Monday, June 8, 2015

Camp Bowers: Pete Carney's Legacy

June 1, 2015 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Peter G. Carney, an Arizona mine promoter, owned some copper claims near what is known today as Carney Springs. Carney, a mine promoter and prospector, was caught up in the turn of the 20th century Arizona copper rush. After most of the prominent gold deposits played out around 1900, the Arizona prospector turned his attention toward copper. The great demand for copper wire created by the utilization of electricity in our modern society rapidly opened another frontier to prospectors and mine promoters. Copper was in and gold was out, so to speak. Peter G. Carney planned not to be left behind again.

Carney prospected for copper outcrops along the pressure ridges to the southeast of Superstition Mountain during the winter of 1905-06. He discovered a low-grade outcrop of copper ore and stain near a water seep south of Willow Canyon. A deep incision into face of Superstition Mountain formed a deep canyon. This canyon was located one mile due west of Willow Canyon (Peralta Canyon). Carney was certain this area showed the most promise for a rich copper deposit. Late in 1905 Pete Carney filed his first mining claims on the ore deposit with the Pinal County Recorder’s Office.

Carney soon found a very wealthy New York woolen goods manufacturer who was a willing investor and partner. His name was Ogden H. Bowers. Carney named his mining camp in honor of Bowers and the mine after himself.

Bowers became financially active in the Carney Mine in early February of 1907. In July of 1907, three crews of ten men were mining twenty-four hours a day. They sunk a drift some 800 feet into the side of Superstition Mountain searching for a rich copper vein or deposit.

In 1907 Camp Bowers was a very active mining camp with seven or eight houses used for living quarters and a boarding house to feed the miners. The Carney Mine activity began to ebb by 1909 when Bowers withdrew his financial support for the operation.

Carney immediately changed the name of Camp Bowers to Camp Carney. This is the source of the place name Carney Springs and Carney Canyon. In the heyday of Camp Bowers a stage ran bi-weekly from Mesa. From 1909-1914 Pete Carney constantly promoted citizens of Mesa City for financial support. He was convinced they would soon strike a rich copper vein.

A sketch of Camp Carney c. 1910 near the base of Superstition Mountain.

According to William A. Barkley, a noted rancher of the area, there was never more then a dozen men living at Camp Carney.  Barkley once told me about a feud that occurred at the Carney Mine. A mine foreman was shot to death near the property. There were those who believed a feud existed between claim jumpers and Carney. Most of the periodical accounts indicate it was a feud between men who worked at the Carney Mine and had nothing to do with claim jumping.

There were two things that allowed the Carney Mine to become reality and neither was a rich ore body. One was water and the other was a nearby road to the old Bark Ranch. Pete Carney certainly took advantage of the resources available to him and tried his luck at locating a rich copper deposit in the Superstition Mountains.

Peter G. Carney passed away in the 1930’s. His dream to be a part of the Arizona copper rush did not materialize, but it did create a legacy for his namesake. Carney Springs still remains on topographic maps and other maps of the Superstition Wilderness Area.

Arizona’s capitol building capped with a copper dome.