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Washington Camp and Duquesne are two former mining towns in the Patagonia Mountains. Located in Santa Cruz County about 17 miles east of Nogales and just 5 miles north of the U.S. – Mexico Border, these are two little known ghost towns. Because the camps are located so close geographically and so tied to each other historically, it’s hard to mention one without the other.
The history of this area dates all the way back to 1860. This is when initial prospecting began in the area. Frequent attacks by Apache Indians kept the area from immediately becoming a boomtown, but that would change. By the 1880s the area around Washington Camp began to be settled.
In 1890, the Duquesne Mining and Reduction Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had gained control of the property and established the town of Duquesne. The company put its headquarters in Duquesne and the reduction plant in Washington Camp, brining both towns prosperity. Washington camp, less than a mile north of Duquesne was home to bunkhouses, a school, a boardinghouse, and numerous other buildings. Duquesne was home to most of the mines, company offices, and the home of higher-up mining officials.
Both towns reached their peak of about 1,000 residents each by 1900. As the mines tapered off, so did the population. There isn’t much information on the decline of the two towns.
There are a few stories that George Westinghouse, president of the Westinghouse Electric Company once lived in Duquesne. Apparently he had an impressive house there, with both hot and cold running water.
To visit these two camps today, follow Duquesne Road (F.S. 61) east from State Route 82 near Beyerville, or head south from Patagonia through Harshaw. Duquesne offers more to see as most evidence of Washington Camp has disappeared. To see the best of Duquesne, take the more difficult F.S. 128. It will take you by ruins and reconnect with Duquesne Road south of town. Be aware of the abundant private property signs scattered about. These two camps are a great place to check out among other ghost towns in the area.
Sherman, James E., and Barbara H. Sherman. Ghost Towns of Arizona. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1969. 166-67. Print.
Varney, Philip. Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps. Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Dept. of Transportation, State of Arizona, 1994. 111. Print.
An old hopper near the site of Washington Camp
One of several abandoned buildings in "downtown" Duquesne