Guest post by Charlie Connell
January 1993: I was volunteering at the mineral museum back in the beginning of 1993 working in the “Pit”. The Pit was just like it sounds. It was in the basement where stuff got thrown and was a composite of you name it. I was trying to make sense of a steel object under the stairs in a dark corner of the Pit. I was totally stumped with the heavy steel object that looked like a mushroom on steroids. I just couldn’t figure out what it was and it weighed so much, yet was sort of non-descript. I brought our curator, Glenn Miller into the Pit and asked him what the heavy steel object was. He scratched his head and finally said it was a part from a stamp mill that they had partially disassembled and brought some of the parts to the museum. That didn’t help much because I did not know what a stamp mill was. He said that a stamp mill is a large mining machine that makes little rocks out of big rocks. Now we were making headway. It was an ore crushing machine. Glenn went on to say that they were used back in the late 1800’s and the rest of this mill was (17) miles north of Wickenburg at the Swallow Mine. This really piqued my interest and I just had to see the rest of this machine.
Glenn, Ken Phillips, the Department’s Chief Engineer, contacted Charlie Brown and we went to the Swallow Mine to see this stamp mill. Charlie took us down to the Honeymoon Cabin on a road that was not much more than a cattle path, where the rest of the stamp mill was laying in pieces. I can see why the rest of the machine was not at the museum. The pieces weighed several hundred pounds and the path would not support heavy equipment. When we got back to the caretaker’s trailer Charlie said he had another stamp mill that was bigger (the one that we ended up restoring and ran outside of the museum) and was also closer to the main road that winds through the mine site. We could not resist his offer. That day we inherited two stamp mills and the rest is history. The two pictures below show the 5-stamp and the 10-stamp mills in their original locations at the Swallow Mine in the 1970’s.
The feature picture above the title of this post shows the Swallow Mine Stamp Mill restored back to operation at the Arizona Mining & Mineral museum prior to the museum being closed on April 30, 2011.
Other stamp mills can be viewed on www.stampmillman.blogspot.com