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DeSoto Mine

With the completion of the Poland Branch of Murphey’s Impossible railroad in 1902, crews began working on the Crown King Branch. They had a mostly easy job until they reached Crazy Basin, when it became necessary to ascend the rough mountains with switchbacks. A construction camp, including a turntable was built near the northern end of Crazy Basin below the DeSoto Mine. It was called Middelton, after George Middleton, the owner of the DeSoto Mine. The DeSoto Mine was a copper mine and when the railroad arrived in Crazy Basin in 1903, a new tunnel, assay office, boardinghouse, cookhouse, blacksmith shop, warehouse and corral were built on the high slopes. Also completed in April 1904 by the Blechert Transportanlagen Company of Leipizig, Germany, a 4,000 ft. long aerial tramway that could carry about 2,000 tons of ore a day. Middleton at this time was also a pretty busy place. As it was a temporary construction camp, the

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railroad also built permanent bunkhouses, a house for the foreman, a depot, a water tank, tool shed, and many other buildings. Also in Middelton was a turntable for the railroad, a tram station, the powerhouse for the DeSoto Mine, a Wells Fargo and Western Union office, and a post office. The post office was established on May 8, 1903 by George Middleton. In 1904, Middleton had about 75 people and the DeSoto had about 100 people. By 1905, Frank Murphey was on the board of directors of the Arizona Smelting Company, which owned the DeSoto Mine. In 1908, the company operating the DeSoto Mine went bankrupt and many of the buildings were boarded up including two  saloons that moved out of Middelton. A mine watchman and a few railroad employees remained in the ghost town. The ore of the DeSoto had proved it was not sufficient enough quality to maintain such large operation. However, when World War I began, the demand for copper grew greatly. This made the DeSoto profitable to re-open. With the tramway reconditioned, life returned to the towns of Middelton and the DeSoto. The only business in town was a small store owned by James P. Cleator for the railroad warehouse. In 1916, the post office was re-established but was Called Ocotillo with Pearl Orr as the postmaster. In 1917, a schoolhouse was built with a maximum enrollment of 14 kids! At this time, during World War II, Ocotillo claimed about 200 citizens. However, as other mines in the Bradshaw’s in the ‘20’s, the DeSoto Mine was discontinued in 1922. The DeSoto had produced about $3,250,000 in ore. In 1925 the Ocotillo post office was discontinued and in 1926, the railroad tracks were removed between Middelton and Crown King. In 1932, the railroad removed all the tracks from Middelton leaving only a few tram towers standing.

It is amazing how only ore piles and a few tram parts remain at the DeSoto and in Middelton, only a sign of railroad tracks that once passed through there are left.


Wilson, Bruce M. Crown King and the Southern Bradshaws: A Complete History. Chandler, AZ: Crown King Press, 2002. Print.