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The Mines & Town Of Contention City

Reading how old mining towns and mines were found is always exciting because back then prospectors didn't have a whole lot of technology. Most prospectors worked alone or at best had a partner, a mule or two, a pick, a shovel, a pan, a few bits of personal items and a bit of grub. Work was hard back then so any lucky break is something that was always welcomed.

It was in the early 1880's that two prospectors were out prospecting the hills around the Tuson area. The prospectors Jack Friday and Ed Williams had been on the trail for quite some time when they decide to set up camp for the night. During the night one of the mules got spooked and broke away and ran off. When it broke loose it ripped it tether chain out of the ground and drug it along as it ran off. This chain dragging left an ideal trail for the two prospectors to follow. While they were following this trail they noticed that the chain had gone over an area that looked shiney and like metal. Upon a closer inspection they realized it was a lode of silver.

They continues on looking for their mule and eventually found the animal at the mining claim of a miner named Ed Schieffelin. He had been prospecting and mining this area for quite some time and was not pleased that these other two would be miners had found a lode of silver. Ed Schieffelin contested this new claim stating that it was his while Jack Friday and Ed Williams claimed it was theirs. After a while the claim was split into two with Jack and Ed getting north portion and the other Ed getting the south portion. That was how the mine became known as the Contention Mine because of the dispute over ownership. The northern portion also had a mine called the Grand Central and it was owned by Jack Friday and his partner Ed Williams.

Soon a town grew up around this area and they called it Contention City. Word about the silver strike and work brought new comers into town and by 1879 the town had quickly grown to over a few hundred people. Contention City had a post office and at its peak in the middle of the 1880s, the town had a saloon, a hotel, a blacksmith a couple of general stores and even a Chinese run laundry. Contention City also beccame a stopover for different stage coach lines that connected the town to Tombstone and Tucson. In 1882 a rail line was built connecting to a line going to New Mexico and the Arizona Railroad.

Contention City went into decline in 1887 when the mine became flooded out. Also in 1887 there was an earthquake called the Sonora earthquake that made the mills unstable so any available ore would be shipped out to Tombstone. by the end of 1888 the post office closed and most people had left. By 1890 nothing remained of the town of Contention City.

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