The Carmelita Mines and Mill site is located in the Centennial Mining District. It is a Gold mining camp that was last recorded as being worked in the early 1930’s primarily for gold and some returns in silver.
The property was originally known as the Yuma Mine. The mines are evidenced to have been worked in or around 1840 by Spanish miners. As the Spanish and Mexican miners were pushed south, the mine was taken over and renamed as the Harqua Hala Mine.
The mines region has a long and detailed history that has changed owners several times, but the most notable owner was Carmelita Campbell. The Mines are named for her and famously known for the first woman to prospect and mine in the area’s Centennial district.
The Carmelita Mines were discovered in 1864 by Mrs. Carmelita Campbell. Carmelita was of Chilean Heritage. In 1857 John G. Campbell, a Scottish businessman met Carmelita while living in Chile and working as a merchant. In 1859 he returned to the US with Carmelita Campbell as his common law wife. They had one child, a daughter.
John would later become the Arizona territory’s first Congressional Delegate. The couple lived in Prescott and she "was credited with much of her husband's political success."
In 1865, while working in Prescott, Arizona as a merchant, Mrs. Campbell, with assistance from John Rarick, located what was known as the old Yuma Mine. The mine had not been developed due to hostilities with Indians and Mexicans but was said to have produced native gold as far back as 1640. The mine was renamed the Carmelita and five claims covered most of the workings.
Reports from various sources indicate that the mine may have been the beginning of the end for the couple. Initial development of the mine was bankrolled by Mr. Campbell from his profitable General Store in Prescott. Carmelita Campbell’s name was found on many mining claim notices, along with noted mine developer John Rarick.
Unsubstantiated accounts state that Carmelita spent more and more time with Mr. Rarick at her ranch while developing the Carmelita Mine. Mr. Campbell spending his time tending his interests in Prescott at their Prescott home. By 1878, Carmelita had filed for a divorce claiming infidelity on the part of John. It was not an amiable split.
Mrs. Campbell set up a camp on the Centennial Wash and began working the mine in earnest in 1879. She owned and operated local mines for nearly 40-odd years (1870 to 1914) employing a massive force of some 250 Mexicans and Indians who broke out ore from exposed ledges and packed it seven (7) miles of trails to her ranch.
Her mines operated profitably, many newspaper articles of the time attest to Ms. Campbell’s success in her mining endeavors. However, some men she had placed in trust to do the assessments and filing of her claims would prove to be her undoing.
Her life as a miner was not easy; there were times of prosperity and poverty. She lived in a stone cabin in Harquahala. There are many newspaper articles that were published during this time that attested to the success in the mines that bore her name.
In 1895, she wrote a letter to a publication describing a storm which swept through the area, creating a flash-flood in Centennial Wash, around midnight on Dec. 3, 1895.
“The storm arrived about midnight and rain came down in a sheet of water. In an incredibly brief time, a mighty rush of muddy water five feet high swept through the wash, taking my house and many of my possessions. Several prospectors who were camping at the ranch lost everything they had. They barely had time to save their lives, climbing trees and clinging to them until the force of the flood had subsided.”
She and many others lost many of their possessions. She concluded her letter with the statement, "I am not discouraged, as the mines are looking well."
But all was not well. In 1914, one of most trusted employees, JA Marr attempted to “claim jump” the Carmelita and overtake the mine claims.
These so called “reputable” business men had plans for the Carmelita. In 1911 and 1912, AH Parker and JA Marr plotted with some of Mrs. Campbells associates to let the mining claims lapse, when they did, the two men swooped in and took over the claims.
They weren’t done there though, they continued in trying to have her committed to an asylum in Phoenix. They failed in this attempt, as Carmelita was still taken to Los Angeles where she died in “forlorn lonliness” in 1918.
Parker and Marr formed the Carmelita Mining and Milling Company and began raising money to develop the mines. With excellent gold values, they had no problem selling their stocks at .55 per share. No small sum in 1914.
By 1917 they had acquired the funds to build a mill on the property and begin mining in earnest. It was then that Carmelita’s workers took matters into their own hands.
When Marr and Parker took over the property, they displaced all the Mexicans and Indians who had been working the mines for Carmelita. Many had lived on the ranch for many years. They were removed from the area and forbidden at the mines.
Sometime during the development of the mines, there began to be trouble. Sabotaged machinery, dynamited roads and more. Soon the miners contracted to work at the Carmelita reported being shot at and harassed while not working. By 1918 there were no miners left to work the Carmelita. Despite having assay reports that were as high as $487 to the ton (Gold at $20 per ounce, Silver less than $2 per ounce) Parker and Marr were unable to develop the property due to a lack of any miners to work the site.
They had successfully stolen the mine but now had no way to develop the property or make good on the investors capital investment. By 1921 the Carmelita Mining and Milling Company was bankrupt and both Parker and Marr left the area.
Ida Macauley is said to have taken over the mines in 1924 and held the property until 1942 or 1943 when she began looking to sell the properties, asking for $35,000 and inferring at least 75 tons of ore with values of at least 2.5 ounces per ton in gold with much more blocked and ready for extraction.
The mines passed hands a few times over the years but were never developed or worked. Three brothers, Adolph, Frank and George Aros took the properties over in 1979 and held them for nearly 40 years, apparently knowing what they had, the brothers were known in the Quartzsite area for selling “stunning” samples of wire gold on quartz. They never revealed the source of the gold, but it wasn’t discovered until the last brother passed that they made routine trips to the Carmelita Mine.
Today the Carmelita mine prospects are very good. There is native gold visible in many of the exposed quartz bodies around the claims. It has clear quartz veins varying in size from 18 in. to 4 ft. thick, all carry good values in Gold and Silver.
There is enough quartz and gold to keep a mid-sized mining company working for at least 10 years. With ores averaging 2.5 ounces to the ton, a small operation could easily extract 10 tons per week, netting 25 ounces, or $25,000.00 per week.
Assays and historical reports state that values in the mine and on the ledges averages from
1.5 to 2.5 ounces of gold per ton.