Copper Queen Mine

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Copper Queen Mine Tour, Sept 2008
Polished azurite specimen from the Copper Queen

The Copper Queen Mine was the copper mine in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, that gave birth to the surrounding town of Bisbee. In the early 1900s it was the most productive copper mine in Arizona.[1]


The original claim to the mine was staked in 1877 by a prospector named George Warren, attracted by outcrops with the lead mineral cerussite, which often carried silver.[2] An option on the mine was acquired in 1880 by entrepreneur Ed Reilly who raised $80,000 capital from Dewitt Bisbee to begin production.[3] The surface pockets of cerussite were soon exhausted, but the owners found that the orebody ran 23% copper, with silver and gold as byproducts. Most mines of that era could profitably mine ore containing 3% or 4% copper, so the Copper Queen orebody was considered extraordinarily high grade. The surface oxide ore was exhausted after three or four years, but miners explored deeper and eventually found even larger orebodies.[4]

In 1884-5 the mine was offered for sale to London investors for £350,000, but the offer was not taken up,[5] and the mine was acquired by Phelps Dodge, which introduced a policy of racial segregation at the mine, with workers of Mexican origin not allowed to perform skilled jobs.[6]

In the early 20th century deposits of gold and silver were also discovered in the mine.[7]

In 1917 the mine was involved in the Industrial Workers of the World miners' strike[8] which led to over 1000 miners being arrested and deported in what became known as the Bisbee Deportation.[9]

By the middle 1960s, the grade of ore from the Copper Queen had declined to 4%.[10] The mine ceased production in 1975, but tours are conducted for visitors.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Horace J. Stevens (1909) The Copper Handbook, v.8, Houghton, Mich.: Horace Stevens, p.1457.
  2. ^ R.W. Graeme (1987) Bisbee, Arizona's dowager queen of mining camps, a look at her first 50 years, in History of Mining in Arizona, Tucson: Mining Club of the Southwest, p.51.
  3. ^ Nicholl, Boyd; Coggin, Janice (2003). Bisbee, Arizona, Then and Now. Cowboy Miner Productions. pp. p. 55. ISBN 1-931725-10-1. 
  4. ^ Horace J. Stevens (1909) The Copper Handbook, v.8, Houghton, Mich.: Horace Stevens, p.586.
  5. ^ Casson, Mark (2000). The Evolution of International Business, 1800-1945. Taylor & Francis. pp. p. 89. ISBN 0-415-19009-6. 
  6. ^ Hart, John Mason (1998). Border Crossings: Mexican and Mexican-American Workers. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. p.176. ISBN 0-8420-2717-3. 
  7. ^ Kingsolver, Barbara (1996). Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983. Cornell University Press. pp. p. 11. ISBN 0-8014-8389-1. 
  8. ^ Foner, Philip Sheldon (1947). History of the Labor Movement in the United States. International Publishers Co. pp. v. 2, p.269. ISBN 0-7178-0627-8. 
  9. ^ "The Bisbee Deportation 1917". Web exhibits. University of Arizona. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  10. ^ Leonard P. Larson and William C. Henkes, The mineral industry of Arizona, US Bureau of Mines, 1966 Minerals Yearbook, v.3, p.93.
  11. ^ Fields, Terri (2003). Counting Arizona's Treasures. Kiva Publishing. pp. p. 33. ISBN 1-885772-03-3. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°26′25″N 109°54′48″W / 31.44033°N 109.91335°W / 31.44033; -109.91335