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Mineral Creek, true to its name, is well mineralized along its entire length, where all the hills show croppings of copper and gold. It is not far by trail from the Silver King and Superior districts, whose riches naturally cased close scrutiny of the region roundabout. On the east there passed what for years was the main highway across the Pinal Mountains to Globe. The earliest locations were made about the year 1874. In 1883 production had been started by means of a thirty-ton furnace on the north bank of the Gila, fed by ore from the Ray, Scorpion and Bilk claims. More than thirty years ago the Ray was considered one of the most remarkable mines in the territory described as “an immense mass of native copper in formation of syenite.”
The Mineral Creek Mining District was formed by Tom Haley and William Souffrien in 1878. Two companies would be formed to mine the area, the Mineral Creek Mining Company in 1880 and the Ray Copper Company in 1883. Other mining companies in the vicinity included the Pinal Copper Company and Pinal Consolidated Mining Company that mined lead and silver ores in the Mineral Hill District. Although some silver and gold was found, it would be copper that would drive the mining investments in the area.
Ray was constructed in 1909 as a company town by the Arizona Hercules Copper Company. It was named after the nearby Ray mine, which was begun by the Ray Copper Company in 1882, after the sister of one of the miners, whose name was Bullinger. In the late 1940's open-pit mining replaced the underground workings. The growing pit eventually engulfed the towns of Ray, Sonora, and Barcelona. In 1958 a planned community to accommodate these towns, was founded by Kennecott Mining Co. in Kearny, Arizona.
Ray reached a peak population of about 5,000 around World War I.
A British corporation based in London, the Globe Exploration Company, Ltd. Arrived in the Ray area in 1898. They acquired many of the mining claims around Mineral Creek and the surrounding areas. In 1899 the Ray Copper Mines, Inc. took over the operations.
During the latter part of the 19th century many British fortune-seekers began migrating to the United States. They were already highly-accomplished miners. But some were not always of the highest character.
It was the practice in Great Britain at that time for young men (often called “Cousin Jacks”) who were not the “first sons” of families, or who had disgraced themselves in some manner, to receive a special “remittance” or allowance to invest in American adventures.
Some of these “remittance” men had large endowments and invested in mines and ranches. Others, however, were not so well-endowed and ended up migrating to America to become miners, gamblers, cowboys, drifters, sometimes outlaws, or a combination of such pursuits.
Much of the development of Ray must be attributed to these individuals, because in 1905 a large promotion was made by Ray Copper Mines, Inc. regarding the surrounding land of Ray.
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