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The History of superior arizona

The hub mine claim
of 1875

Superior began as a mining town with the Hub Mine claim in 1875 filed by W. Tuttle and the Irene Mine claim filed by P. Swain in 1876. These claims, together, became known as the Silver Queen Mine and by 1910 were owned by Colonel Boyce Thompson and renamed the Magma Copper Company. They had followed the opening, in 1875, of the famous, nearby, Silver King Mine founded by Mason, Long, Copeland and Regan that brought prospecting to the area.

The History of superior arizona

The magma smelter In 1914

Superior narrowly avoided becoming a ghost town when the Silver Queen and Silver King Mines were impacted by the change in the U.S. monetary standard in 1893 with the devaluation of silver from $1.50 to $.20 per ounce. This change from silver to gold killed many of the West’s silver mines. Fortunately, the miners looking for silver and gold also found copper, and with the founding of the Magma Copper Company, Superior continued to thrive. For 86 years, the Magma pulled copper and silver out of Superior’s mountains.

The History of superior arizona

The Boyce Thompson arboretum

Superior grew as more businesses evolved to serve the townspeople and ranching families. Nearby water from Queen Creek, water piped up from nearby Florence and a commerce base created by the ranchers and merchants that served the miners, kept Superior alive. This growth encouraged community involvement and activities that bonded people to Superior. Clubs and associations were formed, friendships forged, and more businesses built, including the Magma Hotel. Superior’s tourism boomed when Boyce Thompson, who was a self-made millionaire and mining magnate, established the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in 1923 to exhibit and study plants from all over the world.

The History of superior arizona

Main street & Magma Blvd

Superior is home to many resilient and self-reliant residents, many of whom are third generation descendants of the early settlers of the town. They are fiercely proud of their town, as are the newer arrivals. The artist community has brought the downtown area back to life, while revitalizing the historic buildings on Main Street and Magma Blvd with quaint new businesses. Hollywood has discovered this historic wild west town’s charm, as they have filmed a number of commercials and movies in the area including How The West Was Won, The Prophecy, U-Turn, The Fugitive and the PBS special Skin Walkers by Tony Hillerman.

The History of superior arizona

1982 The mine shut down

Some predicted that in 1982 when the town’s largest mine shut down it would mean the end of Superior and it, too, would become another Arizona ghost town. The following decade proved them wrong. The town had developed a much loved sustainable community in their beautiful high desert setting. The Magma Mine reopened in the 1990’s as the Resolution Copper Company. A copper dome was found 7,000 feet underground that is projected to be the largest copper vein in the United States, fourth-largest undeveloped copper deposit in the world, and is expected to revitalize Superior with employment and businesses.

The History of superior arizona

100+ year history & charm

Historic pictures of Superior show that the area has grown over its 100+ year history, but still retains its small town cultural and historic charm. Visitors who travel to Superior can see reminders of the glory days of mining and ranching in the town while enjoying the local shops, food, arts, and town activities such as Apache Leap Days and the Historic Home Tours that make Superior a great day trip and a walk back in time.

visit superior

learn more about the history of superior by visiting us today

To learn more about the history of Superior, visit the Bob Jones Museum or pick up a copy of the books When Silver was King by Jack San Felice and Superior and Queen Valley by Carol Schumacher and Danielle Tomerlin at local gift stores or from the authors through the QV Historical Society. To experience a mining themed Escape Room activity based on the history of the area, visit the Lost Dutchman Room at Escape Rooms Mesa owned by the Superior and Queen Valley book authors.

THE AMAZING BUSINESSES OF OUR COMMUNITY

SUPERIOR CHAMBER Businesses

Arizona Water Co

Arizona Water Company has served growing Arizona communities for over 65 years. In 1955, the Company purchased ten water systems from the Arizona Public Service Company. Today, we operate 22 water systems in more than 30 communities throughout Arizona. Our corporate office is located in Phoenix and we have 12 local offices located in the communities we serve. Our employees are your neighbors and we are proud to provide clean and reliable drinking water through our award-winning production and distribution systems on demand, every day.

Superior, AZ

Superior Tour Company

Providing tours in and around Superior Arizona with an off-road jeep or golf cart for an in town tour; Take a tour in our off road jeep (under the permit of the Tonto National Forest) to historical and beautiful scenic areas in and around Superior, Arizona or take a historical in town tour in our electric golf cart. Also offering Historical Mine Visits, Night Tours, Ghost hunts and customized packages.

Superior, AZ

Legends of Superior Trails

This Legends of Superior Trail connects the historic mining town of Superior with the Arizona Trail, 6 miles to the west. Along the way it passes through the high Sonoran Desert, the remains of the abandoned town of Pinal, and the riparian forest along Queen Creek, all while under the gaze of the majestic Picketpost Mountain to the south and Apache Leap to the east. Along the way you will find numbered stations on posts where you can use this brochure to learn more about the history and environment of this uniquely beautiful area. Follow the signposts from the Airport or Hewitt trailheads and be sure to take plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes or boots, and watch for snakes…

Interpretive Stations – East to West
1. Apache Leap: legends tell of a battle between the Apaches and a volunteer army unit high atop the cliffs overlooking Superior.
2. Queen Creek: water in the desert. Queen Creek attracted people from earliest time. Before the miners came in the 1870s, this area was home to
the prehistoric Hohokam and later Apache and Yavapai Indians.
3. The Riparian Forest: Cottonwood and mesquite trees along Queen Creek provided food, fuel, and shade for Indians and miners alike.
4. Entering downtown Pinal; the trail climbs up onto the terrace through an area of melted adobe houses to emerge onto Main Street of the old town. Please do not disturb the ruins or steal the
artifacts.
5.The Tailings Pile; center of town. This flat area was once the dump for waste material from the silver mill. A trail to the west will take you up onto Mill Hill and Station 6. To the east are the remains
of buildings from the commercial district of the Town.
6. Mill Hill. The remains of the mill are located on the terraced hillside below (these are not yet stabilized and should best be viewed from up here). The top of the hill was where the administrative buildings were and where the 20 mule team wagons came to deliver ore from the Silver King mine.
7. The foundation here was the Pinal Hotel. Next to it were the mine office and the Wells Fargo. To the east along Main St. were the owner’s house, the newspaper office, and several stores and saloons. The Post Office was across the street; no trace of it is left today.
8. Leaving downtown Pinal; the trail crosses the ore haul road here; south of the wash it climbs onto Mill Hill on a causeway. To the north it begins the long climb back to the mine.
9. Wagon tracks along the ore haul road cut by wagon wheels into the soft volcanic tuff.
10. The old Magma Railroad, built in 1923 for the mine in Superior.
11. Saguaros and Palo Verde trees dominate the local Sonoran Desert, home to deer, coyotes, rabbits, quail and other desert animals.
12. Picketpost Mountain, an ancient volcano and landmark for miles around.

For more information on this or the other Legends of Superior Trails, visit the Bob Jones Museum on Main St. and the Visitor Center at the Red Caboose on US 60.

Superior, AZ
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165 Main St
Superior, AZ 85173
Phone: (520) 689-0200
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