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James Douglas, Jr





James Stuart Douglas (1867-1949), popularly known as Rawhide Jimmy, was the son of James S. Douglas, a Canadian who would become a successful mining engineer and executive. Born in Quebec, Jimmy Douglas grew up in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where his father managed the Chemical Copper Company. A willful young man, Douglas left home at 17 and moved west to Manitoba, where he took up homesteading. Suffering from asthma, he moved to Arizona Territory in the hope that the drier climate might provide relief. After a year in Sulpher Springs Valley, where he cultivated strawberries, he moved to Bisbee at his father's request to work as an assayer for the Copper Queen Mine.

In 1892 Douglas moved to Prescott to work for the Commercial Mining Company, an affiliate of the Phelps Dodge mining company. Eight years later he was transferred to Sonora to manage the copper mine and smelter at Pilares and Nacozari, and directed construction of a railroad from Douglas to Nacozari. While at Pilares, he acquired his nickname by using rawhide to protect the rollers on mining equipment. He then moved to Cananea, Sonora, to manage the copper operations there. His tenure was marked by riots and labor problems, which were endemic to the Cananea mines.

In 1912, Jimmy Douglas returned to central Arizona, where he took an option on the United Verde Extension(UVX) property, a speculative venture to find the downfaulted extension of the great United Verde orebody at Jerome, Arizona. In 1914, with funds near exhaustion, an exploration drift cut bonanza copper ore. The UVX became a spectacularly profitable mine: during 1916 alone, the mine produced $10 million worth of copper, silver and gold, of which $7.4 million was profit. The UVX paid $55 million in dividends during its life (1915-1938), and made Jimmy Douglas a very wealthy man. His Jerome mansion is open to the public as the Jerome State Historic Park.

Jimmy Douglas's son Lewis W. Douglas (1894-1974) also entered the mining business, and went on to a successful political career as a Congressman (1927-33) and Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1947-51). The copper-roofed cottage on the hillside adjacent to the Douglas Mansion was built as a wedding present for Lewis.

In 1939, Douglas retired to Canada, where he died in 1949.





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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024