AZentertain: Arizona Gold Rush: Camp Bonito

Mining for gold at Campo Bonito in the Santa Catalinas

By Robert Zucker

After the California Gold Rush ended in 1859, many of the disillusioned, the well financed and the adventurous migrated to Southern Arizona in search of gold. That started the Arizona Gold Rush of the 1880s.

The Camp Bonito site was one of the early mining districts formed in the Old Hat mining district, just south of Oracle, Arizona in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

The persistent legends of a lost city and a lost Spanish mine became overshadowed by recent discoveries of gold deposits, and gold in quartz stones, that seem to drip from the mountains and flow from the Cañada del Oro, according to newspaper accounts during the late 1880s.

Flint Carter Campo Bonito

Local Prospector Flint Carter at the Campo Bonito camp site. Carter has held dozens of mining claims throughout the Oracle, Arizona and Santa Catalina areas. © 2011 BZB.


When gold mining in the Santa Catalinas was in full swing in the 1890s, it attracted even more people looking for a quick path to riches.

The town of Oracle, north of Tucson, Arizona was settled to prospect the hills north of the Catalinas.

Mining in the mountains became a big business.

Campo Bonito, also called Camp Bonito, was one of the biggest mining groups.

Campo Bonito is located in what is known as the Control District, Old Hat District and Santa Catalina District, south of Oracle. The San Pedro River flows along the east. Tucson is on the south side of the Catalina Mountains.

The mineral list from the Campo Bonito mines included Calcite, Dolomite, Galena, Gold, Pyrite, Scheelite, Talc and Wulfenite. 1

The location of the "Buffalo Bill" claims

The Campo Bonito mining district is most well known for its connection to the famous Buffalo Bill Cody.

By 1912, several months after Arizona became a state, the Bisbee Daily Review published an overview of mining in the Catalinas.

Campo Bonito. To the north and west of Apache camp and at a lower altitude is the scene of the Cody-Dwyer M. & M. company's operations. The company has thirty-six locations here and a forty-ton mill has been installed. There is a scheelte gold ore that yields to the milling and concentrating pro cess. The Southern Bell, owned by the Cody-Dwyer Interests, is now under bond to Capt Jack Burgess.

The property consists of nine patented and four unpatented claims, a patented mill slto and a ten stamp mill. Pepper Sauce Gulch is the location of the "Buffalo Bill" claims, consistIng of twelve In number. The Coy-Dwyer and the Cody-Burgess combinations own and control several groups In addition to the foregoing that are receiving more or less practical attention.

The ore in tho vicinity of Campo Bonito is in places a disseminated sulphide carrying gold and sliver values. Oxidizing agencies have freed the values to a considerable extent from their base combinations, making amalgamation practicable to a certain extent. Both Apache Camp and Campo Bonito are In tho "Old Hat" district and are easily accessible to Tucson by excellent wagon road. The E. P. and S. W. railway has surveyed to the former camp and the course of line runs approximately near to all tho important mining interests now known in that locality. Its construction is well within the realms of the possible." 2

Campo Bonito Index


Map to Campo Bonito, Arizona

Campo Bonito map to locate topographic and geological points using Google's map. Zoom into close range to see the tunnel to one of the major mines in Camp Bonito. Print out copies in several formats and dimensions.

The mines of Buffalo Bill

The discovery of precious minerals near Tucson attracted the famous Western entertainer William "Buffalo Bill" Cody to Oracle in the early 1900s to invest in several mines in the Camp Bonito District (also called Campo Bonito). Continue reading about Buffalo Bill and Campo Bonito.

Visiting the Campo Bonito mine

Photos taken at the Campo Bonito site, including one of the nearby mines.

The Southern Belle Mine

One of the mines owned by Cody, near Campo Bonito is the Southern Belle gold mine.

Old Hat Mining District

Mining was designated by districts. Campo Bonito was a part of the Old Hat mining district.

Return to Index: Arizona Gold Rush

Campo Bonito

A tub used for cleaning and separating ores sits idle at the Campo Bonito site. @ BZB 2011.

Camp Bonito Buffalo Billl Cody

Photo: The Camp Bonito remains of the fireplace at the mess hall, near the old Cody-Dwyer mine south of Oracle in the Catalina Mountains. Photo by Robert Zucker. © BZB 2010.


Campo Bonito

Campo Bonito looking towards the San Pedro Valley in the Santa Catalina Mountains. © 2011 BZB

Links to Campo Bonito

The entire Campo Bonito group of mining claims spread through the entire valley to include the Apache Peak area (Juniper claim, Memory Lane group, the Pair O' Dice prospect, Red Dog claim, Southern Belle Mine (Southern Belle gp; Morning Star property/claims), and the Taraldson claim (Coronado NF Mla).

The Campo Bonito Mines also included the Maudina Mine claims/property, the High Jinks Mine and the Santa Rosa Mine (Cumaro claim). 3

Continue reading about Camp Bonito:


Footnotes and links to sources:

1. Mindat.org Database: Pure Gold Mine, Campo Bonito Mines, Apache Peak area. http://www.mindat.org/loc-130446.html

2. "Santa Catalinas and the Old Hat Mining Districts," Bisbee Daily Review, May 14, 1912, page 5m, image 5 http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024827/1912-05-14/ed-1/seq-5/

3. Locality Search, http://www.mindat.org/lsearch.php?from=nsearch&loc=bonito

Robert Zucker, a Tucson, Arizona native, author, former journalism instructor and newspaper pubisher, is the CEO of Entertainment Magazine network, publisher of AZentertain.com. Zucker has researched and explored the Santa Catalina mountains.

William "Flint" Carter is a local miner who has been prospecting the Santa Catalinas and surrounding areas for decades. Carter has held dozens of mining claims and has been in persuit of the lure of the legends.


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© 2011 AZentertain.com. All rights reserved. Entertainment Magazine network. BZB Publishing, Inc.

Jewelry grade gold and silver in quartz from Arizona

Cody Stone is mined and designed as jewelry grade gold and silver in quartz from the mountains of the Santa Catalinas.

Cody stone specimens and hand made items are on display at the Oracle Inn Steakhouse & Saloon in Oracle, Arizona. Get a tour of the area, see artifacts of the Iron Door Mine and Southwest, and mine for gold with Flint Carter. The only source for Cody Stone. Call Flint at 520-289-4566.

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