Friday, December 24, 2010
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo
A middle-aged couple walking along the Verde River in Cottonwood, Arizona, stopped to talk to me as I was sketching. They explained that the tall phragmites grass along the river was used by the native peoples as roofing in their homes and as the stem of arrows. I told them about my interest in mining history.
The man said he used to work at the University of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. He worked in the library as a researcher. One day a call came in from Phelps Dodge mining company asking if someone could do a job for them retrieving documents that were taken from the Jerome Hospital in filing cabinets when the hospital closed and thrown down the shaft of the Daisy Mine. He was assigned the job. He was loaded into the one-man escape hoist and dropped to the bottom of the mine shaft.
The man could see equipment on various levels of the mine as he descended. On reaching the bottom he found the filing cabinets split open and the documents strewn about along with doctors’ bags and other materials from the hospital. Yes, he could read the documents! While he was below ground he explored a mine tunnel which was offset by the still active Verde Fault.
Phelps Dodge eagerly received the retrieved documents - perhaps too eagerly. Instead of appreciating the documents for their historic value, they were immediately burned so that they could not be used in future litigation against the mining company!