Gila City, Arizona

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GilaCityArizonaSettlements were established in this town in 1858 a time when it was part of the New Mexico Territory. This city came into being when Colonel Jacob Snively accompanied by other prospectors led the way to a placer deposit that was along the Gila River within Monitor Gulch, whose source was the Gila Mountains situated on the south.

This was during the first major gold rush to be experienced in the area and it also led to the development of the busy gold camp of Gila City within a very short time as prospectors came in fast, to share the spoils. The Butterfield Overland Mail route passed though this town and one of its stations housed the post office, which was set up on 24th December 1858. This was the Swivelers station whose location was east on the eastern edge of the placer deposits, a mile away from the town.

Mining operations on the placers of Gila continued for a period of 8 years with a huge multitude of miners being engaged in these activities. Operations were mainly focused on the canyons and plateaus that were close to the town and $20 to $125 in gold dust were panned out on a daily basis. At the Wells Fargo Office located in Los Angeles, nuggets were deposited with each of these having a total weight of 22 ounces.

Later on, Gila Mining and Transportation Company sent a consignment in 1859 to Robinson’s Landing in the schooner Arno. The consignment had the 125 foot stern-wheel steamboat that Henry Owens had built, in its disassembled state. It was meant to equip the lower cost steamboat line they operated and also to beat the competition faced at the time from the George A. Johnson Company. The steamboat had no name on it.

Included in the consignment was also a steam engine that was expected to help pump water from Gila River to the mine that was located only a mile away. In what was rather an unexpected occurrence, the whole consignment was lost after the tidal bore tore Arno’s anchors. It was later pushed to a sand holing and finally sank with everything in it.

This was a great loss and it meant that there was no means to wash out the gold sourced from the mine. That being the case, it was hard for American miners who worked here to cope with the situation, since they had grown used to using water in placers north of California. Their input was unprofitable forcing them out of the town. However, Sonora miners were experienced in dry wash techniques and were left behind since they were able to work the mines profitably.

The town was utterly destroyed by the Great Flood of 1862 when Gila River experienced serious flooding though by this time, most of the inhabitants had deserted the place for La Paz. Mining attempts in large-scale thereafter failed and today, you can hardly identify any trace of this town though mining activities still continue within the locality of the former ghost town.

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