One of the fringe benefits of hiking Arizona’s extensive mountain trail system is the opportunity to visit old mines and see abandoned mining equipment.
Many old trails in the mountains throughout the state were at one time wagon roads used to transport equipment and ore to and from nearby mines.
One example is in the Huachuca Mountains, which is part of the Sierra Vista Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest. Several pieces of mining equipment remain from a bygone era along the Miller Canyon Trail, at 7,600 feet.
The equipment, taken up the mountain by mules, dates to the early 1900s when the Huachuca Consolidated Development Co. used it to process ore from its mining claims located higher up the crest of the mountain. The claims followed quartz veins in search of gold. Silver, copper, lead and tungsten have also been found in the area.
Examples of the iron marvels along the trail include a tubular boiler. The boiler contained tubes surrounded by water heated by a fire at its base. Heat and smoke channeled through the tubes while heating the water inside, producing steam that powered mining and milling machines.
Nearby is another piece of equipment, the “Triumph,” an endless-belt concentrator manufactured by Joshua Hendy Iron Works. This machine was capable of a production of 21,159 pounds of concentrates (recovered metals ready for market); that production figure was obtained by tests over the summer of 1884, in Grass Valley, Calif.
Established in 1858 and incorporated in 1882, the Joshua Hendy Iron Works was one of the top three machinery manufacturing companies in San Francisco in the early years of the 20th century.
Company namesake, Englishman Joshua Hendy, is credited with being the “father of automatic ore feeders.” Before automatic ore feeders were invented, workers fed the stamp mills (which crushed the ore) by hand — which proved inefficient, with less ore processed and greater wear on the iron dies that crushed the ore.
Although Hendy was not a miner, he used his creative genius as a mechanic and entrepreneur to establish a business selling mining equipment. He wisely bought his competitors’ patents along with creating his own.
Hendy excelled at developing several types of mining equipment, including ore concentrators such as the Triumph Concentrator, which he patented on July 18, 1882. His other inventions included the Fisher double-jointed nozzle, used in hydraulic mining along with stamp mills, and the hydraulic gravel elevator, whose purpose was to raise earth, sand and gravel from shallow deposits.
One of Hendy’s specialties was the manufacture of complete gold concentrating mills, including a 20-stamp mill that operated 60 miles north of Phoenix at the Boaz gold mine.
The Joshua Hendy Machine Works did suffer challenges, including the destruction of its shops in the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906. Undaunted, the company rebuilt its offices and expanded operations.
The company went on to manufacture marine propulsion and rocket launchers during World War II. The Joshua Hendy Iron Works was purchased in 1947 by the Westinghouse Corp., which in turn was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 1996.
Visitors can learn more about the company at the Hendy Iron Man Museum, on the original 32-acre property in Sunnyvale, Calif., which conducts tours and interprets the history of the firm.