L. D. Ricketts

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Louis Davidson Ricketts (December 19, 1859 – March 4, 1940) was an American economic geologist, mining engineer and banker who pioneered development of copper mines in the U.S. state of Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora. Ricketts was educated at Princeton University, earning both a B.Sc and D.Sc. (1883) in economic geology. He then went to work in the mines of Leadville and Silverton, Colorado. In 1887 he was appointed Geologist for Wyoming Territory, and in 1890 he began a long association with Dr. James Douglas of Phelps Dodge.

In 1897, Dr. Ricketts recommended that Phelps Dodge buy the then-small Moctezuma (Nacozari) copper mine in northern Sonora from the Guggenheim family. Dr. Douglas put him in charge of redeveloping the property, in what became probably the first attempt to mine a porphyry copper deposit by mass methods. Ricketts planned and constructed a modern mine, concentrator, smelter and townsite. By 1902 the Moctezuma mine was a profitable, low-cost copper producer, mining ore with less than 3% copper, a record at the time.

In this same time period, Dr. Ricketts designed a new copper concentrator for the Detroit Copper Company (Phelps Dodge) at Morenci, Arizona, and invested in what became the Valley National Bank, one of the first substantial banks in Arizona. Ricketts continued to serve as a Valley Bank executive for the rest of his life.

Ricketts went on to modernize the Old Dominion copper mine at Globe, Arizona, for Phelps Dodge (1904–1907), and redesigned the smelter at Cananea, Sonora, for the Greene Cananea Copper Company (1906–1907), his first major project as an independent consulting engineer.

Ricketts' later projects as a consulting engineer included developing the Inspiration copper mine and International smelter in Miami, Arizona (1912–1915) and developing (with John Campbell Greenway) the innovative copper-leaching technology for ore from the New Cornelia mine at Ajo, Arizona (1913).

Ricketts suffered a serious illness in 1917. While he did recover, and resumed his consulting practice, he did not undertake any major new projects. He retired to Pasadena, California, where he died in 1940.

See also[edit]


"Dr. Louis D. Ricketts" in Forrest R. Rickard, 1996, The Development of Ajo, Arizona (Ajo, Arizona, self-published), LC 96-92729