Extracting Ghost Town Silver

Going to the silver ghost town of Silver Reef, Utah to collect a sample of silver ore, and meet up with Cody of Cody’s Lab to learn how to extract it. 

Note that silver is also used in solder, an easily-melted alloy used to join electrical connections or copper pipes/plates.

Extracting Ghost Town Silver

Silver (and it’s compounds) also have an antimicrobial effect (read: kills germs). Silver is close to gold in electrical conductivity and is sometimes used as an alternative to gold. Gold and silver will also alloy together to form electrum.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Tombstone district

Silver was discovered in the Cochise County mountains as early as 1858, but ongoing conflict with the native Indians prevented development. In 1858, Frederick Brunckow, a Prussian-born mining engineer, built a cabin near the San Pedro River after finding a small silver deposit nearby. 

With only 30 cents in his pocket, Schieffelin searched for his brother Al, who he had not seen in four years, and finally found him at the McCracken Mine in north-eastern Arizona. He persuaded Al to show his three remaining ore samples to the recently arrived assayer, Richard Gird, who had a reputation as an expert. Gird told Ed that the best of the three samples was a high-quality ore that assayed at $2,000 a ton. Ed, Al Schieffelin and Richard Gird formed a handshake partnership on the spot. Gird offered his expertise, connections, and a grubstake. Their three-way deal, which was never put down on paper, realized the three men millions of dollars of wealth.

News of the mines spread and interest from the Eastern United States grew. As that interest increased, so did the capitol investment into the mines around what would become Tombstone. Many mines were located and developed, including (but not limited to) the Goodenough, Contention, Toughnut and Grand Central.

A team of mules are hitched to a series of ore wagons to haul the ore from a Tombstone area mine to the stamping mill.

As the mining industry grew, Tombstone spawned six nearby sister towns that took up the chore of stamping and processing the ore. Charleston, Millville, Emery City, Fairbank, Grand Central Mill and Contention were all on the San Pedro River to take advantage of the water needed to run the mills. All are ghost towns today.

The mines operated successfully and in late March 1881 water was found in the Sulphuret shaft at 520 ft below the surface. Other mines in the area encountered water within a year.

On August 9, 1911 the Tombstone Consolidated Mines Company, LTD., was declared bankrupt. They had won the battle, but lost the war. Phelps-Dodge Corporation bought the claims for $500,000 at a Sheriff’s auction. They were the only bidders.

During World War I the camp was revived, not as a silver producer but as the nation’s foremost supplier of manganese, a strategic metal. In 1917 the district’s work force was larger than at any time in its history.

During the silver boom, it is generally agreed that Tombstone was the most prolific silver producer of any mining district in Arizona that was mined primarily for silver. The district produced 32 million troy ounces (1,000 metric tons) of silver. There are widely varying estimates of the value of gold and silver mined during the course of Tombstone’s history. In 1883, writer Patrick Hamilton estimated that during the first four years of activity the mines produced about USD $25,000,000 (approximately $694 million today). Other estimates include USD $40 to USD $85 million (about $1.15 billion to $2.45 billion today).


Be sure to view our Gold nuggets for sale.

View our Natural Silver specimens

Also see the most expensive type of gold nuggets, the Crystalline Gold Nuggets

Subscribe to our Youtube Arizona Gold Prospecting channel

1 Comment

San Diego Real Estate Broker · April 27, 2022 at 12:18 am

Enjoyed the read

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *