Originally known as the Copper King Mine, it took on the name Mile Wide because that was the width the entire claim measured.
Though this mine was never a premier metal-producing site in southeastern Arizona, it was one of the best in the Tucson Mountains.
The Mile Wide Mine lies in Saguaro National Park West, and like other mines within the park’s boundaries, it is not advertised as a destination on the trail guide because of safety concerns.
However, the mine has both history and ore production that give it a position of noteworthy comment in the history of the Tucson Mountains.
The Mile Wide Mining Company was instrumental in both excavating and running the mine during its brief existence.
Its prime years of operation were 1917, 1918 and briefly in 1941. These years are notable because of the wartime status of the nation.
The Mile Wide Mine was still a profitable venture despite the low grade of ore produced.
It was during the operation of the Mile Wide Mine that one of the only instances of documented corporate theft occurred in the history of the Amole Mining District.
Charles Reiniger became proprietor of the mine in 1915 after having purchased the option from its original owner, L. Martin Warer.
He sensationalized his findings of copper and managed to persuade stockholders to increase their share of stock in the company’s future.
However, the company had only produced $25,000 worth of copper and silver equaling 70,000 pounds.
Reiniger sold his stock in 1919, absconding with $100,000. He was never heard from again.
Several proceeding owners took over the leadership of the company. However, by 1942 the mine permanently closed down after it became obvious that there were no significant mineral bonanzas to be found.
The Mile Wide Mine produced 34,000 tons of ore (copper, gold, lead, molybdenum and zinc) during its brief history.
Also extracted at the Mile Wide Mine were the copper-rich ores bornite and chalcopyrite. Chalcopyrite is a soft and brittle copper ore that appears metallic and yellow. Bornite is contained in veins of igneous rock and has the appearance of bronze, brown and purple hues.
Access to the Mile Wide Mine for miners removing copper ore was a matter of importance.
Because of its location deep in the interior of the Tucson Mountains, a road system was developed. Evidence of this road now serves as part of the modern King Canyon trail system that goes through a wash, which connects with another trail heavily overgrown with vegetation, allowing the hiker access to the remains of the mine.
It was upon this road that mining trucks carried ore to Tucson, which was then shipped by rail to the smelter in the town of Sasco, 25 miles northwest of Tucson.
Dug along the road to the Mile Wide Mine were several shafts, a mess house, a rock crusher, a mill and miners’ houses.
The concrete foundations of some of these structures still exist, along with rusted tin cans scattered along the mountainside near the mine.
An observer with a keen eye can at times spot a fragment of sun-colored amethyst glass in between the discarded cans and rocks, remnants of the ephemeral Mile Wide Mining Camp.