After chasing Confederates in New Mexico and Arizona during the Civil War, veterans of the California Column stayed put and became pioneers of Arizona’s silver mining.
One such vein, for the Silver King Mine, was discovered on the army’s strategic road, the Stoneman Grade. Jack San Felice tells the story of the rich mine and its satellite towns of Pinal City and Silver King, although he sometimes strays into the Superstition Mountains for the stories of the Lost Soldiers’ and Lost Dutchman Mines; also around Florence for the story of lawman Pete Gabriel, who deserves a book of his own. The author’s writing is informal, almost conversational, and could have used some editing. But its flaws are certainly redeemed by his research in the field (he is a rugged hiker) and in libraries. The historical photos illuminating his text are worth “the price of admission” alone. The author also mixes concise details of mining technology with an anecdotal history of the people of central Arizona. When Silver was King is a nice addition to our shelves of Southwest local history. —Richard H. Dillon