Slag Heap

No, I’m not calling anyone a derogatory name :). Here are a few more images from our ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad the other day. As I mentioned in my last post, the train leaves from Clarkdale, AZ, on a roundtrip to Perkinsville for a total of 40 miles. The train travels 12 mph and the trip takes 4 hours.

Clarkdale was founded in 1912 as a company smelter town by William A. Clark, for his United Verde copper mine in nearby Jerome, Arizona. Clarkdale was built to be one of the most modern mining towns in the world, including telephone, telegraph, electrical, sewer and spring water services, and was an early example of a planned community. The mine and smelter closed in 1953, and Clarkdale entered hard times. Clarkdale was bought and sold by several different companies. In 1957, Clarkdale was incorporated as a town (Wikipedia).

One of the first sights you see on the train ride is this immense slag heap, composed of mining and smelting cast-off, a remnant of those old mining days. There is an estimated 1/2 ounce of gold per ton in this 20.2 million ton pile of slag and a company called Searchlight Minerals is reprocessing it for gold and other metals. We saw the old mining buildings at the site, quite a few vehicles, and a sign, “Slag Recovery Project.”

Here we are coming up on the slag heap:

The slag is contained by corrugated metal sheets, which are now rusting away.

The heap was not the prettiest sight we saw but an interesting look into Arizona’s past when the 5 C’s of Arizona’s economy prevailed: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate.


9 thoughts on “Slag Heap

  1. That is a great trip to take! Does it get a lot of riders? Interesting that they are reclaiming metals from the slag. I wonder what will be done with the final resulting waste.


    1. The train is always packed and has many, many cars that all seem to be full. It runs 6 days a week except in the summer and also has some special excursions like a wine-tasting trip and some holiday ones, also, I believe. I have a feeling they make plenty of $$. They also have a good cafe there in the station as well as a very well-stocked gift shop.


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