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VOLUME 10 ISSUE 6

$5.99 NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2021 Serving Contracting Firms and the Arizona Community. . . Then & Now

Arizona’s Timeless Magazine

PAIR-A-DICE PARADOX: BEAUTIFUL WARREN VS. FUNKY BISBEE The Magnetic Attraction of Pinal County’s iron Deposits Arizona’s Crazy Plan to Use Atomic Bombs for Mining Glendale’s Underground Solution: An Urban Salt Mine Creatives Ignite a Copper Town Rebirth in Miami Globe’s Downtown Historic District That Copper Built The Inside scoop on East Africa’s Williamson Diamond Mine

Digging Into Arizona’s Mining Heritage

Dragging the Line:

Fred Sargent’s Mining Memories DCS Helps Queen Creek Stay atop Traffic Flow

5D Mining and Construction Reactivates Arizona Gold Mine

Phoenix’s Fab Place: Reuter Equipment Co.

Rough Aggregates make strong Concrete

New Agritopia Store Wins Air-Guitar Contest


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Arizona Contractor & Community (ACC) magazine is published bi-monthly (Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/June, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec). ACC is a professional publication designed for the contracting industry, engineers, architects, equipment rentals, suppliers, and others interested in Arizona and its history. Content including text, photographs or illustrations may not be reproduced without the written permission from the publisher. The publisher does not assume responsibility for unsolicited submissions. ACC reserves the right to reject any editorial and advertising material and reserves the right to edit all submitted content material. Arizona Contractor & Community Copyright © 2021 All rights reserved.

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Contributors – Buddy Escapule & Don Ryden From The Editor: Creatives Ignite a Copper Town Rebirth Douglas Towne Construction Around Arizona: Projects • People • Practices Back When - Mucking About in Wickenburg Douglas Towne Dragging the Line: Fred Sargent’s Mining Memories William Horner Sifting Through Sand: The Magnetic Attraction of Pinal County’s Placer Iron Deposits - Douglas Towne How Arizona Almost Got Nuked: Construction and Mining Using Atomic Bombs - Douglas Towne Glendale’s Underground Solution: An Urban Salt Mine Douglas Towne

Pair-A-Dice Paradox: Beautiful Warren Vs. Funky Bisbee Don W. Ryden AIA

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Old School Equipment: Dart Truck Company

82

Building on the Past - 1969: Vulture Mine’s New Wealth

84

88

Architect’s Perspective - Globe: Where Copper Was King Doug Sydnor, FAIA

Digging Through the Archives: The Williamson Diamond Mine - William Horner

92

Bid Results

94

Advertising Index

Front Cover Wives of two executives of the Atlas Consolidated Mining Co. stand in the Marion 201-M shovel dip­per at the Island of Cebu Mine, Philippines, late 1970s. Fred Sargent sold the machine to Atlas, the largest copper producer in the Philippines, which was owned by the Soriano Group that also operated the country’s largest brewery, San Miguel. Article on page 48. twelve

Image courtesy of Fred Sargent

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Contributors

Buddy Escapule Article on page 19

Don W. Ryden, AIA Article on page 74

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uddy is going on 17 years in construction, but this doesn’t include a childhood in which both sides of his family exposed him to the building industry. He was raised in Tombstone, where his father’s side of the family also worked in the mining and construction industry. Bill Noland, his grandfather on his mother’s side, is considered a top-notch bridge and concrete-structure builder in the Southwest. Following in his family’s footsteps, Buddy received his Class A General Engineering Contractor License two years ago. He then launched E&E Companies and purchased several vintage machines: a Caterpillar J621 scraper and Caterpillar 140G motor grader. He rents his equipment and operators to asphalt companies to perform finish work around the Valley. Buddy formerly worked full-time as a project manager for 5D Mining and Construction, based in Globe. He managed a gold-mining project for more than a year near the western Arizona town of Salome. Construction includesd building a 4-acre leach pad and a 4-million-gallon capacity pond to produce gold using a cyanide heap leach process. Prospectors discovered gold at the site in 1888, and it became known as the Harquahala Mine. The remote operation is popular as a flyover destination for area pilots. He wrote an article on this project for this issue of Arizona Contractor & Community magazine.

his is my story about how a passion for place led me to a career building harmony through heritage conservation. I was born between two architectural eras in mid-1950 Phoenix. Friends say I am not old but rather Midcentury Modern. Since 5th-grade Career Day, I believed I was a real architect with three gifts: I can draw well, see the unseen obvious all around me, and clearly connect dots for others. Architecture college gave me modern education but little traditional enlightenment. Encouraged by my loving family, I found for myself faith and philosophy deep inside architecture. My words, drawings, and buildings all are stories about sustaining heritage and environment. You can learn about the architecture of optimism from my book, Midcentury Marvels: Commercial Architecture of Phoenix 1945-1975. You’ll see that historic preservation is not like sealing pickles in a jar to keep but rather like nurturing sourdough starter in a bowl to share. And in that sharing, I have been honored with the 1994 Arizona Governor’s Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation and the 2012 AIA Arizona Architects Medal. Ryden Architects, Inc. was acclaimed as AIA Arizona Firm of the Year 2008. None of this could I achieve without the help of my beautiful wife, Lise, and the inspiration of our talented sons, Erik and Kirk.

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Arizona Contractor & Community


Creatives Ignite a Copper Town Rebirth Douglas Towne

“G

Images courtesy of Author

o West, young man,” was the prudent advice journalist Horace Greeley gave Americans looking for economic opportunities in the mid-1800s. Some Phoenix artists, however, are rebelling against this guidance and heading east. Their surprising destination is a place where “high-rises” consist of headframes and smokestacks. “I have always found mining towns to have so much character, you can still feel their history,” says Steph Carrico, a Phoenix

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artist and teacher who recently purchased a fixer-upper in Miami, Arizona. “The weather is a little cooler in the summer, the 75-minute drive from Downtown Phoenix is beautiful, and as a photographer, there is so much to capture. I love Prescott and Flagstaff, but I would not be able to afford a second home in those towns.” Located at the base of the Pinal Mountains, Miami is nestled amidst extensive mine workings and the Tonto National Forest. The town is following the trend of

Top left: Keystone Avenue in Miami, 1920s. Below: Inspiration Consolidated Copper Co. in Miami, 1966. Below left: Maureen Towne at the Traveler’s Hotel bar, which featured “Real Mixed Drinks” so powerful that they shattered the plate glass window, 2000. Bottom left: Defunct neon sign for the Traveler’s Hotel / Real Buffet, 2021.

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of Western Mining history

Editor’s Column:

other Arizona copper camps such as Bisbee and Jerome that have found second acts. But Miami is doing this while active mining continues, albeit at a reduced level from past boom times. In the late 1870s, silver deposits enticed the first residents to the Miami area. Within a decade, prospecting shifted to the area’s copper porphyry deposits, in which the mineral is disseminated through the ore body rather than concentrated in veins. A major reduction plant to process the copper opened in 1915, which led to the community being nicknamed “Concentrator City.” By World War I, copper production was in full swing, and Miami was booming. Underground mining continued through World War II and then ore extraction evolved into open-pit operations. Production has since shifted to solvent extraction and electrowinning, processes used for low-grade ore and that require a smaller workforce. As mining waned in Miami, some businesses closed and it was not uncommon for residents to abandon their homes. The town’s more notable commercial demises include three personal favorites. First, Pat’s Sleeping Beauty Bar was located along U.S. Highway 60 and named after a peak north of Miami that yielded impressive turquoise

November December 2021


Image courtesy of Western Mining history

Images courtesy of Author Image courtesy of Library of Congress

specimens. Second, Chalo’s La Paloma Café, or “the Dove,” located on Sullivan Street was once the go-to place for chili rellenos. Finally, down the street, the boarded-up Travelers Hotel that opened in 1918 featured an impressive buffet, once regional verbiage for a smorgasbord dedicated to drinking and dancing. Miami’s current population of almost 2,000 residents is a far cry from its peak of nearly 7,700 during the 1930s. But the infrastructure that’s leftover offers exciting prospects for those interested in rehabbing faded architectural gems. In addition, these unique residential and commercial properties are convenient to the Phoenix metro area and much more affordable.

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As is often the case with neglected communities, artists are the intrepid pioneers bringing life back to the structures; they often see possibilities others ignore. Carrico has followed friends Michael and Joanna Twenty-three, who previously ran the Downtown Phoenix art spaces Thought Crime and The Firehouse on First Street. The couple has opened Soda Pops retro soda fountain and the Miami Art Works store in historic commercial buildings on Sullivan Street. Carrico, who co-founded The Trunk Space in Downtown Phoenix, has opted to rehab a two-story residential structure with a surprising past. “The house I bought, it turns out, was a brothel back in the day,” she says. “I love

Top left: Pat’s Sleeping Beauty Bar along U.S. Highway 60, 1991. Above left: La Paloma Café, 1991. Above: Miami, 1952. Bottom: Copper processing in Miami, 1940.

how much of it is still as it existed in 1926 when it was built.” She plans to transform it into a summer and weekend getaway by preserving its original features, albeit with a few upgrades to make it more functional, such as adding a second bathroom. Carrico envisions the place becoming an artist retreat for friends too. “I’d like to put in a darkroom, a writing table with a typewriter, a sewing machine, and a place to paint,” she says. “I know sometimes getting away from my routine gives me the time and inspiration to do creative work; I would like to offer that to other artists.” Miami’s evolution has begun, and it’s extended beyond Carrico and her friends. Others in town are making banjos, teardrop trailers, and who knows what else. Carrico hopes the transition builds upon, rather than overwhelms, what the community currently offers. “I feel like more and more artists and craftspeople are moving out to Miami, and my hope is it’ll continue to become a place for creatives while still maintaining its charming Wild West ghost town feel,” she says. If you want to check out the hidden treasures of Miami, here’s an inside tip. The mining town’s locals pronounce it as “My-AM-uh.” Not to be confused with that other “My-AM-ee” in Florida. But don’t fret if you mess up. “So far, the people I have met in Miami are kind,” Carrico says. “It is definitely a small town, and everyone seems to know everyone.” Arizona Contractor & Community


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Projects . PEOPLE . PRACTICES

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Projects

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA

Buddy Escapule

M

odern-day alchemists are turning waste rock into gold at the historic Harquahala Mine, located in western Arizona between the town of Salome and Interstate 10. Their work has not gone unnoticed by the local snowbird population, which has gone perhaps a bit too fanboy over the project. “We have seasonal visitors riding their off-road vehicles to the project in hoards to watch us work,” Colby Johnston, a haul truck driver, says. “That’s cool, but they even try to drive through the project while our large equipment is moving materials, which is dangerous for everyone.” arizcc.com

Besides curious snowbirds, workers on the mine project have had to contend with scorching 118-degree temperatures, cold 30-degree mornings, and the daunting logistics of doing construction in a remote area of the Sonoran Desert, far from supplies and resources. But with gold prices hovering around $1,800 an ounce, the challenges are worth it to the mine’s new co-owners, Bonanza Mining Company and Tombstone Exploration Corporation. The reactivation of the Harquahala Mine, which has yielded gold since colonial days, is a fascinating $1.5 million, two-year project to extract wealth from old mining tailings. Above: The town of Harqua Hala, 1909. Right: An early 20th-century tunnel at the Harquahala Mine, 2020.

Image courtesy of Author

Cyanide is the Solution to Reopening La Paz County Gold Mine

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Located near the foot of Martin Peak at the southwest end of the Harquahala Mountains, the Harquahala Mine first produced gold in the 1760s. Spanish prospectors discovered the deposit, but its remote location and hostile Native American tribes limited the mine’s development until the 1880s. Significant production at the mine began in 1893 when the Harqua Hala Mining Co. acquired the property. The company assembled a 20-stamp amalgamation

Employee Spotlight: Stoney Gerdes and Cephus, the Raven Favorite job task: Running the machine shop in Globe. Toughest job task: Working the pond cut and ripping through hard rock with a D7 dozer. Most memorable day of work: The morning safety meetings, as Cephus the Raven would go to each crew member and peck at their feet and bite their shoelaces, then return to me and run his head on my pants leg. Favorite off-job task: Camping at the project and exploring the surrounding terrain. arizcc.com

mill and an onsite processing facility, which allowed it to cast 400-pound gold ingots, the sizable weight of which reduced theft. The town of Harqua Hala was built nearby to support the mine. The community featured a newspaper, the Harqua Hala Miner, and was connected by stagecoach to Sentinel, a settlement located near Gila Bend. The mine’s high-grade ore was exhausted by 1897, and large-scale production ended in 1918. The gold mine operated sporadically, also yielding silver and minor amounts of lead and copper until closing in 1932. Over the years, Harquahala Mine produced more than 2 million dollars of gold, developed several hundred feet of shafts and tunnels. The main shaft was 600 feet deep and branched off in drifts on seven different levels. Since then, several companies have evaluated the site for mining potential, including two around the time gold peaked at $595 an ounce in 1980, a price not seen again until 2006. Cave Creek Mining Co. submitted plans to the state to approve a 5,000-ton cyanide heap leach operation using old tailings in 1982. In 1984 Peter Kiewit Inc. began geological exploration at the mine site, which included surface drilling searching for untapped veins. But it took Bonanza Mining Company and Tombstone Exploration Corporation, who recently purchased the property, to bring the mine back to life. The owners are building a 450,000-ton cyanide heap leach operation with a 4-acre lined leach pad

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Projects

Images courtesy of AZ Offroad Image courtesy of Author

Above: Smithco Industries stacking goldbearing ore onto leach pad, 2020. Top right: Harqua Hala cemetery, 2020. Right: An abandoned building in Harqua Hala, 2020.

and a 4-million-gallon capacity catchment pond. The mining process includes crushing, agglomerating, and stacking tailings piles that weren’t rich enough to be milled and processed during the mine’s heyday. The ore will be cyanide leached to precipitate the gold, and the solution pumped through a series of carbon columns, which will be shipped offsite to have the metal stripped and processed. The owners obtained the necessary aquifer protection permits from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. D2 Survey, headquartered in Florence, Arizona, did the surveying and staking. 5D Mining and Construction, a Globe, Arizona company, had equipment brought in and built the lined leach pad and catchment pond, starting in June 2020. The company moved an estimated 50,000 cubic yards of material to create a pond to the required depth and brought the east end of the leach pad to grade for proper drainage toward the pond. Water, a challenge throughout the Harquahala Mine’s history, was again a significant hurdle. Initially, water was hauled to the site by a 4,000-gallon truck making a 14-mile roundtrip. Historic mill operations had left processed material that consisted of a fine powder, so dust control was a priority. In three months, 5D Mining completed the mass grading in preparation for two 60-millimeter liners with a geomesh fabric between them. An Avondale company, Field Lining Solutions, installed more than Arizona Contractor & Community


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and stack 25 tons of gold-bearing ore using a radius stacker, essential to prevent any compaction so the cyanide can saturate the pile evenly. The cyanide leaching process began with drip lines installed across the stacked ore. Pumps fed the solution from the pond through the carbon columns and back to the drip lines. Several thousand gallons of water were added to the pad to allow saturation, and water began flowing to the pond sump. Once water was circulating through the system, a pound of cyanide was added for every ton of water (240 gallons), along with sodium hydroxide, to balance pH levels and create the optimum solution for gold extraction. The recent mining activity has occurred near the few buildings and a cemetery that survive in Harqua Hala. Salome residents have shared their memories of partying at the ghost town and mine in their youth. Most were fun stories until I heard how many historic wood structures were still intact at Harqua Hala in the early 1970s. Doug Wolfe, owner of the NAPA Auto Parts store in Salome, told me that’s when a kid started playing with fire one night and destroyed most of the ghost town. It’s sad to see our heritage go up in smoke so carelessly. Most people seem pleased with our work, but there’s always someone who’s disgruntled. In this case, a group of guys showed up, upset that we were taking away their local target practice area. But at least they were nice about it and didn’t take a pot shot at us! Editor’s Note: If you’re near the Harquahala Mine, please obey posted signs, fences, and gates for your and other’s safety.

Above: Loading a boulder out of the drainage channel after blasting, 2020. Below: Buddy Escapule on a D4 dozer placing an 18-inch layer of ¾-inch leach rock on top of the liner and perforated drain lines, 2020. Bottom right: 5D Mining and Construction installing liners on the leach pad and pond, 2020.

400,000 square feet of the plastic liner, which was stretched out and fused. The triple-layered barrier was required to lessen the chance of cyanide escaping the leach pad and pond. 5D Mining then installed processing equipment, which included a 3-mile-long, 6-inch HDPE line from a newly drilled

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700-foot well to the site and assembly of the carbon column system. The company also set up the agglomerator drum, which mixes coarse ore and fine sediments with a cement binder to help combine the materials to allow the cyanide solution to percolate through them. Smithco Industries, based in Tucson, was contracted by 5D Mining to crush the leach rock and ore and assist with the agglomeration process. First, the company hauled a fleet of crushers, screens, and stacker belts to create the initial 15 tons of leach material spread in an 18-inch layer on the lined pad. The next step was to crush

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here’s a new rock star inhabiting the Valley. Surprisingly, their genre isn’t “Classic Rock” or “Heavy Metal,” but instead “Grab ‘n Go.” Air Guitar is a fresh take on the traditional convenience market recently completed for AG Ventures Holdings after eight months of construction in Gilbert, Arizona. Set to redefine the idea of a modern-day convenience store, restaurateurs and co-founders of Upward Projects, Craig and Kris DeMarco, and retail store experts Eric and Elissa Seitz of Bro Retail Group have broken ground on their newest project. The location is at the northwest corner of Ray and Higley roads in Agritopia, the com-

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Sniezek, Project Superintendent Experience: 10 years at Robert E Porter Construction Co., Inc.

munity that offers modern village life amid urban farmland. The 5,000-square-foot light-filled interior is housed under a 9,000-sf roof canopy lofted above to allow light in from all sides. “Bookended with dramatic floor-to-ceiling glass walls that are artfully protected from the Arizona sun, this desert sensitive yet highly technical building is designed for rapid arrival, efficient flow, self-service, and high-convenience,” says architect Jack DeBartolo III, FAIA. The dramatic architectural context allows for rapid arrival, efficient flow, and self-service. Bringing together the best in coffee, wine, healthy snacks, and quality staples, the contents of the store and market will be as unique as the environment. This cutting-edge design by Debartolo Architects was not without its challenges to build, according to Ryan Sniezek, project superintendent for Robert E Porter Construction Co, the project’s general contractor. “The design minimized the overall height of the building but still needed high ceilings inside, so the space between the roof and the ceiling was very tight,” he

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Projects

Images courtesy of Robert E Porter Construction Co.

Agritopia Store Wins Air-Guitar Contest

says. “Fitting all the ductwork, roof drains, and electrical, took a lot of coordination to make it all fit.” Efficiently and durably constructed from metal skins and glass, the timeless yet timely building offers generous exterior seating in a park-like setting of more than 60 trees, making the corner of this intersection feel more like an oasis than a store. Another unusual part of the project for Sniezek was connecting the canopy built out of cantilevered steel beams and the wood-framed building, which is vital to its structural integrity. “My team spent a lot of time installing temporary supports and monitoring the structure’s movements as the wood roof, and wall sheathing was installed to keep everything straight,” he says. “The position of the sun and direction of the wind changed the steel structure throughout the day. In addition, the floor-to-ceiling glass and the alignment of the interior to exterior made the steel positioning critical for a quality finished product.” Never has pulling over for a quick cup of java hit such a perfect note.

Favorite job task: Taking the project from design concepts to project completion. Toughest job task: Managing the project schedule to meet the completion date. Materials, equipment, and staffing are in short supply in today’s environment. Most memorable day of work: Seeing the people enjoy the quality space we built when all the work is done, and the owner has taken occupancy. Favorite off-job task: Spending time with my family and friends, as well as fishing and camping. arizcc.com

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DCS Helps Queen Creek Stay atop Traffic Flow

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elayed gratification is a challenging concept in today’s society, but motorists in Queen Creek can espouse its benefits with the recent completion of work by DCS Contracting. Still, the company’s $11.1 million Rittenhouse Road Improvement project proved a temporary irritant for drivers over its 12-month span.

Employee Spotlight: Eugene Hernandez, Project Manager Experience: 4.5 years with DCS Favorite job task: The great people I work with make my job enjoyable, along with the new challenges and people I meet on each project.

“Our most interesting interaction with the public were commuters who were not happy with the lane restrictions that needed to be in place to perform our work safely,” Eugene Hernandez, DCS project manager, says. But those same disgruntled motorists are now happily humming along the newly expanded asphalt road. The construction project widened Rittenhouse Road from Riggs Road to just south of Ocotillo Road. “We turned a twolane road into four-lanes,” Hernandez says. “By widening Rittenhouse, it took a lot of the traffic burden off Ellsworth Road and provided commuters with another way to navigate through Queen Creek from San Tan Valley.” DCS also installed new traffic signals at Cloud Road, Creekside Road, Village Loop North, and Village Loop South, along with

a new storm drain system with multiple retention basins to help with runoff. According to Hernandez, the most unusual aspect of the Rittenhouse project was work involving a new railroad spur crossing at Schnepf Farms, which included new gates and signals, and its associated ITS and waterline underground bores. DCS used subcontractors for many of these tasks, including Utility Construction Company for traffic signals, new ITS installation and Salt River Project conversion work, and Mountain States Contracting for the railroad spur track installation. “Coordinating with Union Pacific Railroad for the installation of the signal work at the railroad spur crossing and Salt River Project to perform their utility relocate were the project’s biggest challenges,” Hernandez says.

Toughest job task: Coordinating with other contractors and utility companies. Most memorable day of work: When I started with DCS, I was in a new city, a new state, and starting with a new company. Favorite off-job task: Spending time with my wife and two sons, visiting the Colorado River, golfing, and watching sports. arizcc.com

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number of full freeway closures have been needed while work has been underway to construct the bridge that will be wide enough to support additional lanes. Motorists have also had to contend with additional closures and temporary lane restrictions for paving and other project work, including installing new lighting. Last year, the first stage of work involved the demolition of the old southbound half of the I-17 bridge, followed by the construction of an improved steel girder structure. As a result, I-17 traffic was switched to that new section of the bridge earlier this year, allowing the project team to reconstruct the northbound side of the bridge.

For the I-17 bridge concrete deck pour, crews used an extended boom pump system to ship the concrete from trucks on Central Avenue up to the level of the bridge’s deck. In all, 545 cubic yards of concrete were poured for the northbound bridge span. Specialized equipment, including a pavement roller, was then used to smooth the concrete and form the steel-reinforced deck. Pulice Construction Inc., which is headquartered in Phoenix, is serving as the contractor for the project. The work is funded in part by Proposition 400, a dedicated sales tax approved by Maricopa County voters in 2004.

Images courtesy of ADOT

t took a train to help take down one of the oldest freeway bridges in Phoenix. The Central Avenue Bridge over Interstate 17 is being replaced in a $13.5 million project that is nearing completion this fall. The overpass located south of Downtown Phoenix was constructed in 1962. “It was nearing the end of its useful life,” according to an Arizona Department of Transportation press release. “The existing vertical clearance of 13 feet, 11 inches over Central Avenue does not meet current design standards, prohibiting high-profile vehicles from using Central Avenue beneath the bridge and cannot accommodate Valley Metro’s future South Central Avenue light-rail line.” The new I-17 bridge, which features steel girders for added strength to handle the freeway’s large percentage of truck traffic, is wider to accommodate regional plans for additional lanes along the interstate when future funding is available. Construction started in May 2020 on the new Central Avenue Bridge, which narrowed I-17 to two lanes in each direction to allow for a work zone between Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue. Work on the new bridge has taken place in stages, which has kept I-17 traffic moving as much as possible. A limited

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Projects

Light Rail Hastens I-17 Central Avenue Bridge Replacement

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Phoenix’s Fab Place: Reuter Equipment Co. Tom Pickrell

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n the summer heat of Phoenix, work begins at 3:00 a.m. for Brent Reuter and his fabrication crew at Reuter Equipment Co. on Lower Buckeye Road in Phoenix. Under an expansive canopy, overhead cranes hold in place I-beams, brackets, and rolled steel sheets as welders meticulously bond them. They’re building a chassis, a massive but portable frame (with decks, railing, and ladders) that will support a crusher that reduces rock to sand, gravel, or other base material. Reuter’s fab unit has been working at capacity as aggregate producers gear up to meet the demand for material around the Valley. The TSMC semiconductor factory, solar power station, and related infrastructure in North Phoenix is the largest scheduled construction project in the nation. It’s expected to require 300 deliveries of sand and gravel each day. Meanwhile, Intel has announced plans for an even bigger chip factory in Chandler.

Reuter sells, rents, and repairs crushing, screening, washing, and conveying equipment for aggregate producers, as well as drilling equipment for hard rock mines and water wells. Reuters Fabrication Inc. (RFI), a smaller sister corporation, performs custom fabrication work. Their clients are located across the Southwest, including Mexico. Through its custom fabrication, Reuter delivers crushing, screening, and washing equipment that enables the customer to position and run them efficiently and safely. Arizona has no shortage of aggregate, but its brutal summer heat and extra-hard river rock are a challenge for crushing plants. Therefore, the placement, operation, and maintenance of equipment are critically

crucial to the profitability of a sand and gravel operation. After decades of experience, Reuter’s know-how and custom fabrication work set it apart from other dealers. Reuter traces its history back to 1931, when Iowa Manufacturing Co. licensed Ivan Reuter, a 35-year-old assistant county engineer, to sell its Cedar Rapids line of road construction equipment in the Southwest. Landing an equipment dealership was a remarkable achievement for Ivan. His father was an accomplished machinist and mechanic, but Ivan had limited knowledge and experience with construction equipment. Nevertheless, he proved to be a highly successful salesman and business manager.

Right: Owners Mark Reuter, Carol JacobsFellars, and Brad Cable, 2021. Far right: Brent Reuter, 2021. arizcc.com

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in the decades ahead. Among them were John Jacobs, Vice President – Finance, and Ken Weeks, Vice President – Sales and Marketing, who bought the company in 1986. Also, Bob McCown, Mark Reuter (Frank’s son), and Mac Fellars, who managed Reuter’s sales, parts, and service departments, respectively. These individuals started at the bottom and worked their way to the top, learned valuable know-how, passed it on, and set a standard for hard work expected throughout the company. These qualities, and a laser focus on customer service, are baked into the firm’s ethos. So is the company’s charitable spirit to the community. The dozens of Little League Baseball and other sponsorship plaques that line the walls of the Reuter’s office

Contractor

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Ivan operated his new business under the name “Arizona Cedar Rapids Company,” and it grew with the economy of Arizona and the Southwest. In 1956, he incorporated the business under Reuter Equipment Company and began selling every category of road construction and aggregate processing equipment: bucket loaders and dump trucks; compactors and rollers; pavers and graders; even snowplows. By 1972, Reuter was Arizona’s largest aggregate and paving equipment distributor, with satellite offices in Tucson, Silver City, and Las Vegas. When Ivan retired, he turned the reins over to his oldest son, Frank, who had worked with him since 1938. Frank effected a company reorganization that brought to the forefront some talented employees who would lead the company

suggest that the company strongly prefers to spend money on kid’s sports rather than furniture and artwork. Today, Mark Reuter, Carol Jacobs-Fellars, and Brad Cable own Reuter. Mark oversees fabrication, parts, and service; Carol manages finance and accounting, and Brad leads the sales team. Like his father, Brent Reuter started with Reuter as the company janitor. Today, he’s the hands-on manager of the fabrication crew. “Stay in school, so you don’t have to work for me!” was fatherly advice Mark gave Brent, usually when school report cards came home. He still does, but now it’s just wry humor between a proud father and his son, the third and fourth generations in a business that started 90 years ago. arizcc.com

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SRMG’s Hearne Honored by American Concrete Institute hose who’ve enjoyed a game at the Cardinal’s State Farm Stadium or a double-header at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick have been the recipient of some of Jeff Hearne’s concrete expertise. His leadership in the field was recently spotlighted by the Arizona Chapter of the American Concrete Institute (ACI). The group presented Hearne with the “Industry Leader Award.” This honor is given to an individual who has provided leadership and support to the concrete industry through education, awareness, and promotion of concrete construction practices, methods, and products. The recognition shows how far Hearne has come from his humble beginnings in Arkansas City, Kansas, where he was born in 1955. The Hearne family, which included an older and younger sister, soon moved to Phoenix. After graduating from Alhambra High School in 1973, Hearne attended Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University while working part-time at Arizona Sand and Rock (ASR). Hearne’s job was a family affair, as he worked alongside his mother, Donna Clark, and his stepfather, Elmer Clark, at an ASR batch plant. In 1979, Hearne became a Certified Concrete Technologist with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and worked in the field for more than 20 years. He managed the Technical Services/Quality Control Departments of several major concrete/aggregate producers in Arizona and Southern California. In 1998, Hearne joined the Salt River Materials Group (SRMG) team, and since 2009, has served as the Vice President of

Image courtesy of ACI

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Quality Assurance. In this position, Hearne oversees all testing, certification, and technical service issues for aggregates, cement, masonry, and pozzolans/fly ash in all markets. Hearne’s impressive resume includes being a member of the Portland Cement

Above: AZACI President Jason Savage, SRMG VP of Quality Assurance Jeff Hearne, and SRMG SVP of Sales James Carusone. (l-r), who presented Hearne the award. Bottom left: Jeff Hearne in the lab at SRMG. Below: Jeff Hearne was honored at the Annual ARPA Convention by ARPA Executive Director Steve Trussell.

Association’s (PCA) Product Standards and Technology Committee, the ADOT-ARPA Joint Committee on Concrete Specifications, and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Standard Specifications and Details Committee. In addition, he is the past Chairman of the Association of General Contractors (AGC) Education Committee and Arizona Rock Products Association’s (ARPA) Concrete Technical and Education Committee. A proud father of two and grandfather of three, Hearne has also become an active church leader. One of Hearne’s favorite activities is doing concrete demonstrations at the Arizona Science Center. He loves “mixing it up” with the public about the world of concrete. arizcc.com

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t was a long and winding road for Jon Greer to make it as a mechanic specializing in mining equipment. The journey started in the Navy and included a pitstop at a muffler repair shop until he landed at Empire Machinery. “I knew I had finally made it when I received my own truck with the name, ‘Jon” on the door,” he says. Greer’s career path took him to many mines around Arizona. But the humble, soft-spoken guy insists his ambitions were modest. “I was just trying to make an honest living for my family,” he says. Here’s Greer’s story, with some revealing insights into a few of the most significant mining operations in the state. His first job out of high school was serving in the U.S. Navy from 1962-1966, during the Vietnam War. But Greer was eager to move on from the military to other things, as suggested by his specific time of service. “Four years, 3 months, and 15 minutes to be exact,” he says with a laugh. Once discharged, Greer worked odd jobs and ended up for a few years at Mesa Muffler at 555 West Main Street in Mesa. Then, a salesman from Empire Machinery came into the store one day and changed

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Greer’s life. “He pitched me the idea of joining their team,” he says. Greer accepted the offer and enrolled in a training program at Empire Machinery Co. “I was one of eight to be accepted out of 300 applicants,” he says. The 16-week course consisted of 3 days of class, 2 days in the shop, and paid training.” Greer would stay with Empire for almost 8 years. Initially, Greer was assigned to the used equipment department as a mechanic, where he cleaned parts and prepped machinery for sale. After a year and a half, he was asked to go into the field as a helper. “Empire put me on the nightshift at Ox Hide Mine in the Miami-Inspiration District,” he says. “At that time, each Empire truck was assigned two mechanics.” He assisted lead mechanics working between the Ox Hide, Bluebird, and Inspiration mines for a year. It was then that Greer received a truck with his name on it, and he moved on to working at Hecla Mine in Casa Grande and Twin Buttes Mine in Tucson. In 1973, Peabody Western Coal Company opened the Kayenta Mine on Navajo Tribal Lands, which produced coal on more than 400 acres. “As a lead mechanic, I was transferred to Peabody where Granite Construction was contracted to move the overburden to obtain the coal,” Greer says. “The mine ran continuously and, with the

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA People

Images courtesy of John Greer

Mining Mechanic Mensch: Jon Greer

Top left: Greer, with his die-cast equipment toy collection acquired over three decades, 2021. Top middle: Granite Construction’s equipment at Peabody Mine, 1970s. Above: Greer’s Empire truck by a Cat 651B scraper at Peabody Mine, 1970s. Below: Peabody Mine, 1970s.

amount of iron out there, there was always a something down. So we were constantly working on equipment.” Talking about the job brings back many vivid memories for Greer. “Empire had runners chasing parts daily, sometimes on an emergency rush. On one occasion, Jack Whiteman, Empire’s CEO, visited in his plane and tried to land on a haul road. The mine would not halt operations, so his plane would circle the area, wait till the road was clear of machinery and sort of ‘play chicken,’ landing between moving haul trucks.” Greer says that the work schedule at Peabody was usually 10-12 hours a day for 2 weeks on, rotating out with other mechanics, and 4 weeks off. “I was at Peabody so much that I received a letter to join the local Kiwanis Club, but never did,” he says with a laugh. The Peabody Mine’s employees were in a union, which created some challenges for the Empire staff. “My helper wasn’t very good, so to get my work done correctly and stay in compliance, I would send him to fetch a single bolt at the mine’s parts house. Then, when he returned, I sent him out again, repeating the process.” Greer meets up regularly for breakfast on Tuesdays with contractors, sales reps, and business owners at the Cozy Corner Café in Mesa. Along with his son, Garrett, Jon now runs Greer Aftermarket Parts out of his house in The Lakes, Tempe. The company assists heavy equipment owners in locating aftermarket and hard-to-find parts for new and used equipment. “I’m old, but I don’t want to retire,” Greer says. Arizona Contractor & Community


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Phase I Environmental Site Assessment can be a stressful experience for all parties involved. But there are measures the property owner or business operator can take that might ease the process. There are even more actions that shouldn’t be taken.

aware of it and had done nothing about it in Pennsylvania walked me past a storage could have been even worse. building while emphatically assuring me DON’T stonewall the work by arrang- the building contained only stacked pallets ing for key people to be out sick or on vaca- of finished product. The next day, a worker tion the day of the property visit. It will with a grudge confirmed my suspicions only prolong the process and cause trou- when he showed me 115 drums of used oils and paint-related waste hidden behind blesome “data gaps.” the stacked pallets of finished product. DON’T play dumb. The caretaker of At an auto parts plant in Michigan, I a closed plant in Pennsylvania told me was approached by a worker who showed that he had never noticed a specific struc- me asbestos-containing waste that had ture that was plainly visible outside the been dumped along the railroad tracks rear of the building. I later learned it was behind the plant years earlier. After readassociated with a seepage pit for process ing my report, the client told me that he wastewater mixed with lavatory sewage. I already knew about the waste. Maybe he can believe he didn’t know what the struc- was testing me by not telling me about ture was. But he told me he had been the it upfront. More likely, he wanted to property caretaker for 12 years. If he had avoid dealing with the waste and hoped I really never noticed it, his employer prob- wouldn’t catch it. ably questioned whether he was walking A Philadelphia restauranteur, who the property or just drinking coffee in his wanted to stop the owner’s sale of the office all day. He was lying, unnecessarily, parking lot he was leasing, offered me because he was fearful of somehow being $30,000 if I would alter my report to say held responsible for something that nobody the property was highly contaminated. would have faulted him for anyway. Doing so would have required me to docDON’T be dumb. When we arrived at tor the laboratory report and prepare a a plant in Indiana, I shook my head while false narrative. I would have exposed my the man standing next to me laughed. The employer, our client, the client’s borrower, ground surface around three storage tanks and the laboratory to a corrupt act. Don’t containing gasoline and diesel fuel had even think about doing something like this. The do’s and don’ts of getting through been freshly covered with crushed stone, placed so recently that passing trucks a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment hadn’t yet compacted it. The stone would can be a matter of common sense if you have to be removed so that the extent of look around carefully and think things over. the concealed contamination could be You can also ask the assessor for recomassessed and soil samples collected. Good mendations; I’ve seen permanent improvements made before the day had ended. money after bad. But it’s better to do nothing and let DON’T try to hurry the assessor. The the chips fall where they may than roil the assessor will think you’re trying to rush him transaction and risk your position by doing or her past something you don’t want them something foolhardy, deceitful, or possibly to see. The assessor will become suspicious even criminal. and annoyed. Below, L-R: Asbestos-containing waste from Michigan. Collecting environmental samples. An environmental site assessment.

Images courtesy of Author

DO walk your property – all of it – in advance, inside and out. Scrutinize locations and operations that involve hazardous substances and any kind of waste. Look for features, conditions, and activities that might draw the assessor’s disapproving eye, and do something about them if possible. When I arrived at a property in New Jersey, a technician was repairing a forklift on paved ground but right by a storm sewer inlet. That way, he said, spillage wouldn’t run into the street! I recommended (and the lender required) that this operation be moved to inside the building, especially since space was available. The manager of an industrial plant in New Jersey had an aerial photograph of the site on the wall in his office. I noticed a dark area of ground adjoining the building. When the party attending the property visit – which included the buyer’s attorney and financial people – examined this area, we saw that it was devoid of vegetation. This area originated where a roof drain discharged to the surface, but the condition didn’t seem to be due to flooding. I theorized that the air pollution control equipment was failing to capture some of the particulate matter. These particulates, which contained heavy metals, may have been settling on the roof before being DON’T be crooked – and this applies flushed to the ground during rainfall. The to all parties involved. manager insisted he had never noticed The president of a steel re-rolling mill the barren area. But admitting that he was

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Practices

How to Handle a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

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November December 2021


CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Practices

Mining Aggregates for Concrete Luke M. Snell, P.E., and Frank A. Kozeliski, P.E.

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Images courtesy of Author

oth concrete and asphalt mixtures are aggregates that are held together by a binder. Often, aggregates are viewed as a cheap inert material compared to asphalt or cement binder. But aggregates must meet specific requirements. How they’re mined, processed, and controlled to make concrete is essential. Much of the discussion is also applicable to asphalt. Mining and processing procedures ensure that the aggregate meets specific standards:

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Maximum Size: Initially, large-sized aggregate was used in concrete. Many foundations on farms have large rocks dropped into the concrete to take up space since they were commonly available and cheaper than cement. Thus, the contractor, who was likely the farmer, could save money by using large rocks as aggregate. Even the construction of Hoover Dam used aggregates up to 9 inches in diameter. In construction, the preferred way is now to pump concrete, and the size of the pump hose limits the contractor. Most pumps are 5 inches or smaller. The standard practice limits the size of the aggregates to 1/3 of the hose diameter. The spacing of the reinforcement also determines the

Top: Worker’s view through the cab, shows rock crusher in a quarry breaking rock into the desired sized aggregates. Bottom left: Screening operation that separates the aggregates into various sizes.

maximum size of the aggregates to make sure the concrete can easily flow through it. For these reasons, the maximum size aggregate on most projects is limited to 1 inch. Minimum Size: Aggregate that is too fine also creates problems. American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) specifications state that the aggregates must not have more than 3 percent of the material passing through a #200 sieve, which allows grains smaller than 0.003 inches. For manufactured aggregates, this limit is increased to 5 percent. The material passing the #200 sieve are silts and clays that have little strength and coat the aggregates to inhibit the cement from attaching or bonding to them. Uniform Gradation: An ideal mix for concrete will have aggregate from the largest allowable size to the smallest permissible size, along with intermediate sizes. This blend results in minimal voids in the concrete. The rocks must be separated or screened to achieve the desired sizes of the aggregates. Three types of aggregates are mined: Arizona Contractor & Community


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forty two

November December 2021


ACC Concrete Columnist Honored with Lifetime Membership

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r. Luke Snell’s concrete education and research efforts have not gone unnoticed in the Grand Canyon State. The Arizona Chapter of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) has recently bestowed him with an Honorary Lifetime Member Award. “Thanks for this award,” Snell said in an email statement. “My time in the state

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CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Practices

Images courtesy of Author

Natural Aggregates: These are mined from pits, rivers, or lakes and used with little processing. These materials tend to be smooth and will not bond as well with cement compared to crushed aggregates. Manufactured Aggregates: These processed aggregates are created by crushing large rocks. This process usually requires blasting bedrock, grinding, and sorting the stone into the desired sizes needed for concrete. The resulting aggregate has a rough surface that bonds well with cement. In one case, a batch plant switched from a manufactured coarse aggregate to a natural coarse aggregate on a project, which proved expensive. As a result of the smoother aggregate, the compressive strength of the concrete decreased by 20 percent. The batch plant then had to add more cement to increase the strength of the concrete. Recycled Aggregates: A relatively new concept is to reuse concrete removed from the demolition of buildings and pavements. This process requires crushing the old concrete, removing embedded items such as steel bars, and screening the crushed concrete to produce recycled aggregate. The performance of these aggregates

can be less predictable since they come from various concretes and typically are weaker than the natural or manufactured aggregates. As a result, they are commonly used for aggregate base material and partial replacement of natural or manufactured aggregates. A new challenge involving mining aggregates involves the loss of quality sources from urban development. In addition, residents often seek to halt the mining

of quarries because of the associated heavy truck traffic. Thus, many of our new quarries are in remote areas, resulting in higher transportation costs to get the material to the batch plant. In some cases, aggregates have even been brought in from Mexico and Canada.

and being a part of the Arizona ACI was special. This award will remind me of the great friends and the special bond I had with Arizona’s concrete community.” Snell reflected on his involvement with Arizona ACI. “Our chapter is one of the best in the U.S.,” he wrote. “When I visited other chapters, I would highlight our certification programs, our excellent chapter meetings, and, of course, our awards program.” He adds that the Arizona Chapter excelled in its certification programs. “Our example of making certifications available to the students at a greatly reduced cost and offering a wide variety of them is something that makes our chapter unique,” he wrote. “I was pleased that I had a part in making this happen.” Snell is a concrete consultant, a licensed professional engineer in Illinois and Missouri, and a professor emeritus of engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He’s done extensive consulting work on construction and concrete issues throughout the U.S. and overseas, including Algeria, Mongolia, and Saudi Arabia. His extensive resume includes more than 300 articles. In addition, Snell has been instrumental in starting ACI chapters in Algeria, Ethiopia, and Mongolia and has helped create concrete certi-

fication programs in China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. During Snell’s time in Arizona, he was a board member in the state’s ACI Chapter and was the Arizona State University faculty advisor for the student ACI chapter. The students under his advisement won many national awards at the ACI competitions bringing “concrete” recognition to both ASU and the Chapter. Snell received the ACI Joe W. Kelly Award in 1995 and the ACI Chapter Activities Award in 1997 and was the ACI Educational Committee Member of the Year in 2002. In addition, he was named one of the “Ten Most Influential People of the Year in the Concrete Industry” by Concrete Construction and Concrete Producer magazines (2007). Other awards include Construction Laureate of Mongolia (2007), the ACI Henry L. Kennedy Award (2008), an honorary doctorate from Aria University of Sciences and Sustainability in Tehran, Iran (2011), and the ACI Certification Award (2015). Although Snell has since relocated to the Midwest, his local education efforts continue with his bi-monthly column in Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, as well as his frequent choice of attire. “I wear the Arizona ACI shirt with pride even though I currently live in Ohio.”

Above: Crushed rock with rough surfaces that bond well with the cement. Bottom: Luke Snell.

Arizona Contractor & Community



Sean Clements

I

t’s been called the “silent epidemic.” Suicide is a leading cause of death across the United States and the eighth leading cause of death in Arizona. In fact, the suicide rate for men in construction is 49 out of 100,000, nearly twice the suicide rate of working men in other industries. And yet, no one is talking about it.

Images courtesy of Author

Is it the workers – or the industry? Construction is a male-dominated industry, where discussions around emotional issues, stress, depression, or anxiety are few and far between. With a competitive, “macho” culture, seeking help or support from professional services may not even be seriously considered. To make matters worse, the work itself can exacerbate any potential mental health issues. The labor is seasonal and irregular, so there isn’t much job security. At the same time, when a project is underway, there is pressure to work long hours, leading to the kind of physical exhaustion that can impact life outside the workplace. And that doesn’t take into account whether the paychecks stretch far enough to support a family. The heavy labor can lead to injuries or even chronic conditions – and the drugs prescribed may help with the pain but also add to the industry’s drug abuse problem. It all leads to a sense of helplessness and despair. At the same time, working on a job site far away from home – or even just working long hours and not spending much time with your family and friends – may remove a worker from their social support network, the people who could do the most to recognize a mental health challenge and help to turn it around. Another challenge is the pressure to

perform risky activities for the sake of completing a job quickly. The relentless pressure builds and builds until finally, something happens. What’s the Right Way to Respond? Most construction employers don’t discuss employee mental health until after a worker dies from suicide. Then there’s the reactive scramble to make sure counselors are available for a short period. Unfortunately, this is not an effective – or even a caring – response. It is essential to provide support to help coworkers with their grief. But it’s even more important to take steps to prevent suicide. Start by sharing information in an authentic, meaningful way. Suicide should be discussed in a small group format or a break-out session during annual training, not presented in a town hall meeting. The topic merits focused attention. If you aren’t sure how to provide this education, get help. Your broker can provide resources to support your efforts – or the broker can direct you to someone who can. No one expects construction workers to be able to diagnose their coworkers. But they should be able to recognize a cry for help. Approximately 70 percent of those who die by suicide make a direct or indirect statement that sends a signal. Therefore, it may be helpful to provide information on signs of stress, symptoms of depression, and suicide awareness. The risk factors and warning signs include:

• • • • • • • • •

A tight chest Anxiety and indecision Loss of motivation Increased sensitivity Low self-esteem Increased smoking and drinking Withdrawal or aggression Reckless behaviors Difficulty concentrating

CONSTRUCTION AROUND ARIZONA Practices

Take Proactive Steps to Curb Construction’s Suicide Epidemic

Can I Really Make a Difference? Recognizing the signs is the first step, but the most important change happens when people understand they may have the power to save someone’s life. Much as you would seek out a medical professional if you broke your arm, a menRisk factors • A family history of suicide or a history tal health professional is vital to the recovery of a worker struggling with depression of trauma • Suffering from a severe physical illness or anxiety. The good news is, most employers already have a tool to assist with this • Having attempted suicide issue, yet few employees even know how • Financial or relationship pressures to access it. Your employee assistance • Lack of support networks provider (EAP) includes support for men• Cultural stigma over mental health tal health and is the ideal place to start. Indicators of mental stress As part of your training, encourage every • Weight and appetite changes employee to save the EAP’s number in their • Chronic headaches cell phone contacts. It may also help to provide mental health days, separate from sick days. Remember that the “macho” culture isn’t helping; it’s hurting. Instead, construction employers must create a supportive, open environment where employees can ask for help. Encourage frank conversations about mental health and support employees who choose to share their stories. Sean Clements works in Scottsdale as Senior Vice Presi­dent for Commercial Lines at Hub Interna­tional Arizona. He joined HUB in 2020 as part of the Clements Insurance and HUB Southwest acquisition.

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forty six

November December 2021


Back When

Douglas Towne

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estivals typically celebrate the fading of a local way of life, and Wickenburg’s Gold Rush Days is no exception. The town, better known these days for gated golf communities and ritzy drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, was founded because of the gold and silver produced from the nearby Vulture Mine. From 1863 to 1944, miners extracted precious metals from its rich veins during several boom periods. Since then, the Vulture Mine has been mostly dormant as the high-grade ore has been exhausted

In 1949, Wickenburg honored its waning mining legacy by hosting an annual event each February. Initially, Gold Rush Days was a homespun affair that featured visitors panning for gold in metal-lined placer ditches filled with alluvium from the Hassayampa River. “Prospectors” were allowed to keep any treasure they found and, by 1953, had depleted the stream’s placer gold. Organizers then had to “salt” the local sand and gravel with gold flakes from Alaska and California to keep up the tradition. Gold Rush Days later expanded into a three-day affair, emphasizing a Wild-West theme with a horseback parade featuring desperados and saloon girls, along with mining demonstrations. In the jack-drilling

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Mucking About in Wickenburg

contest, men hammered a 1-inch steel bit into a chunk of granite, with the winner managing a 2.5-inch depth in 3 minutes. In the mucking competition, contestants shoveled 1,200 pounds of rock into a 3/4-ton mine cart, which the champion accomplished in less than 4 minutes. These brief he-man displays provided visitors a glimpse of the dangerous work that made pioneer miners so tough. Below: Gold Rush Days, 1969.


Dragging the Line:

Fred Sargent’s Mining Memories William Horner

Right: Arizona Sand & Rock Co. using their Marion cable shovel in Phoenix, 1954. Below: Sargent represents Marion at a convention for their moon crawler-transporter for the Atlas Rocket, Launcher, and Umbilical Tower, 1969.

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

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ew engineers have the personality for marketing, but Fred Sargent was able to excel in each of these very different fields. Educated as a mining engineer at the University of Arizona, Sargent worked at mines in Arizona and California, learning new skills at each job. Then at age 31, he made a dramatic career shift to selling advertising in trade books and business magazines. “My wife thought I was crazy, but selling advertising paid as much if not more than being a mining engineer,” Sargent says. His position would soon lead to handling worldwide sales for the Marion Power Shovel Co. So how did this young man, whose father died when he was 9 years old, make such a success of himself? The answer might involve some friends Sargent made in his youth. Fred was the only child of Frederick and Odena Sargent, a couple who came to Tucson in 1928 because of Frederick’s

Image courtesy of Fred Sargent

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November December 2021



Images courtesy of Fred Sargent

Above: Officers of the USS L.F. Mason, DD-852, with Sargent second from left in the back row, 1953. Left: Sargent (left) presenting a Blue-Ribbon Mining Award to Ulrich Manufacturing Co. for their new Varidozer innovation for a pivoting blade attachment, 1961.

tuberculosis. Young Fred was born the following year. His father died in 1938, and Odena rented out rooms in their house to boarders to make ends meet. In 1947, she married Al Floyd, who had served as mayor of Globe, Arizona, in the 1920s. Floyd owned and operated the Electric Equipment Co., a small appliance store in Tucson. Sargent attended Tucson High School, where he befriended classmates Karl Ronstadt and Buck O’Rielly. The trio graduated from high school in 1947 and attended the University of Arizona as fraternity brothers. They remain lifelong friends. O’Rielly’s father operated a local auto dealership, O’Rielly Chevrolet, which Buck later managed and is still in business. Sargent worked there a few summers delivering cars. Ronstadt’s father owned the Santa fifty

November December 2021


Images courtesy of Fred Sargent

Margarita Ranch, located near Sasabe along man wanted maximum production and, to the Mexican border west of Nogales. Ron- achieve that, we didn’t waste time wetting stadt and Sargent worked down the muck piles.” at the ranch during their Sargent graduated “Unless someone can school breaks, building with class honors in 1951 fences and herding cat- prove otherwise, I believe and was also president tle. The work was tough I was the only person ever of Sigma Alpha Epsiand dangerous. “Getting lon fraternity. When he to take out a roadside bucked off a horse was entered the workforce, not much fun,” Sargent billboard for a dragline,” Phelps Dodge was Arizorecalls. “The best cowna’s biggest mining comSargent says. boys would round up pany. Kennecott was also calves and have us tie their feet with rope a mining heavyweight, operating divisions and stamp the brand.” in New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and the Ray In college, Sargent initially wanted to Mines Division that extracted copper near become a civil engineer. His stepfather, Kearny, Arizona. however, suggested he switch to mining engineering, as copper was a major industry in Arizona. So while in school, Sargent worked at the San Xavier Mine, located 17 miles south of Tucson. The underground operation produced lead and zinc and was owned by an Oklahoma firm, Eagle Picher Mining & Smelting Co. “It was a good job; I earned a buck an hour as a laborer and mucker, and doubled that rate driving drifts,” Sargent says. Drifts are horizontal tunnels from the mine shaft to ore veins. “My job was to drill holes, install sticks of dynamite, and wait for the head miner to set the charges,” Sargent says. “After the blasting, we put the debris into tramcars with a small overhead loader. Then I had to push the 1-ton cars by hand to the shaft, where it was hoisted to the surface, separated into bins for either waste rock or ore.” The hard labor moving rock wasn’t the worst part of the job. “An unfavorite memory was ending most shifts with what I called a ‘powder headache,’ caused by powder dust,” he says. “The mine forearizcc.com

Sargent took a job at Ray in 1951 when the mine was an underground block-cave operation. Only three months into his new career, a draft noticed showed up for the Korean War. “My general manager told me not to worry, as copper mining is essential,” Top left: Astronaut Frank Borman and Fred’s wife, Beverly Clark Sargent (second from right), at the Pioneer Hotel in Tucson, 1966. Above: Popular Science magazine cover with scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun and the Marion crawler-transporter at the launch pad, 1963. Below: Sargent with a Bucyrus stripping shovel at McKinley Mine, New Mexico, 1960s.

Arizona Contractor & Community


Images courtesy of Fred Sargent

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November December 2021


Images courtesy of Fred Sargent

Top left: Marion dragline billboard in Florida, 1963-64. Above: Mountain Drive Coal Co. using a Marion dragline near Madisonville, Kentucky, mid 1970s. Left: Sargent (right) with IMC phosphate executives at the Texas School Book Depository, shortly after President Kennedy was shot there in 1963. Right: Marion shovel watch fob.

Sargent says. “He must have gone down to the draft board to pull for me, but they told him, ‘We need to supply bodies and have the final say.’” He had recently married his bride, Beverly, and while on their honeymoon in California, his interest in the Navy prompted him to take some exams. “During those days, drafted men went into the Army, and enlisted men could have a choice,” Sargent recalls. “So, a few days before reporting, I enlisted in the Navy and shipped off to San Diego for boot camp. Later, I went to Officer’s Candidate School.” Sargent served for more than four years, with assignments on two late World War II-era Gearing-class destroyers, USS arizcc.com

Leonard F. Mason (DD-852) and USS Rupertus (DD-851). His most vivid war recollection was, “Firing into the North Korean trains with troop supplies from Won Son Harbor in the Sea of Japan,” he says. Sargent ended his Navy days as the Operations Officer for Destroyer Division 32. After his service in Korea, Sargent returned to the Ray Mine to work as a foreman, drilling and blasting boss, shovel foreman, and general foreman from 1955-59. “By 1955, the underground operation had turned to open-pit mining,” he says. Sargent then left for a quarry superintendent position with the Henry J. Kaiser Company, Permanente Cement Division in Cupertino, California, near San Jose. “The only way to get ahead was to learn new skills and take on different positions,” he says. “I made more in the field rather than staying as a mining engineer.” Then Sargent took the giant leap into sales, working for the San Francisco-based publisher of trade books and business magazines, Miller Freeman Publications. “I got the tip to apply from another ex-min-

ing engineer friend that worked there,” he says. “After a few tests, the publisher said I would make a good salesperson. I told him, ‘As long as I don’t make less than my last job, you got a deal!’” He soon relocated to Chicago as a district manager. “Among their multiple magazines, they had two mining publications,” Sargent says. World Mining for the overseas market and Mining World, which was domestic. I thought the names were quite generic for such a large company.” Arizona Contractor & Community


ity

Of his numerous accomplishments, Sargent is most proud that he pushed Marion into the 301-M series shovel. “The haul trucks were getting bigger, and we needed bigger shovels to keep up,” he says. “Some wanted to stick to 15-yard machines, but I was adamant on the larger machines.” These were the first of the 50-plus cubic yard super shovels used for loading, which first appeared in 1988.

Images courtesy of Fred Sargent

Top right: Marion Shovel advertisement, 1952. Below: Dresser 204-M shovels that Sargent sold to the USSR working in Siberia, late 1970s.

and the USSR. In 1980, he was made a Vice President of International Sales and continued roaming the world selling shovels, drills, and draglines. After he retired from Marion in 1996 as Vice President Sales, he stayed on as a consultant. In 1997, Marion was purchased by Bucyrus Erie, where Sargent served as Assistant to the President for a year. He is still active with his Scottsdale company, Draglines Worldwide, LLC. “Draglines are mainly used in coal and phosphate operations, but coal is not as much in demand as earlier years,” he says. Sargent and Beverly, his wife of 70 years, operate the firm as brokers for the sale of used draglines and appraisal of used draglines.

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Commun

While handling multiple advertising accounts for different mining equipment manufacturers, Sargent accepted a job offer in 1962 from the Marion Power Shovel Co. located in Marion, Ohio. He relocated to Lakeland, Florida, and worked for Marion for 35 years ending as Vice-President of Sales, working globally. “Marion started in 1885 but hadn’t sold a dragline in Florida phosphate mines since 1929,” Sargent says. “To break this dry spell, I purchased a few large roadside billboards at a busy Florida junction called ‘The Triangle,’ where everyone in the phosphate business passed through daily.” The billboards were up for six months, and Marion sold the biggest dragline they produced to International Mineral & Chemical Corp. (IMC, now Mosaic) for phosphate mining in 1964. “Unless someone can prove otherwise, I believe I was the only person ever to take out a roadside billboard for a dragline,” Sargent says. Sargent was transferred to Marion’s Phoenix branch in 1964, where he sold numerous 15-yard shovels to copper mines in the Southwest. In 1970, he took on overseas travel and spent 30-plus years in Australia, Brazil, China, South Africa, Turkey,

fifty four

November December 2021


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Arizona Contractor & Community


November December 2021


Sifting Through Sand: The Magnetic Attraction of Pinal County’s Placer Iron Deposits

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

O

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Douglas Towne

ne of Arizona’s oddest mining ven- reforming natural gas into the reducing gas tures lacked tunnels, shafts, and needed for reaction with iron ore, an elecheadframes. Instead, the project tric furnace for producing molten metal, was akin to working in a giant sandbox, and auxiliary equipment.” The report noted using big machines to move around piles that the plant had limited production capaof alluvium and extract wealth. Miners bilities and needed to be expanded to weren’t searching for gold or jewels, but operate profitably. something a bit more pedestrian in the fine U.S. Sponge Iron’s prime market was grains: iron, and more specifically, magne- the copper mining industry, which used tite. iron for precipitation and recovery of copThe site is located south of Florence per from mine waters and leach solutions. near Milepost 109 on U.S. Highway 89 in The mines commonly used scrap iron, but Pinal County. Black Mountain, a 5,577-foot sponge iron increased reaction speeds and peak located about 25 miles to the east, is was easier to use. Specialty steel and alloy thought to be the source of the iron-bear- producers were also potential markets. The ing black sand. As the hill eroded over time, company eyed the Black Mountain placer its sands became conceniron deposits, called the trated in a delta-like alluvial largest known alluvial iron But the intriguing area formed by ephemeral ore deposit in North Amerscheme never panned ica, for a long-term supply washes east of the Durham Hills. Mining ventures datof high-grade iron ore. At out economically. ing back a century focused the time, there was considon these Black Mountain erable interest in sponge deposits, but the site has only produced iron production from low-grade surface minor amounts of magnetite. So, what’s ore deposits. Sponge iron can be produced the story behind these magnetic desert directly from iron ore through a reduction sands that have attracted so much mining process, instead of the more common pig enthusiasm? iron created by melting iron ore along with The Black Mountain magnetite depos- charcoal and limestone under very high its were known as far back as World War pressure. I, when a German company was briefly By 1968, Phoenix-based Sovereign interested in mining them, according to Industries, Inc. controlled approximately stories heard by 93-year-old Karl Ronstadt, 150 square miles of Black Mountain iron for many years the co-owner and operator ore deposits on leased state and federal of New Pueblo Constructors, Inc. in Tucson. land between Tucson and Florence, accordMore recent interest in these placer ing to an article in the Oakland Tribune. The iron deposits occurred with the incorpo- story stated that Kaiser Steel, which domiration of the U.S. Sponge Iron Company in nated the Pacific Coast steel market at the 1964. The firm, headquartered in Socorro, time, was interested in mining the deposits New Mexico, operated a pilot processing if they determined the operation was ecoplant in Coolidge, Arizona, and produced nomically feasible. the report, U.S. Sponge Iron Company and Earlier that year, Sovereign had begun the Future of Sponge Iron in the South- a pilot iron recovery project at the Black west Copper Industry. “The present plant Mountain site. Historic photographs reveal includes equipment for beneficiating and large, manually-powered stacker-reclaimpelletizing iron ore, retorts for reducing ers, built by Dravo Corp. of Pittsburgh, digpellets to sponge iron gas treating units for ging alluvium and transferring it to trucks via a short conveyor belt. The bucketwheel stacker excelled at inexpensively handling Left: Dravo Corps. automated stackerreclaimer loading a pair of Euclid haul scrapers this bulk material. In addition, a bar rolling at Sovereign Industries Black Mountain placer mill was set up nearby to process iron from iron deposits, 1968. the deposits. Arizona Contractor & Community


Fifty eight

November December 2021

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community


An artist’s rendering of the proposed full-scale mine at the site shows a rectangular tiered pit with several stacker-reclaimers working on different levels. These machines are filling trucks that dump their loads onto a long conveyor belt leading Top left: Wide view of the cut with Euclid haul scrapers being loaded continuously, 1968. Left: Rendering of the proposed mining operation at Black Mountain placer iron deposits, 1968. Above: Drilling operation at Sovereign Industries Black Mountain placer iron deposits, 1968. arizcc.com

to a mill or drive the material directly to the mill. There, the alluvium is processed, with the resulting iron pellets loaded into railroad cars on a yet-to-be-built rail spur leading from the Southern Pacific mainline at Picacho. Another conveyor belt takes the waste materials, offloading them at a vast tailings mound. “I recall that the operation mined the material out of the dry washes and ran it over a screen with a huge, big-voltage electric magnet pulling out the black sand that was the magnetite,” Ronstadt says. “Sand,

a byproduct, was also sold. There may have been vanadium in it too, a mineral now sought for its many uses in green technology.” Reports indicate that the iron content was from 3-5 percent of the material, which was processed by magnetic separation to create a product that was about 95 percent magnetite. But the intriguing scheme never panned out economically. “One of the problems was they didn’t have any water,” Ronstadt says. His friend, Joe Goff, who he played football with on the University of Arizona Contractor & Community


Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Top: Material being loaded onto Euclid scrapers, 1968. Left: Dravo Corps. automated stackerreclaimer loading a pair of Euclid haul scrapers at Sovereign Industries Black Mountain placer iron deposits, 1968. Above: C.M. Wood, President of Sovereign Industries, 1969. Sixty

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Arizona team in the 1950s, ranched a vast swath of land in that area without the benefit of water from any wells. “It wasn’t until at least into the late 1980s that a good well was drilled that produced water from 1,300 feet deep.” By 1972, the Pinal County sheriff had foreclosed on the project, and the county claimed the proceeds for unpaid taxes from an auction held that April. American Steel Engineering Co. paid $75,000 to buy back a rolling mill and lease it had sold to Sovereign. The mining venture’s failure was blamed on high transportation costs, lack of nearby markets, and undesirable amounts of titanium in the deposits. While this appears to be the only production of iron at the Black Mountain site, other entities later investigated the deposits for their economic potential. In the early-1990s, The Martin Group explored mining the magnetite and marketing it to the U.S. Department of Energy through Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Co., Inc., of Las Vegas, to shield nuclear devices. The project was canceled in 1993, however, due to the uncertainty of future requirements at the Nevada Test Site. In 2002, an entrepreneur named Robert Wylie evaluated an associated deposit called the Fe Delta Iron Placer, located a bit south of the Black Mountain site. Wylie sought magnetite to supply the cement manufacturing industry and for chemical uses involving iron. But the deposits weren’t mined because disposal of the considerable waste tailings would be prohibitively expensive. His research, however, revealed Sovereign’s previous mining activities, including an open pit that covered several acres and had a depth of approximately 50 feet at its lowest spot on the west side of U.S. Highway 89. “Most sides were vertical, and the pit resulted from mining the ore in terraces,” Wylie wrote. “The vertical sides presented a graphic picture of the layers of magnetite, which were….in seams of almost 100 percent pure and varied in thickness from thin strips to almost 5 inches.” The Pinal County placer iron deposits remain in situ but prospects for their profitable extraction have faded. Today, evidence of this failed Arizona mining endeavor consists of little more than a few remnant glory holes and cement foundations near the Durham Hills and some archived newspaper articles and government files. “There were some big promotions out of Tucson, but it didn’t ever pan out,” Ronstadt says. arizcc.com

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How Arizona Almost Got Nuked: Construction and Mining Using Atomic Bombs Douglas Towne

Right: Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas with a hypothetical atom blast in the background, 1960s. sixty two

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

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s the “Age of Aquarius” dawned in 1969, America’s youth celebrated the coming of a new era characterized by peace, love, harmony, and understanding as foretold in the Fifth Dimension’s chart-topping song, “Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.” At the same time, a small cadre of scientists and politicians in Arizona were involved in a little-known endeavor termed Project Aquarius, with potentially profound implications. This proposal was not some hippy-dippy astrological movement but rather an audacious plan to use atomic bombs to develop water supplies and copper deposits. Nuclear scientists predicted “glowing” benefits for the atomic detonations scheduled for the early 1970s. So how did this wacky idea originate, and why did it fizzle out? This madcap tale began in 1957 when the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (USAEC) created a program called Project Plowshare. The goal was to explore productive ways to harness the enormous power of atomic explosions, such as blasting harbors along inaccessible coasts and smashing rocks to yield their ore. Project Plowshare became a reality when Project Gnome, a 3-kiloton atomic blast, detonated 1,184 feet underground to stimulate natural gas extraction near Carlsbad, New Mexico, in 1961. A radioactive discharge from the explosion necessitated the blockade of a nearby highway, so subsequent detonations took place at the remote Nevada Test Site, located 75 miles north of Las Vegas. There, the USAEC conducted ten more Plowshare atomic projects by 1965. The incredible power unleashed by an atomic explosion, which turned night into day, created a sense of excitement, fear, and curiosity. In the 1950s, Americans reveled in its mystique as the Boy Scouts began awarding atomic energy merit badges, Walt Disney published a children’s book entitled, Our Friend the Atom, and travelers ate and slept in “atomic” cafes and motels.

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Las Vegas publicized dates of atomic detonations to attract tourists and sponsored a Miss Atomic Bomb Contest featuring contestants wearing white mushroom clouds on their swimsuits. Amidst the excitement, many Americans did not understand the associated hazards such as radioactive fallout, which occurred even with underground tests. Popular culture made light of the dangers in the 1954 movie, The Atomic Kid. Mickey Rooney portrayed a desert prospector who is mysteriously able to beat the slot machines in Las Vegas after being exposed to fallout.

Image courtesy of Las Vegas Sun.

Top left: The Mighty Atom book, 1950s. Top right: Poster for the 1954 movie, The Atomic Kid. Above: Atomic Bar in El Paso, Texas. Left: Miss Atomic Bomb in 1957 was Lee Merlin, a Las Vegas showgirl.

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Anxious to reap the economic benefits of the atom, the Arizona Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) was established in 1964. The state agency’s agenda proposed using atomic bombs for water development. Atomic detonations would not create water per se, but their effects would fracture rock and create catch basins that would capture vast amounts of surface run-off and recharge it to groundwater. As a result, an estimated “….2-to-3 million acre-feet of water would be added to the Arizona supply…. roughly equivalent to the potential of the Central Arizona Project,” according to a 1968 Phoenix Gazette article. Scientists evaluated 14 sites around the state for water development potential. An atomic explosion was scheduled for 1970-71 at the Wilkins Dam site along Clear Creek, about 25 miles south of Winslow on private ranch land north of the ApacheSitgreaves National Forest. The proposed blast would produce a crater; ejected debris from the explosion would form a highly permeable “rubble dam” in the canyon to trap sediment and temporarily impound surface waters. November December 2021


Images courtesy of AAEC

Water slowly flowing into the crater would eventually recharge groundwater and, perhaps, create a permanent lake for recreational purposes. Arizona Governor Jack Williams called for additional research, writing, “Water is a precious natural resource, and we must be sure that there will be no possible contamination of water supplies before nuclear experiments are conducted.” A 1-year, joint state and federal study called “Project Aquarius,” named after the southern Despite this sobering assessment, the constellation known as the water bearer, AAEC’s public relations campaign embraced was announced in May 1968 to study the Project Aquarius. Marketing included the effects of an atomic detonation. exhibit “Your Stake in the Atom,” housed in It was determined that detonating a geodesic dome at the 1968 Arizona State an atomic bomb at the Wilkins Dam site Fair, and “This Atomic World,” a traveling would create many dangers. exhibit that informed Ari“Minimizing the amount of students about atomic An atomic explosion zona water which could become energy and its peaceful was scheduled for contaminated and providing uses. positive means of assuring 1970-71 at the Wilkins But in April 1969, a that contaminated water Phoenix article Dam site along Clear announcedGazette would not flow downstream the demise of Creek, about 25 miles Project Aquarius due to the uncontrolled present particularly difficult problems state legislature cutting the south of Winslow for this concept,” concluded agency’s funds. “We had Roger Griffin of the Bechtel Corporation. hoped to bring Project Aquarius to the “Since this is a cratering shot, some fallout point where we might be able to make a in the immediate vicinity is certain.” specific proposal for a nuclear detonation,” arizcc.com

Top: “Your Stake in the Atom,” a special traveling exhibit of U.S. Atomic Energy Commission at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1966. Above left: Location of planned atomic detonation in Arizona at Wilkins Dam Site on Clear Creek, 1968. Above right: Van promoting “This Atomic World” exhibit, 1969. Above: Atomic exhibit at the Arizona State Fair, 1967.

AAEC Director William Trenholme said. “But the preliminary work will be useful. It will not go down the drain.” Although Project Aquarius was suspended indefinitely, the AAEC continued Arizona Contractor & Community


Images courtesy of New spaper

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

to research other uses for atomic detonations, including mining. For example, Project Sloop, announced in 1967, involved underground mining by the Kennecott Copper Company in the Gila Mountains nine miles northeast of Safford. A 24-kiloton nuclear detonation at the bottom of a 20-inch diameter, 1,200-footdeep shaft was planned for 1971. The explosion would purportedly open up 2 billion tons of a low-grade copper ore deposit. Conventional mining methods were not economically feasible, but a nuclear detonation might be. The blast would create a cavity that sulfuric acid could be injected into to dissolve the copper. The copper would be contaminated with radioactive ruthenium-106, however, and be unsuitable for many purposes. “Every effort would be made to make the project safe as possible, and it would be delayed until it could be made safe,” said I.G. Pickering, the general manager of the company’s Ray Mines Division, to The Ari- necott halted the project because of probzona Republic. But by the end of 1970, Ken- lems involving commercial viability, and liabilities including contaminated groundwater, and radioactive fallout. Right: Project Sloop map, 1967. Top right: Arizona Mining Association ad for Project Aquarius and Project Sloop Project Sloop in The Arizona Republic. were two of 26 canceled atomic tests under Below: Kennecott smelter in Hayden, Arizona, Project Plowshare. However, the USAEC did 1968.

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detonate 35 nuclear bombs between 1961 and 1973. The tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site, and two each in Colorado and New Mexico. As the optimism of the 1950s gave way to the pessimism of the 1970s, the government reduced funding for the Plowshare program. The public considered its activities a liability, not a boon. The last Project Plowshare test was conducted in Rio Blanco, Colorado in 1973 to stimulate natural gas extraction. Environmental groups vehemently protested the underground test. Colorado voters banned nuclear testing within the state the following year. By 1975, Project Plowshare was reduced to only theoretical research. The program was dissolved with the creation of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1977. The local scientists and public officials involved in Project Aquarius and Sloop envisioned atomic science as a technological triumph to increase Arizona’s water supply and mineral production. For some, it may have been a moral mission to turn the atom bomb into something positive for civilization. But public safety did not seem to be a priority. Instead, potential dangers were deemed vague and unproven; critics were “communist-inspired” or “environmental alarmists.” Project Plowshare ignored hazards from radioactive fallout and environmental contamination. Unable to solve the scientific and moral problems associated with atomic testing and with the practical benefits proving to be unrealistic, the program became a political liability and was abandoned. November December 2021


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Glendale’s Underground Solution: An Urban Salt Mine Douglas C. Towne

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beneath a 40-square-mile area of desert. A geological oddity, the 99.9 percent pure salt body has been an economic powerhouse for the region since 1969. Morton Salt mines the deposit, creating brilliant white stockpiles that can play tricks on visitors even when temperatures soar into the triple digits. “One of my coworkers at first thought they were piles of snow,” Johnny Mack, a former contract worker at the plant, says. “He wanted to go jump on them to cool off.” One of the biggest in the world, the vast salt deposit, remained undiscovered until about a half-century ago. The first indication of the Luke Salt Body occurred in 1952. An irrigation well drilled for Goodyear Farms produced saline water with an almost pure sodium-chloride chemistry that was worthless for growing crops. Fifteen years later, scientist Gerald Grott, who holds degrees in business and metallurgy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recognized that the water quality might indicate an unusual

Image courtesy of Arizona Republic

eneath Glendale lurks a vast subterranean world that’s deeper than the Grand Canyon – and then some. This behemoth is the Luke Salt Body: an estimated 10,000-foot-thick deposit that sits

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Left: Gerald Grott’s daughter, Beth, at Southwest Salt, 1976. Top: Morton Salt plant entrance, 2021.

feature. Moreover, he thought there was a high probability of an extensive salt deposit beneath the West Valley in conjunction with a recent geophysical map. To investigate his theory, Grott founded Southwest Salt Co. in 1968 and financed a 2,400-foot deep well near Glendale and Dysart roads. His premise proved correct. “The salt in here is damned near unbelievable,” Grott told The Arizona Republic in 1976. “If it were above ground, there would be one of the biggest mountains in the state.” He added that the formation could supply the salt needs of the U.S. “for 200 years.” By 1969, Southwest Salt was mining the salt deposit using solution wells. Fresh water is injected through a central pipe in a well drilled into the formation, which dissolves the salt. Positive water pressure maintains the integrity of the resulting salt cavern. It forces the brine to the surface via the annulus, a space between the injection tube and the well casing. Salt mining is dangerous, even though blasting isn’t required. “The wells work at very high pressures,” says Norm Fain, plant engineer during the mid-1980s. “It was a challenge to find materials that wouldn’t fail and harm workers.” The aqueous brine then flows into evaporation ponds, where Arizona’s abundant solar energy expedites the growth of salt crystals at a rate of 2 inches per day during the summer. Finally, machines harvest the slushy brine, and the salt crystals November December 2021


Image courtesy of Johnny Mack

are further dried in a gas-fired kiln before being packaged for use all over the Southwest. Unfortunately for locavores, since the West Valley salt is reclaimed in an open-air process and exposed to dust, the resulting product is used only for industrial functions. “The cleanest salt is used for water softening, and the rest for other purposes like road salt,” Fain says.

Images courtesy of Author

Top left: Harvesting salt at Morton Salt plant, 2021. Above: Bagged salt at Morton Salt plant, 2021. Top right: Salt piles in Morton warehouse, 2015. Right: Map Showing Bumstead, 1960s. Below: Dove flying by salt harvest, 2021.

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The plant’s white-tinged salt landscape creates its own mini-environment that provides surprises for visitors. “The place had little albino lizards, which you don’t see that often,” Mack says. Grott’s talent was as a scientific visionary, and he had taken a big chunk of the salt pellet market from Morton, according to Fain. Morton Salt bought the 132-acre facility and its 98 acres of brine evaporation ponds in 1985. “I believe the sale was a combination of Morton making an offer, Grott getting older, and his financial backers looking for a return on investment,” Fain says. “Until the sale, the mine never mercially grown rose bushes between the paid any of the investors any returns.” Agua Fria River and Luke Air Force Base, the Once isolated among fields of com- industrial facility is increasingly bordered by new subdivisions. These days, a block wall surrounding the plant limits views and partially conceals its presence. There is one item, however, that can’t entirely be contained within the plant’s fence. “There is enough salt in the air to make the parking lot the only place in the Valley where cars are prone to rust,” noted an article in the Republic in 1999. The company is known for its iconic trademark of an umbrella-carrying blond girl leaving a trail of salt along with the motto, “When It Rains, It Pours.” Which begs the question, what happens at the salt plant when it rains? Precipitation simply causes a reverse chemical reaction, as the salt returns to solution resulting in a slowdown in production. Arizona Contractor & Community


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Images courtesy of Author

Image courtesy of Google Earth

The Luke Salt Body has another unusual aboveground ponds. “Morton occasionally characteristic: it is the Valley’s largest stor- took their brine if they didn’t have enough age unit. Three underground caverns, storage,” Fain says. LPG is stockpiled during located adjacent to the Morton Salt plant, the summer when demand for propane are used to stockpile liquid and butane is low, and it’s petroleum gases, such as withdrawn in the winter for “If it were above propane and butane. The regional distribution. facility, developed by the Although plenty of storground, there California Liquid Gas Corage remains in the Luke Salt would be one of the Body, nearby residents have poration in the 1970s, was biggest mountains put the kibosh on additional purchased by Plains LPG Services for approximately fuel stockpiling. In 2004, in the state.” $52 million in 2007. the proposed Copper Eagle LPG is shipped in railproject would have created road tank cars to the West Valley’s Bum- up to three caverns for Arizona’s first natstead Storage Terminal from refinement ural gas storage facility. Project opponents facilities in California. The fuel is unloaded doused it because of safety concerns and into aboveground storage tanks and subse- were instrumental in having the state pass quently transferred to the storage caverns a law banning natural gas storage in the 3.5 miles away through an underground area. While fuel storage in the deposit has pipeline. The LPG is pumped underground, become limited, salt remains an essentially where it displaces brine that flows into limitless commodity.

The industrial facilities that utilize the Luke Salt Body – and the mine itself – are little-known Valley oddities. “I apparently lived right on top of this thing for close to 10 years and didn’t know it,” reflects Jesse Skousen. “I drove by the salt plant several times but never knew how extensive it was.” “When I’d tell people that I worked in a salt mine, they thought it was a joke,” Fain says. “Then they would get very curious and ask what it was like working there. Finally, I’d say that when I came home, the salt had caused my pants to become so rigid that they would stand up by themselves. Top left: An aerial photo of the Morton Salt evaporation ponds. Above: Harvesting salt at Morton Salt plant, 2021. Below: An evaporation pond at the Morton Salt plant, 2021.

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PAIR-A-DICE PARADOX: BEAUTIFUL WARREN VS FUNKY BISBEE Don W. Ryden AIA

BISBEE – THE QUEEN OF THE copper CAMPS MINING IS A GAMBLE, AS IS EVERYTHING AKIN TO IT uccess teeters on the figurative roll of the dice, whether excavating a copper mine or building a mining town. Everyone involved at every level tries to improve the odds in making their fortunes. Such a story is told by the historic architecture and street plans of two neighboring Arizona frontier towns – not so much rivals as partners with different paths toward riches. 1880 Bisbee, “The Queen of the Copper Camps,” tried to civilize her chaos by applying superficial Victorian respectability. But that was not enough. A permanent cure for public disorder was needed and fast. Thus, Bisbee’s 1907 offspring suburb, “Warren – the City Beautiful,” was purposefully planned and managed as the progressive workers’ paradise. Evidence of the paradoxical strategies survives today in the magical Spirit of Place you can sense in each town. Come along.

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1890s Miner Shacks I find little left of the squalid wooden shacks of early Bisbee other than concrete steps and foundations. Ever spreading up the canyons, those miserable hovels were problematic symptoms that forced the mining company to build a new City Beautiful for miners’ families.

Images courtesy of Author

Bisbee Townscape Panorama It took me about a week of walking Bisbee’s steep streets to inventory historic houses for a National Register nomination. Yet, I had endured only a fraction of the fatigue that miners must have felt trudging home uphill daily after a grueling 12-hour shift underground.

1904 Pythian Castle (29 Ok Street) This fraternal hall with the iconic onion-top clock tower seems to me a magical place apart from dank tunnels and stopes. Here miners could momentarily swap grimy overalls and brashness for glittery regalia and civility.

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WARREN – THE CITY BEAUTIFUL LABOR MANAGEMENT THROUGH WELFARE CAPITALISM arren is significant in industrial and social history for the “welfare capitalism” strategy of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company to improve copper production and reinforce company hierarchy. By adapting aspects of the Progressive Era’s City Beautiful movement for a new all-inclusive company town, the scheme ostensibly promoted the welfare of its several social groups and superficially provided worker contentment. However, the acclaimed City Beautiful approach simultaneously manipulated national public relations and controlled the local labor force within this context.

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WORKERS’ PARADISE ON AMERICA’S BORDERLAND ensitively cradled in a high desert foothill setting, Warren, Arizona, reflects the ideals of America’s City Beautiful movement as a new suburban company town on the early-20th-century frontier borderland. Warren’s formal townsite plan, serviceable infrastructure, public open spaces, recreational and educational opportunities, and popular architectural styles mark a sharp visual contrast to the chaotic, overgrown mining camp character of its neighboring mother town, Bisbee.

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Arranged within Warren’s fan-shaped town layout, its land uses, and building types fit into well-defined zones that reinforce the economic, social, and corporate hierarchy of this copper mining town. The style, scale, and placement of the houses clearly define the relative status of their occupants in this company town. The grid pattern of blocks, boulevards, streets, and alleys converge as they parallel the natural drainage pattern emptying out the lower point of the little valley. Vista Park’s iconic half-mile-long spine of public open space simultaneously characterizes Warren’s Progressive-era values and reinforces the site’s natural Spirit of Place. Visible elements of historic infrastructure, utilities, and streetcar systems are evidence of the civilizing effects of the City Beautiful movement that improved mine workers’ lifestyle, strengthened the copper industry, and promoted statehood for Arizona. 1912 State Seal of Arizona honors Warren The locals tell me that the name of Warren, Arizona, honors the prospector George Warren (not the town’s planner Warren Manning). With his pick and shovel, George Warren appears on the Great Seal of the State to represent copper mining as chief among the “Five C’s of Arizona.”

Warren Explained on a Cocktail Napkin After strolling the peaceful streets of Warren to learn how the land uses are arranged on the landforms, it was easy to diagram the company town’s socio-economic hierarchy with just a few pen strokes. But, I wonder…is the term “welfare capitalism” a fun oxymoron or an ironic paradox?

Warren Townscape Panorama Perched high atop Mine Dump No. 7 behind Walter Douglas’ mansion, I sketched Warren cradled in a shallow basin. To benchmark the prime axis of his townsite plan, Manning obviously overlaid the straight gunsight view through Black Gap toward Punta Los Ajos in Mexico.

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ANGELS IN THE ARCHITECTURE and STARS IN THE STREETS PROGRESSIVE ARCHITECTURE arren is significant for architecture within the context of a City Beautiful planned company town for its fine local examples of nationally popular architectural styles of the period and for its innovative reinforced concrete buildings among the earliest of that type constructed in Arizona. The architecture of Warren reflects the high-styled civic buildings characteristic of City Beautiful principles of aesthetic design. The town provides excellent examples of Craftsman bungalows, Mission style houses, and National Folk building traditions. Nationally recognized master architect Henry Trost designed several important residences and commercial buildings here. Perpetuating the original community spirit of the City Beautiful movement, public works projects like stone drainage canals and buildings such as the Warren Baseball Park grandstands were constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the 1930s

1939 Grace Lutheran Church (501 Arizona Street) While sketching the curvilinear parapets of this church, I imagined the spreading wings of angels. Since then, when I see Mission-style buildings in Bisbee and Warren, these comforting guardian spirits appear.

1791 Treasure Map of Washington, DC The New Star of Democracy in the Constellation of Nations.

1908 Calumet & Arizona Mining Co. Headquarters (118 Arizona Street) Starting in 1907, industry and government introduced reinforced concrete construction in Arizona railroad and mining towns. Long serving as Bisbee City Hall, this Neoclassical office exemplifies that innovative structural type. I’m saddend that it burned in 2017 leaving only the concrete shell. What can we do now?

1907 Treasure Map of Warren, AZ A Stellar Plan for a Company Town.

1909 Warren Baseball Park A Diamond in the Rough (99 Arizona Street) Arguably the oldest continuously operating baseball park in America, the Warren ballfield was the focal point of the 1917 Bisbee Deportation of striking miners and sympathizers. I now value this star-crossed place as the Pair-a-Dice Paradox of amenity vs anarchy.

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Images courtesy of Author

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GENIUS OF PLACE arren is significant for community planning and development as the first City Beautiful in 20th-century Arizona. The fan-shaped street plan of Warren holds deep meaning and complexity of pattern. Look closely to find the underlying starlike geometry. Warren has the same angled streets and star-spangled intersections as another famous American city. Planner Warren Manning likely used ancient principles of sacred geometry, geomancy, and divine proportion to design 1907 Warren as did Pierre L’Enfant for 1791 Washington, DC. Divine by design, Warren is a direct descendant of Washington.

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SINGULAR PARADOX iffering social contexts of Bisbee and Warren contributed to a significant climax of conflict between labor and management in the Bisbee Deportation. On July 12, 1917, vigilantes supported by mining companies forcibly removed 1,186 striking miners, union sympathizers, and political anarchists from both towns. Paradoxically, the Warren Ballpark, a popular City Beautiful social amenity, became a stockade for those arrested/ kidnapped awaiting deportation to the New Mexico desert in cattle cars of Phelps Dodge’s railroad. The Bisbee Deportation was a local event of national significance that provoked action by President Wilson through the Justice Department. This move resulted in a Supreme Court opinion on labor rights, discrimination, immigration, national security, and free speech that the nation still debates in the 21st century.

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Old School Equipment: Dart Truck Company

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ignificant changes occurred when Bagdad Copper Mines converted from underground mining to an open pit in 1945. President and Chairman of the Board John C. Lincoln provided a loan for new machinery for the central Arizona operation, which increased production with improved efficiency. The machinery changes were dramatic, such as shovels with electric controls that replaced the labor-intensive mechanical link and toggle methods. New equipment at the mine included Bucyrus Erie 22T churn drills, P&H 1400 and 1055 electric shovels, Northwest diesel shovels, Euclid TD15 22-ton trucks, and Dart 140s torque converter trucks. The Dart trucks were prominent at the Bagdad, with the copper mine operating 23 trucks running 24/7, with a hauling capacity range from 25-50 tons by the mid-1950s. Above: A P&H shovel loading a Dart haul truck at Bagdad Copper Mine, 1956. Right, clockwise: (L-R) An ad for Dart Truck Distributors owned by J.D. Williams, 1947; an ad for a 60-ton Dart Truck featuring Bagdad Copper Mines, 1950s; and an ad for Dart Truck Distributors in Phoenix, 1947. Seventy eight

To service Dart trucks used at Arizona copper mines, the company partnered with local dealers, Prescott Tractor Sales and Goar’s Service & Supply in Bisbee. In 1947, Dart also offered a short-lived, overthe-road facility, Dart Truck Distributors, by partnering with J.D. Williams and E.I. Barnett. The outlet, at 3958 South Central Avenue in Phoenix, assisted Dart owners with truck customization. One truck driver at Bagdad Copper Mines, 29-year-old Lewis Shipwash, drove his No. 6 Dart truck six days a week, eight hours a day, making 40 trips daily from the pit to the dumping ground or ore crusher carrying roughly 20,000 tons of material, according to a May 1954 article in Arizona Days and Ways magazine.

There was danger in every trip. Aside from hazardous obstacles on the path, a runaway truck could happen from glazedover brakes. The No. 6 Dart truck caught fire one afternoon, and Shipwash wisely turned around on a steep hill and drove to the maintenance yard. Mechanics doused the flames, repaired the broken gas line, and the truck was back in operation within a few minutes. These rugged vehicles were built by the Dart Truck Company, founded in Anderson, Indiana, in 1903. The company was renamed the Dart Mfg. Co. in 1907

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Right: A Dart front-end loader at Anaconda Copper Mine, west of I-19 and Green Valley, 1960s. Below: A Dart Truck Company Zippo lighter, 1940s. Bottom: Dart trucks in operation at the Bagdad Copper Mine, 1956.

then Dart general manager Ralph Kress, a veteran truck builder. In 1958, Paccar acquired the Dart Truck and later was sold to Unit Rig & Equipment Co. in 1984. The Terex Corporation purchased Unit Rig & Equipment Co. in 1988.

Although not many in Arizona are familiar with Dart trucks, and even fewer have driven one, they were a vital transportation component of Arizona copper mines during the evolution to open-pit operations after World War II.

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

and relocated to Waterloo, Iowa. According to the website tractors.fandom.com/ wiki/Dart_Truck_Company, the early truck models were chain-driven, but the company introduced shaft drive in 1912. The company moved to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1925 as the Dart Truck Co. Dart manufactured heavy trucks, working closely with the mining industry, and customizing vehicles for clients during the Great Depression. This approach allowed Dart to pioneer design and fabrication techniques, igniting a revolution in larger tonnage trucks at an affordable cost. The company introduced an off-highway truck in 1937, and two years later, offered one of the first diesel-electric drive trucks. After World War II, the company produced the massive tandem-drive truck Dart 75-TA in 1951. This truck set records for its size and 75-ton capacity, which far exceeded other previous off-highway haulers. This giant off-highway hauler was designed by

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Building on the Past 1969: Vulture Mine’s New Wealth

H

enry Wickenburg is credited in 1863 with discovering the Vulture Mine, a gold strike that would go down in history as Arizona’s richest. But he likely would not recognize the ore “bodies” being mined there today. They aren’t highgrade veins of precious metals but rather tourists eager to learn about life in Vulture City, a mining camp that blossomed during Territorial days. The Vulture Mine went through several boom-bust periods more than a century ago with the discovery and exhaustion of rich veins of gold and silver. Then, during World War II, the mine was shut

down by the U.S. government since gold production was considered nonessential to the war effort. Mining has since been limited because of the lack of new ore discoveries. But that doesn’t mean the Vulture Mine is no longer producing revenue for its owners. Tours are now offered of the mine’s assay office, cookhouse, brothel, post office, Henry Wickenburg’s home, and the infamous Hanging Tree. The latter desert ironwood is estimated to be more than 200 years old and was used to execute a purported 18 men during the mine’s early years.

Vulture City was a rough, dangerous mining camp that initially lacked any lawmen. So, the mining company dealt harshly with the high-grading or theft of valuable gold specimens by freighters, who hauled the ore in horse-drawn wagons to a mill 12 miles away along the Hassayampa River. Their fate was the Hanging Tree. However, reported supernatural activities near the Hanging Tree are helping the current owners promote visitation to the mine’s buildings and artifacts. The place has become the go-to destination for paranormal-oriented shows and groups who claim to have heard and even been harassed by ghosts of the dead thieves. And that kind of spirited publicity is tough to buy.


Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Above: Vulture Mine drawing, 1960s. Top right: Vulture Mine hanging tree, 1969. Left: Old mining structure at Vulture Mine, 1969. Bottom right: A dump truck built for the East Vulture Mining Co., 1942.


T

Architect’s Perspective: Globe: Where Copper Was King Doug Sydnor, FAIA Doug_sydnor@outlook.com in 1894. Four years later, the arrival of the railroad dramatically lowered shipping costs for equipment and supplies. In 1904 Phelps Dodge acquired the company and expanded mining operations. World War I increased demand for copper, and Globe prospered. However, copper prices subsequently dropped, which along with declining ore grades and periodic underground flooding, led to temporary closure of the mine during the 1921-22 recession. The closure became permanent in 1931, and 10 years later, Miami Copper

Image courtesy of Gila County Historical Society

he mining town of Globe, Arizona, has a notorious early history of saloons, gambling halls, brothels, murders, stagecoach robberies, lynchings, and Apache raids. But the city emerged from this frontier era to produce some impressive architectural buildings. The story of the community began in 1875 when prospectors discovered silver near what would become Globe. There was more copper in the area, however, which led to the founding of the town in 1876. The community became the county seat for Gila County in 1881 and was linked by a stagecoach line to Silver City, New Mexico. Still, due to its isolation, Globe remained a rough-and-tumble frontier town into the late 1800s. The Old Dominion Copper Company, incorporated in 1880, became the area’s major copper producer. Lewisohn Brothers of New York purchased the company

Company bought the mine to serve as a water supply for the area. The Globe Downtown Historic District encompasses a significant group of commercial, civic, religious, and governmental buildings that define the community as the economic and political center of Gila County. The District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. There are 29 contributing structures and 11 noncontributing elements along Broad Street between Cedar and Tebbs streets, including the following buildings: The Gila County Courthouse at 101 North Broad Street, built from 1906-07, is the landmark building in Globe because of its sheer massiveness. The building consists of locally quarried dacite, which provides a heavy texture that plays in the bright Arizona sun. The front elevation is Italian Renaissance styled and with a symmetrical composition of projected pilasters capped with a deep fascia. The windows are of various shapes and sizes to animate the façade, and the deeply recessed main entry is at the top of the rising staircase. The architect was W.R. Horton of Phoenix, who also helped design the Carnegie Public Library in Phoenix in 1908. The Courthouse now houses the Cobre Valley Center of the Arts. The Gila Valley Bank and Trust Building completed in 1909 at 292 North Broad Street confidently addresses the street intersection with its stout character and first known use of white glazed terra-cotta in Arizona. The only Beaux-Arts, Vernacular Neoclassical example in Globe, the building presents a symmetrically composed ele-

Images courtesy of Author

Top left: 1906-07 Gila County Courthouse. Left and below: 1909 Gila Valley Bank and Trust Building.

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Images courtesy of Author

vation with a large arched, inviting entry, which is a well-scaled invitation for bank customers. The entrance is flanked by Corinthian-style pilasters, visually supporting an elaborate frieze and a triangulated pediment. The side elevation is composed of three semicircular windows that generously bathe the interiors with natural light. The exterior has crafted detailing, textures, and projected moldings. The bank included a lobby, trainees offices, and two large vaults and was the headquarters among four branches in eastern Arizona, with the others in Clifton, Morenci, and Solomonville. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Ottenheimer, Stern & Reichert of Chicago. They were active outside the Windy City in the nearby town of Houghton in an area known as “Copper Country.” This connection with the copper mining industry and banks may have led to the Gila Valley Bank and Trust Building commission in Globe. Before forming this firm, Henry L. Ottenheimer (1869-1919) was a draftsman alongside Frank Lloyd Wright at the Chicago-based Adler & Sullivan. Unfortunately, the two did not get along, and one day Wright hit Ottenheimer, knocking off his glasses. He retaliated by stabbing Wright in the neck with a draftsman tool. Fortunately, Wright survived to find architectural fame while Ottenheimer became influential enough to convince the talented Austrian architect Rudolph Schindler to join him in Chicago. Schindler subsequently worked for Wright and later started his own successful practice in California. Gila Valley Bank and Trust merged with the Valley Bank and Trust to form what would become known as Valley National Bank of Arizona (now Chase Bank) in 1922. The branch in Globe closed in 1952 and has subsequently been used as a newsstand, store, art gallery, and is currently a hair salon. The structure was placed on the National Register in 1987; Michael and Sara Day purchased the building in 1989 and fully restored it. The Hill Street School at 450 Hill Street is a three-story structure built in 1913 with a base, mid-section, and top as defined by projected horizontal courses. Tall rectangular windows with small panes and operable sections have a repetitive rhythm across the elevations. The school has a unique plan with a rounded cylindrical end facing the street intersection, which visually mitigates its volume. Unfortunately, the school is now unused and for sale, waiting to be adaptively reused.

The Holy Angels Catholic Church and Rectory was built using local dacite stone at 231 South Broad Street in 1918. The Romanesque/Mission Revival style includes a seven-story bell tower. Located on an elevated site, the church is a prominent edifice in Globe. The front elevation is asymmetrically composed with a pair of staircases rising to the trio of entry doors while the tall bell tower defines its left side. Emil Frei, Sr., one of America’s foremost stained-glass artists, designed the stainedglass windows. The architects were Trost & Trost of El Paso, Texas, who also designed the Luhr’s Building and adjacent Luhr’s Tower in Downtown Phoenix in the 1920s.

Top: 1913 Hill Street School. Above: 1918 Holy Angels Catholic Church and Rectory.

Although Globe has diversified its economy, copper mining continues to be a significant contributor to the area. I had an unforgettable experience involving this metal while touring the smelter in nearby Miami as an elementary school student in the early 1960s. The large solid copper ingots it produced left quite an impression. Douglas B. Sydnor, FAIA, is Principal at Douglas Sydnor Architect and Associates and author of three architecture books.

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Digging thorugh the archives: The Williamson Diamond Mine William Horner

D

The story of how Laura Horner’s grandfather, Jimmy Preacher, ventured from his blue-collar roots in Scotland to the exotic African landscape of Tanganyika is an intriguing tale. The narrative begins with steam locomotives and takes a detour through India before he and his family arrived in their adopted home. The Williamson Diamond Mine’s community would prove to shine as brightly as the coveted gems until political change ended this almost fairytale-like existence.

Top left: Jimmy Preacher in Africa, 1960s. Top right: Sorting plant for the Williamson Diamond Mine, 1950s. Bottom left: Williamson Diamond Mine’s recovery section of the sorting house, 1950s. Below: The “Williamson Pink” diamond gifted to Queen Elizabeth II. Bottom right: Jimmy (2nd from right) working in Scotland during World War II.

Images courtesy of Lilian Feldhauser

iamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but these precious stones are not part of Arizona’s mining heritage. However, I have a personal connection with this pure carbon crystal through my wife’s family, who lived and worked for many years in East Africa at the famous Williamson Diamond Mine. Celebrated gem discoveries there include the “Williamson Pink,” a 54.5-carat diamond cut and gifted to Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, shortly before her wedding in 1947.

Jimmy started his childhood in a Scottish industrial town called Coatbridge, located near Glasgow. His father passed away when Jimmy was young, influencing him to leave school when he was 14-yearsold to work as an apprentice on steam locomotives during World War II. His first day on the job proved humorous as Jimmy didn’t own a pair of pants and showed up wearing shorts. Jimmy’s coworkers teased

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Images courtesy of Lilian Feldhauser

him goodheartedly, and he returned the next day in new attire purchased by his family. After the war, he joined the Royal Air Force and, for two years, was stationed at RAF Mauripur, located near Karachi, Pakistan. “My father was never over 120 pounds in his life. On the flight home from Mauripur to Scotland, he was asked to sit in a canoe being transported on the plane,” Lilian Feldhauser, his daughter and Laura’s mother, says with a chuckle. Back home, Jimmy married his wife, Jenny, in 1951. During the mid-1950s, there were many industrial jobs in Scotland, and he became a maintenance fitter with Calder Iron Works, working on industrial equipment. He excelled in his craft.

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Jimmy’s experience in the industrial trades soon landed him a job far from Scotland, at the Williamson Diamond Mine in Mwadui, Tanganyika, in 1956. The country was then a colonial territory of the United Kingdom, which occupied what was formerly known as German East Africa during World War I. Dr. John Williamson, a Canadian geologist, visited the area in 1938 to improve diamond mining operations. He prospected there and two years later discovered the Mwadui kimberlite pipe, which proved to be rich in diamonds. During the mid-1950s, the extensive mine employed approximately 2,600 African workers, 110 Europeans, and 60 Asians. When the Preachers moved there, they found a community of about 200

Top left: Jimmy (bottom left) in India while he was in the Royal Air Force. Above: Jimmy Preacher (left) in India. Below: Caterpillar, LeTourneau, and Euclid equipment used at the diamond mine, 1940s. Below left: Jimmy & Jenny Preacher holding Lilian, shortly after arriving in, Tanganyika. Bottom left: Smith-Rodley shovels loading 15-ton Euclid haul trucks at the mine, 1940s.

European families and African workers, who were fenced in from the surrounding bush country. The compound had many fringe benefits, including a post office, several pools, tennis courts, a clubhouse, and a 9-hole golf course. “The mine was located in the savannah near the equator, a heavenly place that had nearly perfect weather with a rainy season,” recalls Lilian, who was born there. “There were

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Images courtesy of Lilian Feldhauser

Top left: Jenny working at the Duka. Above: DC -3 plane used to transport the mine workers’ children to a boarding school in Nairobi, Kenya. Top right: Swimming gala at the mine’s pool, 1960s.

a few baobab trees, including one where Williamson discovered his first diamond.” “Dr. Williamson wanted to create jobs for the locals on his mine,” says Lilian. “All employees had free housing, utilities, and healthcare. He also paid for all the children’s schooling and boarding of their choice after the age of 11. My mum, Jenny, worked at the duka, the mine’s general store. At one point, she worked as a lifeguard at one of the pools, yet all the kids could swim better than she could.” Lilian recalls that there were always a lot of activities to enjoy. “My parents loved to dance, and my father was a terrific dancer. The families would get together and have fancy dress parties. Our boarding school was in Kenya, so we flew in the Williamson plane every six weeks in a DC-3

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from Mwadui to Nairobi.” The men at the mine were “on-call” and usually worked 40-hour shifts. According to Lilian, Jimmy trained many natives, and they admired him, calling him “Mzee Jimmy,” which meant eldest in Swahili. Jimmy’s first job at the mine was as a millwright, and he was eventually promoted to senior foreman for the machine shop. This position was responsible for the maintenance, repair, and modifications to the ore treatment plant, which could process up to 13,000 tons of diamondbearing gravel per day. Jimmy and his crew were responsible for fixing any broken machinery in a continuously monitored environment. Equipment used in the shop included jaw and gyratory crushers, feeders, vibrating screens, water and gravel pumps, IngersollRand and Holman static compressors, belt

Above: Jenny, Jimmy, and Lilian selecting their German shepherd puppy from Erna Heramb, the wife of the veterinarian (left). Bottom left: Jenny (left) dancing at one of the mine’s many social events. Bottom middle: Jenny, Jimmy, (front right) and Lilian with her Italian friend Tiziano (under doorway) from the mine in Cambridge, late 1970s. Below: Leo in Mwadui.

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conveyors, pipelines, magnetic separators, thickeners, densifiers, and cyclones. In 1966, Jimmy was also trained in the Metalock method of repair, which repaired cracks in cast metals by stitching instead of welding. Lilian recalls that occasionally workers would get caught stealing diamonds, including one employee who was stopped at the last minute by guards at the gate, who determined that he had smuggled diamonds in a small hand-cream jar. As a result, he was sent to prison at Shinyanga, East Africa. Dr. Williamson managed the mine until he died in 1958 at the age of 50. His heirs subsequently sold the mine to the De Beers Group, a diamond mining and trading conglomerate, and the colonial government of Tanganyika. Each held a 50 percent stake. Tanganyika gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, and three years later, with the coastal archipelago of Zanzibar, became the country of Tanzania. In the early 1970s, politics in the country changed. Tanzanian President Julius K. Nyerere nationalized the mine from De Beers. As a result, most non-natives left the Williamson Diamond Mine, and by the mid-1970s, there were only a few families left. Mine operations deteriorated under government management, a problem exacerbated by working lower-grade deposits, the loss of skilled engineers, and a bloated labor force to decrease unemployment. In 1994, Tanzania invited De Beers to repurchase 75 percent of the mine, which is still in operation today. The mine has produced more than 19 million carats of diamonds since it first opened in 1938. The Preacher family moved to Cambridge in 1972. Jimmy and his wife, Jenny, settled in the university town, where Jimmy worked for Johnson & Mathey, a chemical plating company. The Williamson Diamond Mine in Tanzania today is very different from the one Lilian remembers from her childhood. Still, she often thinks fondly back to the community where residents were as tight as the carbon bonds that created the diamonds mined nearby. “It’s amazing almost 50 years later, after leaving at the age of 15, we “Mwadui kids” still connect online to share images and reminisce about our childhood growing up at the mine,” Lilian says. “I most fondly remember a very kind and wonderful man named Leo and his beautiful African family who will forever live in my heart.” arizcc.com

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For Advertising Inquires contact: Billy Horner 602-931-0069 Billy@arizcc.com

November December 2021


HONE YOUR SKILLS WITHOUT EVEN STEPPING FOOT ON A REAL DRILL. The Vermeer HDD Simulator lets you expereience real-world drilling through an on-screen simulation. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with HDD controls and hone your drilling skills before the real job begins. Train with a certified HDD Training Specialist. Improve job safety Improve drilling effciency Learn new techniques & pullback speeds

REGISTER TODAY! CHANDLER, AZ 480.785.4800

TUCSON, AZ 520.574.3400

VERMEERSOUTHWEST.COM/TRAINING LAS VEGAS, NV 702.365.1144

ALBUQUERQUE, NM 505.345.8787

Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. © 2021 Vermeer Southwest. All Rights Reserved.

EL PASO, TX 915.213.1750


PRSRT STD US Postage PAID Permit #1662 Phoenix, AZ

602-276-2040

Providing Rentals and Service in AZ, since 1998

Ken Miles SVP/COO

O: 602-456-5175 C: 602-722-7933 kenm@eccoequipment.com

Jeff Hightower Outside Sales

O: 602-276-2040 C: 602-725-1123 jeffh@eccoequipment.com

Frank Alvarez Operations Manager

O: 602-456-5179 C: 602-769-6725 franka@eccoequipment.com

Dixie Chavarria Inside Sales

O: 602-276-2040 C: 602-722-7930 dixiec@eccoequipment.com