AZentertain: Arizona Gold Rush: Camp Bonito

The Southern Belle - one of the richest gold mines

Buffalo Bill's other gold mine

By Robert Zucker

The Southern Belle mine is one of the most well known gold mines in the Old Hat mining district. It was also one of the mining holdings of Buffalo Bill Cody.

Located about 1 mile ENE of Apache Peak and two and a half miles south of the American Flag Hill, the gold mine is just over two miles SW of Campo Bonito.

The Southern Belle mine was among several mines in the area known to produce gold bullion in any quantity. It was developed in the early 1880s as a gold property. From 1886-1888, it reportedly produced "considerable quantities of gold." After 1888, the mine closed and failed to reopen after several attempts. 1

A Mining study conducted in 1994 reports that the gold mineralization was a flat vein or "blanket" that dips 20" to 30" and about 4 feet of quartz below and 2 feet above a parting layer of red shale. (1, A40)

"The gold is generally fine and free, any pyrites which formerly existed having been fully oxidized. The quartz is reported to be richer in gold where there is no galena." (1, A41)

"The mine is one of the few in the Santa Catalina Mountains which has produced any significant quantity of auriferous ore. From 1881 to 1906, 18,666 st of auriferous quartz vein were mined." (1, A41)

The report says that "there are an estimated 85,200 st of indicated resources of auriferous vein material along the full strike length" (A41). The report suggests that it was not economically viable to leach out the remaining gold. That was when the mid-1994 price of gold was $387 an ounce.

There were no USBM filed observations or samplings. Permission to examine the mine was not granted when this study was done. All reports are based on collected documentation and literature referenced by the USBM report. 2

By 1886, ten stamps were set up at the Southern Bell mill and were dropping steadily. The mill employed about 20 men at the time. 3.

A month later, it was reported that $7,000 had been shipped since the mill started in January. 4

The Southern Bell was prospected near the Sonora drift, from the 300 level of the Grand Central, hoisting from the Dipper Shaft. In the Grand Dipper, drifts were run on the 200 foot level south and west. 5

Download a free sample of "Treasures of the Santa Catalina Mountains" and purchase the full print or Kindle version on Read samples chapters from the book below.

Southern Belle History

The Southern Belle mine is one of the few in the Santa Catalina Mountains "which has produced any significant quantity of auriferous ore," according to a study published by the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1994. 2

1870s: Prospecting started around the Santa Catalina-Rincon mountains, including the area of the Southern Belle gold deposit. (2, p. 6)

1885: Opening of the Southern Belle Mine by a New York firm and two to three years of subsequent gold production.

1885 to 1888: The Southern Belle mine reportedly produced at least 9,000 oz of gold from about 19,000 st of ore at an average grade of 0.5 oz I Au/st.

1910: Acquisition of the Southern Belle Mine by William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and company.

1930-1932: Leasing and development of the Southern Belle Mine by Molson and Co.

1934: the main stope area of the Southern Belle was mined out.

1990: Newmont Exploration Company acquired options on 15 of the mineral patents in the area of the Southern Belle Mine and also staked 38 new mining claims on the National Forest, which were locate as far east as the eastern slope of Apache Peak. The interest was in investigating deep gold targets with diamond drilling (2, p. A43).

Today: The Southern Belle is an abandoned mine.

In 1905, an application was filed for permission for a $45,00 bond the Southern Bell (spelled without the final e) group of gold mines by James W. Fellows, a wealthy New Yorker who had an interest in mining near Oracle, Arizona. "Chief Engineer Thompson of the Twin Buttes ailroad is in the city from the grading camp which is located near the mines. The roadbed will be completed to the mines within a few days. It is expected that the rails and ties wil be laid as fast as the material arrives." 6

An article in a Bisbee newspaper in early January 1906 mentioned that the Southern Belle mining properties reportedly "produced considerable gold in the past, the ore having been run through a ten stamp mill located on the ground." 7

A week later, on January 17, 1906 it was reported that W. W. Ward has a principle interest in reopening the Southern Belle mine. The property, ot said, was worked from 1885 to 1897 by A. H. Fellows and later was in ligitation over his estate. Fellows died in 1897. There were seven patented claims in the group. To resume work, only the possibility of retimbering of the mine shaft is needed. The ikd stamp mill would be used and new machinerary added. Two and a half miles of pipe line wuld have been finished by April. Also named as an interest in the property was J. Knox Corbett and Roscoe Dale. 8

A road was built by the Southern Belle mine management and twelve men in 1906. The property was worked about ten years before, but was shut down recently. As a known gold producer, about 100 men were soon expected to work in the mines. 9

By 1908, it was reported in the Bisbee newspaper that "Also the Southern Belle gold mines, six miles from Oracle, which have produced over one million dollars in gold. None of these mines have been worked in truth, it may be said, but through the vicisitudes of accidents or mismanagement have been temporarily closed down." In 1908, the price of gold was $18.95 per ounce. It would mean that 52,770 ounces or over 3,298 pounds of gold was extracted. 10

By the end of the year in 1909, an article stated the "Southern Belle group in Pima county is to resume operations with a ten stamp mill. This property is an old gold producer." 11

A few days later, it was announced that "The Southern Belle, a rich gold property in southwestern Pinal county, has been taken over by practical mining men of California and Nevada." The property was closed 15 years ago after the former owner's death and had since been held in his estate. 12

In February 1910 an article titled "Pinal County rich in Gold and Silver" reported that the "old Southern Belle mill, situated near Oracle, this country, after ten years of idleness, began crushing ore, this week, from the old dumps of the Southern Belle gold mine, and a force of miners have been put on duty at the mine. The property produced a large amount of gold in the distant past, and will duplicate that record in the future." The paper credits Hugh J. McIssacs and assoicates of San Francisco who had gained control of the property. 13

By 1910, the Southern Belle mine became the property of the Cody-Dyer M & M operations, then was passed on to Capt. Jack Burgess. The property was made up of nine mining patents and four unpatented claims. There was a mill and a ten stamp mill on the site. 14

The new owners of the Southern Belle mine ordered a 100-ton mill in early 1912. 15

"Additional names which apply to this location: Southern Belle MS587 patented claim; Dolphin MS 1837 Patented claim; Cross Town MS 2155-A Patented claim; Careless MS 4090 Patented claim; Apache Girl MS 1837 Patented claim; Apache Peak Consolidated Mining Co. property; Ewing property; Careless; Gold Bug; General Hancock; Fortuna; Happy Thot. Mineralization is a tabular ore body hosted in Dripping Springs Quartzite and Bolsa Quartzite." By 1960, there were 12 patented mining claims. The mine produced scheelite, galena, pyrite, dolomite and calcite. 16

Land records show that a Mineral Patent Lode (14 Stat. 251) was awarded on July 26, 1886. James W. Fellows received a patent in 1888 and 1904 for the section. In 1931, Elizabeth L. Wood, daughter of E. O. Stratton, recorded a certificate of receipt for the Careless Mining Claim lode mining claim. The Campo Bonito Mines acquired the property in 1945 with several other neighboring sections. 17

Pinal County public records 18 and the BLM mining claim records document a long string of claims and affidavits of labor through 2010. Evidence of annual assessment work for mining claims/mining sites must be filed and recorded yearly to keep labor and mining claims current. The claims, which are on private property are not valid since claims are not needed to be filed by the property owner.

There was also a Southern Belle mine near Tombstone, one in Yavapai and others throughout the country, but they are not connected with this Southern Belle in Campo Bonito.

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. History of the Lower San Pedro Valley in Arizona by Bernard W. Muffley, 1938. Page 26, 69.

2: "Mineral Appraisal of Coronado National Forest, Part 5" Mineral Land Assessment, 1994. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, Santa Catalina-Rincon District.

3 Daily Tombstone Epitaph, January 26, 1886.;words=Southern+Bell

4. Daily Tombstone Epitaph, February 20, 1886.;words=Belle+Southern

5. Tombstone Epitaph, August 13, 1887.;words=Belle+Southern

6. Arizona Silver Belt, November 30, 1905, page 3. .;words=Southern+mines+gold+Bell

7. Arizona Silver Belt, Gliobe City, AZ January 11, 1906, page 2.;words=Mining+Gold+gold+Bell+Southern+mine

8. Bisbee Daily Review, January 17, 1906, page 2;words=Southern+Bell

9. Bisbee Daily Review, May 25, 1906, page 3;words=Belle+BELLE+SOUTHERN+Southern

10. Bisbee Daily Review, February 16, 1908, image 9;words=Belle+Southern+gold

11. Bisbee Daily Review, December 2, 1909, page 8;words=Belle+Southern

12. Daily Arizona Silver Belt, Globe, December 5, 1909, page 12 second section;words=Belle+Southern

13. Bisbee Daily Review, Bisbee, Arizona, February 2, 1910, page 6.

14. Bisbee Daily Review, Bisbee, Arizona, May 14, 1912, page 5

15. Mohave County Miner, Mineral Park, A.T., January 13, 1912;words=Belle+Southern

16. mineral report on "Southern Belle Mine (Southern Belle gp; Morning Star property/claims), Apache Peak area, Campo Bonito, Oracle District (Control District; Old Hat District; Santa Catalina District), Santa Catalina Mts, Pinal Co., Arizona, USA"

17 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records|st=AZ|cty=|twp_nr=10|twp_dir=S|rng_nr=16|rng_dir=E|sec=20|m=

18. Pinal County Recorders Office

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