Desert Messenger

December 16, 2012

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Page 18 Desert Messenger celebrates the Arizona Centennial with Voices from The Past in Quartzsite, AZ Excerpts from "In the Shadow of Saguaros" by Rosalee Oldham Wheeler Johnny Wyatt and the Copper Bottom Mine Part 1 Ten miles southwest of Quartzsite, the Cunningham Mountain rises up from the desert floor to an elevation of 3,314 feet displaying some of the highest peaks in the area. In a dry wash that runs through one of the passes in Cunningham Mountain is where, according to Bill Keiser (1873-1963) long-time Quartzsite miner and geologist, one Johnny Wyatt—mine promoter extraordinaire—founded the Copper Bottom Mine in the early 1910's. It seems that Wyatt had found a blowout of quartz rock under a 20-foot bank of gravel along the wash. Bill recalled that the blowout did have a small amount of copper stain, enough that it probably would have assayed a trace of the mineral. Even so, Wyatt seized upon this marginal opportunity, hired some men to erect a frame around the hole, and then had them shovel gravel from the banks of the wash into piles making it look like a mineshaft. The 20-foot hole suddenly looked like a 50-foot shaft. He then planted some good copper ore on the bottom, ready to dazzle any investor anxious to make the millions that official published records had reported for mines in the area. Wyatt even cut down a giant saguaro and VFW Post 769 VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS 120 S. Palo Verde Quartzsite, AZ 928-927-7697 UPCOMING ACTIVITIES Monday Night Football Thursday Burger Night Friday Fish Fry Saturday Meals Comrades Meeting 1st Saturday 9am VFW Riders meeting 1st Saturday of the month at 2PM Mens Auxiliary Meeting: 1st Tuesday 6pm Ladies Auxiliary Meeting: 1st Tuesday 6:30pm, Senior Center House Committee meeting: CHECK CALENDAR This is a smoking establishment • Members & Guests Only for Alcohol Service December 19, 2012 threw it on a gravel pile so it would appear to a "greenhorn mine investor" that the cactus was in the way of the new mine. There were plenty of investors in the East eager to put down their money on an opportunity to strike it rich out West. Bill Keiser had a saying to the effect that, "the vein may have been out in Arizona, but the pay-streak was back East". With the help of a promoter connection in Chicago, Wyatt found his paystreak. With money to spend, he had 400-foot of tunnel dug on the footwall of the Copper Bottom vein. Wyatt convinced his investors that they would only needed to dig 200 more feet to tap into the main copper vein. He invited Bill Keiser to bid on the tunnel job. Bill suggested that it would be much easier, quicker, and cheaper to follow the vein in from the other side of the mountain, but Wyatt wasn't interested. Bill offered a bid of $15 a foot and Wyatt said he would think about it and let him know. Bill said that a few days later he ran into Wyatt talking to his friend Burch. Seemed Burch had put in a bid of $14. Wyatt suggested that the two friends get together and dig the tunnel for $13 a foot. Bill couldn't believe his ears. Nevertheless, he and Burch talked it over and agreed that with two of them working together they could get the job done a lot faster. Working on the tunnel meant hardrock mining and drilling with steel. Bill wanted to know when the drilling equipment would be there and Wyatt said, "Leave it to me. I have all the steel you'll need." Bill said that he later learned that Wyatt had "high-graded" all the steel and tools he had used over at the nowabandoned Desert Queen Mine, another one of his "wild-cat mines". Wyatt told Bill about a couple of tons of blasting powder up at the Desert Queen that Bill could use, but it was old and needed to be handled with care. Bill realized that if he and Burch used dynamite, they would save a lot of time completing the tunnel. Bill volunteered to go over with a wagon and team, hoping to get the dynamite in two loads. He said his heart was in his mouth whenever a wheel went over a big rock but he got it over to the Copper Bottom, in three loads. Wyatt managed to be in town whenever the hauling took place. He later told Bill, "Keiser, you were a damn fool. Don't you know that whenever dynamite begins to sweat and makes a white crust on the outside of each stick that it is very dangerous to handle? That was nitroglycerine soaking out and hardening!" In retrospect, one wonders how many "damn fool" miners managed to set off unstable dynamite sending themselves, their mules, wagon, and all else to kingdom come. Bill and Burch completed the tunnel even though the rocks were so dense that they had to hire tool sharpener Andy Cunningham on a regular basis. Burch got his son to come over from California to cook because they were exhausted after a hard day of drilling in solid rock. Finally, they completed the job and cleared about $500 each. Bill later learned that Wyatt, "that dirty skunk", had billed the Chicago investors $40 a foot for the 600 feet plus an additional $10 for the "manager", non other than one Johnny Wyatt—manager extraordinaire. It seemed that dirty skunks never ran out of dirty tricks and Quartzsite was running wild with both kinds. When the pay-streak for the Copper Bottom dried up Johnny Wyatt went back East to raise money for another "project". As a going away joke, he wrote and posted a letter to the effect that all future communications regarding the now-abandoned Desert SEE MINE PAGE 19 LAPIDARY and PROSPECTING DEMOS Tuesdays & Thursdays 1pm - 3pm "!FREE at "!FREE!" !" RocksInMyHead™ Rice Ranch A37 Ph. 605-376-8754 Email: Jenn@RocksInMyHead,biz

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