By Richard Gorby
Prescott's Bullwhacker (Hill) has come of interest lately, and its name should be, and is, of interest as well. The hill was named over 120 years ago, when the Bullwhacker mine was on its top. The mine changed hands many times, was discarded many times, and although called Salvador for a while, still retained the Bullwhacker name.
From the Arizona Miner:
-April 2, 1875: Kent and McHenry have purchased the Salvador Mine, otherwise known as "Bullwhacker Lode", some three miles east of Fort Whipple or four miles N.E. of Prescott.
-August 11,1876: On Monday morning, we saw at the store of C.P. Head & Co. The nicest bar that Arizona has ever produced from quartz gold, so far as we have any knowledge. This was the result of 93 tons of rock from the Bullwhacker mine."
-March 23, 1877: The Bull-whacker Mining Company has contracted with the Aztlan mill for the reduction of 200 tons of gold ore from their mine. This mine has paid well, in the past, and will no doubt give a good account of itself in the future.
And much later:
-November 20, 1901: Rumors of all sorts have been circulating in Prescott recently about rich strikes being made in the old Bullwhacker mine, located about three miles northeast of Prescott. The property was being worked by C.E.M. Beall, who found the shaft caved in, the timbers rotten, and the old mine generally in bad condition.
But the Miner hoped for the best:
-"When this is in operation Prescott will be for the first time in its history within hearing distance of a mining whistle, although for years it has been the center of one of the best minings sections in the west."
But what of the name, "Bullwhacker"? Just what is a Bullwhacker? From Webster's Dictionary: "Bullwhacker: A driver of a team of oxen in the early days of settlement." A Bullwhacker, then, was a man who whacked bulls. Why did bulls need whacking? Horses, and even mules, seemed to grow accustomed to their pulling of wagons across country to the West, but, from all accounts, bulls, or oxen never grew to enjoy it, and made their distaste clear in many interesting ways.
The aspiring Bullwhacker, usually a young man in his early twenties, was first required to put his ox team together, usually from a corral of rampaging young bulls. The typical team was made up of twelve oxen: two "Leaders", six called the "Swing", with two "Pointers", ahead of the "Wheelers" who were yoked on to the tongue of the wagon.
The Leaders were the brains of the team, and they also set the pace for the rest. The Swing contained all the unbroken riff-raff, a sort of apprentice lot, controlled to some extent by the Pointers, while the Wheelers, on the tongue of the wagon, were the main reliance in emergencies. With luck, the young Bullwhacker would be helped by the Wagonmaster in picking out the best for each of the twelve.
From William Jackson's "Bullwhacking to Salt Lake City", the twenty year-old Jackson wrote:
"It was with a sinking heart and with a courage sustained by grim determination that I shouldered a yolk and ventured out into the turbulent mass of bovines for the off wheeler that was pointed out to me as the first of my team. Having once been assigned a particular ox for a certain place in the team, we were expected to recognize it in subsequent yokings, no matter how involved it might be with the 300 or more of its fellows in the crowded corral. There was but little trouble getting the two Wheelers, for they were old-timers, and with the bow once around their neck, submitted easily to being led up to the wagon."
With the other ten more oxen, things didn't go as well. After his relatively easy chore of getting his Wheelers attached to the wagon, Jackson's next task was to bring in his assigned Leader:
"I trailed him around for some time, maneuvering for a first attempt, but when he found out what I was up to he became wary and gave me a lively chase, dashing into the most crowded part of the corral while I kept up the pursuit, encumbered with a heavy yoke, besides being knocked around, squeezed and stepped on most plentifully." It took young Jackson eight hours to get his team of twelve attached to the wagon.
But why was our Prescott hill called Bullwhacker when the Prescott area had no ox-teams? The answer was that the hill was named a few years after the birth of Prescott by the Bullwhacker Mining and Gold Company, of Globe, Arizona, in an area where there were ox teams.
Richard Gorby is an author/volunteer at the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (m197pb). Reuse only by permission.
Bullwhacker Hill was named for the Bullwhacker mine that used to sit near its top. The Costco store would be above the left shoulder of the man leaning against the rocks in this 1891 photograph.