A century ago, The Red Rover Mine north of Carefree was a major silver producer. The family that currently owns the mine donated historic equipment to the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum to be preserved for future generations. They never imagined that the State might not value the gift enough to preserve it. After the closure of the mineral museum, one of the family members wrote the following letter.
In 1958 my Father Lawrence (Shorty) Tozier decided to move to Sedona, Arizona. He had lived most of his life in Southern California. My grandfather had made the trip from Bangor, Maine to Long Beach, California by Model T Ford in 1917-18. By the 1950s my Dad had sold his orange groves and decided California was getting over- crowded. He opened a Laundromat in Sedona but found he did not have much interest in that type of business.
By 1961 he had moved the family to Phoenix. He had been looking for land to buy since leaving Sedona and he found about 300 acres north of Cave Creek/Carefree within the Total National Forest. My dad was familiar with this type of property. He had been a U.S. Forest Ranger in the Angeles National Forest and the San Juancintos during the 1930s. After purchasing the land he discovered that a mine was on the property. It was known as the Red Rover Mine.
The Red Rover Mine was established around 1882 and was the most successful mining operation in the Cave Creek Mining District. Copper carbonates that contained as much as 2000 oz. of silver per ton were found at the surface of the deposit. Major production at the mine occurred from 1882 to 1917 during which $200,000 in copper and silver was recovered. But between 1917 and 1953, it had been operated intermittently.
My Dad found a partner who knew mining and tried to open up the mine. A first they did not have enough money to do under-ground mining. They screened the tailings for high-grade ore and sent it to the Inspiration Smelter at Miami/Globe. But the transportation costs ate up most of the returns from the smelter. By the late 1960s they had found the money to do some under-ground mining. A new drift/tunnel was dug into the hill under an old building which had been the Cooks Shack. In the past Mining Engineers had seen signs that high-grade ore existed there.
As the drift was dug, water and air was piped in and track was put down for the ore car and mucker. My husband Frank was not working in construction at the time so he and my brother Ted worked as miners. They would drill and shoot the rock face and then move the waste outside with the mucker and ore car. Frank always moved carefully when the mucker was running. The heavy steel shovel would jerk up and back to load the ore car. It could have easily broken an arm or someone’s head if one got in the way.
Unfortunately, the money was gone before any ore was found. Under-ground mining is expensive and finding a small vein of ore in the ground is like looking for a needle in a haystack. As the years passed there was less interest in mining and more interest in building homes. My parents lived at the Red Rover some years and in Cave Creek during other years. By 1990 my parents were getting too old to live out by themselves.
At that time Charlie Connell visited the mine. He was building the stamp mill display at the new Mining and Mineral Museum and was looking for some large timbers to complete the head frame. At that time my parents decided to donate the two muckers and ore cars to the Museum. Charlie restored the Muckers and Ore Cars and placed the best looking one in front of the Museum where it still stands today. And for many years there was a picture of it in the Phoenix Yellow Pages phone book.
Today there is a renewed interest in mining. The most popular show on TV right now is “Gold Rush”. It is about placer gold mining in Alaska. This renewed interest means we need to get more stories published about the history of Arizona Mines.
By Cynthia Buckner, 2/6/2012
Buckner family photos from the Red Rover Mine