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The Lost Duppa Mine


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First known as the Silver Range, the Bradshaw Mountains rise up west of the Aqua Fria River in central Arizona. The Bradshaws abound in mineral deposits, both gold and silver. For many years a stronghold of the Apache, the Bradshaws were slow in giving up their mineral wealth. American prospectors finally opened the floodgates in the 1860's. In 1862, a party of prospectors led by the famous mountain man Joseph Walker discovered rich deposits of gold near the headwaters of the Hassayampa River. The following year, a group led by William Bradshaw penetrated the heart of the range and also found precious metal deposits. In August of that year, a second party of prospectors led by another famous mountain man discovered the fabulous Rich Hill gold fields.

Many rich strikes were to follow in the coming years. This rugged mineral-rich mountain range came to be known as the Bradshaw Mountains. They were named for the famous prospector and early Arizona pioneer, William Bradshaw. During the 1860's, a wave of prospectors, adventurers, and drifters poured into the mining districts of the Bradshaw Mountains.
One such adventurer was an Englishman named Bryan Philip Darrell Duppa. Born in 1832, Duppa moved first to New Zealand, and then in 1863 moved to the Arizona Territory. He gravitated to the mining district near present-day Prescott where he lived for about five years. In 1868, Duppa moved down to the Salt River valley where he tried his hand at farming. Soon, he decided to take on the job of station manager of the stagecoach stop near present-day Dewey. Duppa's station was located about 13 miles straight east of Prescott, on the Agua Fria River. The new proprietor of the Dewey station found himself traveling back and forth to rescott many times. One day, Duppa took a short- cut down one of the many canyons that cut the east flank of the northern Bradshaws. Somewhere in that steep canyon, Duppa stumbled on a ledge of silver-bearing quartz. The ore mineral was pure native silver! Duppa returned to the station on the Aqua Fria in great excitement. He had finally made good. Or at least he thought so. When Duppa attempted to retrace his steps to the ledge, he was unable to find it! He never did. Duppa eventually retired in Phoenix, dying there in 1892.


The history of mining in the Bradshaw Mountains extends back to Pre-Columbian times. When the Americans entered the area in the early 1860's, they discovered many old mine shafts, prospect pits, and arrastres. Sometimes they found signs of the earliest inhabitants, the Pre-Columbian Indians. The Silver Belt Mine is a case in point. It was discovered by American prospectors who stumbled on the old mine shaft by accident. Inside, they found primitive stone tools and evidence that the native silver had been worked by the Indians.

The Bradshaws turned out to be richly mineralized. During the 1860's, the northern Bradshaws saw huge strikes at Lynx Creek and Rich Hill. During the 1870's, the focus shifted southward to the southern Bradshaws. In 1870, the fabulous Tiger lode was discovered followed by the even richer Crown King deposits five years later.
The northeastern flank of the Bradshaws is home to a number of rich mining districts. The Lynx Creek/Walker District was one of the richest in Arizona. Lynx Creek produced more placer gold than any other stream in the state. The upper reaches of Lynx Creek flow across ancient Precambrian bedrock while the lower stretches of the stream flow across Tertiary-age conglomerates. Placer gold occurs along the entire length of the stream, but is especially concentrated along the lower stretches of the creek. The gold deposits of Lynx Creek demonstrate that mineralization in the Bradshaw Mountains is both Precambrian and Laramide in age. Placers have been derived from mineral deposits of both ages. In the case of Lynx Creek, a small Laramide granodiorite intrusion was the source of most of the placer gold.

The Big Bug District is located about 12 miles southeast of Prescott, on the slopes of the Bradshaw Mountains. Gold is found in lodes, placers, and as a by-product. Over half a million ounces of gold have been reported from the district with about 10% of this production as placer gold.