Arizona Mining History
Arizona was a remote and rugged territory at the time of the California Gold Rush. Starting in 1849 as many as 50,000 people traveled through Arizona on the way to the California gold fields. Few stayed and prospected however as the Arizona territory was harsh and the Apache Indians were extremely hostile to outsiders.
Although sporadic prospecting was carried out during the 1850's and 1860's, the difficulty of terrain, lack of supplies, and Apache raids thwarted most significant discoveries and mine development. Finally in 1872, the Apache wars were over and prospectors returned to the state in earnest. Major silver discoveries occurred in locations like Silver King, Tombstone and Globe.
Arizona had it's share of famous silver mines, and the state ranks 7th out of the 13 Western states for gold production. Arizona's real claim to fame is in its significant and widespread copper deposits. Arizona is the leading US producer of copper and the copper industry in the state has been an economic powerhouse for well over 100 years.