Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

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Version 111207



Silver King, Arizona c. 1880

Courtesy Arizona Historical Society


Table of Contents

Click on Hyperlink in BLUE, go directly to subject.


The Superintendents Home – Silver King, AZ. 4

November 10, 2007 Revisit to Silver King. 6

Short History of the Silver King Mine. 7


Map to Silver King, Arizona. 12


Visit Dick Pierce’s excellent website of this sojourn at:



Silver King's post office was established December 21, 1877 and was discontinued May 5, 1912.

Silver King was discovered once, lost then discovered again in 1875. So much ore was taken from

Silver King that a milling town was constructed nearby called Pinal. Two hotels were constructed at Silver King, which neither hotel owner liked.

One day they had a shootout to see who would monopolize the hotel business in Silver King. Both were bad shots and missed each other but it is rumored that one was forced to take his meals standing up for the next few days. In 1888 the price of silver dropped and so did the town of Silver King. Today there is not much left.

From the Pinal Drill, A Dec.17, 1881


The Silver King. A Brief Description of the Richest Silver Mine in the World.


The company was organized in San Francisco in May, 1877. The capital is $10,000,000, shares $100 each. During its entire existence, James M. Barney has been its manager and Aaron Mason its superintendent. Within the last six months, A.J. Doran has been acting Superintendent.


The mine is five miles from Pinal at Silver King village. The works are at Pinal. The works consist of 20 stamps, six concentrating tables, three roasters, one large roasting furnace, five tanks &c for lixiviation, refinery and assay office.


About 50 tons of ore are worked daily, hauled by teams from the mine, and on an average $20,000 in silver bars is shipped every week, as the product of the establishment. An enormous quantity of tailings covers acres of ground at the mill, containing large quantities of silver and copper. The base metals have until within a few days, not been extracted from the ore, but works are now in operation extracting the copper. We have heretofore described the Silver King Mine and its apparently boundless wealth. Last week we had the pleasure to accompany Mr. Doran on his visit to the mine, and in company with him and the foreman, Mr. Robert Bowen, passed through the labyrinth of levels and drifts, up the stopes, amongst the timbers, from floor to floor, in the windings and descents of the monstrous excavation.



The main shaft has reached a depth of 730 feet. There are levels at 110, 250, 300, 350, 408, 510, 612, and 714 feet. All the ore that has been worked for one year past has been taken out between the 300 and 408 levels, and masses are standing in view on all sides. This large chamber, or stope, is timbered, as also the mine elsewhere, with pine from Oregon and Truckee, California which costs here $45 per thousand feet. The posts are 12 by 12 inches and 14 by 14 inches, and the sills 10 by 14. In this large chamber which is 60 by 75 feet, we climbed 100 feet upwards amongst these timbers that appear as solid as adamiant. Nothing but ore has been taken out of this large, now empty space. There are also several drifts from this chamber to the west and south, all in ore.


On the 714 foot level there is one drift 54 feet to the north, all in ore bristling at you where ever you look. You find the ore in the quartz, in spar and in porphyry. From the 612 level there is a winze connecting with the 510 level, all through white quartz and porphyry carrying rich ore, and masses of pure white quartz carrying lower grade ore. The 510 is, we think the richest level. There are native silver, antimonial silver and zinc blende prominent, and forming of itself a grand bonanza.


The ore in the large 408 chamber is chiefly native silver, with polybisite and galena, carrying antimony, of great value in silver, On the 300 level there is a cross cut to the west, 35 feet in porphyry, and a drift to the east 60 feet through white quartz. We found quartz a width-of about 60 feet along the sides and then porphyry beyond. There is a body of spar running from the 408 level to the 250 level all the way up on the southeast side of the porphyry, which will probably run into the old works on the surface, from which so much rich ore was taken and shipped. Quartz, spar and porphyry appear distinct and also intermixed.


The ore above the 250 foot level to the 110 level has been left intact for future use. In fact, the levels down to the 300, although much work has been done, are yet but for prospecting purposes. We have tried to see and find walls, but really we must say that none exist, for what appears to be a wall, that has been called a hanging wall, is but a seam with porphyry on the other side, carrying rich ore. Down in the depths at 730 feet it appears that the real ledge is found, the backbone, thus surmounted with an enormous mass of ore, of which some of the richest has been taken, yet so abundant that it seems inexhaustible. But there are also immense bodies of low grade ore, which will in time encumber the work, and must even now be inconvenient. This must be worked in a different manner and on a more economical plan, as also the tailings about the mine.


There is money enough in these lower grade ores to make the King forever famous, apart from the rich ores therein, and with suitable and more extensive machinery, the amount of yield is only a matter of industry. The near future will most probably confirm what now appears to us demonstrated, that the seams and courses of the mine with it's rich veins, run west of north and east of south and that the present mine is but a surface development in the heavy covering that rests upon a vast quartz body below, through which this volcanic maelstrom of molten mineral has been thrown, containing, all varieties of silver ore, combined with baser metals as if were a witches cauldron. Larger, more extensive works are most imperatively called for.


The mill has an abundant supply of water for 100 stamps or more. We have fuel plenty for considerable time from the desert, but the coal fields call loudly upon us and the timber close by these will supply all our anticipated wants of that kind. A narrow track railroad could he built, for a three months yield of this mine, connecting Pinal with the coal fields and the Southern Pacific Railroad. Millions in silver lay glaringly before the feet on the surface and in the mine. By enlarging and remodeling the present works, and adapting a process for the profitable working of the lower grade ores. That is, ores below $100 per ton, the yield of this mine will be at once quadrupled.



Jan. 20, 1883 Superintendent’s Report, Pinal, Arizona, Jan. 1, 1883.


On the 1st February. The ore was being taken from the 714 level only. Including the station and drift, 10,770 cubic feet had been extracted. Since that time the displacement has been 236, 581 cubic feet, the work extending to 150 feet and 92 feet in its greatest length and breadth, and to 42 feet at it’s highest. This level is in ore on all sides of it. It is securely timbered with 98 sills, 201 stretchers, 804 posts, and 1560 caps and ties. The sill stretchers and posts are of 14 inches square lumber, and the caps and ties of 12 inches square lumber. And is further secured with pillars built of the waste, to a height now of 25 feet and progressing. A tank has been cut on this level, 16 x 8 feet, by 8 ft. it measures in the clear. The only work on the 612 level has been cutting out a winze station and sinking a winze to the 714 level for air. This level is in ore. The ground all in place.


The 510 level had been tapped of 8,600 cubic feet, and its station had been timbered. A drain has been cut out to a tank at the shaft, the draft timbered, the floor extended and stopes started. The space measures 20,104 cubic feet. Its timbers are of the same dimensions as those of the 714 level. In this work now there are 24 sills, 49 stretchers, 86 posts, and 233 caps and ties. All this work is in ore. A drain has been cut out on the 408 level to a tank at the station and drift timbered throughout. Only the heavy ground has been taken out to relieve the timbers, and as in the 714 level, pillars have been built of the waste in such manner as to hold the ground in place until wanted, when it can be easily got at, the pillars always adding to the support of the timbers. No other work has been done on this level, which is partly stoped through to the 356 level.


I found the space measured 133,020 cubic feet. It now measures 133,730 cubic feet. This level has ore in its face. . . The drift of the 356 level has been dressed down and timbered.




The Superintendents Home – Silver King, AZ

Silver King – 1977

Courtesy D. De Montigny


Through this the waste is carried, and from it, shot to the pillars being built to the 403 level. The timbers have been eased where necessary. No other work has been done here. It is stoped in part, through to the 304 level. I found the displacement to be 97,900 cubic feet. This level and its stopes are in ore. In the 304, 252 and 110 levels no work has been done this year. Excepting the drifts through them, this ground is all in place today. On the surface the ore was uncovered while extending the excavation for the foundation of the hoisting machinery. The northeast compartment has been fitted with guides, trimmed down and cages have been run in both compartments since May last. As at the first of the year, the water is of little moment less than 2,000 gallons a day. It comes in above the 408 level where the greater quantity is caught and drained into the southwest. (Intake) compartment of the shaft. The rest seeps through to the winze and is drained at the 510 level as at the 408 level. Below the 510 it is a dry mine. All the ground has to be blasted. The ventilation is good.


The mine looks well throughout. Its ore limits are not known in any direction underground. A new steel boiler has been set up and connected. The old boiler has been repaired. By this the consumption of wood was reduced from 3 1/2 to 1 1/2 cords a day. The hoisting machinery and its foundation have been taken out, a new foundation put in, and the machinery refitted. It works well.


A carpenter’s and blacksmith’s shop and sawmill have been put up. An ore house is in course of erection. It is to contain a rock breaker which is now on the ground. The work is to be completed this month. A trestle has been completed from the old dump to the ore house. The water at the pump station has been equal to the ore demand. 695 cords of wood be been consumed at a cost of $6,250 dollars. 18,863 tons of ore have been delivered at the mill. 18,000 of them were taken from the 714 level. The rest, with but few from the 408, came from the 510 level. Three hundred fifty tons remain on the dump. At the mill two of the batteries have been taken down, two new mortars set in place of old ones and the, batteries refitted. Two more tables have been set; up and have worked since Nov. 6th, making 8 tables, now running. The mill building has been extended required. The ore yard has been raised to the level of the feeder hoppers of the battery, increasing the elevation of the site to 22 feet. Assay offices, a blacksmith and carpenter shop have been built on the site. By direction of the General Manager, Col. Barney, the reduction of ore by leaching ceased October 31st.


The month of November gave an opportunity to closely test the work and the following was the result: 1,523 tons, or a value by assay of $61.08 - 100 per ton, gave 78.944 – 1,000 tons of concentration, of a value of 1,094 - 1,555 - 10,000 per ton by assay. Thus 19.41 - 100 tons were dressed down to one ton. The ore shipped weighed 5.16 - 100 per cent of that crushed, the loss being 7.69 - 100 per cent of $49,534 - 10,000 per ton. Over one-third of the value was in native silver. 1,900 tons of ore remain in the’ yard....


Pinal Drill

Dec 10, 1881 SILVER QUEEN


The shaft is now down to 400 feet. At this point they drifted to the north, and have reached 96 feet, where they struck the ledge. This is quart copper ore, and shove quite a body across the whole width of the ledge. The drift is now in 11 feet. They have also in the ledge, streaks of talc and iron and copper ore, mixed, copper being predominant. There is more water coming in from the ledge, but not enough to hinder the work. Assays show that the copper carries silver. The exact percentage of copper is not yet ascertained, but to all appearances it is over 50 per cent. 


Courtesy Tom McCurnin


November 10, 2007 Revisit to Silver King


11/10/07 Jack San Felice at Silver King Mine

Photo by: Neal Du Shane


Short History of the Silver King Mine

An Excerpt from When Silver Was King

By Jack San Felice © 2006

In 1870 General George Stoneman led his soldiers of the California Column into Arizona Territory to protect the settlers and miners who were looking for new areas to search for riches. General Stoneman decided the best way to control the Apaches was to build a road up the side of the mountains between his two camps. Camp Pinal was at the top of the mountains below present Hutton Peak, and Camp Picket Post was at the bottom near Queen Creek near Picket Post Mountain. This would also allow his horse soldiers to effectively pursue the Apaches. This road was (and still is) called the Stoneman Grade. It became for many years the only horse or mule trail to Globe from the mining camps near Picket Post Mountain. While working on this road on the side of King's Crown Mountain, one of his soldiers by the name of Sullivan found some black rocks that did not break when struck but bent. What Sullivan found was silver sulfide nuggets. Sullivan did not tell his companions about his find, but kept it a secret.

However, in March of 1875 a prospecting party returning from Globe via the Stoneman Grade camped by a small brown hill. This party consisted of Charles G. Mason, Ben W. Regan, William H. Long, Isaac Copeland, and another man (whose name remains lost to time) camped on the site of the present day main shaft of the Silver King Mine. On March 25 they found the source of Sullivan's silver nuggets near their camp. Sullivan's secret was no longer a secret. They thought they had found a King of a mine, in fact they named it the Silver King Mine. They gathered some ore and rushed to Florence to register their claim and established the newly formed Pioneer Mining District. About the same time as staking out the Silver King they located another rich silver prospect nearby and called it the Silver Queen. The Silver Queen prospect would later become the famous Magma Mine of Superior, which turned out million’s in copper ore shortly after the turn of the 20th Century.

During its peak days from 1876 to 1887 the Silver King Mine produced from $7 million to $40 million dollars worth of ore according to various reports. The company's records show that the Silver King Mining Company paid out almost $2 million dollars in dividends to its investors. The ore was extremely rich from top to bottom and plenty of good ore was left in the mine as the management preferred to high grade the ore leaving the lower grades in the mine. The amount taken out was only 10% of the approximate mineable ore body. This leaves 90% of payable waiting to be extracted. The Silver King Mine was initially developed to a depth of 830 feet. This included the open cut or glory hole and a water sump reservoir of 36 feet. The main shaft by 1883 was dug to a vertical depth of714 feet. There were two compartments, each about 4 feet square, side by side, that were fitted with cages. These cages were hooked to a head frame, attached to cables and powered by steam. They brought out the ore and transported men and supplies into the mine to the seven levels of the mine.

Several factors affected the closing the Silver King Mine. The cost of wood had been steadily rising and it took thousands of cords of wood to fuel the steam engines necessary to run the mine and the mills. In fact, it cost $8 to $18 per cord of wood at that time, and it took a cord to roast each ton of ore. The superintendent with the approval of the company decided to convert from wood to fuel oil and this cost depleted the cash reserves. The cost of processing the ore thus went up. In the interim the Silver Standard was in the process of being devalued and the country’ monetary system was changing to the Gold Standard. In addition, the local Pinal City Bank collapsed. This signaled the collapse of the western silver boom, and although there were a million tons of ore left in the Silver King Mine, no speculators were willing to invest in a mining venture during this period of national instability.

The Re-openings of the Silver King Mine


In 1905 the mine was again opened for a short time, then again in 1916 and 1917. There was still plenty of silver to be mined according to the mining men of that era. In 1919 investors financed a $500,000 bond issue which reopened the mine and the mine realized a profit during that operation. After this reopening the mine stood idle and filled up with water. Throughout the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. the mine was never completely drained of the water, although several investors made some half-hearted attempts. Many times over the years some ore was brought up out of the mine and even a new shaft was dug and the old drifts reworked. Each time the mine was worked valuable ore was located, but the working capital necessary for a large venture never materialized. Even the tailings and the dumps were worked during the 1970s and 1980s with some success using the cyanide leach process.


The mine is currently an active mining claim and normally off limits to visitors. The Deens of Riverside filed an active claim in 1997. They staked the property and completed a certified survey. Then they filed the proper papers making them the legal claimants to the Silver King Mine and the adjacent mining claims. I became acquainted with the Deens and decided to write about the history of the mine. After several visits to the mine, I began to do some serious research on the Silver King and decided to write a book about the mining days of the 1880s and the attempts to reopen the mine.


The book called When Silver Was King, is really about the people who lived in those turbulent times. The story centers on the people who worked at the Silver King Mine and who lived in the town of Silver King, which surrounded the mine. It also centers on the people of the town of Pinal, five miles down the mountain, on Queen Creek, next to Picket Post Mountain, which was the mill site for the mine. The book is now in print and includes the history of the 1880s and the Central Arizona area, which was greatly influenced by the mine. It includes the process of mining silver in the 1880s, tales of other mining activity next to the Silver King, stories of early pioneer life, the Stoneman Grade, Apaches, miners, pioneer women, stagecoach robberies, and frontier justice. It also includes several stories about the search for the Two Soldiers Mine and the Lost Dutchman Mine that many believe are one and the same. These searches originated from the town of Silver King and took the seekers into the vast mysterious Superstition Mountains.


As of 2006 the Silver King Mine is not a prospect, but a working mine, with all the necessary equipment functional, and has the necessary permits and Plan of Operation to operate. With the right investors the mine will reopen to take its place once again among the great silver mines of the world.



By: Jack San Felice

Available at Amazon.com







On our trip to Pinal City Cemetery and Silver King Mine Dick Pierce had previously visited both cemeteries. There were three individuals that Dick believed were buried in these two cemeteries and there is no marker for any of them. In an effort to help Dick and the families of the deceased, we offered to see if we could identify the graves for them.


Silver King Cemetery 11/10/07, Photo by: Neal Du Shane


After touring the Silver King Mine we ventured a short distance back down the road and took a road up a creek to the right. The Silver King Cemetery is 1,720’ up this road with an average elevation gain of 9%. Which is a little deceiving as some areas were flat and several were 22% grades. During the time we visited the cemetery you would not be able to get a 4 X 4 up the creek, an ATV could make it but the most enjoyable mode was to hike it. As you cross the creek for the second time you will climb a small hill and come to a “Y” in the road, stay to the right and proceed up the road.


Silver King Cemetery Unknown female child, Photo courtesy: Dick Pierce


Photo courtesy: Jack San Felice


After reaching the most visible portion of the cemetery you can see two wrought iron enclosures which are being sparkly maintained by friends or the families of those interred. One additional wrought iron enclosure is visible with some searching.


As we approached the cemetery we a couple of hundred feet prior to reaching it, we ventured off the main road and began our research. There are unidentified graves unless you have a trained eye for these graves.


Proceeding past the main portion we identified graves for another 500’ as we walked up the road. Our estimate is there could be 75 to 150 graves here, as our time didn’t allow for exact research and marking the unidentified graves.


The grave that Dick Pierce wanted us to identify was that of a Charles Mallet Dobbie. In researching the area we were able to identify his grave, which is under a growth of cactus with no visible artifacts to identify it.


Kevin Hart and I walked an area on either side of the road for a distance of 100’ and found numerous unidentified graves. Interesting is there were about equal graves of women and children as there were adult males. Adult males would indicate miners killed for various reasons. The causes of death of the woman and children can only be attributed to epidemics common during this era. No records have been found to identify the plots in the cemetery and only three remaining enclosures mark graves.


This is a rewarding find and it would be nice to layout the graves using stones, clear undergrowth and brush and preserve this historic portion of our heritage.


If you have any information as to who is interred in this cemetery we would welcome your input.


Map to Silver King, Arizona




Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 111207


WebMaster: Neal Du Shane




Visit Dick Pierce’s excellent website of this sojourn at: