Polaris, Arizona

North Star Mine at Polaris, Arizona 1908
North Star Mine at Polaris, Arizona 1908

Polaris History

A full decade after the discovery of the rich King of Arizona mine, a gold-bearing vein of comparable richness was discovered just one and a half miles to the north. That mine would be known as the North Star, and the settlement of Polaris was established at the mine.

The discoverer was a man named Felix Mayhew. Mayhew had been a resident of Kofa since 1899, first working on the night shift at the King of Arizona mine while heading a team of woodcutters during the day to supply wood for the boilers of the mill. In 1900 he was appointed as deputy sheriff and he was the owner of a Kofa saloon.

Kofa Arizona
Polaris and Kofa (1.5 miles apart) were the primary settlements in the Kofa district

The industrious Mayhew was still running his woodcutting crews in late 1906 when, as the story goes, either he or one of the Mexican woodcutters he employed discovered the rich gold-bearing vein that would become the North Star mine. In January of 1907 he filed four claims and subsequently sold them to New York investors for $350,000. A short time later, that group sold it to the Golden Star Mining Company which developed and operated the mine until 1911.

The North Star vein was similar to the King of Arizona in that it featured extremely rich ore at the surface and diminishing values at depth. Some of the surface ore was reported to run as high as $6 to $20 in gold per pound and it was reported that thousands of dollars worth was stolen during the initial year of mining.

Polaris Arizona
North Star Mercantile Company - Polaris, Arizona 1908

The camp that developed at the mine took the name Polaris. A post office was established in June of 1909. About 100 miners lived here and were supported by boarding houses, a company store, and of course at least one saloon. One boarding house was operated by Chinese immigrant Charles Sam who is seen posing with boarders at his establishment in the photo below.

Polaris Arizona
Charles Sam's boarding house at Polaris ca. 1910

The North Star mine operated until 1911 when it was forced to close due to the low value of the ore at depth. The post office closed in July of 1914. All that remains of the town is a single building that an interpretive sign calls the "Antares mine cabin", although the origin of that name is unknown. The sign states that the population of Polaris was at one time 2,000 people, which is not even close to being correct.

Polaris Arizona
The Antares mine cabin is the last remaining structure at Polaris (Owen Kennedy photo)

Arizona’s Kofa Gold District

King of Arizona mine

Arizona’s Kofa district was a significant producer of gold between 1897 and 1911. This article summarizes the history of the two primary mines of the district – the King of Arizona and the North Star. Featuring the photography of Owen Kennedy. Continue reading... (members only content)

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