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The town of Riverside was near what is now Kelvin. A post office was established there on October 17, 1877. In 1879 a Butterfield – Overland stage stop was established at Riverside along the Globe – Florence route. The Globe – Florence route carried payroll for the miners and bullion from the mines as well as passengers and mail. It was a 10-hour trip between Globe and Riverside and then a five-hour journey from Riverside to Florence. Built along the banks of the Gila River, this was a major stop where the horses and customers could rest and get a good meal. Besides the stage stop, there were ranches and mining claims flourishing in the area. Newspapers of the day were saying that it was booming and would be a prosperous area to live in.
In 1882 the Weekly Citizen reported, “The mines in the vicinity of Riverside and in the Mineral Creek country are the most promising in the territory.” The Riverside station building was a commercial building for a while and stood until the 1980s when most of it was washed away during flooding of the Gila River.
The stage stop would be the focal point of at least three well known events in Territorial history. The Riverside stage robbery, the escape of the Apache Kid and the stage robbery by Pearl Hart the female bandit.
Ray Copper Mines Inc. founded the town of Kelvin, named after British Lord Kelvin, who was one of the largest investors in the company.
The community was located on the North side of the Gila River, across from the Riverside Stage Coach Stop (South side). Riverside itself was moved a short distance up the river, where it still exists today. The former Riverside post office and original old west town site retained the name of Kelvin.
A mill, narrow gauge railroad, office buildings and shops were constructed at Kelvin. The railway linked the mine and mill. Many of the old foundations of Kelvin’s original town site still exist. The ruins of the massive mill are still plainly visible, and the ruins of the adobe post office are still partly standing near the junction of the Florence / Kelvin Highway and Ray Road.
The Kelvin bridge was built in 1916 and is one of eight historic bridges in Pinal County Today. As part of the Florence-Kelvin Bridge Replacement Project, the existing Kelvin Bridge was left in place to maintain non-motorized access across the Gila River. The bridge serves as a foot bridge that marks the transition between Passage 15 (Tortilla Mountains) and Passage 16 (Gila River Canyons) of the Arizona National Scenic Trail.
On Friday June 8, 2018, a dedication and opening were held for the Kelvin Bridge Replacement Project by Pinal County officials.
The new town of Kelvin certainly did not become as profitable as advertised by its investors, but it did become successful enough that some of the “Cousin Jacks” remained. One of the interesting remains of their enterprise are some fascinating beehive-shaped charcoal kilns, commonly called the coke ovens and associated with Cochran. It is believed that the kilns were built by the Pinal Consolidated Copper Company in 1882 to supply their smelter furnace with charcoal. Four miles from the smelter, the kilns were built along the Gila to take advantage of the supply of timber, mostly mesquite, which grew on the hill sides and along the river.
John S. Cochran owned the land there and had mining claims in the area. His partners were A.L. Jones of Globe and Frank Harvey of Kelvin. Cochran was a train station for the Phoenix & Eastern Railroad, which was serving the local mines and putting in track up to the Ray and Hayden-Winkelman area. This railroad would help the mines to prosper now that they had a cheaper and more efficient way of transporting their ore and supplies.
Residents of the town numbered 100 at its peak, but eventually Cochran became a ghost town.
The now ghost town, located across the river from the kilns, became a destination for curiosity-seekers, but currently being on private land, the owners wish to discourage visits.
A mining camp known as Butte City grew around the Mineral Hill District. About eleven miles below Kelvin, Butte City would be the site of a smelter for ores. The smelter was shut down in 1882 due to lack of fuel. The community was started in late 1881 or early 1882.
The mine closed in 1885 due to litigation problems within the company. By 1886, all salvageable equipment was removed and Butte City was gone. It is not known if there is anything to see around the ghost town site which should be in the hills somewhere above the kiln site.
The Troy Manhattan Copper Co. had 5 claims on 1,200 acres. There were 7,000 feet of tunnels and the main lode was 800 feet underground. The company had continuous problems with equipment and did not exist for long.
Troy had a school, assay laboratory, boardinghouse, store, hospital, union hall and reading room and much more. Troy even had a municipal water system. About 200 people lived here. Today the site is occupied by a private ranch.