A.T. Arizona, May 24, 1913, images 3

18. Tombstone Epitaph, August 31, 1913, image 2

19. Bisbee Daily Review, October 3, 1913, page 2

20. "To Develop the Daily Ground," Bisbee Daily Review, October 7, 1913, page 8

21. "Old Hat is Being Entered," Mohave County Miner, , November 29, 1913, image 3

22. Mohave County Miner, April 24, 1915, image 6

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