Mining History Association

21st Annual Conference, June 10-13, 2010

Global Resource Center

Western New Mexico University

Silver City, New Mexico


The 21st Annual Conference of the Mining History Association was held in Silver City, New Mexico, June 10-13, 2010.  It was founded in 1870, after the discovery of silver at nearby Chloride Flat. Today Silver City is a modern city with all the amenities for its 10,500 residents and visitors alike.  It is the seat of Grant County and home to Western New Mexico University (WNMU) with a student population of around 3,100.  Sturdy brick Victorian buildings give the city a feel of permanence that is different from other frontier mining towns.  The residents are preserving their historic downtown through the Silver City Main Street Project.  In recent years Silver City has become a popular haven for retirees.

The Welcoming Reception was held at the Silver City Museum.  It occupies the historic H. B. Ailman house, built in 1881 during the silver boom.  Exhibits showcase the rich cultural diversity of the Southwest and, of course, the area’s mining history.

The conference program sessions were held at the Global Resource Center on the campus of WNMU. The Center has a well-equipped auditorium and space in the lobby for vendors. The Presidential Luncheon was also held at the Center.

Whether on one of the planned tours and field trips, or just exploring on their own, attendees had plenty to see and do during their spare time at the conference.  Historic Ft. Bayard is located a few miles east of Silver City.  It was built in 1866 and garrisoned by Buffalo Soldiers of Company B, U. S. Colored Infantry to protect miners and settlers from the Apaches.  In 1900 the fort became a medical center to treat veterans with tuberculosis.  A National Cemetery adjoins the fort.  Further east is the road to Hanover, the site of the 1950-1952 strike at the Empire Mine which was chronicled in the movie “Salt of the Earth.”  A historic marker is located at the site.  Further up the road at the nearly-ghost town of Fierro is the Miners’ Chapel on the grounds of St. Anthony’s Church.  Backtracking down the Hanover road, it is just a short drive to the viewpoint overlooking the huge Santa Rita/Chino open pit operated by Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold (FMCG).  From the viewpoint one can also see the famous Kneeling Nun rock formation high on the mountain south of the mine.

Located southeast of Silver City, the town of Bayard is the jumping off place for exploring many of the old underground mines in the Central Mining District.  Although they are all on private land, six headframes are still visible from the highway.  FMCG has committed to preserving the steel headframes at the Empire, Bullfrog, Kearney, and Princess Mines.

There is a lot more mining history worth exploring while traveling to or from Silver City.  See the March 2010 issue of the Mining History News for suggestions. 


The Silver City area has one of the most interesting and complex mining histories of any of the past MHA Annual Conference locations.  CLICK HERE to learn all about it. 


Silver City Museum.


Western New Mexico University (WNMU), Silver City, New Mexico (Photo courtesy WNMU).


The Palace Hotel in downtown Silver City is on the National Register of Historic Places.



Welcoming Reception, Silver City Museum, June 10, 2010

Awards Banquet, Red Barn Restaurant, June 11, 2010

Presidential Luncheon, Global Resource Center at WNMU, June 12, 2010

Movie “Salt of the Earth,” Historic Silco Theater, June 12, 2010


Mining District Historical Tours, June 10 and 12, 2010

Walking Tour of Silver City, June 12, 2010   [Attendees, Please Share Your Pictures]

Geology of the Silver City Region, June 12, 2010

Boom and Bust Camps of the Black Range, June 13, 2010   [Attendees, Please Share Your Pictures]


Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce

Silver City Museum

Western New Mexico University Museum

Western New Mexico University

New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources



Paige W. Christiansen, “The Story of Mining in New Mexico,” (Socorro: New Mexico Bureau of Mines & Mineral Resources, 1974).

Helen J. Lundwell, ed., “Pioneering in Territorial Silver City: H. B. Ailman’s Recollections of Silver City and the Southwest, 1871-1892,” (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1983).

Christopher J. Huggard, “Copper Mining in Grant County,1900-1945,” in Judith Boyce DeMark, Essays in Twentieth-Century New Mexico History, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994).

Spude, Robert L., “The Santa Rita del Cobre, New Mexico; the Early American Period, 1846 -1886,” The Mining History Journal  (Mining History Association,1999), 8-38

John M. Sully II, “Copper King,” Desert Exposure, October 2007,, Accessed 21 December 2011.

Also see the March 2010 Mining History News for additional Readings and References.



Bob Spude

Chris Huggard

Terry Humble 

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