Naco brick helped build Bisbee’s boom

As well as being a port of entry for the mine at Cananea, Naco had a reputation for making brick. “Without any other natural advantages,” the Cochise Review said in its June 5, 1900 edition, “Naco is destined to become a town of prominence through the excellent quality of the brick that is manufactured in the Line City.”

Bisbee's brick made in Naco

In another article in the same issue, the Review said that E.G. Norton, who had suffered the loss of his cottage to fire two days earlier, would be rebuilding from Naco brick.

“Such a building would be expensive should the material have to be shipped over rail,” the article said, but “Mr. Norton says a fine quality of brick is being manufactured at Naco and he can build with this material equally as cheap as with lumber and that henceforth the Norton buildings will be of modern architecture and not subject to the fury of the flame as heretofore.”

(Because the Review was pushing for incorporation and the ability to develop a modern fire-suppression system, it mentioned that Norton had “lost not less than $20,000 by fire since he came to Bisbee.”)

Naco in embryo state

An unidentified correspondent (probably G. W. Pittock) for the Tombstone Epitaph reported a trip to Naco in the Sept. 11, 1898 issue. “The town of Naco is in an embryo state, only a few houses existing,” he reported. “There are two saloons on the Mexican side, and a new house for the American line riders opposite.”

He added that “Chase and Black are making brick, 175,000 for the Copper Queen company, half way to Naco Junction.” Naco Junction was where the rail line split off the Bisbee route, about 4 miles northwest of Naco and north of today’s Highway 92.

Bisbee railroad depot

It is likely that the Bisbee railroad depot was constructed from brick fired north of Naco.

In another column on the same page, the Epitaph said that “Balter Bros., who have the contract to furnish 175,000 bricks to Copper Queen company, met with a serious loss last week at Naco Junction, losing over 35,000 bricks during the heavy rain and floods.

“Over 80,000 were ready for delivery when they lost nearly half and the work will have to be done over again.”

(The paper later apologized for confusion Chase and Black with the Balter Bros., but didn’t say whether the former was the only brick maker in Naco. It did say that the other company, alternately spelled “Bolter,” were “first class brickmakers.”)

Apparently shortly thereafter, James H. Jacks bought out the Chase interest in the brick works.

The Epitaph reported in its Bisbee column on Christmas day of that year that the new warehouse of the Copper Queen store was nearing completion using brick from “Jacks yard” at Naco and that it was a “fine substantial looking warehouse.”

In the same column is a report that E.B. Mason is using brick from that Naco manufacturer for his new six-room house on Tombstone Canyon.

Superior-quality bricks

A bit earlier, in its Nov. 5 issue, The Arizona Republican of Phoenix referred to the business as the J.H. Jacks Lumber and Brick company of Bisbee, stating that it had 100,000 bricks ready for shipment and 75,000 more in the kiln at Naco.[pullquote]”These bricks are said to be of superior quality because of the peculiar adaptability of the soil for the purpose.”[/pullquote]

“These bricks are said to be of superior quality because of the peculiar adaptability of the soil for the purpose,” the paper added. The Jacks company had begun shipping bricks to Bisbee for the second story addition to the Copper Queen store.

The store addition, The Weekly Orb of Bisbee reported Oct. 23, 1898, would be 85 feet in length, with the width facing the depot being 50 feet. The iron girders were due in the city at that time, with the brick coming up from Naco the following week.

The article also pointed out that the new store was replacing a facility made of locally manufactured brick, crafted from molded smelter slag.

In January 1899, the Tombstone Epitaph, in its Bisbee news section, reported that the Jacks and Chase brickyards near Naco were “going full blast now, turning out another large order. The last 2 cars shipped into Bisbee by them were the best brick ever brought into town.”

In its Feb. 26 issue of that year, The Weekly Orb told of a lumber company manager from Los Angeles visiting the plant with owner James H. Jack and pronouncing “the brick in stock to be first class in every particular.”

Jack also was owner of J.H. Jack Lumber Co., which had just gotten a contract for lumber for the soon-to-be-built Lowell and Arizona mine.

In an adjacent article, Lewis Williams, a Copper Queen Consolidated manager and a Bisbee school trustee, said a new school would be built in the community and that it would be of brick, though he didn’t specify Naco brick.

Many Bisbee buildings used Naco brick

Another brick building going up in Bisbee (though again not specified as Naco brick) was the depot for the Arizona & Southeastern Rail Road, soon to be the El Paso & Southwestern. In the same issue, there was a report of the foundation being completed. It was likely of Naco brick, since the railroad was a sister firm to Copper Queen, which had a contract for the local bricks.

“….[S]oon the brick masons will be at work on the main structure, the plans for which are drawn on modern lines, and when the building is completed it will be handsome, convenient and durable, as well as almost fire proof.”

Similarly, the Cochise Review of Aug. 20, 1900 reported that the Copper Queen Co. store at Naco was seeing its foundation completed and that the “bricks are on the ground and the building will now be rapidly proceeded with.” The obvious choice there would be Naco brick.

A bit earlier, on April 25, The Arizona Daily Orb (of Bisbee) reported that work on the company store had been postponed for two months (no reason given), but in the meantime, “the bricks made at Naco will be used in building the fine hotel to be erected by the company in this town.” That, presumably, is the Copper Queen Hotel.

Thus, much of Bisbee (and Naco) constructed during the start of the 20th century boom was made from locally manufactured brick. Much also was made of local block, reducing the need for high transportation costs.


Naco brick helped build Bisbee’s boom — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: A “Blues” baseball team here in 1910 | Epic of Bisbee

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