Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project


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Lost in Plain Sight – The Senator Mine


By: Allan Hall - APCRP Certified Coordinator


I received a research request from Neal the other day to help pin down the location of the Senator Mine in the Bradshaw Mountains.  The question in his note was pretty straight forward:


“Any idea where Maxton or the Senator Mine was at the head of the Hassayampa? There is a Senator Mine up near Prescott (south) which would make logical sense as the Hassayampa Head is up there. But I can’t find info on Maxton.”


According to Neal’s reference source the following clue was provided:


The next and third stop on the long road was Buck Horn Station, a saloon where teamsters and miners could again wash the dust from their throats and proceed on to the fourth and final night stop, a place called Maxton, at the head of the Hassayampa River, where the famous Senator Mine was located.”


It has always puzzled me why a mine as famous as the Senator was not named on USGS maps.  I had seen vague references to the Senator’s location before on the usual authoritative sites, but had not followed up on them.  By “authoritative,” I include the esteemed web sites of Mindat.org and, of course, the USGS.  Mindat provides the following set of coordinates for the mine:  N 34o 24’ 58” by W 112o 24’ 40”.  When these are entered into mapping software the result is a location on the northwest shoulder of Mt. Union, about 200 feet from the symbol for an unnamed mine adit.  Not exactly a bull’s eye, but not bad.  However, if you used those coordinates as the sole basis for an outing, you would be mistaken and possibly disappointed.


Map 1, Mindat Coordinates for Senator Mine


The issue here – and perhaps an important one for researching places of historical importance – is that Mindat is attempting to use a single set of coordinates to represent the location of the “Senator Mine” when it is actually four mines with an unspecified number of workings and prospects.  To be truthful, neither Mindat nor (apparently) the USGS really knows which particular hole in the ground was the original Senator Mine.


A Bit of History


The Senator Mine was famously known as a gold property, but its primary production was lead and zinc, with lesser amounts of silver and copper.  It began operation some time before 1871. By 1881 the Senator Shaft had reached 200 feet in depth with multiple levels, drifts and crosscuts.  For a period of about two years mining operations apparently stopped and it then reopened from 1883 until 1899.  During this second period the shaft was sunk to its maximum depth of 835 feet.  There was a 250 foot long stope on the 600 foot level of the mine.  Additional activity occurred, possibly on an intermittent basis, until at least 1934.


The mine was situated on what became known as the Senator Vein and was a patented claim.  The immediate vicinity had three other veins however, and these too were patented as the Snoozer, Ten Spot and Tredwell claims.  Although there may have been one or more adits, the four mines utilized shafts as the principal method to reach the veins.  Knowing that the Senator Mine was a shaft operation, the Mindat coordinate raised an immediate question about its accuracy.


If you are familiar with the use of Section, Township and Range as a means of describing a location you know that mine claims (and even the legal description of your property) use terminology such as “SE ¼ Section 36, T3S, R23W.”  Although its use can be a bit frustrating and may seem anachronistic compared to GPS coordinates, they are usually very useful when trying to sort out one old mine from another where there was dense mining activity.


For example, the location of the Senator Mine group is defined as having claims “that extend into” Section 2 and Section 35, T12N, R2W.  Importantly, saying that some portion of the claims are in these Sections does not mean that the shafts are located there.  It does mean, however, that the claims gave the owners the right to pursue the ore veins by surface or underground means if they wanted.  See Map 2 below.


Map 2, Expanded View of Senator Mine Area


In this map view you can see the Mindat location and the unnamed adit in the lower right corner (NW ¼ of Section 6).  The left portion of the map shows Sections 2 and 35, which are claim areas of the Senator, Snoozer, Ten Spot and Tredwell veins.  As you can see, most of the mine workings are quite some distance from the location provided by Mindat, and Section 35 is virtually empty of mine entrances.


The Cash Mine straddles the boundary between Sections 1 and 36.  The Cash Mine began operations some time before 1881 but after the Senator Mine.  By the time the Senator shaft had reached 200 feet the Cash shaft was only 28 feet deep.  The patented claims of the Cash Mine extend into Sections 1 and 2.  This means that the three shafts (#605, #606 and #607)) in these Sections are part of the Cash Mine and are not related to the Senator Mine group.  That leaves four candidate shafts in Section 36, but none of them are named on USGS maps.


Fortunately, there is an excellent set of coordinates that positively identify the Ten Spot Shaft (here numbered #608) residing in the southwest quarter of Section 36.  The Ten Spot vein was not as rich as the Senator.  Although the mine extracted some silver, gold, copper and lead, its production was limited to a single year – 1932.  I can find no information regarding the depth of the Ten Spot shaft or the nature and extent of underground workings.


We are left, by process of elimination, with three shafts (#458, #459 and #460) to resolve the mystery location of the Senator Mine. To be honest, I have no idea which of these is the Senator, Snoozer or Tredwell. That may be as close as we will ever come to knowing.


The records do say that a ten stamp mill was built for the Senator Mine “one mile distant on Hassayampa Creek.”  The mill would have been somewhere in the upper portion of Section 36 between what is today Hassayampa Lake and Potato Patch.  The reference to the Hassayampa helps confirm that the three shafts are valid candidates for the Senator Mine. Establishing a precise location for Maxton might help to resolve the question.  Was Maxton the original name of Potato Patch, or was Maxton the name of the mill site?


Bobbi Wicks adds: AZ Terr. PO's and Postmasters lists Maxton - the PO est. 7/6/1901 and discontinued on 2/15/1905. AZ Place Names, does not list a Maxton.


Todd Zuercher adds: On the map, it would correspond to the blue diamond just to the left of the "H" in Hassayampa. That is the headwaters of the Hassayampa. In this day and age, the lake would probably be considered the headwaters of Hassayampa Creek, but before the dam was built waters still flowed from the area.      


The mill referred as being one mile from the Senator Mine is probable the Pickerell Mill. I believe the mill structure was torn down in recent years because people have built homes around it but it did exist until recently. It is just down the road from the entrance to Potato Patch. Potato Patch and Maxton are two different places. Once you go past the Senator Mine (headed south on the Senator Highway), you will cross the Hasayampa and then hug the western slope of the hill for a while. Where you turn left and head east up towards the Hassayampa Lake/Walker/Potato Patch road turnoff, you will see a concrete foundation on your left. That foundation is the remains of the Maxton store. I have always "assumed" that what existed of Maxton stretched up into that canyon for a distance.

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