Saturday, June 3, 2017
The longer I live in Southern Arizona the more surprised I have become at the number of well-preserved ghost towns historic towns in southern Arizona. Many of which I have written about on this blog. Kentucky Camp is one of these well-preserved ghost towns in the Santa Rita Mountains. It has a number of stabilized buildings as well as one that visitors can reserve for overnights. The camp is located in the Santa Rita Mountains 7 miles north of Sonoita, Arizona, off of State Route 83. It is reached by driving Gardner Canyon Road and Fish Canyon Road both of which are unpaved but passable to cars.
History: Kentucky Camp has two different periods of use. The first period of use was between 1874 to 1886 when it served a company headquarters for the nearby Graeterville Mining District. This district produced substantial quantities of gold. In 1904 an individual by the name of James Stetson developed plans to extract gold from placer deposits by channeling snowmelt from the nearby Santa Rita Mountains. His plan had the backing of a well-known eastern George B McAneny. Unfortunately in 1905 Stetson died from a fall from the third floor of the Santa Rita Hotel in Tucson the night before he was to present his plans to investors. Shortly after Stetson died McAneny died as well ending any hopes for Kentucky Camp's revival.
The Forest Service acquired Kentucky Camp in 1987 as part of a land swap with a private landowner. Since a private group: Friends of Kentucky Camp along with the Forest Service have reconstructed and or stabilized five of the buildings. The caretaker of the property said an individual from Mexico who was experienced with working with adobe helped stabilize the adobe structures.(Information from : Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by Philip Varney)