Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum

Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum

This museum began as an exhibit at the 1884 Territorial Fair and eventually became one of Arizona’s top rated museums. The collection included over 20,000 species with over 3,000 on display. Unfortunately, this very popular museum was closed in 2011, but the historic mining equipment can still be viewed in front of the building at 1502 W. Washington Street in Phoenix. The contents of the museum when it was still open can be viewed at the website: www.miningmineralmuseum.com. Reopening this museum is CAMMAZ’s top priority.

Major pieces of AZ History Threatened by the AHS are shown below:
The Boras headframe -photo courtesy of www.miningmineralmuseum.com
The Boras headframe -photo courtesy of http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com

The Boras headframe was moved to the mineral museum from Bisbee to preserve a piece of early Arizona mining history.  The winch house behind it was also moved from Bisbee, and the huge, antique winch that lifted ore cars and miners from the deep underground mine is still inside. Many thousands of volunteer hours made relocation, reassembly, and restoration possible. Today, this historical equipment still stands outside the empty mineral museum building at 1502 West Washington Street in Phoenix, but its future is very uncertain.

In 2011, the Arizona Historical Society attempted to have a contractor tear the equipment down and remove it from the property. That threat was averted, but the AHS is still in control of the property and still hopes to remove the equipment. The people of AZ need to ask their elected representatives to preserve these pieces of Arizona’s past and to recognize the massive volunteer effort that saved them decades ago.

Red Rover Mucker
Red Rover Mucker - photo courtesy of www.miningmineralmuseum.com
Red Rover Mucker – photo courtesy of http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com

The operated mucker and ore cart are from the Red Rover mine north of Carefree.  The pneumatically operated mucker loaded the car behind it after dynamite blasted the rock in front of it (at the end of a tunnel) loose. The family that still owns the patented mining claim donated this and other equipment to the state with the expectation that it would be preserved. They are not happy. Shortly before volunteers were locked out of the mineral museum, they had restored the mucker to operating condition. They are not happy either. They feel their work was unappreciated, and fear the mucker may be disposed of if lobbyists are successful in re-purposing the building into a reception center.

The Swallow Mine Stamp Mill
The Swallow Mine Stamp Mill - photo courtesy of www.miningmineralmuseum.com
The Swallow Mine Stamp Mill – photo courtesy of http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com

The stamp mill is from the Swallow Mine north of Wickenburg. It was donated to the state by the grandchildren of a miner who are very displeased with the AHS. Volunteers restored this mill to operating condition, and are one of only a few operable stamp mills remaining in the country. Historically a seam engine turned the big flywheel-pulley with a wide leather belt. The cams on the shaft then lifted and dropped the 600 pound stamps which crusaded the ore so the gold could be separated from the rock.  The big mill fascinated visitors as it shook the ground and crushed the ore. The mill stands on a 14 foot deep foundation that volunteers poured so that the mill could be operated.

 

stamp mill - photo courtesy of www.miningmineralmuseum.com
stamp mill – photo courtesy of http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com

Volunteers demonstrated the operation of the stamp mill using ore with fool’s gold rather than real gold. Children and well as adults were fascinated as the bright and shiny “gold” appeared along the riffles as the crushed rock washed out of the mill.

Baby Gauge Locomotive
Baby Gauge Locomotive - photo courtesy of www.miningmineralmuseum.com
Baby Gauge Locomotive – photo courtesy of http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com

 

The baby gauge steam locomotive was a children’s favorite. They could not resist ringing the bell as the pretended they were riding on an ore train a century ago. The little engine was shipped (in pieces) by wagon from New Mexico to Clifton-Morenci over a century ago. There, it replaced mules to haul ore cars up the mountain to the mine shaft. On one of its trips, it was attacked by Indians, but suffered little damage. Today, however, it is seriously threatened by the AHS.

The Gold Wheel
The Gold Wheel - photo courtesy of www.miningmineralmuseum.com
The Gold Wheel – photo courtesy of http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com

After the ore was crushed in the stamp mill, it was poured into the gold wheel hopper.  Few of these fascinating artifacts remain today. Gravity kept the heavier gold in the spiraled grooves in the wheel and separated it from the crushed rock.

Shovel Bucket
Shovel Bucket - photo courtesy of www.miningmineralmuseum.com
Shovel Bucket – photo courtesy of http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com

The 27 cubic yard bucket from the Ray Mine was another children’s favorite. The shovel bucket loaded copper bearing rock onto ore trucks that hauled it to the rock crusher. The particular bucket was retired from service because today it is too small for copper mining.

Even though The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum closed in 2011, you can still find a pictorial history of the museum at:

www.miningmineralmuseum.com

AMMM signage removal. Photo courtesy of Dick Zimmermann.
AMMM signage removal. Photo courtesy of Dick Zimmermann.
AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.
AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.

 

 

 

 

 

AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.
AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.
AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.
AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.

 

 

 

AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.
AMMM name removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.

 

AMMM signage removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.
AMMM signage removal. Photo courtesy of Harvey Jong.

 

 

 

 

Major news stories that reported on the status of the closed mineral museum are as follows:

Years later, not much to show for state Mining and Mineral Museum’s closure
Monday, May 5, 2014
By Harmony Huskinson
Cronkite News
http://cronkitenewsonline.com/2014/05/years-later-not-much-to-show-for-state-mineral-museums-closure/
Murky future for Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, Valley and State, May 23, 2015 http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/05/23/mining-and-mineral-museum-state-capitol-closed/27786917/
All related media coverage is linked under the “media” and “video” tabs on the blog Mineral Museum Madness: www.minmumad.blogspot.com