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Mining Booms

Where to experience mining booms and ghost towns
Mining Booms and Ghost Towns

Where to experience mining booms and ghost towns

A number of mining ghost towns can be visited (but some are on private property, so obey No Trespassing signs). The U.S. Forest Service acquired Kentucky Camp (1874–1904) in 1989 as part of a land swap, and has worked with volunteers to stabilize its five remaining buildings. This historic mining camp is open to the public, and visitors can rent a restored three-room adobe building for an overnight stay (contact the Nogales Ranger District of Coronado National Forest).

The 1887 brick home of James Finley in Harshaw (1873–present) has been carefully preserved. Some intact adobe buildings are occupied by current residents, and several crumbling adobe structures can also be seen from the road. The cemetery is on a hillside on the other side of Harshaw Creek.


The remains of Mowry (1857–1913), one of the oldest mining camps in Arizona, are on private property, but can be seen from the Forest Road that bisects the townsite.

In the small community of Lochiel (1884–present), the historic cemetery is on a hilltop overlooking a church and the old U.S. Customs station, and there is also an adobe one-room schoolhouse, built in 1918.

All of these buildings are on private property but can viewed from the road.

Check out our Heritage Experiences map  to see where else you can experience mining booms and ghost towns in the Santa Cruz Valley.   
Click here for mining day trips.

Mining Booms and Ghost Towns
Historians have concluded that the legends of lost mines and treasures of early missionaries are nineteenth-century fabrications, and that mining was not of major importance on this part of the Spanish and Mexican frontier. Mining took on greater importance after the region became part of the United States in 1854.

Repeated mining rushes for gold and silver created boomtowns that briefly flourished and then were abandoned. Although a few gold discoveries received considerable interest, silver was the main object of mining in the area. At the end of the 1800s, a collapse in the value of silver and the new demand for electrical wire shifted the area’s focus to copper mining. For more than a century, the region has been one of the most important producers of copper in the world.

Residents and visitors can learn more about the history of mining in the Santa Cruz Valley at two local museums. The main Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tucson has a large permanent exhibit that includes replicas of a mine shaft, typical buildings, rooms, and furnishings in mining camps, and displays of mining artifacts. Near Green Valley, the ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center contains exhibits of local mining artifacts, including a wooden headframe for a mineshaft, pumps, engines, hoists, and rail ore carts.

Read more about the Mining Booms and Ghost Towns theme in the feasibility study.


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