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The Mine & Town Of Swansea

It was back in 1862, that prospectors travelled through this area but it wasn't until 1886 that miners found silver and lead. However after a short while of mining, the silver ran out and the miners really had no interest in digging copper, so they packed up and left. The other negative issue about this property was that it was out in the middle of nowhere. Even today, this minesite is well over an hour away from the nearest town of Parker so you can imagine what it was like a hundred years ago.

Then in 1904 the Arizona & California Railroad was building a rail line from Wickenburg to Parker. A couple of the old miners, Newton Evans and Thomas Carrigan, saw this rail line as an opportunity to develop the copper deposits out at Swansea, so they started contacting potential investors to maybe get some money to fund a mine. Later that year they had some investors lined up and purchased the claims and started to develope this copper deposit. The rail company agreed to run a line to the minesite so copper concentrates could be shipped out.These two miners then set up the Clara Consolidated Gold and Copper Mining Company and this company built the mines and town.

Once word got out about this new mine, people started to move in and this place took off like a rocket. In just four short years by the end of 1908, there was a 350 ton capacity furnace built for smelting, a 3 and half mile water line built that ran to the Bill Williams River, and there were hoists in place for five different mine shafts. In case I forget, I'd like to point out that some of these shafts eventually went down a thousand feet.

At first this town was called Signal but the name was changed because the copper that was mined here was sent to a place called Swansea which was over in South Wales. This copper ended up half way around the world by a combination railroads, the Colorado River and shipped from the Gulf of California around Cape Horn all the way to the United Kingdom.

By 1909 Swansea had a post office and the first train rolled into town in 1910. It is said that there were between 500 and 700 residents. The town had a saloon, a general store, a small dairy barn, a hospital, a school, and even its own newspaper. Considering this was the early 1900's, this place was ultra modern. Everything here was either electric or steam powered.The town also had indoor plumbing and electricity which were luxuries that most of the country did not have during that time.

The mine had two steam powered generators that ran the mine and the town. It is said that this operation used 40 thousand gallons of water a day. Coal for power was hauled in on the rail cars and the concentrates were railed out. Because the ground that was being mined consisted of a powdery oxide iron, timbers had to be used everywhere underground. All these timbers had to be railed in because there was nothing for trees anywhere near this mine.

In May of 1910 the first batch of copper was poured at a rate of 50 tons per 24 hours. Relating to copper prices at that time, the mine was bringing in $15,000 per day. Unfortunately that wasn't nearly enough money even back then to keep things going. The company had over extended itself in getting things built up and just as they were starting to pour copper, the prices just weren't good enough and the company filed for bankruptcy. However a short time later, the American Smelting and Refining Company bought the mine and town and things got going again. The company put new money into some equipment and made a number of improvements along with rebuilding the concentrator. However, it didn't last long, as the great depression was just around the corner and that put a damper on copper prices and the mine shut down. From that time on the very little mining took place and people started to move on and by 1937 Swansea became a ghosttown, although some small operations of mining did continue until 1949.

Although this copper boom was short lived, it is said that the mines processed over 27,000,000 pounds of copper between 1904 and 1943.

You can still go out to this old mine today. Once there you can still see the bunk houses that the miners lived in as well lot of waste dumps and old foundations. The mine shafts are still there although they have been covered over with steal grating.