By Dana Brisendine Sharp

McCabe, Arizona, once a thriving town . . . is no more.  Located in the Big Bug Mining District, the little town was about four miles southwest of Humboldt and a couple miles from the Huron siding on the Prescott and Middleton Branch of the AT & SF Railroad.

Like so many towns that came and went, McCabe grew up around mining activity.  Several men had mined in the area around 1880 with some success.  In 1883 Frank McCabe traded a horse for a mining claim.  Other men and their families came to the area and began their own mining operations, and the town of McCabe was born.  School District No. 18 was organized in 1894.  A one-room school was presided over by Miss Josephine Butler.  A Post Office at McCabe opened in 1897 on Galena Wash which ran through the town, with Mrs. Marion Behn as Postmaster.  Flammer’s Mercantile and McCarty’s Saloon added to the town.

McCabe also boasted a six-bed hospital, operated by Dr. Robert Looney, who practiced in McCabe until 1905 when he moved to Prescott.  Dr. Looney served in the Territorial Legislature in 1905-1906 and as Arizona’s first State Health Officer.  His wife Martha was daughter of the founder of Mayer, Arizona.

In the meantime, Frank McCabe sold his mining interests — for $40,000, a handsome profit on his original purchase.  The property went through several changes in ownership; in April of 1901 it was leased to the Model Gold Mining Company.  During this period, the estimated net to the owners was at least one million dollars.

A shaft on the “Gladstone” claim, operated by W. C. Parsons, reached 1100 feet deep.  Flooding became a problem.  In 1905, a very wet winter, combined with inadequate pumping equipment, forced a closure.  A financial panic in 1907 was a further blow to the area.  Mining activity went dormant for a few years; by 1910, owners gave up operating the pumps, the mine flooded, and very little work remained.

The principal mine operator’s office closed, then Flammer’s Mercantile, followed by the school and the hospital.  People moved to the next job, the next town, the next big strike. There were other mines in the area and the Post Office lingered until 1917.

But fate had some more plans for old McCabe.  Seven years went by and the Harbud Mining Company acquired the “McCabe Group” of mines. Soon the pumps were running again, miners and their families returned, and mining operations resumed — for a while.

In the winter of 1936 - 1937, heavy snows fell.  On February 7, 1937, the temperature rose and torrential rain fell.  Galena Wash flowed over the main tunnel of the Gladstone shaft.  Worse, the air shaft was right in the middle of the wash.  A river flowed down the air shaft into the main tunnel.  Efforts to stop the flood were futile.  In one day the mine flooded all the way up to the 400 foot level.  Undaunted, the operators kept the pumps running, and within a week mining had resumed.

During all the drama, life was still moving for the miners' families.  Some of the men who were working at McCabe in those days were Everett Brisendine, the Chemas boys and the Jensens from Humboldt — also Red O'Neill, Earl McCutcheon, Shorty Gonzales, Joe Clark, Bob Corley, Roy and Mac Brazel, Ed McSparrin, John Kachnik and Chris Coffin, who was the mechanic.  Emmett Savage was the shift boss, on duty the night of the flood.  Charley Ganz, a cavalry man who had been shot up in an Indian fight, was night watchman.  Butter Jones, a produce peddler, came by once a week.  Some lived in McCabe, others in nearby Humboldt or Dewey.  Kate Gonzales made tamales every week and shared with her neighbors.  Orchard Ranch, home of Sharlot Hall's family, provided meat and produce.

These were good times for the mines of McCabe.  Harbud Mines, which took over in the mid-1920s, shut down in 1937, having produced 15,000 ounces of gold and 38,000 ounces of silver.

About 1990, the flame of McCabe burned briefly, one last time.  Through the efforts of Magma Copper, 20,000 ounces of gold and another 93,000 ounces of silver were produced by the final closing in February of 1993.

The little town of McCabe lives on only as a memory.

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at www.sharlot.org/library-archives/days-past. The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles for articles to dayspastprescott@gmail.com. Please contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 14, or via email at dayspastprescott@gmail.com for information.