NORTHERN ARIZONA MINES
By CHAS. A. DINSMORE, Field Correspondent of the Journal-Miner.
October 11, 1911
SAN DOMINGO DISTRICT
Work has actually begun on the building of the dams for the Lotowana Placer Mining company, which Will conserve 150,000,000 gallons of water and enable this company to work its 3000 acres of auriferous gravel in the famous San Domingo field, nine miles east of Wickenburg, and about four miles back from the Hassayampa river. The ground averages over four feet to bedrock and carries above 40 cents a cubic yard. There will be two dams. All work, including 400 feet of tunnels and 600 feet of heavy rock work, has been done for the pipe line to the placer ground from the dams, and the water will have 9 feet of heads when it reaches the sluices. In 30 days placer operations will be in full blast in Rogers' wash, which is two and one half miles long, 1000 feet wide, nine feet deep, and for the entire distance carries more than 40 cents a yard. As fast as possible this work will be extended to the other ground of the company, and eventually there will be three 2000 yard dredges in operation. In the acquirement of the 1000 acres in the holding, in establishing and maintenance of camp, and in the thorough testing of 500 acres and prospecting of many hundreds more, some $30,000 has been expended, and by the time everythingIs in full blast the total initial outlay will have been approximately $75,000. Estimates of numbers of engineers who have investigated this project, place the amount of gold that can be profitably saved at $20,000,000.This is the greatest placering operation in the United States today; and the work here will demonstrate that sufficient water maybe conserved for this class of operation on a large scale using the methods of the government in reclaiming the arid lands of the country.
Three years ago Mr. and Mrs. John Sanger, both experienced placer miners who made money in the Nome Alaska fields, started across country with pack train to prospect south western Arizona for 25 cent ground. They heard of the San Domingo field, and investigated. They camped on the ground, and prospected very carefully. The results astonishing them as the ground was so rich, the gold is generally distributed from surface to bedrock; but it was told to them that it was practically worthless, because there was no water. After careful investigation Mr. Sanger decided that there was a watershed of sufficient size to furnish all water necessary for operations on a large scale if there were points where it could be saved. Natural damsites were found in both the San Domingo, and Hackberry washes. The first will save 50,000,000 gallons. The other twice as much. All this occupied more than a year; when the Sangers organized their company, and returning devoted all their attention to testing the property. The Rogers wash attracted their attention first, and Mr. Sanger tested 500 acres very thoroughly; but later he found other equally large, and rich washes, which are now being tested. The first operations however, will be in the Rogers wash.
This placer field is east of the Hassayampa river, lying flat, with benches on either side of numerous deep washes. The gold is coarse and in angular fragments, so little alloyed that it brings $19.25 per ounce. The gold is from surface to bedrock, about the same richness throughout. Probably it was not brought here by floodwaters, but is the result of the erosion of the mountains which once covered this flat. The ground is not packed as it would be if brought by water; and there are no large boulders to hamper placer operations. In the wash is found a great deal of quartz, some granite, diorite, schist, shale, lime, porphyry. The country rock at the head of the washes is generally granite, with great porphyry dykes passing through, and there is considerable schist. The placer ground has some growth of mesquite and palo verde, and there is much cacti of different growths. Bedrock is conglomerated, and in a thousand years or so would be the typical Gila conglomerate of the section. It is fairly soft now, so the top can be easily taken off, and thus all the gold that has concentrated on bedrock will be saved. In prospecting, men are sent out with pans and dry washing machines, many samples being taken from the top of the benches, from the sides, and from the bottom of the washes. In testing, pits are dug 6 feet long, 3 feet wide, and to bedrock. In all this prospecting, and testing not one absolutely barren pan has been found, which is most unique. In testing, Mr. Sanger has been more than conservative, rejecting all nuggets and also all pannings running exceptionally high. I have spent many days on the property, prospecting all the time, and the result was always the same--colors always. An expert Mexican placer miner named Eulalia was with me, and I saw him take a double handful of the gravel, dry placer it in his palms, and get from two to twenty-five colors. We took a pan in one of the richer spots in Spring Gulch wash, and got 300 colors. It is the most wonderful proposition I ever saw, and others who have given the field careful attention say the same.
In 1885 there was a rush to San Domingo wash. Hundreds of men of all nationalities flocked in and operated with dry washers. Sometimes they made as high as $100 a day per man, and $15 a day was just ordinary. In Old Woman gulch, working alone, a Mexican made $50 a day with a dry washer having capacity of only six yards a day. In American wash some California miners took out fortunes in a few months. Some of this work was in the washes, some on the benches and hillsides; it all ran high on the surface but they couldn't work to bedrock, because the gravel is never actually dry enough to dry wash at any depth. The spring of '86 the country was a blaze of flowers, and this new camp was named Placeritas de las Flores but it was later named San Domingo. There was a good town, with many stores, saloons, dance halls, etc. For several years placering operations forwarded steadily; but the richer dirt was washed. The dry machines did not save more than a third of the gold and were tedious to operate, so that soon the more enterprising went to other fields leaving this to the Mexicans. The man Eulalia, last winter, with one man to assist in operating a small four-yard dry washer took out $400 in 40 days at the lower end of one of the small benches in Spring Gulch wash; and in fact there are many Mexicans who make good wages constantly with their dry-washers. This whole country is full of history of rich strikes, and I have heard tales, well authenticated, that rival Rider Haggard's brain-storms. So, after thorough, investigation one is solidly impressed, be cause no matter where you test you will find the gold--it is here, everywhere in an area probably 25 miles long by 5 wide. The old-timers tried in every wav to get water onto the ground, but they failed. It has become the conviction throughout thesection that the gold cannot be saved because there is no water. However, an outsider came in and solved this problem, and the success here will be equalled in many other portions of state, where there is placer ground in exactly the same condition as is found here.
The dams to be installed by Mr.Sanger will conserve the water from a watershed fully 25 miles square. From October to May there is usually water in the main wash; and the summer rains cause water to flow for a month or more. The damsite is a natural one, similar to those in practically every canyon of this section, where all the washes box up. The dams will be of reinforced concrete. The ground for a great many miles west of the Lotowana ground, and for from 5 to 7 miles away from the Hassayampa river, all carries gold, and I quote the Sanger proposition because here has been the only exact testing and sampling of the district up to now. There will be hundreds of acres that will run more than $1 a yard, and there are thousands giving over 50 cents. The fact that in California they are placer mining to good profit on 14-cent ground shows what this all means to owners of Arizona placer ground, in the Wickenburg field at least. I went up a new wash the other day, where no prospecting has been done since the rush in the 8O's, and panned time and again, getting from 5 to 123 colors to a pan. The ground is rich, everywhere. The dry washers used in testing and in working this ground are new to me. There is no fan, as is usual, but beneath the riffles there is a bellows the full size of the riffle-box. This forcing the air upward and serving the same as water, causing the lighter material to flow over the riffles, while the gold is caught. No quick is used in these machines. Two men can handle from 4 to 6 yards of gravel a day with these machines. At first the Sangers were ridiculed; but now there is a real rush to get in on some of this ground, and there is general prospecting for damsites. Wherever a damsite is found, a placer mining project is feasible here, and this is being generally recognized now.The history of the financing of a mine is sometimes tragic, and so it has been with Sanger. He went to Boston and presented his proposition to a wide-awake business man who endorsed it and said he would furnish the funds. Sanger went to see him a day or so after, and found him on a sofa in his office, somewhat under the weather; but he said he would be all right in a day or two, and that if Sanger would call at 10 o'clock Friday morning he would have the papers drawn for signature, and the check ready. Friday morning Sanger received an invitation to attend this man's funeral, he having died meanwhile. There was another man who had the money and was going to put it into the placer mine. His wife, however, learned that he wasn't true to her and she raised such a deuce of a row that he gave up all thoughts of anything but the divorce court.
Then one day while taking a needed rest at Grand Canyon, Sanger met a man from Chicago, who casually remarked, "So you are in the gold brick business?" Sanger said he was and the man said he was going to Phoenix on his way home, and that he would go out and look at it. He did so, and wrote Sanger that when the latter got to Chicago he would like to have him call at his office. So,some time later the Sangers reached Chicago, and the afternoon before they were going away he called on the business man. As he entered the door of the man's office he said, " 'Lo. Sanger. Here's a check for $2500 in your gold brick scheme-it looks good to me." And thus it is- you are sure of a thing and it don't work, and again you have no hope and it's all right. Not long ago some bankers were to make a loan to Sanger to assist in the putting in of the first dam; but they wanted such a tremendous rake-off, the mine manager wouldn't take their money-and he walked out of the bank and met an entire stranger from Globe, who went to the mine, looked the property over thoroughly and then and there put up the money for the dam and they're now puttin it in.
Way out here on the desert, four miles from living water is the Lotowana mine (Lotowana means dawn of the morning). It is a pretty camp, well appointed, with every comfort. The Sangers had a lot of experience in Alaska, and they have had enough of the sour dough business. So they have a number of excellent houses, the stock is well cared for, they have a dandy Jap cook, and altogether it is as pleasant a camp as I ever was in. The ground has always been open to any kind of inspection, and this is the reason I have given so much time to the property, because the conditions are exactly the same over a great area here, and if this is so good there is a lot more. Lotowana will be the biggest placer mine on this continent in six months but there will be a great many others in this section, though none so large, possibly. The little man has a good chance here, and he is taking advantage of it right now. This placering means a revival of their branch of the industry. Throughout the arid section, there are many placers where water may be conserved as readily as here, and where the ground will pay handsomely.