Arizona Dept. of Commerce Kearny Community Profile (in PDF format).

Kearny's roots begin in the early 1800s, as legendary Arizona explorer Father Kino sought out to convert the Apache Indian communities in the area to Christianity. In the late 1800s, Gen. Stephen W. Kearny set up camp near the Gila River, at the base of the Pinal Mountains. Kearny called the area hostile and uninhabitable. Fifty years later, that "uninhabitable area" became something quite the opposite.

The view of the Pinal Mountain range Kearny residents are fortunate to see everyday.

The Town of Kearny was founded by the Kennecott Mining Company. The mine's operation had expanded so far, it was about to envelop the communities of Sonora, Ray, and Barcelona. Many of the residents of these small towns were miners with the company. To help the residents who were about to be displaced, Kennecott developed a planned community for the residents. The first of the new Kearnians moved into town in 1954.

The Hartford 200 Block, one of Kearny's many tree-lined streets.

Kearny, located in eastern Pinal County, is also one of the county's most unique towns. The Town is a planned community, with most streets elegantly lined with trees, and many houses have similar, yet inviting and unique construction. Properties are available for immediate occupation.

The Town has many ammenities, including a grocery store, hardware store, auto parts store, banking, ATM machines, pharmacy, and medical facilities. Kearny is equidistant to Phoenix and Tucson, approximately 1 1/2 hours away, however, the Phoenix metro area is easily accessed with a short hour drive. Kearny is also 30 minutes away from Globe, southern Gila County's largest city.

Along with the friendly ambiance, Kearny is nestled at the base of the Pinal Mountain Range. The location provides prime opportunities for some of the best outdoor recreation in the State. Kearny has even developed an ATV, hiking, horseback, and picnic trail to help facilitate safe outdoor recreation, also known as "eco-tourism."

(Taken from an in-depth interview with Zola Hall, 1996)

Among the earliest Europeans to visit what is now the Kearny region were such 17th and 18th-century explorers as the Spanish Fathers Eusebio Kino, Francisco Garcés, and Agustín Campos. However, Spain was never able to establish permanent settlements because of the Apache Indians, who roamed the entire area. The Indians became bitter rivals with the Spanish, and later with Spain's successor Mexico that established its independence from Spain in 1821. Very few people of European descent dared enter what the Spanish called Apachería, or Apache country. Even the Mexican troops who were garrisoned in Tucson from 1776 on seldom dared set foot in the territory. Certainly either Spain or Mexico contemplated no settlements.

By the middle 1820s the first Americans began to penetrate the region. They were trappers mostly from Taos, New Mexico, and within a few years most of these famous "mountain men" had trapped all along the Gila and San Pedro Rivers. Later, these men became the principal guides for the first truly important American expeditions into the southwestern United States: the Stephen Watts Kearny and the Mormon Battalion expeditions during the Mexican War in 1846. Kearny's one hundred mule-mounted troops struggled through El Capitán Pass in the Pinal Mountains and tried to follow the difficult course of the Gila River. He had such a strenuous time that he sent couriers back to the Mormon Battalion, which was following him, informing the troops that they should travel further to the south, through the Mexican pueblo of Tucson. The Battalion consequently raised the American flag over Tucson on 16 December 1846. Both Kearny and the Battalion consequently raised the American flag over Tucson on 16 December 1846. Both Kearny and the Battalion then exited Arizona and secured California for the United States in 1847.

Years later, the expedition of Kearny was celebrated in the naming of what is actually the most recent settlement in the region the community of Kearny. Kearny was established during the mid to late-1950s when the older towns of Ray, Sonora, and Barcelona were demolished to make way for Kennecott Copper Company's open pit mine.

Returning, however, to the 19th century after General Kearny's passage through Arizona, Americans began to frequent the region in search of gold and silver. The influx of fortune-seekers was also the impetus for the arrival of American troops to protect them. It was near what is now known as Kearny that the first significant military garrison against the Apaches was established in 1859. Originally called "Camp Arivaypa" (located not far from what is now Central Arizona College Aravaipa Campus), it later became Camp Grant (which itself was moved to south of Mt. Graham in 1871). From the time of the establishment of this fort onward, the Americans could no longer be prevented from settling the region. The area became an integral part of what is often called the 'Wild West', with mining and ranching being the magnets that drew early settlers. Apaches, of course, took fierce issue with the intrusion, and their resistance was immediate and bloody. However, late 19th and early 20th century miners and cattlemen were rough, tough survivors and they were determined to stay. Gradually, the Apaches realized they had no recourse, particularly after a horrible massacre of many of their people at Camp Grant in 1871, and they finally consented to the establishment of a reservation on the San Carlos River in 1872.

After most of the Apaches left, the new settlers quickly increased. The terrain, however, was nearly unyielding to these people. It demanded the utmost in physical strength and determination. Furthermore, many of the new inhabitants were of widely disparate origins. They came not only from the United States, but from the Orient, the Middle East, Europe nearly every continent in the world was represented. As a consequence, the times and camps (mining towns were generally called camps) were wild and woolly. It was an untamed era, and many mining camp inhabitants were raucous and often too fond of liquor. There were few to say them nay. Even lawmen were frequently those who had been on or near the other side of the law. However, their dangerous reputations helped keep some resemblance of law in the communities.

Some of the Wild West's most notorious outlaws frequented the area. They included such individuals as "Jack the Ripper of Ash Creek," for example. In 1886 the malevolent bachelor built a hideout in Ash Creek, between Winkelman and Mammoth. He kidnapped a number of Tucson girls and then murdered them. An army patrol finally solved the mystery of their disappearance, and the demon was arrested and hanged with dispatch and a strong rope.

Other famous outlaws were the Apache Kid and Pearl Hart, both of whom committed some of their crimes in what is now the Kearny area. (Some people also say the Kid may have been born near Feldman between present-day Winkelman and Mammoth; others at Wheatfields, near Globe). In 1889 the Kid escaped from Sheriff Glen Reynolds in Ripsey Wash, west of Kelvin. He was never seen again. In 1899 Pearl Hart and her prospector companion "Joe Boot" (probably an alias) held up the Globe-to-Florence stagecoach at Cane Springs (north of present-day Riverside). She was captured near Feldman, but she too eventually disappeared from history.

Still another outlaw tale is that of the crazed killer "Bluebeard," who in about 1915 was intercepting and murdering travelers going over Pioneer Pass between Winkelman and Globe. He would dump the bodies into a well. Slim Gilmore, the sheriff of Hayden, took chase, caught, and shot him down. Gilmore then draped the body over the hood of his Model-T and paraded it up and down the streets of Hayden and Winkelman. This exhibit was to assure residents that they were finally safe. Gilmore subsequently became sheriff at Ray and in 1935 was shot and killed by an escapee from the Florence Penitentiary.

Patriotic passion too on occasion was a cause for violence. For example, during World War I, shoemaker Bill Shultz nearly got hung from the Winkelman Bridge after he said something "nice" about Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. Similar lack of sensitivity to local patriotic loyalties would usually bring extremely painful results.

Scams were also prevalent in the Old West. For example, in 1930 Mammoth had an "oil boom." Barrels of crude oil were planted by a group of oil scammers, who erected a derrick and "struck oil" along the San Pedro River, south of Mammoth. After a big stock promotion, in which many locals invested most of their meager savings, the company made a midnight departure, never to reappear. The derrick remained visible from the highway for years thereafter.

Although there were many similar outlaw events in the area, of course there were also often successes. Most of them were due to the many mining operations scattered throughout the rugged territory. They would come and go, raising excitement for a time, making fortunes for awhile, and then, just as quickly, disappearing. For example, in 1878 the Christmas Mine was originally discovered. Operations were delayed until the property could be separated from the San Carlos Reservation, but large-scale mining finally began on Christmas Day in 1902. At its peak the town's population was over one thousand, and it had a combined mercantile and post office. The town suffered many ups and downs, but the last three remaining families were given the ultimate notice to vacate in 1986. The current Christmas shutdown is said to be final, although there has been some gold-mining work done nearby. Such are the vicissitudes of the area.

The names and sizes of the many ghost towns in the area often surprise newcomers. The roster is long: Christmas, Ray, Sonora (named for miners originally from Mexico), Barcelona (named for miners originally from Spain), Belgravia (named for a hometown in South Africa), Troy, Chilito (or 79 Mine), New Year (had ten houses), Doak (post office established 1919), Silver, Vanadium (1883), Hayden Junction, Feldman (originally the PZ Ranch), and Copper Creek (post office established 1906, across the river from Mammoth and said to have the best-preserved ruins). There were many such places.

One of the ghost towns near Mammoth (Mammoth was one of the earliest settlements, founded in 1873, a major mining settlement 1881-1903, and still in existence) was called Tiger. Tiger was the name of both the mine and the town. The Tiger mine had originally begun as the Shultz Mine about 1919, and included large stamping mills, a concentrator and a smelter, but in 1939 the post office was established as Tiger. Tiger had a store and a movie theater, among a few other amenities. Tiger became a 'ghost' in 1954.

Each of these 'ghosts' had at least a large boarding house or dining hall, a post office, and sometimes a sizable population, if only for a few years. Chilito (79 Mine), for example, had a hotel and dining hall. Troy still has evidence of thirty- to forty-house foundations and was the stage coach stop on the stage run from Globe to Florence. Kelvin is said to have been a busy place. It had a store and post office, and it too was a stage coach stop. It still has a few residences. The run to Tucson also required stagecoaches to stop at Feldman, which had a store and a post office. In the earliest days, when there was some fear of Indian depredations, the drivers drove horses, coach, and all completely into the Feldman station house, which still stands (barely). It has a large fireplace in its large main room, and its adobe walls are two feet thick. When the big heavy doors closed behind the coach, any pursuing Apache warriors were held at bay.

By far, however, the most important, and also one of the most recent, ghost towns is that of Ray. As mentioned previously, Ray, Sonora, and Barcelona were all demolished to make way for the open-pit mine that Kennecott Copper Company started about 1958. Most inhabitants were moved to the new company town of Kearny. In order, therefore, to trace the history of the environs of what is now Kearny further back, it is necessary to discuss the earlier development of Ray and nearby communities.

Gold and silver mining apparently occurred in the Ray region as early as the late 1860s, but very little is known about these efforts. It wasn't until the 1880s that larger, copper-mining operations began to develop. By 1882 a man identified as Bullinger organized the Ray Copper Company. However, it was only gradually recognized that large-scale mining could become profitable. It was not until British financiers and mining engineers became interested in the possibilities that larger operations were actually started.

It is not always recognized just how important British miners were in the development of mining in Arizona. During the latter part of the nineteenth century many British fortune-seekers, usually from coal and lead mines in the Cornwall region of Great Britain, began migrating to the United States. They were already highly accomplished miners. But some were not always of the highest character. It was the practice in Great Britain at that time for young men (often called "Cousin Jacks") who were not the "first sons" of families, or who had disgraced themselves in some manner, to receive a special "remittance" or allowance to invest in American adventures. Some of these "remittance" men had large endowments and invested in mines and ranches. Others, however, were not so well-endowed and ended up migrating to America to become miners, gamblers, cowboys, drifters, sometimes outlaws, or a combination of such pursuits. Much of the development of Ray must be attributed to these individuals, because in 1905 a large promotion was made in England by a mining corporation regarding land around Ray. The area was promoted as a "heaven on earth," and it portrayed the Gila River as navigable, at about one hundred times its actual size. One of the largest investors in the company was Lord Kelvin, a physicist in thermodynamics, electricity, and telegraphy. The new town that was developed by the company came to be called Kelvin in his honor. Kelvin replaced the older stage coach stop known as Riverside, and Riverside itself was moved a short distance up the Gila River.

The new town of Kelvin certainly did not become as profitable as advertised by its investors, but it did become successful enough that some of the "Cousin Jacks" remained. One of the interesting remains of their enterprise are some fascinating ovens built to produce coke. These large beehive-shaped ovens are located at a spot now called Cochran, west of Kelvin. They have become a destination for curiosity-seekers, but are currently on private land. The owners wish to discourage visits.

Nevertheless, because of the enterprise of the British the vicinity around Ray began to develop significantly. By 1909 the town of Ray was constructed by the Arizona Hercules Copper Company on property belonging to Hercules Townsite Company. Large-scale copper production began in 1911. Eventually, the Ray Copper Company developed out these beginnings, and then Ray Copper Company developed into Ray Consolidated Copper Company. Soon, Kennecott Copper Corporation took over the Ray mines, and by the late 1940s it was decided that the underground mining should be replaced by open-pit mining. The open pit was started in 1947. By the late 1950s the open-pit mine grew larger, and also a new leach-precipitation-flotation facility was constructed. In order to accommodate the new enterprises, it was decided that the town of Ray itself (and the nearby small communities of Sonora and Barcelona) should be moved. Thus, the community of Kearny gradually came into being around 1958. Kennecott mining at Ray was then taken over by the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO), which is the current owner of operations.

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