Category Archives: Luigi Thicket

The Copper Conundrum

by Luigi Thicket
 
In the Spring of 1902 in Bisbee, Arizona everyone had a light coating of copper dust on their hats, clothes, and exposed skin.  At this time, Bisbee was home to one of the largest copper mines in the world and was the biggest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. 
 
Bisbee’s Queen Mine penetrated half a mile into the crust of the Earth.  Over 10,000 men worked within this enormous crevasse to pull out the precious metal.  Despite the vast copper and other rare mineral deposits that were withdrawn each day, the worldwide demand was never satiated.  These precious metals were required for modern machinery and to produce copper wiring for electricity on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.
 
Phinneus Brewer, who had recently arrived in town, stepped up to hear the mayor’s speech in front of the Copper Queen hotel.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby proclaim the Copper Conundrum Challenge.  We are mining copper at a rate that far surpasses our ability to transport it to ports in California.  Orders are flowing in from New York to Paris to Hong Kong.  And yet, our railroads to the coast are painfully slow.  This is our Copper Conundrum.  The first person to solve this stupendous challenge will receive $10,000 and a 5% stake in the mine.  On this coming Friday, all entries must be entered, and our esteemed committee will select five finalists to build working models of their ideas.  May the best man, or woman, win.”