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The Montana Mine Of Ruby Arizona

Ruby Arizona was not always called Ruby. In the early years it was known as Montana Camp but we'll talk a bit more on that later. Ruby is located in the Oro Blanco mining district north and west of Nogales. This was an area that was first prospected by the Spanish for gold and silver as far back as 1740. In around 1821 it is said that Mexicans were in this area poking around looking for silver. It wasn't until the 1870's, that prospectors discovered the high grade quarts veins, that became known as the Montana vein and from that point on the rush was on.

The Montana Mine was a very prosperous mine. It was owned by the Orion Mining Company. The Orion Mining Co. also owned the Ostrich mill where the ore was stamped and ground to powder. Early in the 1900s, the company built an amalgamation and a cyanide mill to help recover more of the gold and silver that was being mined around Montana Camp. From 1916 to 1918, the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Exploration Co. operated the Montana Mine and mined out $260,000 in gold, silver. During the years from 1912 to 1926, the Montana mine went from producing silver and gold to producing lead and zinc becuase of the large amounts of lead. In fact during the 1930's, this mine produced more lead and zinc than any other mine in Arizona.

In 1909 Montana Camp changed its name to Ruby. Julius Andrews, one of the towns merchants who ran a store there decided to rename the town after his wife, Lillie B. Ruby Andrews. Running the store he was the one who applied to get a post office at Montana Camp and at that time decided to rename the town. By this time the town had hundreds of residents and close to 300 workers in the mines alone. It was a prosperous town.

Now Ruby was located very close to the Mexican border and was also known as a rough town. Lots of times unruly types from the south would cross over border into the town and raise hell. In 1920, store owners John and Alex Fraser were gunned down in a robbery by a couple of Mexicans. John lived long enough to tell authorities who it was and one of the mexicans was tracked down and shot but the other skipped back into Mexico.

About a year later there was another robbery and the owners which was a couple were gunned down also. The couple was Frank Pearson and his wife Myrtle. Frank’s four-year-old daughter and his sister Irene and were also in the store when several bandits entered. After shooting Frank they then shot his wife after forcing her to open the safe. In the confusion, Irene managed to get the hell out with the Franks 4 year old daughter. One of the bandits noticed Myrtles gold teeth so he knocked them out with his gun. These gold teeth are what got him arrested after he tried selling them in a tavern. He was sentenced to death by hanging and his partner in crime received life behind bars. Some say this tragedy was because the store was cursed this store had been built on top of a padres grave.

Then in 1926 the Eagle Picher Mining company took over the Montana Mine. This company built a pipeline from the Santa Cruz river to bring water to the mine , mill and the town. From the years 1928 and 1940, about 780,000 tons was mined from Montana Mine at a profit of $4.5 million. By 1940 the ore ran out and the mine closed down and people left the town. During its existence, the mine processed about 870,000 tons of ore which yielded 126,500 ounces of gold, 4,600,000 ounces off silver, 31,000 tons of lead, 26,000 tons of zinc, and 2,600 tons of copper.

By 1940, the ore had run out and water was starting to seep into the drifts, so Eagle Picher ceased operations. The post office closed up in 1941 and in 1946, the school closed. At that point Ruby became a ghost town. In 1961 some investors bought the old town and it is still owned by the family of the orginal investors today.

Ruby back then

Ruby in more recent times