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Bouse is another one of those unique Arizona towns. It is located along Highway 72 near Vicksburg. Bouse goes back quite a ways. In the 1860’s, mining activity in the area, but the town didn’t get going until the arrival of the railroad near 1900. With the railroad, came the Brayton Commercial Company, a store that was built to service the nearby Harquahala Mine.
In 1906, an application was submitted to the Postal Service. The primary contact was George Bouse and the town was named after him, even though Brayton was on the original application. In 1904, short rail line was built to Swansea, which brought more activity to Bouse. The 25 mile line to Swansea was built by the Arizona and California Railroad. Farming also became another big industry, but with the arrival of the Great Depression, Bouse dwindled.
Just as Bouse seemed to lose hope, General George Patton, showed up in 1941. With World War II raging, Patton said, “that the desert can kill quicker than the enemy.” In order to prepare his tank troops for the harsh desert, Patton say the deserts of western Arizona and eastern California as the perfect most realistic place to train.
By 1942, 13 infantry divisions as well as 7 armored divisions were moved to Camp Bouse. Camp Bouse was located in Butler Valley about 20 miles north of Bouse’s present location. The Desert Training Center and California-Arizona Maneuver Area contained 35 million acres, making it the largest training facility in the world. Different camps and sites were set up throughout the area.
The remote training center was used to train some of the most top secret and high-tech items of the time. One of the top secret equipment was the Canal Defense Light. The Canal Defense Light was mounted to the tank and was shined up at the enemies. The 13 million candle-powered searchlight flickered and would temporarily blind the enemy. Camp Bouse was discontinued in 1945, and most of the buildings were torn down.
The town of Bouse is still alive and well and offers quite a few things to do and see. First is Swansea, an old ghost town about 25 miles away. Next there is the Bouse Assay Office Museum, which showcases the mining and military history of the area. Finally there is a tank monument which features two tanks, a jeep and a lot of memorial plaques. This is at the south eastern corner of the 72 and Main Street. Also worthy of mention is the annual Baja Race which takes place every Super Bowl Saturday and shuts down access to Swansea for the day!
Tank in Bouse, Arizona Baja Racing in Bouse
Trimble, Marshall. Roadside History of Arizona. 2nd edition. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2004. 447-448. Print.
Hinckley, Jim. Ghost Towns of the Southwest: Your Guide to the Historic Mining Camps & Ghost Towns of Arizona and New Mexico. Minneapolis, MI: Voyageur Press, 2010. 52-53. Print.
"Swansea Historic Townsite." U.S. Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management. Bureau of Land Management, 30 Jan. 2009. Web. <http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/cultural/swansea.html>.