The Mining Industry:

Mining was a thriving occupation in the early days and during the Great Depression. There are only a few mines operating today, mostly in Copper Basin. Most of the land in Skull Valley is occupied by cattle ranches today. Jobs are few, and many residents commute daily to Prescott or other places to work.

The Joseph R. Walker exploratory party of 25 men was formed by the combination of two small groups (7 in the Miller Group & 9 in the Walker Group) that joined together at Grapevine Springs, California in May of 1861. Others joined along the way. Their stated goal was the search for precious metals and their path took them across northern Arizona and up into Colorado before dropping down into New Mexico in the fall of 1862. They were unsuccessful in their first attempt.

The members of the “Original Party” were Captain Joseph R. Walker, 2 nephews:

Joseph R. Walker Jr. & John Walker; John Dickson; Sam Miller, Jake Miller, and their father, John Miller; Jacob Linn; James V. Wheelhouse; Frank Finney; George Blosser; A. C. Benedict; S. Shoup, [A. Shupp]; T. J. Johnson; Daniel Ellis Conner; Abner French; Charles Taylor; H.B. Cummings: William Williarns: G. Gillalan; Jackson McCrackin; Rodney Mckinnon: Felix Cholet; M. Lewis; James Chase; and George Coulter.

The 2nd Walker Party, a group of 36 men, assembled in the Pike’s Peak area of Colorado, was successful. Their pack train started with 66 pack mules. John W. (Jack) Swilling joined the party in New Mexico and then guided them to where he had seen significant indication of gold three years earlier. Their main search effort was

along the headwaters of the Hassayampa River. Gold was found along Lynx Creek and The Pioneering Mining District was formed in May 1863. The (Walker Party) soon disbanded.

The following members of the Walker Party settled in Skull Valley and proved up on individual Homesteads. Jacob & Sam Miller; Alfred Shupp, and John Dickson. As did his brother William Dickson. [It isn’t known if William was a part of the Walker Party explorations.] The Copper Basin Mining District, just East of Skull Valley, produced variable success and has left behind large amounts of debris and open vertical shafts, that have proven hazardous to man and animals.

The Bagdad open pit Copper mine, West of Hillside, has provided excellent jobs for many in the Western part of Yavapai County since 1927, almost continuously up to the present time (2010). Copper and molybdenum being the main products. Guided tours of this mine are well worth the time spent.


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