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The Lost Spanish Mine of Sycamore Canyon


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The Sycamore Canyon country lies on the boundary between two of Arizona's great physiographic provinces - the uplifted mountains and valleys of the Central Highlands Province and the stable platform deposits of the Colorado Plateau. The Mogollon Rim, which forms the southern margin of the Colorado Plateau, is deeply cut and dissected by Sycamore Creek. The two physiographic provinces present many striking contrasts. The Colorado Plateau has been a bastion of tectonic stability for much of its history whereas the Central Highlands Province has witnessed several episodes of folding, faulting, and uplift. Consequently, many of Arizona's major mining districts are found in the "disturbed" rocks of the Central Highlands Province, while the Colorado Plateau is virtually barren of economic mineral deposits. The nearest mining district to Sycamore Canyon is, of course, Jerome. This area has a rich mining history extending back to the 16th century. The ore bodies at Jerome are somewhat unique. Mineralization was a product of ancient submarine volcanism. The mineral deposits are associated with highly metamorphosed Precambrian volcanic rocks.

The Sycamore Canyon country begins some 10 miles north-northeast of Jerome. This beautiful canyon cuts through a succession of middle to late-Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The oldest sedimentary rocks exposed in the canyon are Devonian to Mississippian in age and consist of highly fossiliferous limestones. These limestones are overlain by the red siltstones and shales of the Pennsylvanian/Permian-age Supai Formation. Further up the canyon, the Permian-age Coconino Sandstone crops out above the Supai Formation. The Coconino Sandstone consists of cross-bedded dune sands deposited in a desert environment. These sandstones are overlain by more Permian-age deposits: the Kaibab Limestone and the crossbedded sandstones of the Toroweap Formation. The Sycamore Canyon country is home to a few small faults, most of which trend roughly north-south. The Jerome area, on the other hand, harbors many faults, the largest of which is the north-south trending Verde Fault. As in many other mountain ranges in the Central Highlands Province, movement along the Verde Fault has lifted ancient Precambrian rocks to the surface. It is these rocks that contain many of the mineral deposits in this area.


.Sycamore Creek cuts through a succession of sedimentary rocks on its way to the Verde River valley. The canyon harbors no major mineral deposits, but the nearest mining district is less than ten miles away. One account of the story places the mine in a tributary of Tule Canyon, itself a tributary of Sycamore Creek. Another account places the mine further down Sycamore Canyon near its mouth. Prospectors may want to concentrate on both areas, but the lower stretches of the canyon seem to offer the best potential.

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Faults merit special attention as do any exposures of older Precambrian rocks. A metal-detector may be of some use in the search for gold-bearing float in the vicinity of the mine.