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This county comprises all that territory in Arizona lying east of longitude 113° 20′, and south of the Gila River. Next to Yavapai it is the largest in the Territory. It contains some of the most fertile agricultural lands in Arizona, principally in the bottoms of the Gila River and its tributaries, all of which, however, require irrigation. The great expanse of country to the southwest and south of the Lower Gila is barren, and, in fact, a continuation of the Sonora Desert. The level surface of the Tertiary plains is here only broken by the appearance of numerous small mountain-chains, the rugged outlines of which are visible for great distances.
The first mining in Arizona by Americans was done in this county, but before them the Mexicans had for years extracted the precious metals from these domains. Old mines, now mostly caved in, and the remnants of ancient beneficiating works, especially in the southeast corner of the county, amply confirm the traditions of the Mexican population in regard to this.
The Ajo copper mines are located sixty miles south of Kenyon Station, on the Gila River. Kenyon Station is one hundred and thirty miles east of Arizona City. This makes a land transportation of one hundred and ninety miles to the Colorado, over a good natural road; the first sixty miles, however, are entirely destitute of water.
There are several veins in the district, all of which occur in granite and slate; strike northeast and southwest, and dip steeply to the southeast. The principal vein contains solid peacock ore in a fissure 27 inches wide. The main shaft is 150 feet deep, and in this water was struck at a depth of 140 feet, which had to be carried out on the backs of Mexicans. Several drifts and galleries were run from this shaft, in the majority of which the body of ore is much split up; in others it thins out to mere thread. The longest level is 100 feet in. In another vein the gangue is white quartz, which contains native copper, red oxide, and. carbonates. It is 18 inches wide and a shaft is sunk upon it to the depth of 90 feet. From this a level is run 30 feet from the surface, 60 feet long; and another, 45 feet below the surface, is driven in 30 feet. The ore-streak in the vein is on an average one foot thick. Water was struck in this shaft also.
There are several other shafts on these veins, from 20 to 60 feet deep. In the latter, which is on the first-mentioned vein, only decomposed ores, very solid and rich, had been found.
There is much mesquite wood in the neighborhood, and water was. struck in a ravine, in two wells, within 20 feet from the surface. Work. is temporarily suspended on these mines, and will be resumed as soon as the completion of the South Pacific Railroad, opposite this point, on the Gila, will lessen transportation. The ores are extraordinarily rich and well fitted for concentration by a single smelting on the spot into a high-grade crude copper.
The country south of Tucson, in the neighborhood of Tubac, I have not visited. It was originally my intention to pay a visit to these regions and report upon the mines which had at one time such an excellent reputation and on which so much labor and treasure have been expended in the past. After waiting at Tucson over two weeks for an escort, (for no part of Arizona is worse infested with Apaches, and a small party of white men cannot safely travel in these regions,) and seeing no prospect of getting one without waiting three or four weeks. longer, I concluded to turn north and examine some other portions of H. Ex. 10-18
the Territory. This resolution was hastened upon learning that no work whatever had been done on those mines for years, and upon reflection that, in that case, I would not be able to see enough in the broken-down shafts and drifts to repay for the long trip. At the same time Mr. J. Ross Browne, in his report of 1868, has treated these mines so fully, at a time when there was much more and better opportunity for examining them, and he has quoted such excellent authorities in that report, that I am fully satisfied that all has been said in regard to these mineral veins and their development that ever was learned by working them. From that report we must conclude that this part of Southern Arizona is full of veins, principally carrying true silver ores, which appear to occur under the same geological conditions as the silver veins of Northern Mexico, viz, in porphyritic and granitic rocks, or as contact-veins between these eruptive rocks and sedimentary strata, chiefly limestones.
Some of these veins have been worked in an exceedingly extravagant way. According to the reports of Kuestel, Pumpelly, Brunckow, Schuchardt and other noted mining engineers, it is certainly not the fault of the mineral deposits that they do not support flourishing mining enterprises even under the present high cost of transportation, but entirely of the management and the hostility of the Indians. The South Pacific Railroad will do away with the Indians and high transportation, and it remains to be seen whether the future managers of these mines will have profited from the dearly-bought experience in mining all over the West.
The Lee and Scott mine, about twelve miles due west of Tucson, has been worked to some extent to within a year or two ago. But although this mine is almost in sight of the capital of Arizona, the Apaches have driven off and killed the miners, and rendered work upon the lode impossible. This vein contains a mixture of galena and fallore very rich in silver, the portion reduced on the spot having yielded at the rate of $125 per ton. Governor A. P. K. Safford, of Arizona, who has lately visited the mine, says in regard to it:
The course of the lode is west-southwest to east-northeast; near the surface its width is 18 inches. The hanging-wall is smooth, but the foot-wall is somewhat broken, and near it are about 6 inches of very concentrated mineral. For the first 80 feet in the shaft the dip of the vein is very regular 45°, but at this point a large horse comes in and the ledge nearly pinches out. Below this horse, which is only a few feet thick, the vein becomes much nearer perpendicular and widens out. At 90 feet, water in small quantity was struck, and several feeders join the main lode. At the bottom of the shaft, 100 feet from the surface, the ledge is about 5 feet wide, inclosed in plain walls, and the mineral seems well distributed through the gangue. The character of the ore is the same as shown to you (galena and fahlore.) I could trace the croppings for some distance on the surface.
In this district there are also some very rich copper and lead mines containing silver, several of which have been worked profitably in times past. But the constant depredations of the Apaches caused the death of many of the workmen and owners and rendered it impossible to keep any live stock; so work had to be abandoned. Could we have protection I am certain many of these mines, as well as a great number of those south of here, could be worked now to a profit.
The following description of the country in the southeast corner of Arizona Territory, between the Rio Salado or Salt River on the north and the Sierra Cananea of Sonora on the south, and between the Rio Santa Cruz on the west, and the Sierra Dragones and the one hundred and ninth meridian of longitude on the east, has been kindly furnished to me by Lieutenant John G. Bourke of the Third Cavalry. This sketch was compiled from notes collected during the numerous scouts of Troop F, Third Cavalry, and especially during the one made in conjunction with the volunteer troops acting under the command of Governor A. P. K. Saf
ford of Arizona. While absolute accuracy cannot be expected of notes so hastily taken, the sketch will nevertheless give an approximately correct idea of the features and resources of a region as yet so little known.
In its general features this portion of Arizona presents a constant succession of mountain ranges, spurs, and offshoots from the great central chains of the continent. None of these are of very great length, except, perhaps, the Sierra Blanca, but they all obtain a considerable elevation above the sea-level, and being cut up by deep cañons and gorges offer very often great obstacles to the construction of roads. Between these sierras are, in general, to be found level plains or "playas," covered with a good growth of the various grasses peculiar to the Southwest, and consequently well adapted to the purpose of stock-raising.
Commencing on the north, there is the Sierra Ancha, otherwise called the Tonto Mountains; immediately to the south and east, separated by the Rio Salado from the former, the Apache Mountains, cut up by cañons and ravines, but well watered; farther to the east, and upon the other side of the Rio San Carlos, are the Picachos de San Carlos; to the north, and slightly to the east the Sierra Natanes, and farthest to the north and making an elbow to the east and south, the Sierra Blanca and the Mogollon Mountains. South of the Apache Mountains, and bordering close upon the Rio Gila, (proceeding from west to east,) are the Sierra Pinal, Sierra Mescal, and the Cordillera Gileña.
Still farther south, and bordering upon the left bank of the Gila, are the isolated peaks called the Dos Narices or the Saddle Mountains and the northern end of the Pinaleño and Mount Trimble and Mount Graham. The Sierra Blanca trends from north to south for the greater portion of its length, but the short arm of this range has a general course from east to west. The Pinal, Mescal, and Cordillera Gileña cross the course of the River Gila obliquely, and the San Catarina, San Pedro, Pinaleño and some smaller ranges run also about northwest and southeast.
The Guachuca Mountains and the Sierra San José are upon the Sonora line, as is also the southern extremity of the Dragoon Range; the only other range of importance is the Santa Rita in the extreme southern portion of the Territory. It would be impossible to form from a sketch thus hurriedly compiled any accurate view of the general trend and arrangement of these ranges, while the lack of proper facilities prevents the completion of a topographical chart; yet as these mountains, in addition to being prominent landmarks, contain inexhaustible mineral treasure, it has been considered advisable to give them particular mention.
Among the "playas" of largest extent is the valley or "playa" of San Domingo, which extends on the east well into New Mexico. It has a few streams of no consequence.
The country in the vicinity of the capital is a large plain, extending from the San Catarina range on the north to the Sierra Mesteñes, or Whetstone Mountains on the southeast, and thence bearing away to the northwest until it runs into the plains bordering upon the Gila. The last, but most fertile and valuable, is the stretch of country from the southern side of the Sierra Mesteñes to the northern side of the Sierra Guachuca. Hemmed in on the west by the little hills called the Barba comara, it unites at the eastern extremity of the Guachuca range with a fertile valley now belonging to Sonora, and bounded by the Sierra
Guachuca and Sierra Cananea on the north and south respectively. This is the garden-spot of Southern Arizona. Abundantly provided with water by the Rio San Pedro, Rio Barbacomara, Rio Cananea, and their little affluents, it offers to the enterprising agriculturist a field of labor which would undoubtedly prove highly remunerative. Covered with rich grasses all the year, having an abundance of fine timber and building-stone in the neighboring mountains, it will yet prove to be one of the richest districts of the Southwest. In this favored section should also be included the valley of the Sonoita and the country around Camp Crittenden, which will, however, be treated of under the proper head. The rivers and streains are the Gila and its tributaries, some of which, however, sink before reaching the main stream.
The Gila rises in New Mexico, in the mountains north and west of Fort Bayard, flows in a tortuous course to west and somewhat to the south until it reaches the Colorado, at or near Fort Yuma. It is a very narrow stream, with a swift current, shallow during most of the year, but in the rainy season vastly increasing its volume. Its banks are fringed with cottonwoods, ash, and willows. Shortly after crossing the one hundred and ninth meridian it passes through an abrupt cañon, of no great depth, but great beauty; another cañon, called the Grand Cañon of the Gila, is passed before it meets the San Pedro. Much of the region through which it flows before passing Mount Trimble and Mount Graham shows decided evidence of volcanic action, lava, basalt, obsidian, and such minerals being found everywhere. West of these mountains the traces of water are upon all the hills.
The principal tributaries are (in Arizona) between 1090 and 1100 west, flowing in from the north, the Natros, the Prieto, the Bonito, and another stream to the east of the Bonito, and at present without a name. The San Domingo is supposed to join it from the south, but is an underground stream.
Between 110° and 1110 west are, upon the north, the Rio San Carlos and the Wallen Creek, the latter an unimportant stream; upon the south, the San Pedro, a river of considerable length and consequence and the Rock and Deer Creek, these last being, however, dry during the greater part of the year. Between 1110 and 1130 west, upon the north are the stream called Mineral Creek and the Salt River, while upon the south there is the Santa Cruz, which sinks before it joins. Of these the Rio Salado, or Salt River, the San Pedro, San Carlos, Bonito, Prieto, and Santa Cruz, with their tributaries, will be considered. The Rio Natros more properly belongs to New Mexico. It has one affluent,
the Rio Azul.
The Salado is formed in the Mogollon Mountains, by the junction of two small streams; flows in a general southwest direction, and empties into the Gila between 1120 and 113° west longitude. Its main branch is the Verde, a considerable stream, which joins it from the north, but is beyond the limits of the district here described. The Salt River also has two small tributaries, the Pinto, (with its branch, the Pappoose,) and the Pinal, both of which rise in the Pinal Mountains, and flow north, joining the Salado about ten miles apart.
Rio San Carlos rises in the Sierra Blanca region, and after flowing southwest receives one branch, the Rio Alisos, about twelve miles above its junction with the Gila. Rio San Pedro is formed in Sonora, about thirty miles above the American line, by the confluence of two streams, the Rincon de Burro from the east and the Cananea from the west. These little streams rise in the mountains of the same name. The San Pedro flows north-northwest for about one hundred and fifty miles and
empties into the Gila, fourteen miles beyond the point where it (the San Pedro) has received its principal tributary, the Aravaypa. Proceeding down the stream from its source, there are from the east the San José, a small rivulet from the Sierra Dragones, Prospect Creek, and finally the Aravaypa. On the west there are one small stream from the south side of the Sierra Guachuca, the Barbacomora, and a brook from the San Pedro Mountains, about seventy-five miles from its source. There are others, but none of permanence or importance. The San Pedro along the longest part of its course flows between clay banks, and is very narrow; its valley is one of the most beautiful in the Territory, and will be in time filled with a prosperous population.
The Bonito rises in the Sierra Blanca, flows south through a wonderful cañon, and pours its waters into the Gila, about thirty-five or forty miles due west of the New Mexican line; it is very narrow, but very swift and of some volume. No tributaries of much account join it, and it is about seventy-five miles long. The Rio Prieto, for about twenty-five or thirty miles before entering the Gila, flows parallel to the Bonito. Its course beyond that is more to the southwest. It always contains a great deal of water, but the streams flowing into it are of little volume. The Santa Cruz rises in a spur of the Sierra Guachuca, flows south into Sonora until it reaches the town of Santa Cruz, where it bends to the west, and after flowing in this direction about thirty miles turns north-northwest, passing over the line into Arizona. It sinks just below Tucson, and its waters are supposed to reach the Gila near Maricopa Wells. The principal tributary of this river is the Sonoita, coming in on the east; there are also one or two affluents from the Sierra Guachuca. The entire valley of the Santa Cruz is very fertile, producing in great abundance nearly all the vegetables found in the Middle States. Barley is the principal cereal.
The future prosperity of this section will be mainly dependent upon two sources, mining and stock-raising. The indications of gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and manganese can be observed in every mountain, the Sierra Guachuca being especially rich in the first three. Silver and gold, iron and manganese undoubtedly exist in great abundance in the ele vated country bordering upon the Bonito and Prieto. A large silver lead has been discovered in the hills back of the village of Tres Alamos, while tradition has it the Cañon de Oro, in the San Catarina, contains a valuable mine formerly worked by the Jesuit fathers and by them abandoned on account of Indian depredations. Nearly all the valuable building stones are found. Granite, porphyry, and sandstone are in nearly all the mountains. Sulphate of lime, in the form of alabaster and gypsum, is met with in great quantity in the Aravaypa Cañon, while a valuable quarry of hard limestone exists near Camp Grant on the San Pedro, and an abundance of it is known to occur in the Sierra Blanca. The hilly country appears in general to be adapted to the rearing of sheep, while the less elevated portions could again, as formerly, be divided into large ranches for beef cattle and horses. It is said that a generation ago, before the occupation of the country by the American forces, large droves and herds of mustangs and wild cattle were raised in the valley of the San Pedro and the Barbacomara, but the constant incursions of the Apaches have since occasioned the abandonment of most of the ranches. The great number of deserted corrals and houses affords ample and melancholy evidence that the Government has completely ignored the interests and advancement of this portion of its territory. The soil, though nearly always requiring irrigation, yields an abundant return for the labor bestowed upon it, and such is the genial