Monday, January 30, 2012

A plea to save Arizona History

Guest Post:

My uncle, Charlie Brown, was born in Arizona on May 6, 1911…before Arizona became a state.

Charlie’s father was a bit of a dreamer and bought land and claims for the Swallow mine (17 miles outside of Wickenburg) with the idea that he would become rich.  That did not happen but it provided him with years of hard work and dreams.  Charlie inherited the mine and it became his hobby.  While he lived in Long Beach, CA, he would drive over for weekends to work around the mine….like some people golf, ski, etc.  For many years, he had men living on the property to protect the assets…their pay was the gold and copper that they could recover and an occasional meal when my aunt and uncle would visit.  The original “cabin” at the mine was the original one room schoolhouse serving the families of the area working all the mines.

While the Swallow Mine (and later the Moonlight) was his hobby, Charlie believed in the hard work and dedication of the people who settled the area and mined for many years.  These small mines and the people are as much a part of Arizona’s history as the large mines we know today.

Visiting the mine was a favorite activity of many of my friends and my cousins from Canada.  Charlie was a wealth of knowledge and to see the mine and equipment in person and hear his stories provided many hours of pleasure.  They still think of those visits fondly.

In 1996, Charlie was proud to donate the then unused equipment (stamp mill, pumps, jack hammers, rail, etc.) to the Mining Museum.  At the time of the donation, this equipment itself was estimated to be worth $9,000.  APS and numerous volunteer spent many hours over a five month period relocating the equipment to the current location.  Volunteers spent many more hours making the equipment operational and training on the operation thereof.   No value was attached to this time and effort but it is considerable.

The Stamp Mill (in particular) provides an educational opportunity for all that view it.  People seeing the actual size, hearing the noise, and feeling the power of the equipment provides much more than some simulation can ever provide.  They can see the tremendous effort it took to get the metals out of the ground and processed.  What a great educational opportunity!  (See attached letter)

This equipment is already in place and operational….why spend money to move it or change it?  Don’t we have better things on which to spend our dollars (tax dollars and donations alike)?

I believe in progress.  I believe the people should be exposed to the future of Arizona ….but not at the expense of minimizing or eliminating the past.  In the year of 2012, we are recognizing Arizona’s Centennial and celebrating 100 years of history.  What better way than to have actual items from that past that people can see, hear, feel, etc.   This may the age of technology but many people still strive for personal experience and this is one that should be there for them and for the future.

Karen Bagwell


  1. Karen Bagwell states "This equipment is already in place and operational….why spend money to move it or change it? Don’t we have better things on which to spend our dollars (tax dollars and donations alike)?"

    They have already sent someone over to look at the possiblity of relocating some of the mining artifacts including the stampmill. What in the world are they thinking? According to an article in today's paper written by Mary Jo Pitzl they have raised only $950,000. We have heard rumors they have raised $3 million. What is the correct amount? With so little raised, why in the world would they spend money on getting rid of Arizona History?

    The people making the decisions have scrambled eggs for brains.

  2. The AHS planned to move the equipment to Bisbee by the end of the year in blatant violation of Arizona law. Legal action against the AHS was therefore initiated in November.

  3. That would mean the Bisbee Museum of Mining is shopping around to add some stuff to the front of their building. Does the Board of Directors of that museum know what is going on. I would hope that this blogsite would publish the names of the board members so that everyone knows what is going on.

  4. They have a very small area available in front of their museum. They have no idea what they are in for. It is not just dismantling the equipment, but the hard part is the jigsaw puzzle of putting it back together. Their biggest problem will be the electric to run the mill. They think they can just plug it into the nearest outlet. They are in for a $9000 minimum "electric" surprise even if they have volunteers. This would only end up being a static display.

  5. So what is Woosley trying to do? I don't think she cares about artifacts. At least ones dealing with mining history. What exactly is her background in caring for artifacts? At least ones dealing with Arizona history.

  6. Just a note. One of the volunteers that volunteered at the museum for years became quite interested in stamp mills. He decided to make miniatures of 5 and 10 stamp mill models and several other mining artifacts such as the headframe and a HUGE building containing a running stamp mill.

    During the Tucson Gem and Mineral show that runs for two weeks there is a one day show (today Feb 4, 2012) that sells just mining artifacts to the public. People are interested in mining so AHS should take note! In the first hour this 82 year old gentleman sold 3 five stampers which run and the huge mine building with a running stamp mill. That is the first hour people! The huge building went for $1000 and I am not sure what the 5 stamp mill went for but it is around $250 or $300. The dimensions are 31 inches tall by 10 inches wide and 23 inches long so it is not a real tiny miniature. All the stamps run and people love stamp mills....both models and the real working equipment. AHS wants to get rid of the outside artifacts for two reasons. They want the outside to have a sterile look and women (which includes Dr. Woosley and Jan Brewer)have no interest in mechanical working mining artifacts, except for those women who are more than bookworms.