Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jan 30: Hecla President James McCarthy

On January 30, 1867, James F. McCarthy, President of the Hecla Mining Company, was born in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. He worked as a clerk in his home state, then moved to New York. There, while working at the New York Metallurgical Works, he took night classes at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

He then worked, starting as an assayer, for various mining companies in Honduras. He moved up the ladder fairly quickly, first to mill superintendent and then to a position as assistant manager for the Mammoth Mining Company, which brought him to Wallace, Idaho.
Hecla Mine in 1909. University of Idaho photo.
During his time in Honduras, investors incorporated the Hecla Mining Company in the state of Idaho.

It’s not entirely clear when McCarthy joined the company as “a hard-working engineer,” but he took charge of the company’s daily operations in 1903. Then, in November, in a rather informal way, he was acknowledged to be manager of the company.

In 1911, Hecla’s board appointed McCarthy company President to go along with his General Manager position. The corporate history notes that “It was the first time that one of the major shareholders did not hold the post of President.”

In addition to his Hecla presidency, McCarthy held offices in some other corporations, and was a Regent of the University of Idaho from 1903 to 1907.  He led Hecla through the recovery process when a disastrous fire in 1923 ravaged their plant in Burke. He continued as President until his death in 1940.

Hecla is one of the few pioneer mining company that is still in operation. It has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange for over 40 years.

References: [Hawley]
Corporate History, Hecla Mining Company (1991).

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