Friends of Kentucky Camp
People are fascinated with the history of the American West, with its stories of adventure, hardship, perseverance, failure and the occasional spectacular success. Mining is part of the story. Kentucky Camp was one such mining venture, located in what became the Santa Rita Mountains of the Coronado National Forest, in Arizona.
Kentucky Camp was built in 1904 as the headquarters of the Santa Rita Water and Mining Company, whose investors hoped to collect water from the Santa Rita Mountains for hydraulic gold mining. The venture was abandoned following the mysterious death of the chief engineer the following year. The property became a working cattle ranch for the next 50 years, before being sold to a mining conglomerate. The Coronado National Forest acquired the site in 1989; since then, the Forest and volunteers have been working together to preserve the site. Kentucky Camp (and associated features related to the development of the water system and mining in the area) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A unique feature of this site is its collection of five century-old adobe buildings. The ten room headquarters building is one of the largest surviving adobe buildings of its era. A gold processing building hints at the original purpose of the site. A three room adobe building is available for overnight rental. (Go to the Forest Service "Rooms With a View" web page for additional details on renting this building.)
The Arizona Trail runs through Kentucky Camp and offers many possibilities for hiking, mountain biking and horse-back riding through the Santa Rita mountain foothills.
The Friends of Kentucky Camp, a chapter of the Coronado National Forest Heritage Society, is a non-profit organization established to help in the preservation and interpretation of the historic site. Friends sponsor work days, coordinate volunteer activities, and conduct and supervise stabilization and preservation, in cooperation with the Coronado National Forest.