The Five Cs of Arizona: Copper

This article is part of the five Cs of Arizona, which are climate, citrus, cattle, copper, and cotton.

Having lived in a copper mining city before, I was no stranger to what might be with Arizona’s copper industry. Something I noticed here, however, that I didn’t in Mongolia, is how much more copper is embraced in subtle ways across the state.

City Hall and the State Capitol

Structures all across the metro Phoenix area have incorporated copper into their architecture. The University of Arizona has copper sheets all along the sides of its massive downtown medical school. The state capitol building, just a few minutes’ drive East, has a massive copper dome on the main building of government. City hall for Phoenix, meanwhile, has copper ornaments strewn about inside its lobby, as well as a nice copper sun that decorated the entrance of the building near Central Ave. Many businesses borrow copper for their titles, local brewers use copper kettles to make beer, and the town of Clarksdale hosts its very own copper art museum.

Copper Art - Two Second Street - www.twosecondstreet.com
Copper statue at the Heard Museum

Copper Mining History in Arizona

The earliest copper miners where the indigenous¬†populations out near Jerome, AZ. They used the materials there as dyes, and when the Spaniards rolled through in the 1500s, they found trace amounts of silver and copper at the sites in the area. They didn’t set up a mine here, though. The Spaniards did do their fair share of mining, operating small-scale mines in Ajo, AZ as early as the 1750s. Mining really started to boom in Arizona in the 1800s, and with the introduction of rail lines from the Transcontinental Railroad, shipping and selling became easier than ever. Nowadays, Arizona is still a leader in copper production for the USA. In 2007, they produced 750,000 metric tons of copper, accounting for more than 60% of all US copper production. It is also currently ranked 6th in the world for copper production versus other nations.

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