Saturday, June 23, 2018

Quartzsite-La Posa Mining History

Quartzsite lies on the western portion of the La Posa Plain along Tyson Wash. The Dome Rock Mountains overlook the town on the west with Granite Mountain on the southwest edge of the town and Oldman Mountain on the northwest. The Plomosa lie across the La Posa Plain to the east.

The town has a hot desert climate with mild to warm winters from November to March and hot to extreme summers for the remainder of the year. In the middle of summer, Quartzsite is one of the hottest places in the United States.

Quartzsite was originally known as Fort Tyson. Fort Tyson was a privately owned fort built in 1856 by Charles Tyson to protect the local miners and a water supply from the raids of the Yavapai (Mohave-Apache), a Native-American tribe. They resented the arrival of the Anglo-European settlers on their land and raided the early settlements. The water supply in the area became the target of the Yavapai tribe.

In the early years of the American gold rush, pan handlers began to arrive in the La Paz valley of Arizona searching for the precious metal. Many of the early pioneers and miners who settled the area arrived from California and other places in the United States and aboard. Gold deposits were discovered in the desert mountains of Plomosa and Dome Rock in the area and a boom in the mining industry followed.
Plomosa Mountains at sunrise to the east of Quartzsite

The famous placers that surround the town of Quartzsite are known to have been successfully worked by individual prospectors since the 1860's and it continues to this day. Gold placers are found in the Dome Rock Mtns west of Quartzsite, in the Plomosa Mtns east of Quartzsite and scattered on the La Posa Plain which lies in between the two ranges. Both mountain ranges are highly mineralized and contain numerous lode mines bearing many different types of valuable ore.

Dome Rock Mountains to the west of Quartzsite

When known as Fort Tyson or Tyson’s Well, the community served as a stage stop for those traveling from Prescott, Arizona’s state capital at the time, and Riverside, California. The coming of the railroad affected the commercial aspect of the area. The town fell under a complete state of abandonment when the stage lines stopped running in the area. 

Abandoned mine near Quartzsite
However, there was a minor mining boom in 1897, which revitalized the town. That year the town was officially named Quartzsite and Tyson owned three stores, two saloons and a post office. Tyson’s Well stage station continued to provide rest and refreshment to travelers and freight drivers. However, the mining boom faded by 1900 and the town was once more abandoned and left with only 20 residents.

Mining is active, but dwindling in the region, mostly due to the scarcity of water. Instead, it has become a haven for "snowbirds" who live in their recreational vehicles, usually "dry camping," for months at a time during the winter.


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