University of Arizona Mineral Museum

Copper Queen Glory Hole 10x8 75.jpg63 West Miners Descending Underground 10x8 75.jpg64 West Driving a Drift 10x8 75.jpg66 West Trammer 10x8 75.jpg67 West Tramming Ore Underground 10x8 75.jpg65 West Underground Miners 10x8 75.jpg68 West Ore Train Underground 10x8 75.jpg77 West Drilling at the Working Face 10x8 75.jpg83 West Underground Meal 10x8 75.jpg80 West End of Shift 10x8 75.jpg69 West End of Shift 10x8 75.jpgIn Sacramento Pit 1924.jpg70 West Blaster Men 10x8 75.jpgTrains in the Pit-Bisbee 1923 10x8 75.jpg75 West Miners Village 10x8 75.jpg73 West Vending Sugar Cane 10x8 75.jpg72 West Pay Day 10x8 75.jpg74 West Miners with Carbide Lamps 10x8 75.jpg

In 1923, at the age of 27, William D. White was commissioned by Percy Gordon Beckett (1882-1973), the Vice President and General Manager of Phelps Dodge Corporation, to travel to Arizona and paint the miners of Bisbee and nearby Nacozari, Mexico. White toured the Copper Queen mine and the Sacramento Pit mine in Bisbee, a bustling town of 20,000 inhabitants. He then traveled to the Pilares de Nacozari mine in northern Mexico.

White returned home and created 20 paintings from 1923-1924. Beckett selected 17 paintings for his office and home, and in 1958 donated the collection to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where they remain on view today at the Flandrau Science Center. (Images courtesy of the Minerological Record,

The whereabouts of the three paintings Beckett did not select remained a mystery until this website was discovered by a gentleman in Florida. The 1923 painting, Vending Sugar Cane, depicting Mexican miners, had been hanging in his father’s garage for over 15 years.73 West Vending Sugar Cane 10x8 75


  1. Nancy Carol November 10, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

    Hello Heidi, Can you possibly email me photos of what you have? I may be able to provide you with some information.

  2. Nancy Carol November 10, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

    Dear Rudy, Thanks for your question about William D. White’s 1923-1924 oil paintings of the three Copper Queen Mines. There are several ways to get copies of the paintings. Seventeen original paintings hang in the basement of the Flandrau Science Center on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. If you live anywhere near there, you could photograph them. Also, images of the Pilares de Nacozari mine were reproduced in an exhibition catalog, available through this website – click on the “Catalog” tab. The paintings were also reproduced in color in the February 1924 issue of “The Explosives Engineer” magazine, published by the Hercules Powder Company. You may find bound copies in university libraries. I realize these outlets are fairly obscure. I traveled to Tucson to see the original paintings, and they were wonderful.

  3. Rudy Ramos November 9, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    How can I get copies of these paintings? I was born in Pilares de Nacozari in 1943.

  4. Heidi McNiff Johnson October 21, 2016 at 12:28 am #

    My Great Grandfather, Grant Dowell was the VP of the Phelps Dodge Corporation and ran the mines in Bisbee prior to Henry Lavendar. I have 4 copies or colored pencil sketches of Whites miner paintings in my home. I would love to learn more about them, I know they were in my Great Grandfather’s office. When I attended U of A in the 80s I never went into Old Main and would love to hear from someone who can share some insight to what we have.

  5. Ernesto Ibarra February 27, 2016 at 5:05 am #

    This particular painting is definitely Pilares de Nacozari, México.

  6. Nancy Carol February 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    In 1923 or 1924 William D. White traveled to Bisbee, Arizona and to Pilares de Nacozari, Mexico to document the copper miners for the Phelps Dodge Cprporation.

  7. Oscar O. Amaya February 10, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    This painting of Miners’ Village, Bisbee reminds me of Pilares, Sonora, Mexico near Nacozari.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *