A view of the World’s Fair Mine outside of Patagonia.

Throughout 1918 the Santa Cruz Patagonian featured a column about mining on the front page of each issue. Most often the column reported on mine operations in the Patagonia district and occasionally provided in-depth coverage of one mine or a significant ore discovery. Some of the mines were operated by large mining companies; others by locals living in or around Patagonia. The next series of articles will tell the tale of these locals. The full text of most of the articles quoted below can be found in the Library of Congress database, “Chronicling America.” Images of the Santa Cruz Patagonian are available on The Patagonia Museum website: thepatagoniamuseum.org.

Along with ranching, mining was one of the most significant economic forces in the Patagonia area. Robert Lenon’s chapter on the Patagonia Area Mining Districts, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 1539-1930 provides an excellent overview of mining in the area. In his description of the “Internal Combustion Period: 1911-1930” Lenon describes several large mining operations including the Alto and Wandering Jew group, Mowry, World’s Fair, and Three R. The December issues of the Santa Cruz Patagonian provided news about several other mines: Flux, Morning Glory, Hardshell, Exposed Reef, Honey, Hermosa, and Dixie. Throughout December the Patagonian reported on the pending sale of the Three R to Magma Copper Co. for a rumored price of $750,000. Arizona copper production for 1918 was estimated to set records: 829 million lbs. compared to 700 million in 1917.

The World’s Fair silver mine was owned and operated by Frank and Josephine Powers. Frank was born in Ireland in 1849 and immigrated to the United States around the age of six. He was in the Patagonia area as early as 1891 when he married Josephine Renof, who was born in 1861. They had one daughter, Stella, born in 1894. Frank’s occupation is listed as mining in all the censuses between 1900 and 1920. By 1930 he is retired. Lenon notes that Frank, a local blacksmith, purchased the World’s Fair around 1890 for $100. “Powers, although illiterate, had a ‘nose for ore’ and unlocked the secret of the complex system of cross faults and was reputed to have blocked out $600,000 worth of ore by 1903.” [Lenon, p. 59].

Frank had a unique approach to mining. “Mr. Powers is the lucky owner of the famous World’s Fair mine, which is known far and wide as Powers’ Bank, and a good one it is too, for whenever Mr. Powers wants a little money for incidentals, he takes out a carload of
ore, ships it to El Paso, and gets $15,000 or $20,000. Recently he made a shipment, then locked up his bank and came to Nogales with his little family to enjoy city life for a week. Powers is a whole-souled light-hearted Irishman…He only has one child, a girl, who is the idle of his heart.” [The Border Vidette, 8/22/1903]. Several times he sold part ownership in the World’s Fair but always seemed to return as sole owner a few years later. He kept the mine operating during the financial panic of 1907 and in 1910 refused a million dollar offer for the property. [The Border Vidette, [4/16/1910]. In 1914 the Powers family moved to the west coast and the mine was operated “under bond.” [The Border Vidette, 12/5/1914]. By 1915 Frank was back in charge. In 1921 the Santa Cruz County treasurer published a notice that all the unpatented claims for the World’s Fair Group of mines was for sale for payment of delinquent back taxes for 1915-1920, amounting to $17,449.31. [The Border Vidette, 12/5/1914]. In the late 1920s the mine went into receivership and had a spotty operating history. [Lenon, p. 64]. Frank died in 1931 in Harshaw, where the couple lived, and Josephine died less than a year later. Both are buried at the Patagonia Cemetery.