It was in 1879, that prospector John Dillion, was out in the desert in southern Arizona that he happened to come across a ledge outcrop of quartz bearing rock. This ledge outcrop was a real mess with boulders strewn all over the place. When his brother Walter met up with him a day or two later he asked him if he had any luck. To his reply, John said, this place is a total wreck and thus the future mine and town would become known as, Total Wreck.
This mine and town never got overly big but within a few years there were about 300 people living in the town and working in the mine. The town had a couple stores, two hotels, a blacksmith, a resturant and a post office. There were a few saloon and the town even had it's own brewery. There was also a deputy sheriff and this because this area had problems with native indians, there was a group of men of about 90 men that could be called upon in the event of an indian attack which were common in that area back then.
The total wreck mine was quite profitable and it was top grade ore all the way down to the 350 level. In fact the mine contributed the largest and most valuable specimen of silver ore for the New Orleans Exposition. This silver sample weighed thirty pounds and was 75 per cent silver which was around 3 thousand dollars to the ton back then. By 1887 the mine had hit a new ore body about 350 feet down where assays averaged out 150 dollars to the ton. The best years of productionn were before 1885, but leasers however the district is credited with more than five million dollars in silver production.
As with most Arizona mines, water was scarce so water had to be hauled. There was a creek in the area that had water but it was too far away to be of any use. However about a mile or so away there a small ranch where the mine was able to put a pump and then pumped water into a couple of large 50,000 gallon water wooden water tanks.
he town had issues throughout it's history also. In 1883 there was a massacre when about 20 apache indians attacked some of the workers who were in the hills who were cutting timbers and firewood for the mine and town. There were about a half dozen other men in another camp who heard the gun fire but thought the other workers were just shooting turkey's or something until the next thing they knew there was these apaches were just outside their camp. One of the men managed to get out and made his way to another camp about 6 miles away close by Fort Huachuca where there was a detachent of soldiers. The soldiers were then sent to protect the women and children at the town and camp.
The next day a group of about 30 well armed men hit the trail looking for this band of natives. They found one of the men shot dead and once they got to the area where the others had been cutting wood, they found three more dead men. This attack was one of Geronemo's raids that the apaches did and it was a very somber day in the town, as four men were laid to rest.
The town does have some good stories as well. It is said that a man by the name of E B Salsig was involved in a shoot out with another man. He ended up getting shot where the bullet hit him in the chest but he had a thick wad of love letters in his pocket and those letters cushioned the blow of the bullet saving his life. It is said that he did marry the lady who was sending him those letters.
Today little remains of the old town and mine of Total wreck. You can still get to the old mine site and there are still a few old stone foundations that can be seen.