Remembering Les Bender, Weaver Mining District

Terry Soloman

Gold Member
May 28, 2010
18,846
28,295
White Plains, New York
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Minelab GPZ 7000// Vanquish 540// Nokta Simplex Plus// Nokta Pulsedive// Minelab Pro Find 35// Dune Kraken Sandscoop// Grave Digger Tools Tombstone shovel & Sidekick digger// Bunk's Hermit Pick
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Miss you Les. Loved playing poker with Les at the Arrowhead Bar, next door to the WMD office, and the trailer park I lived in during the mining season.
 

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Terry Soloman

Terry Soloman

Gold Member
May 28, 2010
18,846
28,295
White Plains, New York
🥇 Banner finds
1
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Detector(s) used
Minelab GPZ 7000// Vanquish 540// Nokta Simplex Plus// Nokta Pulsedive// Minelab Pro Find 35// Dune Kraken Sandscoop// Grave Digger Tools Tombstone shovel & Sidekick digger// Bunk's Hermit Pick
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
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[FONT=&quot]Childhood mining adventure began lifelong fascination[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Wickenburg Sun, July 19, 2006[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]By Patti Jares, Staff Writer[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Arizona native Les Bender has been an integral part of Congress for many years, but a visit to his Weaver Mining District/VKO Real Estate office reveals his southern Arizona roots.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Hanging on a wall next to his desk is an old Arizona map, and down at the southern end of that map can be seen a site called Bighorn. It was at one time the name of his father’s vast, 600,000-acre ranch, named for the large number of bighorn sheep that roamed the area. The name was eventually changed to The Vekol Ranch (with the VKO brand), but the service station located in the center of their land kept the former name —Bighorn Station. Only the ruins remain today and can be seen along US Highway 8.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Les is currently general manager of the Congress Mine, and vice-chairman of the Weaver Mountain District. He has had a lifelong fascination with mining, ignited by an adventure when he was a boy of 12.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]As the story goes, there was an old miner named Burns Wood who mined silver on the Papago Indian Reservation. He was a friend of the family, and Les was allowed to spend a summer with the prospector, living on the reservation and learning his life-long trade.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“We lived in a mining tunnel,” mused Les with a’ grin as he remembered the aged, bearded man. “Old Burns taught me a lot about mining — silver is different than gold — but we had a lot of fun, and he got me interested in it.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]After that summer Les continued to work his father’s ranch until it was sold in 1951 to a group of men that included the actor and rancher, John Wayne. The Benders bought a small ranch in Skull Valley, and Les went to school his senior year in Prescott, graduating in 1953.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Joining the service, he spent four years on a submarine. ‘The old fleet-time subs, not like nowadays where they dive down for six months at a time,” he acknowledged with a grin.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]But once discharged, his love of mining got the best of him. “In 1959 1 bought a little dredge in Prescott and found my first course nugget — in Lynx Creek. It was one-third ounce and that set me off on gold mining,” explained Les matter-offactly. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Besides mining, Les opened VKO Realty in 1965 and enjoyed the diversity.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“It was a different job every day,” he mused, “going out and looking at a mine or a ranch —and every one was different.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]As much as he enjoyed real estate, after 20 years in the business Les was ready for another adventure. “In 1985 me and my wife went to Florida,” he exclaimed. ‘Then we bought a 36-foot boat and lived on it for three years, sailing to the Bahamas. It was fun —- I read every novel there was; did a lot of fishing and went through all the islands and then to the Florida Keys and down through Louisiana, Mississippi to the tip of Texas and then Mexico. We sold the boat in Houston.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Les returned to Congress where he continued in real estate and mining, running Weaver Mountain District since 1996 with Dan Jacobs as the current chairman. He has been general manager of Congress Mine since 1998. Les admits his fondness for the people of Congress and the town, but sometimes he dreams about getting another boat. “I love Congress and the people,” said Les. ‘They’re great —but I might go sailing again, down to Costa Rica — in a 46-foot boat this time. They have a lot of gold there.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Les smiled as he sipped a cup of coffee. “And they have great coffee,” he added with a grin.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Reprinted with permission of the Wickenburg Sun.[/FONT]
 

davin

Sr. Member
May 10, 2011
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north idaho
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whites GMT
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never met les but have herd many good things about him, i am sure he will be missed very much.
 

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