Town of Superior

The Town of Superior Awaits Copper Mine Ruling

The residents of the Town of Superior are collectively holding their breaths as they wait for SB 409, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, to pass. Supported by Senators John McCain and John Kyl, as well as Gov.  Jan Brewer, SB 409 will essentially trade the Oak Flat Campground for various areas around the state, such as the riparian area of the San Pedro River and the Appleton Ranch. In exchange, the Oak Flat Campground will become part of the Resolution Copper Mine.

The Resolution Copper Mine Company, made up of London-based Rio Tinto Group and the Australian-based Broken Hill Properties, purchased the abandoned Magma Mine and is looking to acquire the Oak Flat Campground. Why? Because beneath it is possibly the largest vein of copper ever discovered.

The economic impact to the state is estimated at $46 billion over the mine’s 60-year life span. This would put Superior back on the map and employ many of its residents. The Resolution Copper Mine Company is proposing a block-style mining technique.

However, in 1955, President Eisenhower mandated that the Oak Flat Campground cannot be developed when he signed Public Land Order 1229.

Oak Flat Campground and the surrounding area is a recreational dream, and a sacred land to several Native American tribes. Devil’s Canyon lies to the immediate east. It is a canyon that is a mecca for rock climbers, canyoneers, hikers and bird watchers. The mining will significantly impact the water source for the creek. Apache Leap lies to the west, overlooking Superior, and is sacred to the Apache and several other tribes. Apache Leap is named after an uncomfirmed story of a skirmish between troops and Indians at what is now called Apache Leap Mountain. The legend states that Apache warriors were trapped on the large rock ledge by cavalry troops from Camp Pinal. Instead of surrendering, about 75 of the warriors opted to leap off the cliff to their deaths.

Superior’s history is one of coal mining. The first mines in the area were developed in the late 1800s. The town itself was founded in 1896, and incorporated in 1904. The town reportedly was named after the superior quality of coal found in the area. West of Superior is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Superior Facts:

  • Population in July 2009: 3,525
  • Population change since 2000: +8.3%
  • Males: 1,757  (49.8%)
  • Females: 1,768  (50.2%)
  • Median resident age:  39.2 years
  • Arizona median age:  34.2 years
  • Zip codes: 85273
  • Estimated median household income in 2008: $37,392 (it was $27,069 in 2000)
  • Superior:  $37,392
  • Arizona:  $50,958
  • Estimated per capita income in 2008: $16,810
  • Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $100,261 (it was $45,400 in 2000)
  • Superior:  $100,261
  • Arizona:  $229,200
  • Mean prices in 2008
  • All housing units: $109,693
  • Detached houses: $102,383
  • Townhouses or other attached units: $103,822
  • Mobile homes: $34,951
  • Occupied boats, RVs, vans, etc.: $85,000
  • Movies: 1962 movie, “How the West Was Won,” and 1997 movie, “U-Turn”
  • Read more about the town of Superior