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Helvetia Copper Company.

By Randy Hees

C opper mining in Santa Rita mountains started in 1875. The first smelter was constructed in 1882. By 1890 that boom was over and most organized mining had ceased. Through the 1890’s a group from New Jersey worked to accumulate mining claims, holding 27 by 1899 when they organized the Helvetia Copper Company. The facility included the townsite, a smelter, a assay lab, a warehouse and an 8,000’ long narrow gauge railroad connecting the smelter with the Old Dick, Leader, Omega, Heavy Weight and Copper World mines.

The blast furnace was commissioned in December 1899, but burned a year later on December 6th 1900. A new smelter was opened on May 1st 1901.

The operation was not successful, and the company was liquidated in January 1902. The operation was reorganized as the Michigan and Arizona Development Co. in November 1903 and mining resumed. Mining activity ceased and equipment was dismantled and presumably scrapped by 1911. Some sporadic mining continued into the 1920’s when the town was abandoned. As of 2014 there is a proposal to resume mining using modern methods.

Little is known about the railroad, which is not mentioned in Myrick’s 6 volume opus on Arizona Railroads. It is likely that it would be more properly described as a tramway. It was apparently 8,000’ long. They reportedly operated a Porter 0-4-0t, purchased used from Salmon Creek Lumber on California’s north coast.


Revised: June 3, 2017.

Bibliography
David Briggs, History of Helvetia-Rosemont Mining District of Pima County Arizona, Arizona Georlgical Survey, June 2014.
David Briggs, “History of Helvetia-Rosemont Mining District part 1”, published in the Arizona Daily Independent, March 16, 2014.
Myrick, David F. Railroads Of Arizona: Volume III. Berkeley: Howell-North Books, 1962. ISBN.

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