Tuesday, January 13, 1998

The Paint Mine

January 13, 1998 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

The Superstition Wilderness Area is filled with many interesting stories about people and places. One interesting story that comes to mind is the tale of the Paint Mine. The site of the old Paint Mine lies in Red Pass located between Boulder and La Barge Canyon, NE of Second Water. Today, only a few remnants remain to remind us of the men who once mined this area. The first prospectors probably visited this area before the turn of the century. The red rock in the area showed promise to many prospectors of the period.

Carl A. Silverlocke was working the Paint Mine in the summer of 1904. According to the Arizona Republican, a dead man was found in a tent belonging to Silverlocke at the Paint Mine. This was first reported on August 2, 1904 and again on August 5, 1904. Walter Hobson, who was working at the Mormon Flat road camp found the dead man on Thursday. Coroner F.T. Pomeroy held an inquest on the body at the Paint Mine on Saturday morning. Pomeroy and the coroner jury judged by the evidence at the site the man died of natural causes. There was no sign of foul play. The tent and camp the dead man was found in belonged to Carl A. Silverlocke.

Ten years later Silverlocke and his partner Malm would become well-known for their alleged discovery of gold ore near Superstition Mountain.

The dead man was later identified as Stephen MacKey, age 53, originally from New York. This was accomplished by the effort of Walter Hobson, a worker at the Mormon Flat road camp. MacKay had worked for the government road crew. He drew his pay and hiked into the mountains, ending up at the Paint Mine. He probably walked up either Boulder or La Barge Canyon.

The interesting thing about the newspaper article is that it established two important things. First it helps date the Paint Mine and also it identifies one of its early developers as Carl A. Silverlocke. Silverlocke had a cattle ranch in Wyoming prior to the turn of the century. He sold the ranch for $15,000 and came to Arizona in 1894. Silverlocke had a partner named Charles Goldleaf (actually Carl Malm). Malm was Silverlocke’s nephew. Both men were born in Sweden. Silverlocke’s first attempt to find gold was on the northwestern slope of Superstition Mountain. The Arizona Weekly Republican reported this attempt on July 4, 1901. The two men moved to the Paint Mine around 1903. Many old-timers considered Silverlocke and Goldleaf a pair who did not play with a full deck. On April 25, 1909, complaints of insanity were filed against both Silverlocke and Malm. Sheriff Jeff Adams took both men into custody on April 26, 1909.

A Mesa judge found Silverlocke insane and committed him to the state insane asylum. Malm was placed on the county poor farm. The periodicals of the era suggested “the search for gold led to this pair’s insanity.”

Over the next fifty years, after Silverlocke’s commitment to the insane asylum, several prospectors worked the old Paint Mine. Among them was Chuck Aylor in the mid 1950s and Ed McMann in the 1960s. Chuck and Peg Aylor built their dream home in La Barge Canyon near the site of the Paint Mine. The old Paint has been an attraction to hikers and horse[men] for forty years. The history of this site has been with us for more than eighty years and probably more like a hundred years or more.