Herbert Young (1887-1988) was interviewed on 12 November, 1974, at his home in Clarkdale, Arizona, by Virginia E. Rice, Librarian at the University of Arizona. Mr. Young wrote and published two books on the history of Jerome, Arizona. The first, Ghost of Cleopatra Hill, traces the mining and business history of Jerome. The second, They Came to Jerome, deals with people and the town of Jerome. In this interview, Mr. Young tells of his childhood and education, his early work experience, and his forty-one years as an employee of the United Verde Copper Company. Mr. Young was hired in 1912 as the secretary to the general manager of the company.
Voices of Yavapai
An Interview With Herbert V. Young (1887-1988)
Herbert V. Young was interviewed on November 12, 1974 at his home in Clarkdale, Arizona. The interview was conducted by Virginia E. Rice, Librarian, University of Arizona, Tucson.
Mr. Young wrote and published two books on the history of Jerome. The first, Ghosts of Cleopatra Hill, traces the mining and business history of Jerome. The second, They Came to Jerome, deals with the people and the town of Jerome.
In this interview, Mr. Young tells of his childhood and education, his early work experience, and his forty-one years as an employee of the United Verde Copper Company. He includes information on the mine fire, the depression years, and concludes with the status of Jerome in 1974, the date of the interview.
MOVE TO THE VERDE AND EMPLOYMENT WITH UNITED VERDE
Young: I came to the Verde in 1911, early 1911. I had a little trouble – too much office work, I guess. The doctor told me to get out for a year. My brother, in the meantime, had come up to the Verde. The Phoenix ranches had been sold and the money was put into the Verde Fruit Company. It was organized as a new corporation. My brother, my mother, and a Dr. Plath, a well-known doctor in Phoenix, were partners in the corporation. So, my brother went to fruit ranching here.
Rice: Was the ranch near Clarkdale?
Young: Yes, just north of Clarkdale on what was called the old Ed Jordan Ranch. They had a thousand fine fruit trees there and raised lots of produce for the Jerome market. Jerome was booming in those days. It had a good market and they also shipped apples and peaches to various parts of the state.
The Verde Valley was a great apple country in those days and was known all over the southwest for its fine apples. That situation continued until the new smelter was built here, then the sulfur smoke began to damage the trees. So, the company bought up all the ranches. Our ranch went with it – that was about 1920.
Rice: Clarkdale wasn’t there at the time you started the ranch, was it?
Young: No, no. When I came to Clarkdale in 1911, I came in on the old narrow gauge road into Jerome – that was the only railroad then. From Jerome you had to take a farm wagon down to Clarkdale.
My wife and I were married that year and so was my brother. WE had a double wedding and then cam up to the ranch in June of 1911. I stayed with the ranch awhile, but I didn’t like it any better than I did when I was younger.
In 1911 there was nothing except a road that crossed the Clarkdale town site. It wasn’t until the next year that the United Verde Copper Company started to build the Clarkdale smelter and the town there. That was in 1912. That year I left the ranch and took a position with United Verde at Jerome.
Rice: The United Verde Copper Company purchased land from Jordan also, didn’t they? Wasn’t this location part of the Jordan ranch?
Young: That wasn’t the Ed Jordan ranch. Will Jordan had the ranch right across from what is now, the old slag dump here. He had a fine orchard, and he had land across the river – the company bought part of that, I believe, for the smelter site. Later, they bought his ranch – his orchards.
Rice: How did you hear about the job with the United Verde at Jerome? How did you start applying for the job?
Young: Well, I had a bunch of references from various people in Phoenix, including the mayor of Phoenix, and John Adams and a lot of others. I decided I just wanted to get back into different work, and I made an application to Will L. Clark, who was manager of the United Verde at that time. He was rather impressed with the recommendations I had. It just happened, the office secretary was leaving and I got the job, on the condition that I could handle the general manager’s secretarial work. Charlie Clark, the senator’s son, was general manager at that time.
Rice: The position was secretary to the general manager?
Rice: I wanted to bring out the fact that Will Clark was not related to W. A. Clark. [Senator William A. Clark of Montana]
Young: No, Will Clark was not. He was a Montana man, a Butte man, who had been connected in some way with the Clarks. They sent him down here after H. J. Allen, Tom Campbell’s* father-in-law, committed suicide. That was 1904, I believe. He was there until 1916 when he resigned and Robert E. Tally took over.
* Member of the Twenty-first Legislative Territorial Assembly from Jerome, 1901
Rice: Did you move up to Jerome when you got the job, or did you continue to live in the valley?
Young: We moved to Jerome at first, until the general offices were moved to Clarkdale in 1915, then I came down to Clarkdale.
Rice: Where did you live in Jerome?
Young: In the southern part of town, in an apartment. It was a fairly easy walk for me in those days – about three-quarters of a mile up the hill. It was quite a climb.
Rice: Is the building where you lived still there?
Young: No, I believe it’s been dismantled.
Rice: Do you remember anything in particular about beginning your job? Any vivid memories of your first experiences there?
Young: No, I don’t think I do. It was a routine job, really – typing, taking down letters, filing. I got the huge sum of a hundred and fifty dollars a month, which was considered very good. The general manager didn’t consult the chief clerk when he offered me that amount. The chief clerk, who was quite an autocratic person was horrified when I told him how much I was going to get. He said, "That’s too much: A hundred twenty-five should have been the starting salary for you!"
Rice: Were there and fringe benefits in those days?
Young: No, no, not a thing.
Rice: No insurance? Did you get a vacation period?
Young: They had a pretty good vacation policy. I got a moth every year, and that was unusual, I think. I was restricted later on.
Rice: Do you remember when you first met William Andrews Clark?
Young: No, I don’t. I don’t think I was ever introduced to him. But Charlie Clark, his son frequently came in from his home in San Mateo, California. He was the one that I couldn’t forget. I’ve told about him in my books, so I won’t go into that here – he was an autocratic fellow, too. But, he was good to his employees – the ones they approved of, anyway.
Rice: You mentioned Charlie’s father, the year before he retired, stopping in to see you. He was quite elderly then, but from his pictures he seemed to be a rather impressive looking man.
Young: He was. He was a small man, but, as I mentioned, he had a very impressive air – quite a person.
Rice: Perhaps we could pause here for you to fill in a little bit of the history of Jerome and the United Verde Mine before you arrived. What has taken place there in the earlier days?
Young: Well, beginning with the actual work at the mine site, the general belief is, and I guess it is true , that M. A. Ruffner, who was an uncle to the George Ruffner who was sheriff for so many years, located the first man to start work on the claims – the rich out croppings up at the mine area. Ruffner lived at Peck’s Lake right across the river from Clarkdale.
Later, others in and all those claims were located. That was in 1876. The consolidation of these claims into one corporation, the United Verde Copper Company, came in 1882. After that, they hauled in a small smelter by wagon from Ash Fork, the nearest railway center, and constructed it in Jerome.
Rice: Where was that located in relation to the town?
Young: Right up the hill, just about where the pit is now. They operated that for a few months and made a little money. Then, they exhausted their rich surface ores.
Rice: Was this before James Douglas had come out to look over the possibilities there?
Young: No, he came about 1880, first. But he didn’t make any effort then, I guess, to buy the claim. The story goes that he didn’t offer them enough, or something of the kind. I believe I’ve got the story in my book about the Douglas operations. Then, George W. Hull came in about that time and located the land where the town site is now, most of it – sold lots – and that’s the way the town got started.
Young: After surface ores were exhausted and the price of copper went down, they shut the little plant down. Governor Tritle, in 1887, tried to operate it and lost most of his money in the process – couldn’t make a go of it. Clark bought it in 1888 and operated the little smelter for awhile and, as usual, I guess he made some money at it. Then, when the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad was built form Ash Fork to Prescott in 1892, I believe it was, he built his little narrow gauge railroad from Jerome Junction over to Jerome and built his new smelter. That got into an operation of about three million pounds of copper a month, which expanded as time went on.
Rice: The little narrow gauge, how did it come over from Jerome Junction? It didn’t follow where the highway is now, did it?
Young: There’s a road out of Jerome that goes up to Williams – Perkinsville and then on to Williams – which followed the grade of the old road, came high up on the upper level on the mine. You can go over quite a bit of that grade if you want to travel to Williams that way. It’s a dirt road about half way, I guess, then it’s paved.
Rice: When did they stop using the narrow gauge?
Young: In 1920. That’s when they ran the broad gauge road from Clarkdale into Jerome. Then they had no more use for the little road because, it being narrow gauge, they had to transfer all freight at Jerome Junction into narrow gauge cars. That was quite a process. Jerome Junction became quite a little settlement, because quite a few laborers lived there. They had a hotel, store, a saloon, of course.
Rice: There’s nothing left now. It’s right near where Chino Valley is now, isn’t it?
Young: The last I heard they had a little spot there they called Copper, and that was the junction. It’s in Chino Valley – just east of where Chino Valley is now.
Rice: How many years was the United Verde Copper Company under the Clark family?
Young: From 1888 till 1935, after the long shut down, caused by the depression, accentuated a war that was already under way between the sisters and brothers – Senator Clark’s children. It culminated in the majority of the stock being gathered in by Phelps Dodge Corporation and they took over. I guess Phelps Dodge got all the stock after the war was over.
Rice: When you were first working for the company, was your office in Jerome out the mine road and up the hill?
Young: Yes, they had the general offices right up at the mine. Senator Clark had his apartment there and so did Charlie Clark. When they built the Montana Hotel, about the turn of the century, they had apartments for Charlie Clark and the Senator there. That was right up at the mine, really – right close to it. Then when the hotel burned down in 1915, they fixed up apartments in the general office building.
Rice: The Clarks kept pretty close contact with the mine here in Jerome, didn’t they?
Young: Oh, yes, the Senator was great for reports – he had to have reports constantly. Charlie Clark, who lived in San Mateo, California, came in frequently and saw that things were going right.
Rice: You mentioned that they did a lot for their employees. What about in the way of building facilities and housing and all?
Young: In Jerome, of course they had their company hill, they called it, right up above the present Jerome. Most of those houses are abandoned, although an organization is starting to renovate some of them.
When they built Clarkdale, of course, that was the old Senator’s pride. It was named after him, and the whole town site was his – business buildings and all the residences. There wasn’t an inch of ground in this area that wasn’t owned by the United Verde of the subsidiary companies. They built substantial houses and rented them cheaply – low rent. A house like we’re in at the moment, originally a five room house, rented for about twenty dollars a month. Then, to keep their employees contented, they supported baseball teams, built a golf course, and tennis courts, and had convenient rooming houses at a low price for the single men. It was quite the envy of employees of other companies who didn’t have all these facilities, but it gained the Copper Company the reputation of being quite extravagant. The Clark’ were extravagant people, but it was for the benefit of their employees, really.
Rice: They had a fine hospital and medical services, didn’t they?
Young: Oh, yes, they did. Right from the start, they had a pretty good hospital. They built that when they built the older Jerome smelter. In about 1920 they turned that building into a dormitory for the workmen and built a new hospital a little higher up. It happened to have been built right on the fault, and one end of it started to sink, and so, they built still another one. It is the big building that you see that dominates the Jerome scene when looking up there from the valley. After cutting off the damaged end of the second hospital, it was turned into a clubhouse for the men.
You know, the Senator left $100,000 in his will to build a clubhouse for the people of Clarkdale. The company added to that and, I suppose that it cost about $150,000 to build and equip the clubhouse, which is still the largest building in Clarkdale. It had bowling alleys, and a large auditorium, which was also used for basketball games. It was really quite a talked of place – very elegant.
CULTURAL EVENTS IN JEROME
Rice: Did they have many cultural events in Jerome?
Young: They were always trying to bring in culture, either by lectures or shows. They had their own organizations, too, their societies for betterment.
Young: Here in Clarkdale they had Women’s Club, a Business Women’s Club, Kiwanis Club, and a Rotary Club – all supposed to be of community benefit. Then the lodges – they built a nice lodge hall here for the organizations to use.
Well, we had a pretty interesting existence in the early days in Clarkdale. We organized a little theater group and put on quite a few plays. Jerome had those organizations, also. The Miller Building – originally called the Masonic Hall, because they had a large lodge hall up there – was used for many organizations and they had an auditorium and dance hall in the same building. There was no lack of entertainment.
Rice: I’ve understood from the women I’ve interviewed that it must have been quite a place for a young single schoolteacher.
Young: Oh, great!
Rice: They paid wonderful salaries and there were lots of single men.
Young: There was a situation here, both in Jerome and Clarkdale, that led to many romances. Jerome, especially, I believe, because they had larger schools and employed many young school teachers. And there were a lot of young engineers. The company made it a point to employ young men to train for better positions. The young people got together – it was known as quite a place for romantic affairs. There were many, many marriages between the schoolteachers and the young college men that came here.
THE MINE – ACCIDENTS AND SAFETY REFORMS
Rice: Did you ever go into the underground mine?
Young: I never did very deeply. I never explored the mine. One reason was, I had moved to Clarkdale soon after joining the company. I’ve been down a ways. You know, they built a tunnel from Jerome down to the hillside, which they called Hopewell Tunnel. It’s over a mile long – mile and a quarter, I believe. I went down into the area where they had their stations there. It’s amazing how they have those big chambers underneath – how they built them and made them safe, supported the roofs.
Rice: I had somebody tell me that they were amazed to find how clean it was in a copper mine. You think of mines as being dirty, but they said that they had been in the Hopewell Tunnel here.
Young: They kept it clean. It was cleaned up after the blasting and all. That’s something I hadn’t seen, except my brief experience below ground.
Rice: We talked earlier, before I turned on the tape recorder, about accidents, Mr. Young, and you mentioned just briefly in your book that there were accidents. What type of accidents did they have, mainly?
Young: Well, most accidents were caused by falling rock, getting crushed by machinery, and explosions. A missed hole might be hit, for instance. If powder was put in a hole and it didn’t go off, and the explosions weren’t counted right, there would be a missed hole. Sometimes it was drilled into again and set off.
Rice: In the mine museum they have an exhibit that shows a little closet which held a stretcher; it’s more like a basket, isn’t it?
Young: Yes, they had those all over the mine so if there was an accident they could get a man out quickly. The later years, after the Jerome smelter was closed, they made a particular point of safety.
Rice: Was that about 1911?
Young: Well, say from about 1915 on, when they began their concentrated effort, with all men trained in safety. Everybody had to attend safety classes. They had to wear safety equipment – hard hats, hard toed shoes, and safety goggles – when the work happened to require it. That would be more in the mechanical end, though, than on the mine end. They really trained the men in safety, and it did cut down on accidents tremendously.
In the early days when they didn’t have all the facilities. Modern mining methods and so forth, there were a lot of accidents. One year in Jerome, I believe thirteen men were killed in the mine. The town got quite aroused over it that year and had meetings and called on the company officials and demanded that something be done to stop these great accident records. The company promised that they’d do everything they could, and they did try.
It wasn’t until about the time the new smelter was built in Clarkdale, though, that they really put on a campaign of safety and hired safety engineers both in the Jerome mine and in Clarkdale. They had engineers that did nothing but work for the safety of the men. Every time they’d find anything that appeared to be a hazard, they’d have it corrected, and they cut down the accident rate tremendously. One of the causes of accidents in the Jerome mine was the Jerome fire. Did you want me to bring that in now or later?
Rice: I’m going to ask you about that in just a minute. First, I want to ask, in the early days did the company have any kind of compensation for those who were killed or maimed in a mine accident?
Young: A payment was usually made to the relatives, but it was not large. It was not until the state law came into effect that they had really adequate insurance against those things, you know.
MINE FIRE, OPEN PIT OPERATIONS AND THE HOPEWELL TUNNEL
Rice: You mentioned the mine fire. I don’t think too many laymen realize that the sulfide ores can start on fire down in a mine. How does this happen?
Young: I don’t think anyone knows how the Jerome mine fire started. I’ve heard various theories. One is that there was a fall of rock which created so much heat by friction that it ignited some ore that was high in sulfur. Anyway, fire started in the early days – I would say in the nineties – and it just continued to spread.
Rice: It started in the upper levels, didn’t it, and spread downward?
Young: Yes, I believe that’s right – just continued to smolder – they couldn’t put it out. It increased in area to the point where about all they could do was to bulkhead it off and just try to isolate it from the rest of the mine.
Rice: I made it almost impossible for men to work anywhere near, didn’t it?
Young: Yes, there was great heat. They put in a very elaborate ventilation system to carry the fumes away and to try to keep it cool, so the men could work as near to the fire as possible and extract that rich ore that was there.
Rice: You were going to tell about an accident in connection with he fire.
Young: It must have been 300 feet below the surface where the men were working in tunnels. There was a very heavy rain which flooded the works and allowed water to seep down in the fire area. Men were working close to these bulkheads, that I spoke of, and the water seeping into the fire created steam which created such pressure that it blew out a bulkhead where twelve men were working. I believe six of them were killed – four of them instantly – two died later, and six were badly burned. That’s on of the things that went on up there because of this fire. It never happened again because, of course, every time anything like that happened, precautions were taken to see that it never happened again.
Rice: You said that they were able to confine the fire. About how large an area did it include?
Young: That I can’t tell you, I don’t know. There was a pamphlet published by the University of Arizona on the mine fire which was written by Colonel E. M. J. Alenius, who was an official at the open pit in Jerome at one time. It tells about the fire. They finally concluded the only way to reach this fire was from the surface, and that’s when they started the open pit – they reached the fire and just dug it out.
Rice: Didn’t they try to start pumping tailings into the fire area and found that this helped?
Young: They tried everything. They drilled holes and pumped in slurry, they called it, to seal off areas so that the gasses wouldn’t leak out.
Rice: Sometime around 1927, I believe, Alenius says they were able to bring the fire under control after it burned all those years. Did the fire affect the town above? Were the houses affected by the heat?
Young: No, no, it wasn’t that large and it was such a distance the town wasn’t affected, it was only the mine itself that was affected.
Rice: There wasn’t any gas mains in Jerome in those days, were there?
Young: No, gas didn’t come into this area until a few years ago.
Rice: Was it partly because of this fire and the difficulties in mining close to it that the Clark’s decided to go into an open pit operation?
Young: Yes, I think that was the main reason, because there was a lot of copper in that area. It affected some of the sores that had good copper content. When the new smelter was built, they had to have greater capacity than they could provide in Jerome. Another thing, they’d done so much mining underneath the old smelter site that it was sinking and throwing machinery out of line and all that sort of thing. That, combined with the fact that they needed a large capacity and had discovered new ore bodies in the mine, caused them to build the smelter down in the valley and abandon the old one. They dismantled the old smelter, and when the site was clear, they were ready to go to work in the open pit.
Rice: That took several years, didn’t it, to clear all the waste? Is that what they had to remove?
Young: Yes, waste rock, tens of thousands of tons of it.
Rice: Was the old smelter located about where the open pit is?
Young: Yes, it was on that site exactly.
Rice: But there were all those preparations that had to be made before they could actually start mining in the open pit operation.
Young: That’s right, yes.
Rice: Was that when they built the Hopewell Tunnel?
Young: No, the Hopewell Tunnel was built many years before that. It was, I forget the year, but it was sometime after the turn of the century. It was built as a drainage tunnel mainly, and didn’t have the capacity to carry mine cars. But when the new smelter was built this tunnel was enlarged. They went in and just rebuilt it so they could get their ore cars in there and bring them to the surface to load them. The railroad to Hopewell Tunnel was built when the smelter was built.
Rice: I guess the fire still presented problems when they went to do blasting, to start the open pit, is that right?
Young: Yes. Tremendous heat made it very difficult to load powder into the holes. Special methods had to be devised – charges encased in asbestos and things like that – to get them down where they wouldn’t prematurely explode. That was they managed to open the pit up so they could reach it with their shovels.
The first shovel was a big Marion Steam Shovel that was used on the surface and later, electronic shovels were used to remove the waste from the surface.
Rice: How did the steam shovel operate, on coal?
Young: Yes, I believe they used coal for the first one. Later, they went to electric shovels.
Rice: Did the shovels run on tracks or were they just free on wheels?
Young: Some of them, of course, were on caterpillars, but I think the original ones ran on tracks. See, I’m not too familiar with that operation because I wasn’t connected with it. I was down in the valley.
Rice: Alenius mentions that the hot ore from that underground fire would be lifted out by these shovels and at night you could see the glow from the heat. Could you see it from down here in Clarkdale?
Young: No, no, it didn’t take ling till they got below the surface where we couldn’t see those things. When they reached the fire area, why, it was in the pit, really. We couldn’t see any of that.
Rice: Did anybody ever get burned from that hot ore after they started the open pit?
Young: I don’t recall any such incident.
Rice: It wouldn’t start other fires, like burning wood, once they removed it in the shovel, would it?
Young: Well, they wouldn’t allow that to happen. All that burning ore went down the shaft to be taken out by cars through the Hopewell Tunnel to the smelter. Course, they had to cool it down some. I don’t know whether they did that by water, or what, but I think they used water.
Rice: And from there it went by train down to Clarkdale, to the smelter.
Rice: During the depression years, was work curtailed very much in the mines in Jerome?
Young: Very much. They shut down in 1931. Of course, they had to lay off most of the men. They tried to keep as many as possible on part-time, especially the technical men. As many as possible were given part-time work – enough to live on – and they kept on doing some developing on the mine and did what they could in the Clarkdale smelter to keep men on – some construction. Course, everybody got their salaries cut in half or so – something like that.
Rice: But that was better than nothing, wasn’t it?
Young: Yes, but the mine was down for four years and it was a pretty rocky time in the valley during that period because, of course, the valley depended on the mine for its existence, really. They had to lay off a great many men.
Rice: Did lots of people move away then, completely?
Young: Quite a few.
Rice: Jerome almost became a ghost town at that time, didn’t it?
Young: Many hung on as could, hoping for better times, but a lot of them had to leave, of course.
WORLD WAR I AND STRIKES
Rice: While we’re talking about labor, we might back up to the World War I era. Was there trouble then with strikes in the mines?
Young: Don’t remember the exact date now, but there was trouble prior to the entry of the United States into the war – I believe in 1917. The year before that they had a strike in the mine – the first extensive strike that they’d ever had. It really affected most of the mines in the area, but it didn’t last very long.
A settlement was arrived at, but the "wobblies," the I.W.W., tried to insert themselves in it. They probably didn’t have more than a hundred men in the district, but they tried to pull a strike on their own, after the other one had been settled. That resulted in the much advertised deportation, where the citizens of the town got together and gathered up all these so call "wobblies" that they could identify as such, put them on cattle cars or coal cars and shipped them out.
Rice: Where did they ship them?
Young: Well, they headed them toward California. California told them to be careful – they wouldn’t allow them to come in. They got to Kingman and found out that they couldn’t go anywhere and so they were turned loose. A few of them came back to Jerome, and a number of them dispersed to various places.
Rice: They came back to Jerome?
Young: A few did, but we didn’t get any more strikes that amounted to anything from them.
Rice: Did the I.W.W. actually send people to mining areas to cause trouble?
Young: Yes – they were supposed to have. I think they did. I know Mickey Scanlon, who was quite a well-known character in strike areas in those days, was on that they sent in, I’m sure. He was shipped out and he came back and tried to sue the company for the terrible things they did to him, but he didn’t get anywhere with it.
Rice: The miners weren’t members of unions at that time, were they?
Young: Yes, they had a miner’s union.
Rice: Was it affiliated with the AF of L?
Young: With Western Federation of Miners, I think. It later became affiliated with the AF of L, if I remember rightly.
MINING EQUIPMENT AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Rice: You mentioned the steam shovels which were replaced by electric shovels about 1931. Was that right?
Young: I figured it was before that. You see, the first big steam shovel came in about 1918, I think it was. Then as they needed more, they replaced them with electric shovels.
Rice: Now, I guess, they have some really mammoth equipment that they’re using for example, down at Bagdad.
Young: Yes, and at Morenci and Ajo.
Rice: Through all those years that you were associated with this mining company, there were many developments made in the field of copper mining. Were some of those developments made here in the Jerome area and in Clarkdale?
Young: I don’t think that anything was developed by the copper company. There was a research department, which was on the trail of a number of things that would have been of benefit, but that was stopped by the shut down and the depression. There were some improvements developed in the smelting process which Charlie Kuzell, a brilliant smelter man, developed and patented and were in use. They were used especially in the building of the Ajo smelter, as I recall.
One of the processes that they installed here – not developed here – was called the Cottrell process, which extracted metals from the smelter fumes. A plant was built for that purpose and thousands of tons of metal was collected by some electrical process.
Rice: Advancement though the years had been to develop equipment that could utilize material that had previously been considered waste, is that right?
Young: Yes, to a great extent.
Rice: I was reading in this little bulletin by Alenius, one of the electric shovels that was invented was used for the first time in Arizona – pioneered here in Jerome.
PHELPS DODGE BUYS UNITED VERDE COPPER COMPANY
Rice: There was a change in the management at the United Verde Copper Company in 1935, when Phelps Dodge Corporation bought it. Do you recall how you and the other workers felt when this news reached you?
Young: Of course, we were all wondering – you might put it that way – but we knew that Phelps Dodge would never try to dislocate any people that they could use. Mr. Sabin, the man they sent in as manager, did everything he could to economize on the smelter.
Young: Phelps Dodge came in right after the smelter had reopened on February 1935. They kept on nearly all the old staff. In fact, they promoted many of them to better jobs and other branches. Charlie Kuzell was one example. He was assistant smelter superintendent when Phelps Dodge came in. They kept him on as smelter superintendent and then sent him down to Ajo as manager, back here as manager, then, down to Douglas to take and important position with the company. Eventually, he reached the highest position that Phelps Dodge had to offer in the western area, Vice President and General Manager of the entire western operation. That’s an example of how they attempted to preserve the talent and promote it where it was deserved. We had a number of men go to important positions as smelter superintendents and other positions.
Rice: We were talking about the change in management over Phelps Dodge. The United Verde Copper Company had been pretty much a family operated company until Phelps Dodge came in. Was there fear about an eastern corporation taking over and that it would become a more impersonal operation?
Young: We didn’t know anything about what was going to happen, of course. We soon found out that there was nothing to fear. The Phelps Dodge Corporation was, I think, known as a corporation with a heart, and they had good, kind men at the head of it. Some of us – lots of us – had to take cuts and all that, but it was necessary, I guess.
Rice: Meanwhile, the Douglases had been here a number of years on charge of the United Verde Extension Mine.
Young: It was a Douglas, yes, James S. Douglas, who was a son of the James Douglas of the Phelps Dodge, but he was not connected with Phelps Dodge in any way. This was his own project, with some other men that had previously been connected with the UVX. So, it had nothing to do with Phelps Dodge.
Rice: Was it in 1940 that they closed the open pit mine of the United Verde?
Young: I believe that was about the time that they worked out the ore.
Rice: What did they do then, until 1953, when the smelters closed?
Young: They worked at the underground mine. There was still lots of ore down below. They went a mile deep in that mine, exploring and extracting ore. During that period, all ore that they thought they could commercially mine was taken out and then the mine was abandoned.