CLIFTON, Ariz. – This copper pit is on a scale you have to see to believe. The Morenci Mine in southeast Arizona is the biggest producer of copper in the U.S., the company claims, and who am I to disagree? I’m sold. The depth and breadth of this pit is fantastic.
Morenci townsite was moved beginning in the late 1960s so they could expand the pit. Homes, the hotel, a four-story department store, eventually the high school – all moved out of the way to dig a bigger hole.
Morenci is a company town, and the company – Phelps-Dodge sold out to Freeport-McMoRan a few years ago – owns land that surrounds nearby Clifton on three sides. You see Morenci’s cookie-cutter company housing as you drive in and drive out of Clifton, whose downtown is now nearly deserted.
But that’s another story.