Bisbee Queen of the Copper Camps As was common on the campaign trail, soldiers spent one eye looking for Apache and the other looking for mineral.

Bisbee Copper Camps True West Magazine
Bisbee, Castle Rock.

In the spring of 1877 Sergeant Jack Dunn, a government scout from Fort Bowie, was winding his way down what later became known as Tombstone Canyon in southeastern Arizona in pursuit of hostile Apache. Dunn was searching for a spring in the vicinity of Castle Rock when he noticed an interesting outcropping and stopped to investigate. As was common on the campaign trail, soldiers spent one eye looking for Apache and the other looking for mineral. Sergeant Dunn couldn’t have known it at the time, but this outcropping in an isolated little canyon not far from the Mexican border would become known as the “Glory Hole” and the Bisbee district in which it was located was destined to become one of the richest copper-bearing areas in the world.

Back at Ft. Bowie, Dunn recorded his name along with the names of two others in his party, Lieutenant Tony Rucker and T.D. Byrne. The claim, filed on August 2nd, 1877 was named the Rucker for the gallant cavalry officer. Rucker was later drowned in a flash flood in the canyon that today bears his name. A fort, Camp Rucker and Rucker Lake in the southern Chiricahua Mountains were also named in his honor.

Dunn, Rucker and Byrne were too busy campaigning for Apache to stake out their claims so they prevailed upon a local character named George Warren to do that. They also made him a partner and grubstaked him with tools and supplies. While on his way to the south end of the Mule Mountains he stopped to imbibe at a saloon. Warren told some of the local denizens of the strike and they enticed him into a game of poker. After taking his grubstake they partnered with him and on December 27th, 1877, they located the Mercey Mine on the site of Dunn’s discovery. Rucker, Byrne and Dunn’s names were not listed.

Two years later the Mercy Mine was re-named the Copper Queen and would become one of the West’s most famous mines. The rascal George Warren was later honored as the “Father of the Copper Camp,” his likeness appears on the Arizona State Seal and the town of Warren was named for him.

Do you agree with Maurice Kildare, who claimed the men hanged for the Bisbee Massacre were not the culprits?