northeast of Tombstone you will find the remains of Courtland. The surface
conditions of the area indicated a mother lode of copper and Courtland was considered one
of the most promising copper camps in Arizona. Although its boom time
lasted only twelve years it was quite a town until then. Calumet & Arizona and
Great Western Company were the first big developers to start operations. From early
exploration Calumet & Arizona estimated that its "Germania" shaft alone
would produce two million pounds of copper.
The town of Courtland was named after
Courtland Young, one of the owners of the Great Western Mining Co., which operated several
mines there. Established in 1909 by W.J. Young, brother of Courtland Young it was
located on the southeast corner of the Dragoon Mountains. The surface conditions of
the area indicated a mother lode of copper and Courtland was considered one of the most
promising copper camps in Arizona.
Two railroads served the community within a
short time, the Mexico & Colorado, owned by El Paso & Southwestern, and the
Arizona & Colorado which was run by Southern Pacific. The depot was the place to
be upon train arrivals or departures. The Arizonan described the depot as having
"a platform far less than adequate to accommodate the madding throng which gathers
several times a day to assess newcomers and deserters alike."
During the summer of 1909 the Copper Queen
and Leadville Companies arrived to open operations and by August the four companies had
developed 8,000 ft. of underground shafts. The ore was running about 7.5% copper and
the run was on.
The Post office was established on March
13, 1909 and Harry Locke was appointed the first postmaster by President Taft personally,
an astonishing event as all previous postmasters were made by the head of the Postal
The "Courtland Arizonan" went into print the same year. In the beginning there was no jail. An old mining tunnel was
used until a prisoner tried to burn the door down by setting fire to his mattress.
Fortunately for the prisoner he was saved. Needless to say, they built a jail
population of 2,000, the town had telephones and many businesses, including two stage
stations, ice cream parlor, automobile dealership, motion picture theater, restaurants,
grocery and general merchandise stores, pool halls, hotels, a barber shop, a bank, meat
market, land brokers. Besides the motion picture theatre you could always find a
baseball game or a horse race going on.
By 1910 there was a school and Wells Fargo station. The most popular hotels were the
"Courtland" and the "Great Western" where most of the social events in
town could be found. The Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1911 and the first
item on the agenda was to supply the town with water. Within a matter of months, 5
miles of water mains were installed by the newly formed "Courtland Water and Ice
During the initial years of the town,
Pancho Villa and many others from Mexico were crossing the border to raid the area and to
fight with local bands of desperados. The entire Sulphur Springs Valley suffered
from these skirmishes and raids until 1915 when General Pershing drove Pancho Villa's
troops into Mexico. Once the raids were over the entire valley enjoyed its
prosperity, especially Courtland. More and more civic improvements were done and in
March 1916, the Needles Mining Company was begun by the Guggenheim Foundation. The
ore prospects were so good that Phelps Dodge, Calumet and Arizona were fighting over
when the rush was on to initially file claims on the "mother lode" of copper the
mining companies never did geological testing to determine how deep the ore bodies
went. In 1917 and 1918 one shaft after another went from high grade ore content to
limestone at 300 feet. The mining companies managed to hang on for a couple of
years by making sure they cleaned out everything above that level and by leaching out the
tailings but eventually that became unprofitable also.
On September 12, 1920, the Graham County
Bulletin said that Western Mining showed a profit of only a few hundred dollars during the
preceding year, the Calumet & Arizona broke even; while others went into the
"hole". The Arizonan closed its doors with the December 12, 1920 issue,
after which a mass exodus of the citizens of Courtland Began. Stores, hotels and the
railroad began shutting down. The post office remained in operation however until
Many of the building have collapsed upon themselves but
there are two buildings that remain relatively intact in Courtland, along with ruins of
several other structures. That's all that remains of this once prosperous
When you visit, please take care and leave
the ruins as they are so.
To reach Courtland take I-10 to Exit 318.
Follow Dragoon Road until you reach Highway 191, turn right. Travel to just
south of Sunsites to the sign that reads Pearce. Turn right and follow the road
straight ahead. After several miles you will stat to see the ruins of