audrey-headframe

The state-of-the-art Audrey shaft and headframe was the largest facility of its kind built by the United Verde Extension (UVX) Company during its years of operation. It was constructed in 1918 only after the location of an extraordinarily rich copper deposit made the investment economically viable. The search for the “bonanza’ had not been easy! Since he had obtained an option on the company in 1912, James S. “Rawhide” Douglas had dug in vain, counter to the advice of his own geological experts and others who claimed that the mine would never be profitable. Against all odds, Douglas persisted, and finally in December of 1914, with his corporate resources almost exhausted and much to the dismay of the mining world, his crews ran into the incredible deposit. It was not as large as that of United Verde, but it was twice as rich in copper per ton of material.

The first shaft, the Daisy (located near the Little Daisy Hotel), had been sunk down to the 800 foot level in 1902 but neither it nor its drifts (horizontal runs) had shown any sign of ore in significant amounts. In 1913, the Edith shaft, located 1500 feet to the east, was begun. That year, a drift on the 1200 foot level ran into a promising deposit about 500 feet to the south. This in turn led the next year to the tip of the massive body of rich ore that made the fortunes of Douglas and his investors. From 1912 to 1916, the price of UVX stock jumped from $0.15 per share to $35.

old-audrey-headframe-rendering

The Audrey shaft was completed in 1918 as part of a complex operational plan that sought to maximize the amount high-grade ore extracted, reduce fire risk (a major concern in this sulfur-rich soil) and optimize worker safety. The Daisy shaft was relegated to air supply, while the Edith served as the workhorse for the handling of materials. The Audrey shaft was assigned the task of hauling ore to the surface in its early life and after 1919 to the 1300 foot level where it was transported underground via electric trains to the new Clemenceau smelter, south of what is now “Old Town” Cottonwood. The mining operation as a whole was considered one of the best designed and safest in America.

The shaft itself is made up of three independent, concrete-lined segments with major horizontal hubs at the 800, 1200, 1300, 1400 1500, 1600 and 1700 foot levels. The headframe consists of a structure of wood beams supporting three sets of pulleys over which cables ran that hoisted cargo cages. Cage guides on the headframe served as transitions from each of the shaft segments to the free air above ground.

The UVX operation in Jerome was concentrated in a fairly small area bordered by the Little Daisy hotel on the hill to the north serving as a residence for miners and the Douglas Mansion to the south. A complex of buildings and other structures were clustered next to the Edith and Audrey shafts. These included, among others, a power substation fed by TAPCO (Childs/Irving system), a machine shop, a warehouse, and two office buildings.

During the years from 1919 through 1938 the Audrey headframe lifted more than 3.6 million tons of ore yielding 320,000 tons of copper, 190 tons of silver, and 5.3 tons of gold. The profit was immense, averaging in excess of 70%, and continued at this pace until the price of copper fell precipitously in the early stages of the Great Depression.

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