View Full Version : Richmond Basin, Arizona

02-25-2007, 08:51 AM
We've finally got some fantastic weather happening here in Arizona. Sunny and cool, perfect for exploring the backroads.
We went to Richmond Basin yesterday to see what was left in the area where so much mining took place with huge operations beginning in the 1800s. The largest being the Silver King Mine. (A German prospector looking for gold traded his claims for a mule, the Silver King and Silver Nugget Mines turned out to be the most profitable silver mines ever worked) The Silver King Mine reached a depth of over 800 feet with literally thousands of feet of mines honeycombing the entire area.
In the book "History of Arizona and New Mexico, 1530-1888," By Hubert Howe Bancroft and Henry Lebbeus Oak, they wrote, "The Silver King lode differs from any other known, being a circular chimney of ore, with thousands of veins centring <sic> in it. The mine has a depth of over 800 feet, and though the ores are refractory, the production has been over $6,000,000. in silver". (this was in 1889 dollars)

Today, little remains of the camps which once employed up to 700 miners working the Silver King and surrounding mines. Standing on the mesa overlooking the Richmond Basin you can still see where the majority of workers and their families once lived. Vague outlines of structures and stone piles are all that remains. Scattered throughout the Richmond Basin area are quite a few sample digs, vertical shafts, crumbling headframes, remnants of stamp mills, bridges, tailings, sample cores and roads that no longer lead anywhere.
There were several modern-day claim markers in the area, probably people still looking for gold as evidenced by the black sand piles we saw. There is silver ore imbedded in many of the tailings we found, but of course it wouldn't be profitable to try to recover it due to the high cost of silver reclamation and today's silver prices.
The Richmond Basin area would be an ideal spot to camp and take a few days to fully explore what's left. The scenery is some of the best we've seen in Arizona, mountain views, huge canyons and clean, crisp air.

Richmond Basin District, Apache Mts, Gila Co., Arizona, USA (http://www.mindat.org/rloc.php?loc=Richmond+Basin+District%2C+Apache+Mts %2C+Gila+Co.%2C+Arizona%2C+USA)

McMorris Mine (Mack Morris Mine; Blue Quail Mine; Lake claims; Richmond Mine; LaPlata shaft; Jumbo shaft; Inca group; Helena ... (http://www.mindat.org/loc-51572.html)

Richmond Basin, 1890-1930.
Population 1000 during peak mining periods.
Collapsed headframes litter the area.
Seemingly bottomless vertical shafts all around.
Another vertial shaft.

02-25-2007, 09:32 AM
Ore bins
Another large vertical shaft, it took a long time for a tossed rock to hit bottom of this one.
Solid rock core samples
These types of ruins are scattered all throughout the area.

02-25-2007, 09:43 AM
This is where the people of Richmond Basin once lived
A long way down

02-26-2007, 06:37 AM
Great pics, Laura. Thanks for sharing. I guess I really need to take a trip out there and do some real ghost towning....Speedy

02-26-2007, 06:58 AM
Thanks Speedy. :) I wish the places we're seeing in our immediate area were more intact, but it's still interesting to see what's left and research and speculate on what they were like in their haydays.

02-26-2007, 11:57 AM
Hi Laura, where the red jeep is parked is where the house was that I stayed in in 1956 and 1957. There was a garage out back! Hated to see it all down but still a great place to go! Andy

02-26-2007, 04:45 PM
It's sure an interesting area Andy. Thanks so much for helping me with the directions.
There's a wide open vertical shaft just beyond and to the NE of that house. I wonder why the state chooses to leave all the open shafts without a single warning sign posted? Even the barbed wire to keep the cattle out is down, it looks like a dangerous area.
We just found out today that our neighbor's father worked up there as well, although the family went into ranching at a later time. Their last name is Tucker.

03-07-2007, 08:31 AM
Yes, it is an interesting area, and, Leroy Tucker is quite a guy. The state can't be responsible for all those old mines even though the think they are and do try. We just have to be carefull around old mines. Take care and enjoy!

03-07-2007, 10:49 AM
Yes, we adore Leroy and Velma, we're fortunate to have them as neighbors. It's a small world! :)