June 9, 2008 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.
Gold was discovered on the desert west of Superstition Mountain in the 1880s. The first cries of eureka did not produce a gold mining boomtown.
A Mormon boy named Ed Jones staked a claim northeast of the area called the Lucky Boy in 1881. His claim was followed by several other mining claims staked by men from Mesa City. William A. Kimball of Mesa City staked the Buckhorn-Boulder claim in 1886. Kimball’s claim did not produce much gold ore.
Four Mesa City prospectors did discover a rich vein of gold on November 17, 1892, when they staked out the Black Queen claim. Orrin Merrill, Orlando Merrill, Charles Hakes and Charles R. Morse worked on the Black Queen through April of 1893. On April 13, 1893, a heavy downpour resulted in a flash flood that washed a lot of timbers away. While gathering up their timbers along Goldfield Wash they discovered a rich outcrop of gold ore on April 14, 1893. They filed the Mammoth No. 1 and No. 2 claims on the richest deposit of gold ore in the area. By mid-summer of 1893, a promising community had taken root on the Arizona desert west of Superstition Mountain.
Goldfield soon had a hotel, livery stable, mercantile store, butcher shop, stage station, a rooming house, three saloons, church and school. Names such as the Mammoth Saloon, Capitol Saloon, Pioneer Saloon, Gold Tower Rooming House, Golden Dipper, Petersen’s Mercantile, Riley & Co. Livery and the Mesa City-Goldfield stage line were common places with patrons of Goldfield.
William A. Kimball started the first stage line to the Goldfields in early August of 1893. Kimball advertised his stage service in the Arizona Republican on August 23, 1893. The ad read as follows: “Mesa & Goldfield stage line leaves Mesa everyday except Sunday at 1 p.m. and arrives in Goldfield at 5 p.m. The stage carries the Arizona Republican.” Kimball’s ad appeared once again in the Arizona Republican on Oct. 1, 1893.
Kimball was the owner of the Pioneer Hotel in Mesa City, and was a very active entrepreneur throughout the life of Goldfield. At different times Kimball owned a hotel, mercantile, livery stable and a stage line.
Kimball was a master at operating businesses. It wasn’t long before Kimball had contracts to carry passengers and freight for the Phoenix, Tempe & Mesa City stage line owned and operated by A.L. Fisher. Kimball and Fisher christened the Phoenix to Goldfield stage run on Feb. 10, 1894. By early 1894 the Mammoth Mine and its famous Mormon Stope had become one of the biggest gold producers in Arizona Territory. A month later the Saturday Review reported the Mesa City to Goldfield Road as being in excellent shape and trips could be made by stage between the two communities in three hours.
J.G. Petersen was appointed postmaster at Goldfield’s new post office on March 25, 1894. The post office opened on April 12, 1894. The opening of the post office created the need for contracted mail service. These coveted mail contracts were awarded to the lowest bidder. The receiving of a mail contract often meant the difference of surviving or not for a stage line in Arizona Territory.
The Arizona Republican reported on May 31, 1894, the Mesa City & Goldfield stage line was running a comfortable four-horse Concord stagecoach. It was further reported the Concord could make the trip to Goldfield from Mesa City in three and a half hours in luxury and comfort.
There were two stage lines running to Goldfield by the first of June 1894. James Bryant had the Mesa City-Florence-Goldfield stage line. Bryant’s driver was J.P. Levy. Kimball soon became [an] operating partner of Bryant’s. It was sometime in August of 1894 Kimball reorganized the Mesa City-Goldfield stage line and temporarily named it the Kimball, Riley & Co. stage line.
|"Our stages were the Concord type, miserable things to ride in. The motion made the passengers sea-sick, and the dust was terrible." -Katie Leng, stagecoach passenger, circa 1887.|
On Aug. 17, 1894, the U.S. Post Office advertised for birds for mail contracts from Tempe to Goldfield. This advertisement appeared in the Tempe News, Aug. 18, 1894. On Sept. 15, 1895, William W. Wall of Phoenix, received the mail contract to transport mail from Tempe to Goldfield. By Oct. 12, 1894, there were three stage lines operating from Mesa City to Goldfield. These lines included the Mesa City-Goldfield line owned by Willaim A. Kimball, the Hunsaker Daily Stage and the W.W. Wall line. The heavy competition resulted in Kimball reducing his daily runs to tri-weekly runs by Oct. 19, 1894. J.S. Petersen bought the Mesa City-Goldfield stage line from Kimball by Nov. 23, 1894. The Hunsaker stage line had assumed the mail contract in a sub-contract from W.W. Wall. A fourth stage line [began] operation between Phoenix and Goldfield about this time. William A. Buell made his first trip to Goldfield on Nov. 22, 1894. Buell’s stage line connected with the Fisher & Collins Phoenix stage line and the Byrant’s Florence-Goldfield line.
Bryant agreed to end his trips to Goldfield by the end of November 1894. There just weren’t enough passengers and freight to support four stage lines to Goldfield. About the same time William A. Kimball had double daily service from Goldfield to Phoenix. The periodicals were once more reporting Kimball was operating daily service to Goldfield from Phoenix by the end of March 1895.
The Nov. 11, 1895 periodicals reported stage line connections between George Reynold’s Tempe stage line and the Hunsaker stage line to Goldfield.
About this time Goldfield had been a booming gold camp for almost two and a half years.
Gold production had slowed down considerably by the end of 1895. Rumors began to circulate the post office in Goldfield might close.
The means of transportation and roads had improved considerably since the first stage lines started providing service to Goldfield from Mesa City.
William A. Kimball had survived all his competitors and continued to operate the Mesa-Goldfield stage.
Louis Wagner was appointed postmaster of Goldfield on Aug. 14, 1896. The appointment assured the operation of the post office in Goldfield and future mail contracts even though gold production had slowed down at the Mammoth Mine.
Hi (Hy) George was employed by the Mammoth Mine at Goldfield to make improvements on the Mesa City-Goldfield road on Sept. 4, 1896. The continuation of the post office, road improvements and mail contracts indicated a very bright future for Goldfield.
Jack Hall, near the end of September 1896, started another stage line from Mesa City to Goldfield. He called his stage line the Owl Express. He made a daily run to Goldfield from Mesa City while William A. Kimball had returned to a tri-weekly run. Hall advertised his daily run to Goldfield from Mesa City in the Mesa Free Press on Dec. 25, 1896, which read as follows: “The Owl Express leaves Mesa City for Goldfield every day at noon with passengers and freight. The fare is $1 to Goldfield and a round trip is $1.75, Proprietor Jack Hall.”
The Owl Express only survived a few months. An article appeared in the Arizona Republican on Feb. 5, 1897, that reported the following: “March 1, regular mail service to Goldfield from Mesa (distance 23 miles). W.W. Wall will sublet mail contract to Alex Hunsaker. Contract expires June 30, 1898.”
If one peruses the many periodicals between January 1897 and December 1898 concerning commercial mining and mining activity around Goldfield it is easy to recognize the decline of this once prosperous gold mining camp. As long as there was a mail service contract to the post office in Goldfield there was a stage line operating between Mesa City and Goldfield. Newspaper accounts of late 1897 pronounce Goldfield as dead.
The rich gold vein miners had been mining one day had disappeared the next day. The mass exodus from Goldfield had begun by November 1897. The Goldfield post office was discontinued on November 11, 1898. The last stage to Goldfield carrying the United States mail was on Nov. 9, 1898.