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Arizona Gold, Legend and Lore Part 1

Arizona is very rich in minerals, but it is not the leading producer of gold. That honor falls some where between California and Alaska. The principle minerals produced in Arizona are copper, molybdenum, cement, and sand and gravel. Arizona is fourteenth in the US in value in mineral production with annual dollars produced at $1.29 billion. Arizona's main mineral production is copper. However, I was once told by a miner from one of the major copper mining companies the amount of gold processed while mining the copper pays for the operations. The copper is profit.

Gold producing areas
Mitch Waite

Keeping the above statements in mind, Arizona does produce large amounts of gold. When gold is found in Arizona it is usually in very rich veins or deposits. These areas are sometimes referred to by the old time prospectors as "Glory Holes." They produce very well and then terminate abruptly. The veins are either sheared off by worthless drifts caused by prehistoric earth quakes and volcanic activity. Many of the glory holes have met the fate of vast amounts of water flooding the shafts, making it impossible to pump the water out fast enough to allow continued mining.

The interesting thing about glory holes are they sometimes do not appear in areas that would support gold. In other words, the surrounding area composition is of rock that is not conducive for gold to be present. The tell-tale signs of quartz and feldspar may not be present. The vein or source of gold is a single vein squeezed through the faults in small areas. The vein may not be discovered until someone actually walks over the gold and sees it laying on the ground. This all plays into the culture of legends and lore of lost gold mines, buried treasures and vast riches that were there and then were never located again.

A great example of riches being there and then gone is the infamous Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine of the Superstition Mountains. For all intents and purposes, the Superstition Mountains are not made up of the proper materials that would indicate or support gold. However on the East end ofthe mountains, there are several mines that were located following the glory holes, and some of these mines produced millions of dollars of gold before the veins petered out, or were flooded.

Within the Superstition Mountains, the rock is all wrong. There are a few hints to minerals laying well below the breccia of the mountains and hills. It appears the Superstition Mountain caldera cut off or buried the mineralized belt millions of years ago when it was active.

The mineralized belt I am referring to is the copper belt that runs from the southeast of Arizona near Douglas and Tombstone in a northwest direction under the Superstition Mountains and continues north east past Prescott. These areas are where most of the large scale mining operations exist even today with the exception of the Superstition Mountains.

Is there gold in the Superstition Mountains? No, not enough to attract any large scale mining operations with open pit mines, and then the area was designated a wilderness area by congress, and no mining, prospecting, or treasure seeking is allowed.

To Be Continued...

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