Old Dominion Days – A celebration of a golden age of Globe

Contributed Photo: Old Dominion Days will take place in September. Mine foremen pose for a picture in March 1917.

By Aimee Staten, Contributing Writer

GLOBE – Old Dominion Days in Globe celebrates the adventurous spirit of men, women, and children who left the comforts of family and friends all over the world to seek their fortune in the mines of the Old West. Each year, the celebration focuses on a different aspect of the colorful and varied past of the Globe Miami area as it relates to the mine. This year, an old-fashioned formal ball will wrap up the three-day event.

The Gila County Historical Society will host Old Dominion Days on Sept. 11-14, 2019, to relive a time when pioneers struck out West to make their fortunes and survival depended on the sheer strength of will. The celebration will feature a guided tour of the Old Dominion Mine, which, although still considered active, is now a mine-themed park complete with hiking trails lined with historic information placards, a zip-line, and a family park.

Contributed Photo: Old Dominion Railroad ore cars circa March 1917.

“This mine, this park, and these photos give us a glimpse of the golden age of Arizona and our area,” said Vernon Perry, president of the Gila County Historical Museum. “That is what Old Dominion Days is all about. We want people to get a taste of that exciting time of discovery and prosperity in our amazing community. “

Old Dominion Days – a Globe event designed to be fun for the entire family – kicks off this year on Wednesday, Sept. 11, with a Dutch Oven breakfast and Veterans and First Responders Appreciation ceremony, Dolan Ellis (Arizona’s Balladeer) and a mine tour. It ends Saturday, Sept. 14, with a Run for Youth to benefit the Cobre Valley Youth Club, historical presentations, a raffle, and The Copper Ball. Of special note this year is Cheese Boat Day, which features a dish made famous locally and fondly remembered by those who have tasted it.

“We wanted to bring a signature event to the community that celebrates our history and our community,” said Fernando Shipley, a member of the Old Dominion Days board. “We chose our events so there is something fun for everyone to do.”

Tickets can be purchased at the Gila Historical Museum (928-425-7385) or visit www.gilahistoricalmuseum.org/old-dominion-days/#tickets. For lodging call the Globe Miami Chamber of Commerce at 800-804-5623.

Mine is reason Globe exists

The Old Dominion Mine, named in 1880 by Mrs. Rose Barclay Pendleton in honor of her home state Virginia, is a grand old dame who’s generosity assured prosperity during the turn of the 20th Century.

As early as 1864, prospectors began talking about the mineral richness of the area, and the first claim was filed but never worked. In 1873, more claims were filed for the Globe Ledge northeast and southwest of the Big Johnny Gulch area. As the silver ore was being taken to Florence for assay in 1875, men on the pack train discovered a much richer vein that they called the Silver King. The first load of silver from Globe Ledge netted the miners $120.95. The silver from the Silver King assayed more than $4,300 per ton and caused a rush to the Pinal Mountain Country as it was known then, according to Clara Woody (The Old Dominion Mine – Globe, Arizona).

The only route into the area at that time was a wagon trail from the east, but despite this, men brought their wives and children and lived out of their wagons until housing could be built. All food and mining supplies were brought in by wagon freight, a practice that continued for nearly 20 years despite the expense and danger associated with it. The steepness of the road to the mine was difficult for oxen teams to go up and even more difficult – and treacherous – for them to come down with loads of copper.

By 1880, the silver had virtually petered out, and copper was the mineral to mine. In 1882, the Old Dominion Copper Company of Baltimore purchased the Old Globe Copper Company holdings and moved two 30-ton water jacket furnaces to smelt ore. For the next 50 years, the financial health of the Old Dominion was the barometer of Globe’s economy, according to Wilbur A. Haak (The Old Dominion Mine, 1998).

Contributed Photo: Old Dominion Mine blacksmith shop circa March 1917.

For about 20 years, the mine experienced a series of highs and lows related to the price of copper and the cost of mining it. When the Interloper Shaft was sunk in 1888, the development of the mine took off because of access to the vein that was a good distance from the older workings, according to Woody.

After five years of construction, the Gila Valley, Globe & Northern Railway from the Southern Pacific line in Bowie was brought into Globe in 1898, and this lowered transportation costs for the mine. Prosperity was not assured, however, because of the high cost of freight. Dr. L.D. Rickets solved that problem when he took charge of the mine in 1904 and insisted on a $1.50 anywhere rate. He also oversaw the modernization of the mine with a new concentrator, mill, shaft and smelter (Woody).

Just after the turn of the 20th century was a time of exploration and prosperity for Globe, which was then the fourth largest city in the state of Arizona. Old Dominion Mine was modernized and expanded, and many of the historic homes and buildings that still stand were built between the years of 1904-1910. In 1906, the Interloper shaft caught fire, killing three men who attempted to climb the shaft to safety. When the water hit the fire, smoke and gas poured up through the shaft, which was being used as a ventilator. The men were in complete darkness as they climbed, and Woody reported of one falling into the darkness just as a rescuer touched his hands. A plaque memorializing the lives and deaths of the men and the Interloper shaft once graced the front door of a library that also no longer stands on the mine property.

Flooding continued to be a problem for the mine, and the grade rate was dropped from 4.16 percent copper in 1929 to 2.27 percent in 1930. The mine closed in 1931, but it had produced 800 million pounds of copper and a way of life – that continues to this day – for thousands of miners and their families. The mine is now owned by BHP Billiton.

The When and Where of Old Dominion Days

Wednesday, Sept. 11

All events are at the Gila Historical Museum, 1330 N. Broad St., Globe, unless otherwise indicated

8 a.m. – Dutch Oven Breakfast – Veterans & First Responders Appreciation

9:30 – Opening Ceremonies – Museum

10 a.m. – Old Dominion Days – Historic Photo Display of Globe Fire Department

10 a.m. – History Presentation – “Who’s Charles Witcher” by Lynne Perry

3 p.m. – History Presentation – “The Pearl Hart Story” by Vern Perry

4 p.m. – Mine Tour (guided surface tour of Old Dominion Mine)

5 p.m. – Opening Old Dominion Mine Photo Display @ Cobre Valley Center for the Arts

6 p.m. – Chuck Wagon Grub

7 p.m. – Music @ the Museum – Dolan Ellis, Arizona’s Balladeer

Thursday, Sept. 12

All events are at the Gila Historical Museum, 1330 N. Broad St., Globe, unless otherwise indicated

10 a.m. – Cheese Boat Day

10:30 a.m. – History Presentation “The Flood of ’54 Memories” by Linda Lopez

11:30 a.m. – Cheese Boat Luncheon @ Museum Picnic Grounds

1:30 p.m. – History Presentation “The Million Dollar a Mile Highway” by Rick Powers

4 p.m. – Mine Tour (guided surface tour of Old Dominion Mine)

6 p.m. – History Presentation – Old Dominion Mine by Vern Perry @ Chamber Conference Room

7 p.m. – History Presentation – Old Dominion Mine Park by Thea Wilshire

Friday, Sept. 13

All events are at the Gila Historical Museum, 1330 N. Broad St., Globe, unless otherwise indicated

8 a.m. – Dutch Oven Breakfast – Teacher Appreciation

9 a.m. – Workshop – Care n’ Cleaning of a Dutch Oven

10 a.m. – Kids Day – Old Fashioned Fun – Museum Picnic grounds

1:30 p.m. – History Presentation “From Taming the West to Pioneer Propiétaire” by Lee Anne Powers

4 p.m. – Mine Tour (guided surface tour of Old Dominion Mine)

6 p.m. – Steak Fry – Museum Picnic Grounds

6:30 p.m. – Music @ the Museum – Bill Roten & Friends

Saturday, Sept. 14

All events are at the Gila Historical Museum, 1330 N. Broad St., Globe, unless otherwise indicated

8 a.m. – Run for Youth (Benefit Cobre Valley Youth Club) @ Old Dominion Mine Park

8 a.m. – Farmers Market – Museum Picnic grounds

9 a.m. – Globe Post Office Tour ‘N Talk

10 a.m. – Mine Tour (guided surface tour of Old Dominion Mine)

11:30 – History Presentation – Globe Fire Department History by Chief Gary Robinson

1 p.m. – Old Dominion Miners Lighting by Tod Towne of BHP

2:30 p.m. – History Presentation – The Irish at the Old Dominion Mine by Janice Ryan Bryson

3:30 p.m. – History Presentation – Steam Engines in Early Mining by Norm Grable @ the Museum

4:30 p.m. – Old Dominion Days Raffle Drawing

6 p.m. – The Copper Ball – @ Cobre Valley Center of the Arts in Historic Downtown Globe

Tuesday, Sept. 17 – Bonus Day

10 a.m. – History Presentation “Finding Andy” by Becky Stephens @ Globe/Miami Chamber of Commerce