The above view depicts Encampment shortly after the turn of the century.
Running from the Boston-Wyoming Smelter in the foreground, to the right and up is the world's longest
arial tramway bringing ore from the Rudefeha Mine discussed on the subsequent page.
Penn-Wyoming Smelter, Encampment, Wyo., 1907
The smelter was constructed primarily of wood. The twelve wooden storage bins had a capacity of one hundred tons
of ore each.
wooden fram work for the ore bins, Penn-Wyoming Smelter, Encampment, Wyo.
The history of the Grand Encampment Mining District, to a great extent, is the history of the rise and fall of the
Ferris-Haggarty or Rudefeha Mine and the Penn-Wyoming Copper Company, capitalized at $10,000,000.00. Copper was discovered by Ed Haggarty in
1897 with his claim filed the following year. The first load of ore out of the area assayed at 33% copper.
Encampment, Wyo., looking south, 1908.
Encampment, Wyo., looking south, approx. 1940. Photo by William P. Sanborn.
In 1898, the town had a total of four buildings. Ten years later at its
peak, Encampment had a population of about 2,000. Three years later after the collapse of Penn-Wyoming, the town had a population of about
200. Other towns established in the Mining District, Battle, Dillon, Elwood, and Rambler faded from
Aerial Tramway, Encampment, prior to 1908
The tramway was completed in 1902 with the first ore delivered in June, 1903.
The tramway had 370 towers and utilized 985 buckets traveling at 4 miles per hour to move the ore from
the mine at Battle, Wyo. There were three cable stations each approximately four miles apart.
The cable operation was powered by wood fired steam engines.
Cable Station no. 1, Grand Encampment Mining District, approx. 1903.
Haggerty's discovery of copper was not, however, the first discovery of mineral wealth in the area. As early as 1874 copper had
been discovered in the area. Gold bearing quartz had been discovered at what later became the Kurtze Chatterton Mine as early as 1864. Active mining
commenced across the border in Colorado near Hahn's Peak in the early 1870's with the formation of the
Hahn's Peak Gold & Silver Mining Company in 1874 and the Hahn's Peak Wagon Road Company two years later.
Aerial Tramway, Encampment, prior to 1908, Boston-Wyoming Smelter in the background.
The town and the Ferris-Haggerty Mine were actively promoted by lawyer and novelist Willis George Emerson (1856-1918). Emerson is regarded as the founder of
Encampment and is remembered in the name of Emerson Blvd.
Willis George Emerson
was a member of the State's commission for the promotion of the state at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
Emerson was involved with the North American Copper Co. which had acquired the operation from the original developers. North American
Copper Co. went broke. The operation was purchased by the Ferris-Haggarty Copper Mining Co. which itself became financially embarrassed and found it
necessary to sell to Penn-Wyoming in which Emerson was involved. Emerson moved to California where he was involved in the promotion of the
Imperial Valley, mining in Death Valley and the "Carlsbad Consolidated Oil Company." Like all of Emerson's promotions, it used grand newspaper promotions and promises of
grand returns. Somehow magically Emerson always emerged unscathed, wealthier, and leaving bankrupt companies and indicted associates
in his wake. His last major pomotion was the
Emerson Motor Company which promised to build a five passenger motor car that would achieve about 24 miles to the gallon and sell for $395.00.
Promotional literature written by Emerson depicted the vehicle.
Unknown to the investors, the depiction of his proposed car was redrawn vehicle from another motor car manufacturers catalogue. The engine was planned to be
purchased from another manufacturer. No design had ever been made of the car except in the imagination. In 1916, the
New York Tribune did a major expose which excited the interest of the
United States Department of Justice. Emerson, along with others, was indicted. One of the more
interesting items of testimony was that Emerson delegated to an employee the job of bribing a
United State District Attorney in Boston. Emerson was however able to avoid trial and possible conviction by
being confined to bed, paralyzed and dying.
In March, 1905, the smelter burned. It was rebuilt. The Grand Encampment Herald, May 3, 1907, reported that
40,000 tons of "blister copper" was leaving Encampment daily. Blister copper is an intermediately refined copper 98.5 to 99.5 percent pure.
It is so called from its blackened blistered appearance.
On May 10, 1907, the smeler again burned. Again, the smelter was rebuilt with the most modern equipment. At the
same time, operations were hampered by the lack of a railroad to carry the refined copper to a railroad. Coke for
smelting operations were required to be brought in from Walcott by freight wagons and the copper hauled out in the
At the same time that the Company was suffering from the damage wrought by the fires and lack of railroad transportation,
a multitude of law suits were brought by shareholders of the various companies contending that various
actions of the respective boards of directors were fraudulent. While this was going on, the writers of
the industry bible, The Copper Handbook blasted the company for not providing full balance sheets and for payming dividends when
at the same time it found it necessary to issue additional stock to pay for its operations. The writers contended that if such
practices continued "Penn-Wyoming is liable to follow
its predecessor, the North American, to the scrap-heap."
As a result and in the face of various lawsuits, the Company reorganized as the United Smelters,
Railway & Copper Company. But the damage was done. The Copper Handbook apologized for its
errors, admitting that an "an injustice, unintentional, but none the less real, was done Mr. Cobb [the president of Penn-Wyoming],
and for which a voluntary apology is tendered herewith." The Handbook noted the
corrective actions of the Company:
The Penn-Wyoming has suffered in the past from a variety of ills, but
substantial progress has been made toward the alleviation or elimination of
its various troubles, during the past eighteen months. The railway so badly
needed will be running within a few weeks. Underground openings have
been extended, the destructive fires of the past will be guarded against in the
future by steel buildings; litigation over titles has been decided in the company's
favor; payment of dividends while selling stock has ceased, and a full
balance sheet has been furnished shareholders. The cost-sheets of the 1906
and 1907 smelting campaigns show that copper in considerable quantities
can be produced at reasonable prices, and the ultimate success of the mine
is dependent solely upon its ability to furnish large tonnages for steady
smelting operations. The management is energetic, and, while laboring in
the past under many difficulties, and having done things that have been
criticised by the Copper Handbook, has made progress in the right direction,
and seems worthy of the confidence of the shareholders.
Charges of fraud brought against the officers of the Company were dismissed. But it was too late. Notwithstanding the reorganization,
the Company's assets were foreclosed upon and copper production ended even though the mine
had not played out. Today, only the foundations remain of what was once one of the largest
copper mining operations in the United States.
Next page, Encampment continued.