LB - Randy Garrison

Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Health Directory | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local June 24, 2016

6/4/2010 10:32:00 AM
The architect of Clarkdale
William A. Clark an unapologetic profiteer, miner
Courtesy the Clarkdale Historical Society and MuseumWilliam A. Clark
Courtesy the Clarkdale Historical Society and Museum

William A. Clark
Courtesy the Clarkdale Historical Society and MuseumThe Hopewell Tunnel was an important part of William Clark’s success with the United Verde Copper Company in Jerome.
Courtesy the Clarkdale Historical Society and Museum

The Hopewell Tunnel was an important part of William Clark’s success with the United Verde Copper Company in Jerome.

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

CLARKDALE - William Andrews Clark helped develop Jerome, but he created Clarkdale. Throughout Northern Arizona, Clark is famous for his innovation and resourcefulness in developing his mining and smelter operations in both towns.

Outside of Arizona, the man who built a fortune equal to that of the Standard Oil Rockefellers is known less for his mining success than he is for buying a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Born in a Pennsylvania log cabin in 1839, Clark came into this world with an insatiable hunger for wealth and power. He was also born, it seems, with the Midas touch. He would eventually build one of the greatest fortunes in American history by investing in mines, banks, timber companies, newspapers and railroads.

Clark began to rise above his modest start in life at the age of 17 when his parents moved to Iowa to homestead. He was a good student who went on to teach school in Missouri and study law at Iowa Wesleyan College.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1862, Clark enlisted with the Confederacy. How he managed to be out of the war in 1862 is a point of disagreement with some historians. One account says he was discharged. Another questions how he managed to leave the Confederate military, which was known for shooting deserters. A PBS American Experience segment on Las Vegas, states that Clark deserted his post.

Regardless of how he got out of the war, Clark headed to Colorado and began hard rock mining at Bob Tail Hill, Colo. Later, he and his partners moved to Montana where they met with modest success by finding gold.

While his partners blew their money on high living, Clark began to invest his $1,500. He hauled a wagonload of groceries from Salt Lake City to Virginia City, Mont. His highest return came from selling 20-cents-a-dozen eggs for $3 a dozen to miners earning $4 a day.

He found other opportunities to make money in services to the mining industry, including a mercantile partnership and a mail contract.

For a few years, Clark mined during the warm months and sold merchandise during the cold months. He opened stores at several mining camps. He entered into a wholesale business partnership in 1867. He then opened a bank in 1870. He purchased several mines and set up headquarters in Butte, Mont. in 1872. He opened a second bank in 1877.

He founded a newspaper in Butte and diversified into lumbering, farming and ranching. During his time in Butte, Clark took a year off to study mining at the Columbia University School of Mines.

Throughout this time, Clark was adding to his holdings with a mill and smelting company. He branched out from Montana by creating the Los Alamitos Sugar Corporation in Los Angeles. He built the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, which was eventually bought by the Union Pacific.

In his 1935 book, "The War of the Copper Kings," C.B. Glasscock gives many examples of how Clark, and other powerful men of his time, forced successful companies out of business, manipulated stock values, manipulated copper prices to increase profits, and used their immense power to have laws written that favored their personal interests.

Clark has been quoted as saying that one of the biggest disappointments in his life was finding out after a business deal was done that he hadn't gotten every dollar that was available.

In several biographical articles about Clark, Mark Twain is quoted as saying that Clark was " rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag ....

"To my mind," Twain added, "he is the most disgusting creature that the republic has produced since Tweed's time."

In a recent story on, investigative reporter Bill Dedman writes that Clark was not a charitable man, leaving a legacy of corruption.

Dedman quotes historian Michael Malone, "Life was good to William A. Clark, but due to his own excesses, history has been unkind."

Part Two of this feature will cover the period of William Clark in Jerome and Clarkdale. It will also cover much Clark's personal life, including his marriages and children, and how he managed to buy a seat in the United States Senate.

Related Stories:
• Historic Clark Mansion fire called 'suspicious'
• The Architect of Clarkdale Part 2: Clark never bought a man who wasn't for sale

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   One dead, five injured in 10 vehicle crash on I-17 Sunday (6167 views)

•   Game and Fish reports nuisance bear may have moved on (2887 views)

•   RUMOR CONTROL: No, Verde Valley Humane Society, does not euthanize dogs (2407 views)

•   26 wildland fires currently burning in Arizona (2280 views)

•   Jerome Declares Emergency: Town under mandatory water restrictions (1885 views)

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, June 5, 2010
Article comment by: Mary Schmitz

Architect of Clarkdale was of special interest having visited Clarkdale. Coincidences:
(1) maiden name Clarke (2) have visited Clarkdale, Iowa, (3) board member of local
Iowa historical museum. Look forward to Part Two.

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
LB - Diane Joens 0615

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved