Twining Mining Camp, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy
Location: 15 miles northeast of Taos (now in Taos County)
GPS: Latitude: 36.5948 N; Longitude: -105.4503 W.
Elevation: 9,429 feet (2,874 meters)
Map: Interactive Map.
Photos: Twining Mill and smelter, c.1910; Log cabins, c.1910; Tom McBride passing a cabin at twining, c.1910; pp.210-211 in Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico by James and Barbara Sherman; A tobogganful of Miners in the Twining Basin, c. early 1900's, Skiing Heritage Journal, Winter 1994, page 13;
Post Office: Established 1902, discontinued 1910.
Census Data: No enumeration on 1900 US Census.
Albert Twining, a New Jersey Banker was interested in investing in the area by William Frazer, who discovered copper mineralization in Amizette, about 1 mile away. The camp on the Rio Hondo soon absorbed his name and money. A deep tunnel being driven into Frazer Mountain started the development. When the first ore bucket was sent on its way down from the cable tram the brakes of the cable drum failed, causing it to sail to the opposite wall of the creek bed below. After a fire clay seam was opened in the mountainside, kilns were constructed and fire brick was sold, providing additional economy to the town.
Jesse Young, a son of Brigham Young, established a saw mill near the mine and supplied timbers for mine support, cord wood for the power plants, and logs for resident construction, By 1903, the camp included a concentrator, mill, smelter, charcoal furnace, lime kiln, hotel, store, and saloon, and 30 men were employed by the Fraser Mountain Copper Company.
In the evening the cabins and hotel were illuminated by electric lights provided by small Delco light plants installed by A.J. Graham. Single miners lived in bunkhouses and earned $3 in a 9 hour day, but they took 1$ a day for his room and board. On payday Gerson Gusdorf drove a wagon with clothes, liquor and supplies to capture his share of the trade.
The reasons for the demise of Twining are not clear. Although there is no official record of any copper or gold production from this district, there are some claims that copper concentrate was shipped to El Paso until the Twining smelter was completed. The story is told that when the smelter was used for the first time it melted the copper concentrate, but because of the poor quality charcoal the melt solidified in the furnace, preventing it from being used again. Another opinion says, that the smelter was successful before the incident of the frozen matte, and that it was poor mill concentration of the copper ore that forced the mine to close. Mining operations ceased in 1903, and the camp was abandoned. Albert Twining was convicted of embezzling the New Jersey Bank funds and served a term in prison.
William Fraser formed a partnership with Jack Bidwell and Clarence Probert of the Taos Bank and attempted to restore the mine to its original status. Progress was slow and a rift between the partners developed. Bidwell accused of Frazer of pocketing the investment cash. They had a shootout during a confrontation, ending with the killing of Fraser. Tom Holder, a 9 year old witness, testified on Bidwell's behalf at the trial. Charges were cleared.
After the mine closed, the cabins were moved to Taos. In 1924 a wrecker tore down the hotel, store, post office and smelter. The mill burned in 1932. The former site of Twining is now an active ski resort, The Taos Ski Valley.
Family History Links:
1. Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico, by James E. and Barbara Sherman. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 1974.