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The Mines & Town Of Harquahala

The Harquahala mines are located in the Harquahala range not far from present day Salome Arizona. The first prospecting for gold that took place was way back in the mid 1700's by the Spanish, however because of frequent attacks by local natives in the area, not a lot of mining actually took place. This area sat dormant for almost 100 years when once again prospectors came through and a man by the name of Herman Ehrenberg came across a small deposit of gold. He told his friend Henry Wickenburg about this showing and Henry did look at it but as he was traveling back home he stumbled onto another deposit that was much richer and he staked that claim. That claim eventually became known as the famous Vulture Mine.

Nothing happened to the deposit that Herman found for several years and then one day in 1888, three other prospectors who were out in the area found not only this deposit but also another showing of gold. These showings of gold would turn out to be the Bonanza and Golden Eagle claims and these claims had super rich high grade ores. Of course as usual, once word got out about these two claims the rush was on and along with the miners came the merchants. In fact it was said that the first merchant in town was a saloon run by a man with a tent and a 5 gallon keg of whiskey.

The original three men who found these deposits were quick to sell out for easy cash and the new owners set up 20 stamp mill on the site and from that point on the town grew quick. By 1891 the town got a post office and even had a stage that ran over to Sentinal. During the peak years of production there were 450 to 500 residents living and working in the mines.Although there was some alluvial gold, the main mining was underground. The underground workings primarily involve a single shafts with stopes and one shaft was reported to have a depth of 600 feet.

The gold being mined was high grade and so theft was a real problem. One of the owners of a nearby mine was a man by the name of Charles Lane. Charles also owned the Fortuna Mine down around Yuma and had the same problem with theft. His solution to the theft problem was instead of pouring the regualr sized ingots of gold, he started pouring 150 to 200 pound bars of gold. This idea caught on and sothe new owners of these mined did the same. Infact it is said they poured a 400 pound bar and had it shipped out by wagon. However on the trip out on the bumby road the weight of the bar broke through the wooden wagon bottom and fell out onto the trail. That trail must have been really roguh as it is said that the riders never even noticed the big bar fall out until after traveling a few miles and then having to turn around and back to get it. I can only imagine the amount of heave hoeing it took for these guys to reload a 400 pound block of metal back into the wagon.

Then in 1893 The mines were again purchased by another group called Harqua Hala Gold Mining Company. Mining continued but by 1897, most of the high-grade ore was mined out. The mine worked off and on for the next few year but by 1918 the post office closed and the town pretty much died. Then like a lot of old camps we read about, in 1927 some new owners took over the mine, and for a brief period of time the town was active again. In fact the post office was reopened but by 1932 the entire camp had gone bust.

Of all the different mines in the Harquahala district, the Bonanza and Golden Eagle mines, from which most of the gold of the district has been mined, were found in 1888. The period of greatest activity was from 1891 to 1897, after which the total gold production of the district through was about 134,000 ounces with nearly all production was from underground mining.

You can still go out to these old mine areas today. It's just a short ways out of Salome. Most of the old buildings are gone now as there is a another mining company that owns the claims and is active. However you can still see some old foundations and the old graveyard where is located nearby.