Mineral Exploration

mule teamThe first mineral venture on the Arizona Strip can be traced to 1872, when two packers discovered a little "color" in the sand at the mouth of Kanab Creek. Word of the gold discovery soon reached the outside, via the newly installed telegraph at Pipe Springs, and miners poured into the region. The gold was too fine to be profitable, however, the influx of outsiders breached the isolation of the Mormon communities and stimulated the local economy.

Although gold was never an important commodity on the Arizona Strip, copper was more abundant and periodically profitable. In the early 1870's, the Bentley Mining District was formed. A group of men from St. George, Utah established an official claim on the Grand Gulch Mine in 1873, which ultimately became the most prominent mine in the region. However, profitable exploration of the ore, said to be "the richest ever produced by a copper mine in the Territory," was hampered by isolation and the long haul to a railhead. Mules initially packed in tools and supplies until a wagon road opened to St. George.

In 1906, a 54-mile long wagon road was constructed, connecting the mine to St. Thomas, Nevada, now under water at Lake Mead. It took freight teams a week to make the round trip. Between 8 to 12 tons of ore were hauled each trip at a value of $10.00 a ton. The drop in copper prices following World War I caused the mine to shut down for two decades; it was reopened for a brief time during and following World War II.

smelterThe mine's main buildings burned in 1955, and by 1958 the mine was abandoned, although it was reworked in the early 1960s, and again during the uranium boom in the 1970s. Today, some relatively complete buildings and structures still stand, including a bunkhouse and adobe smelter. Some structures and equipment are on private land.


  Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument 
345 East Riverside Drive
St. George, UT 84790-6714
Phone: (435) 688-3200
Fax: (435) 688-3258
Monument Manager: Pam McAlpin
Hours:  7:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Saturday


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