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Millville circa 1880
Courtesy Arizona Historical Society

Millville came into being to due to the lack of water in Tombstone.  On April 9, 1978, the Tombstone Mining District was officially recorded by Edward and Al Scheiffelin and Richard Gird.  Arrangements were made for financing the development of mines and construction of reduction mills, including ten-stamp and fifteen-stamp mills.  Construction of the ten-stamp mill was directed by Richard Gird and the Tombstone Mill and Mining Company, who owned the claims of Tough Nut, Goodenough, Westside and Defense.  The fifteen-stamp mill was to be run by the Corbin Mill and Mining Company, which owned the claims of the Lucky Cuss, Owl's Nest, Owl's Last Toot, Eastside and Tribute.

In addition to complete stamp mills with all the equipment necessary to reduce gold and silver ore, roads from the mines to the mills had to be constructed. Once financing was obtained for these projects the location of Millville was selected.  About 8 miles from the mines and on the San Pedro River.

A saw mill was needed however, to provide all the lumber for the buildings.  One was purchased in San Francisco and the complete saw mill was sent by ship around Cape San Lucas (California Baja), up the Gulf of California, to Yuma.   From Yuma, it was transported in wagons to the Huachuca Mountains.  The saw mill site was located twelve miles from the stamp mills and seven miles south of the junction of Babacomari Creek and the San Pedro River.  On January 14, 1879 the saw mill went into full production, shipping 6 to 8 thousand feet of lumber a day at a great expense.

Meanwhile, across the road Amos W. Stowe, recorded his claim for 160 acres of land for the purpose of agriculture and grazing.   Soon thereafter he hired a surveyor, mapped out a townsite and thus Charleston was born.

The San Pedro River not only separated the two new town sites, but also supplied water for the works at Millville and furnished water needed for domestic and irrigation purposes.  The Chinese farmers especially made use of the abundant water source for irrigation of their thriving vegetable gardens.  The San Pedro River at that time yielded a daily supply of around thirteen million gallons.   Normally, it could be forded except during the rainy season when it became impassable, cutting off supplies.  Finally in November of 1881, a 160 foot bridge was completed, connecting the two towns.

The Tombstone Mill and Mining Company's reduction mill was one of the most complete ever set up in the west.  It started operating on June 1, 1879, and the first ore was from the Tough Nut mine.  It had the lowest grade of ore, which was run first and then the higher grades went next to cut down on loss.

The mill was covered by a large pitched roof with a high brick chimney, two smokestacks, and two large ventilators protruded from it.  A dam two hundred feet long was constructed across the San Pedro River about one mile above the mill.  From the dam the water went through a ditch and over 1,000 feet of fluming.  This all helped power the turbine wheel, which made three hundred revolutions a minute.  The mill was run twenty four hours a day by seven men.   Since little fuel was used in processing the ore, engineers and firemen were not required at the mills.

sanpedrorivervalley.jpg (117624 bytes)On June 16, 1879, after a little more than six months Ed Scheiffelin arrived at Tucson with the first shipment of Tombstone bullion, milled at Millville by workers who lived in Charleston.  The main office of the Tombstone Mill and Mining Company however was located in Millville and also served as Richard Gird's living quarters.   The following was written about the office by the "Arizona Citizen" September 19, 1879: "a model of architecture...and...without question the finest southern Arizona.  On the north side is the director's room, the secretary's office and the assay office.   In the secretary's office is a large, ornamental vault made of quarter-inch wrought iron, with a burglar proof door.  On the south side of the building are the bedrooms, and the dining room.  Through the center is a spacious hall running east and west, and a broad verandah surrounds the whole building.  It is located between the Tombstone and Corbin Mills, on the elevation from 50 to 75 feet above the valley below, which removes it from the miasma of the lowlands.  There is a beautiful view from the west side of the building, up the San Pedro Valley.  The air is pure, and pleasant, and little of none of the sickness which is so prevalent in the valley need be feared.   This structure, like the mill, which is also Gird's work, shows excellent judgment and taste in design." Mr. Gird later married and their home became the center of all social events in Millville and Charleston. 

After the initial building and population boom, Millville settled down to become a relatively quite area until the earthquake of May 3, 1887.  It leveled some adobe buildings and almost every building in the area had badly cracked walls.  The water started coming into the mines about this time also and The Tombstone Mill and Mining Company's concentrating works were dismantled in May of 1886.

Today there are only a few adobe foundations left at the site.


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