A colorized postcard showing the interior of the Copper Queen smelter working. The front caption in red on the bottom right reads: “Slagpots, Copper Queen smelters-Douglas, Ariz.” The postcard is postmarked Bisbee Ariz. June 19, 1907, 9-AM and was sent to Mrs. I.W. Wallace Bisbee Arizona, PO Box 104B. The postcard was published by the Newman Postcard Company, Los Angeles, California for the Robinson Brothers, Douglas, Arizona and was printed in Germany. The postcard was sent with a green one cent Benjamin Franklin postcard stamp.
Production at the Copper Queen smelter in Douglas began in March 1904, two years after it was announced. The smelter was in use for twenty-seven years up until 1931. Phelps Dodge invested $2,500,000 into smelting operations. They bought 300 acres of land and built five blast furnaces, a foundry, machine shops and powerhouse along with 12 miles of railway lines. The smelter’s capacity was 100 million pounds of copper in a year. Both the Copper Queen and Calumet smelters were producing 200 million pounds of copper every year. Douglas smelter was so productive that they were providing twelve percent of all copper in the United States and seven percent of the copper used worldwide. The Copper Queen Consolidated Mining company shut down the Copper Queen smelter and moved its operations to the Calumet & Arizona smelter which they renamed the Douglas Reduction Works. Nine years later in 1940, a new 572-foot smelter stack was completed. The Douglas Reduction Works was protested by some Bisbee and Douglas residents who founded G.A.S.P. or the Groups Against Smelter Pollution in 1984. They worked to document the negative effect the smelter’s pollution had on their families and communities The smelter was shut down in January 1987 due to new environmental regulations. Phelps Dodge felt that the expense of installing new equipment to reduce the sulfur dioxide emissions was too much for what the Douglas smelter was worth. The last smelter closed and resulted in a loss 347 jobs and the 9-million-dollar payroll for the Douglas employees. It meant a $170,000 loss in property taxes for the town. In January 1991, the smelter stacks which had been so pivotal to Douglas’s economy for eighty-nine years, were torn down.
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