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Phelps-Dodge: 1942

Phelps-Dodge: 1942

December 1942. "Part of the copper concentrating plant of the Phelps-Dodge Mining Company at Morenci, Arizona. This plant supplies great quantities of the copper so vital in our war effort." Photo by Fritz Henle. View full size.

 

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The mine now, and Rt 191

The attached photo shows part of the mine in the summer of 2012 (Eastman Kodak Ektachrome, sadly no longer available). Rt 191 runs through the mine. North of Morenci it is one of the most scenic drives in the Southwest, and one of the twistiest. It is two-lane switchback after switchback. The road maps don't come close to showing how twisty Rt 191 is. Not for the faint-hearted, or in bad weather.

Adapting to Survive

Some of the old mining towns in Arizona are staying alive by becoming artsy tourist havens. Jerome and Bisbee, for example, are now bohemian enclaves. They tend to be very welcoming to young people and to gay couples, and they teem with antique shops and bed-and-breakfasts. If Morenci's ore ever runs out, this is certainly an option for it.

Company town

Morenci is one of the very few company towns remaining in the United States. Mine owner Freeport McMoRan, which acquired Phelps Dodge several years ago, owns almost all the property in the town.

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