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Column No. 1
Bob Ring, Al Ring, Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon
Sure, you’ve heard of Ruby, the mining ghost town. You might even have visited
the old place. It’s about 45 miles southwest of Green Valley, only five miles
north of the international border with Mexico. You get there from Green Valley
by going south on Interstate 19, getting off at Exit 48, heading west to Arivaca,
and then south from Arivaca on the Ruby Road through the old Oro Blanco Mining
District (OBMD). The ghost town is settled at 4,200 feet altitude amongst
beautiful rolling hills and rugged canyons, west of the Atascosa Mountains.
But did you know that Ruby was the mining camp that served the Montana mine, the largest producer of lead and zinc in Arizona in the 1930’s? And did you know that during that period, the population of Ruby was around 1,200 people? Did you know that twice, in the early 1920’s, Mexican bandits robbed the Ruby general store and killed the proprietors? Eight decades later, parts of that general store still stand, in one of the best-preserved ghost towns in Arizona.
We’ll bet you didn’t know that Ruby has only been named Ruby since 1912, when Arizona became a state, and the camp was renamed after the storekeeper’s wife. Prior to 1912, the tiny settlement of fewer than 50 people was called Montana Camp, and the Montana mine produced gold and silver, rather than lead and zinc.
Did you know that Americans first located (mineral rights claimed) the Montana mining claim in 1877? Did you know that in 1886, Geronomo made his last raids in Arizona, at ranches within five miles of Montana Camp? And did you know that well-known Territorial period Tucson merchandiser, Louis Zeckendorf, owned the Montana mine for four decades?
In this column, we plan to tell you about these events, and others, that paint the colorful history of Montana Camp, Ruby, and the OBMD. In fact, we’ll open things up to include stories that occurred anywhere “along the Ruby road,” from Arivaca to Nogales.
“We” are brothers Bob and Al Ring, whose paternal grandfather started his mining career in the OBMD in 1906, and Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon, who grew up in Ruby during the 1930’s, and who returned 55 years later to begin hosting Pima Community College’s public tours of Ruby.
The three of us have been researching the subject of Ruby and mining in the OBMD for years. In fact, we’re right in the middle of preparing a book that will include all the details.
As we move along on the book, we’d like to share with you some of the highlights. This will include the mining story, with emphasis on the Montana mine, by far the most successful of over 4,500 mining claims located in the tiny 100-square mile OBMD. We’ll tell you about life in the old mining camps, including the personal experiences of our relatives, complete with old family photos. We’ll include anecdotes about colorful characters important to the story and share personal recollections of former residents of Ruby.
What we hope to get from you is more information. Do you have any documents, photos, or personal histories that will expand our knowledge and perhaps contribute to our book?
We hope you enjoy our stories. Let us know what questions you have on what we write, or something brand new. And please contact us if you think you have helpful information.
|Photo of Montana mine mill
By 1934, this newly renovated mill in Ruby was ready to help the Montana mine become the largest producer of lead and zinc in Arizona. The mill buildings are reflected in a large reservoir that provided water to run the mill. (Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon private collection)
Next time: ALONG THE RUBY ROAD:
The First American Gold Mine in Oro Blanco
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Do you have any related documents, photos, or personal histories that you
could share with us? If so, please contact:
Al Ring firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruby Arizona Book Ines
St. Matthews Fire Department Book Oro Blanco Mining District Ring Family History