Bonnie Wayne McGuire
The first week of 2010 we visited the ghost town
of Mogollon, New Mexico nestled in the mountains where grandfather
Wayne managed the Last Chance-Ernestine Mine.
only coincidence that the Ernestine Mine sold in New York the same
week as Taft signed the
That's what historical research seems to prove.
My grandmother, father
and uncle used to talk about the place, but pronounced it differently
than it's spelled. I learned later that to properly pronounce the word
Mogollon, the accent is on the first and third syllables. The
double "L" or, Spanish Ella, having the broad sound of "Y," hence,
Muggy-own," but most pronounce it more like
Muggee owen. It's
both a common and proper noun. The common use means "a hanger on, a
parasite," some felt was indicative of the parasitical growth of the
mistletoe on the oaks, and other trees of the forest. The town was
named after the governor Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollon appointed by the
Spanish crown in 1712. He became the captain general of the vast
empire that embraced within the limits of the states of Texas,
Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and the Territories of New Mexico
His name Mogollon also applied to one of the
grandest, most massive, rugged and precipitous of many mountain
systems of New Mexico and the richest in its treasures of gold, silver
and copper in the great Southwest, dates from the administration of
this most popular and efficient executive of the eighteenth century.
The Spanish adventurer, in his explorations for precious metals of
gold and silver "in mass and position," succeeded where others
(organized at Santa Fe and elsewhere) with less energy and
determination failed. The history of New Mexico grew pretty violent.
First the Spanish, and then the miners invaded the Indian lands and
eventually pushed them to resist by leaving a trail of blood wherever
they went. They knew the geography and freight trails well...something
the government was slow to realize. Treasure hunting brings out the
worst in human nature, and those who found gold and silver had to be
wary of others who would kill them for it...so many buried their
accumulated wealth hoping to retrieve it later. Some perished by
outlaws, Indians or the elements, and their buried treasures remained
The Southwestern states abound with such mysteries.
Cinco de Mayo celebration in 1914
Since it's beginning as a miner's camp in the
late 1800's, Mogollon (with about twenty year round residents) has
seen a lot. But it has never seen a ghost. "We just claim to be one of
the ghosties" said one elderly resident. "There wasn't a time when
there wasn't someone who lived here. Unless you think we're one of the
ghosts, I guess." The town was settled by miners notorious in the
town's history for being rowdy, tough and poor. Prospectors flocked to
the town after hearing about Army Sergeant James Cooney's 1870
discovery of silver in the area, who was later killed by local
Chiricahua Apache led by Victorio during a raid on settler's homes
April 12, 1880, known as the
Alma Massacre. Alma's history is
bloody with constant attacks by Apache Indians. One writer mentions
that "Four men laid the plans for the town whose name was originally
Mogollon." In 1878 the town was bought by Capt. Birney who changed the
name to "Alma" for his mother. It is rumored the town was inhabited by
the Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch, Tom Ketchum, and William Antrim, the
father in law of Billy the Kid.
Once they arrived in town they lived in tin
huts, or under wood slats...and trudged their way to mines in Silver
Creek Canyon. The names of the mines, like those who dug them reflect
the severity of their situation...Deep Down, Last Chance and Never
End. The mines produced a relative fortune and progress during
their time. A post office was built in 1890, the first school house in
1892, and at least ten saloons and a red light district lined
Mogollon's main street during it's golden years. In 1915 the town's
population was around 2,000 with all the services associated with
larger towns. (It later dropped to 200 in 1930). Through the years
Mogollon saw five disastrous floods, at least that many major fires
(above) that burned the town's dozen wood buildings to the ground. It
also had desperado crimes equal to any western town famous for
gunplay. All that remains today are the mine ruins and old buildings.
During our first visit to
Silver City, New Mexico in April (2007) we stopped at the local museum
to see if we could find anything about my grandparents. The people who
worked there went through their files and did find a few newspaper
account about them. One mentioned they moved a lot (as Uncle Earl
said) and that one house they lived in had burned the following year,
and was sold. We browsed the history books in the museum and the
thought "muggy own" kept popping into my head, but I couldn't
find anything about it. Even while I was staring at a stack of books
titled "The Mogollon Mines." I picked one up and quickly looked
through the pages. The following caught my attention. A man who called
himself Has Been, who wrote:
"When I stop to think what
one mill, the Last Chance or the Ernestine Company, has accomplished
under the personal direction of that prince of mine owners and
gentleman, Mr. Ernest Craig, it has a tendency to make 'Has Been'
think that the biggest sometimes is the smallest. The latest rumor in
camp is to the effect that Mr. Craig has parted company with his
holdings in this district. The fortunate purchasers are E. A. Wayne
and associates, one of the strongest financial combinations in the
United States. This, if consummated, is a source of congratulation,
since the new blood which will be infused into the mineral development
of the Ernestine bodies good to the entire district. Operations will
be conducted upon a much larger scale, and every advantage and
appliance known to the science of mining and metallurgy will be placed
in practical operation at once."
Locals, grandma, Uncle Earl and
dad pronounced Mogollon "Muggy-own."
But that's not all we found out by visiting the museum. Volunteer, Tom
Hester later emailed us. "Thank
you for the picture and the response from the State Archives. I will
add this information to our collection in a separate folder. Was it
only coincidence that the Ernestine Mine sold in New York the same
week as Taft signed the
the museum talked like New Mexico had been excluded for consideration
of statehood. At the time I didn't notice the dates, nor who
grandfather's associates were, although Uncle Earl mentioned that Taft
had been a business partner at one time. So, if Mr. Hester's hunch is
right, New Mexico was signed into statehood to correspond with the
sale of the Last Chance - Ernestine Mine in New York, where
grandfather was a member of the Mining Exchange.
If the above is
true, you might say that
grandfather became the first official representative of New Mexico on
February 14, 1912. His photo is on page 318 book "Representatives
New Mexicans: the national newspaper reference book"
Volume 1. History recounts that many early representatives of western
states were miners, but fail to mention their names. Above, President
Taft signs New Mexico into statehood. Of it's long struggle for
statehood Taft said, "Well it is all over. I am glad to give you
life. I hope you will be healthy." Grandfather Wayne is second
from the right in the picture my Uncle claimed was the New Mexico
signing. I contacted the White House Historical Association, and they
had the same picture for signing Arizona into Statehood, but
grandfather Wayne isn't in that one. Taft became the first chief
executive to preside over 48 states.
Our little visit to Mogollon makes us realize
that people seeking their fortunes in gold, silver, and copper brought
them to explore and experience the harshness of the wilderness.
According to the 1914 issue of Mogollon
Mines publication, the reaction to mining news was the stimulus that
led to eventual development to the southwest: "The Fifth
Annual edition of The Mogollon Mines verifies the predictions made in
the First Annual, that developments in the ensuing half decade would
place Cooney Mining District at the forefront as the greatest producer
of gold and silver in the great Southwest..."
The incentive of gold and silver mining
attracted investors and miners, and unfortunately outlaws looking for
easy money, but often were caught and swiftly punished (right). As a
consequence the surrounding area developed to accommodate all those
who lived and worked in the mines.
"In addition to the transmitted
power, the impounded waters will irrigate and reclaim upwards of
50,000 acres of fertile land, and provide homes for thousands of
people and build a city of no mean importance as to population,
wealth, culture, refinement and intelligence, and provide a still
lower rate and reduce power costs to a minimum, and place Cooney
mining district in the lead of all others in the production of gold
Last Chance-Ernestine Mine in Mogollon
The Mogollon Mine publication briefly mentions
Grandfather Wayne's Ernestine Mining Company.
"The past year has
been an exceptionally busy one for the Mogollon Mine's Company. The
new management from the inception and final organization of the
company left no possible improvement pass unnoticed without careful
trial and examination whereby the tonnage capacity per diem might be
increased and the crushing power brought to a higher grade of
efficiency, and the recovery of values brought up to a percentage
saving ranging from 90 percent and up.... While these improvements
were progressing in the mill the development of the mine, in addition
to the remodeling of the mill engaged the attention of Mr. E. A.
Wayne, the general manager of the company. The main shaft on the Last
Chance vein has been exploited to a depth of 1,600 feet, a distance of
800 feet below the tunnel level. This level is 600 feet below the apex
or cropping of the discovery shaft of the Last Chance vein.
Development ahead of production engages the undivided attention of the
management, and the exploration of ore reserves exposed in the mines
is indicative that the operation is productive...."
The Mogollon mines were located on precipitous
slopes and ridges, including the Maud S.,
Deep Down, Last Chance, and the biggest and most profitable – the
Little Fannie. In 1909, the proud miners related that nearly
70% of the precious metal of New Mexico was produced by the mines of
Mogollon amounting to $5,500,000.
They (and other
prospectors) extracted approximately $1.5 million in gold and silver
in 1913. During their lifetime, over 18 million ounces of silver were
taken from the mines of the Mogollón Mountains, which was one-quarter
of New Mexico's total production. Close to $20 million in gold and
silver were extracted, with silver accounting for about two-thirds of
Silver City was the railhead for Mogollon's
eight-team freight wagons, packed with gold and silver ore.
The drivers showed great ingenuity in harnessing and driving the
wagons, often with 18 horses pulling them (or slowing them down)
around mountain hairpin curves. The dirt road rose 2,000 feet in a
distance of about seven miles before dropping back down about 1,200
feet to Mogollon. It was narrow and twisting, with solid rock straight
up one side for hundreds of feet and straight down an equal or greater
distance on the other side.
That was then, and
on January 5, 2010. After we revisited the museum in Silver City, to
see if we could dig up more information, we headed for Mogollon to see
what it's like today.
After leaving highway 180 we're headed for the
Mogollon Mountains on Route 78, also known as
where the two lane highway eventually changes to a narrow, one lane
road winding along the steep canyon wall. This road also leads to the
Gila National Forest
As we enter the town, we recognize these
buildings from old photos.
Paul Harden (of Socorro, NM) in the
Epilogue following this story, mentioned to me that his next article
is about a dual killing in 1912 in the former Mogollon Mercantile
(left). Two clerks were killed trying to defend the payroll of the
Ernestine Mining Co. (Last Chance Mine). They got away with $3500+.
The two robbers were apprehended by the sheriff, a shootout killed
one, and the other arrested. He was found guilty of first degree
murder and was hung in Socorro in 1913 for the crime. I found more on
it and others in Mark A. Allan's "Capital
Punishment or Compassion Executions in the State of New
Mexico: The Death Penalty Since Territorial Days."
Above is a summer view of the
Creek Inn built in 1885 by Frank Lauderbaugh. It first
known as the Mogollon House. Henry Johnson, the proprietor, rented
upstairs rooms and sold food and merchandise on the Main Street floor.
In 1980 Stan King arrived to renovate and restore the old adobe to its
present condition. If you would like to stay at the Inn to explore
the old town and the surrounding area you can check with their
The small community museum across the street is
available at times, and offers an even better glimpse of the mining
technology and perils of Mogollon's early days. Life in Mogollon today
reflects its remoteness: According to one writer, "A seasonal hotel
and restaurant are available sometimes, but it is best to plan ahead
when visiting the area. Gasoline is available in Glenwood, and a full
tank is recommended if you contemplate traveling north of Mogollon to
the Gila Wilderness." As to weather...It's cold in the winter and hot
during the summer.
In 1973, a spaghetti western called
My Name is Nobody,
starring Henry Fonda, was filmed in Mogollón. A saloon and general
store in town were built as part of the movie set. Today the town is
Little Fannie May Mine tailings.
The mining camp at Mogollon was started
during the 1890s in the bottom of Silver Creek Canyon. Several mines
of some note were started, but the Little Fanny gained the reputation
that is the history of the town itself. It was an extremely dusty
mine. Miner's consumption (or black lung) was so severe it wasn't
uncommon for miners working the Little Fanny to last only three years
or less. The ghastly toll of men working in the mine forced the owners
to develop the method of spraying water under pressure from the
jack-hammers in breaking the quartz for removal from the mine. As the
dust was reduced, so was the patient load for the town's three
doctors. The population of the town around 1909 when Little Fanny was
being developed was about 2,000.
transportation and freight services to the camp, moving its "cargo”
some eighty miles between the two points, a distance that took about
15 hours. By 1915, the
mine's payroll each month was between $50,000 and $75,000 with the
mine's gold and silver bullion being shipped to Silver City by mule
team. During World War I, trucks took over hauling the ore to Silver
City but the end was in sight. As time progressed, the assay value of
the ore began to drop to the point it was no longer profitable to
continue operations. When last mine (Little Fanny) closed
in 1952...so did Mogollon.
history of this mine reminds me of my great-grandfather who left the
Isle of Man for America to seek his fortune. He worked in mines near
Virginia City, Nevada and died from miner's
con in his
early 20's around the time my grandmother was born in 1886.
View of the canyon and mountains from the road
on the return trip to the main highway. It was wonderful to have
visited the old town even though it was late, and Mel didn't want to
spend the night there. Instead we opted to drive highway 180 about a
hundred more miles before calling it a day.
(During the first week of May I received the
My name is Paul Harden in Socorro, NM and I
write a monthly history article for the local
El Defensor Chieftain
My next article
is about a dual
killing in 1912 in the Mogollon Mercantile. Two clerks were killed
trying to defend the payroll of the Ernestine Mining Co. (Last
Chance Mine). They got away with $3500+. The two robbers were
apprehended by the sheriff, a shootout killed one, and the other
arrested. He was found guilty of first degree murder and was hung
in Socorro in 1913 for the crime.
I would like permission to use one or two of
your photos on your website of Mogollon showing the old Mogollon
Mercantile Company. I drove to Mogollon last Autumn to get some
photos for this article and another, but an unfortunately laptop
crash wiped out those photos. The road to Mogollon is not yet
opened due to snow.
The general description in Socorro at the old
Bureau of Mines records indicates he (E. A. Wayne) moved to Mogollon
in 1909; he consolidated the Top Mine and Last Chance mine into the
Ernestine Mining Company in 1910. In 1911 he purchased the Colonial
Mines holdings and renamed them the Maud Mining Company (the Maud
Mine was also one of the area's big producers). He greatly improved
the profitability of the Last Chance Mine by being one of the first
to install fuel oil burning boilers for powering electric
generators, which in turn operated the stamp mill. Fuel oil was
about 1/5th the cost of coal or wood, not to mention the cost of
getting it shipped to Mogollon. This reduced energy cost raised the
I talked to the NM State Mining Engineer at New Mexico Tech campus,
who has many of the original records of the Mogollon mines. He
asked your grandfather's name and my mind went blank. I have since
emailed him the name (minus what the E stands for) to see what
information he might have to pass on to you.
I'm glad to meet you, and glad you had the opportunity to visit
Mogollon recently. It is indeed one of the Southwest's classic
mining ghost towns. The Little Fanny Mine and mill was open to the
public up to a few years ago. The owners got too old to run the
minor tour business through the mill and abandoned it. There is now
a huge dirt berm blocking the road to the mine
and mill. I found a very nice
photo of your grandfather
on-line. Do a search for "E. A. Wayne
Mogollon" and it will be a listing for an online Google Book
entitled "Representative New Mexican's 1910." His photo and brief
bio is on page 316.
PS - Some of my history articles of the Socorro area are at:
Thanks for your