Desert Messenger

May 4, 2011

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P��� 6 VOICES FROM THE PAST Excerpts from “In the Shadow of Saguaros” By Rosalee Oldham Wheeler Find In the Shadow of Saguaros at Readers Oasis Bookstore, Qtz. (Previous story: “The Alaska Hotel of Bouse in Quartzsite”) Lehre Erdman’s Gold Eye Mine Lehre Erdman was born in 1909 in the Willow Creek area of North Dakota where he graduated from high school before taking up work as a mechanic keeping the machinery of the local farmers in good running order. At 22 he joined one of President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCCs) serving at the Jay Cooke State Park, in Minnesota. Being restless for better opportunities Lehre rode the rails hopping off and then back on all the way to California picking up work as a farmhand, car- penter, mechanic or whatever job he could fi nd during the diffi cult years of the depression. Then in 1933 he settled in Quartz- site to operate a Chevron Station near Woodson’s grocery store and post of- fi ce near where today is the Animal Clinic on West Main Street. Back then it was a busy place where miners came to get their mail, buy groceries and gas up all at one stop. Lehre went about his business saying very little, but he was a good mechanic and kept the miner’s trucks running. Lehre learned that the old Water’s Mine had been abandoned and decided to stake a claim by fi ling a Notice of Lo- cation. Lehre called his mine the Gold Eye. He spent the next 63 years de- veloping and building on to the mine. His mother Winifred Erdman came from North Dakota to visit him one winter, fell in love with the desert, and stayed on to teach all eight grades at the Quartzsite Grammar School in the old pre-1900s, one-room school house. Lehre passed away in 1996 and a me- morial was held for him at the Gold Eye, southwest of Quartzsite on Erd- man Road just off Cholla Road where he had spent the majority of his life in pursuit of that elusive valuable min- eral, gold. Now, that is not all that I know of Leh- re Erdman. In fact, I fi rst learned about Lehre when we spent the winter of 1939 Chiropractic $ Adjustments Quartzsite 25 Dr. Michael Cole, D.C. Providing Chiropractic care to Quartzsite! NEW SUMMER HOURS: Friday 9am-1pm Dr. Michael Cole, D.C. Chiropractic Care 225 N. Central Suite #7 Quartzsite For more information call: 928-533-4588 Gem Stone Jewelry & Black Hills Gold Jewelry JEWELRY • FINDINGS Black Hills Gold Jewelry, Moun� ngs, Gems, Minerals, AMERICAN INDIAN JEWELRY & POTTERY BEADS • Southwest & How-to Books Open Daily 8-5 Sun. 9-4 CLOSED TUESDAYS 928-927-6381, Fax 928-927-4814 1250 W. Main, Quartzsite (across from McDonald’s) ���.D�����M��������.��� near Quartzsite out at our family’s Jack of Diamonds Gold Mine. On our way back up to Flagstaff we had stopped off at the post offi ce to pick up our mail. My husband Charles was eager to get back home after an accident at our mine. Several people were standing around talk- ing about an accident that had happened at another mine. Lehre Erdman had put a load of dynamite down his mine, then climbed out and waited, and waited. It didn’t go off so he started climbing back down and ka-boom, the dynamite went off. Lehre fell to the bottom without any- one knowing he was down there. He lost track of time but fi nally, by sheer determi- nation, he managed to claw his way back up the shaft. What is amazingly strange about this story is that about the same time as Lehrer’s mine accident, my husband Charles was down eight feet on bedrock at his mine about 11 miles northwest of Lehre’s Gold Eye Mine. (See Desert Messenger’s Vol. 7, Issue #119, 11/17/10, “Buried Alive In the La Paz Placers.”) I left the post offi ce on that summer day in 1939 in total disbelief. Two men, in two mines, on the same day, and both nearly died while mining for gold with no one else around. Lehre Erdman wore stripped over- alls and usually had on a hard hat. He drove a Cadillac sedan of one model or another. He actually had six Cadillacs that he used to take parts from one to repair another. Lehre was not a mixer. He had many casual friends and everyone knew him. Then along came a middle-aged hippie by the name of David Paine who had a mine down the road from Lehre’s. Their relationship didn’t jell. In fact they had a real feud going, often shooting at one other across the wash. For some rea- M�� 4, 2011 son Lehre had a warrant sworn out for David’s arrest and when he heard about it, David never went back to his mine. At the Gold Eye there is a beauti- ful black marble gravestone etched Photo of Lehre Erdman’s gravestone at his Gold Eye Mine by Neal Du Shane, courtesy of the Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project, with Lehre’s image. It faces the natu- ral stone cabin he built with his own hands. At his memorial his friend Boma Johnson compared Lehre to his own father when he said, “Like my Dad, Lehre never left anything behind that he could carry home. Both men had a kind heart and a free spirit and would go to great length to haul something home and then if someone admired it would insist, ‘Here, take it with you.’” Lehre Erdman left his mark on this earth and his work at the Gold Eye will be a landmark for many years to come. Postscript: Before the author passed away on January 23rd, a classmate in her Clovis Adult School ‘Writing Your Memoir’ class asked if she knew a Leh- re Erdman in Quartzsite. The fact that Lehre had introduced Wayne Dixon’s parents to each other back in the late 1930s caused Rosalee to look up the story she had written about Lehre in 1996. What a joyful synchronousity! This excerpt is from a story that will be in Volume III of Rosalee’s “In the Shad- ow of Saguaros.”

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