Charleston, Arizona

Located about 10 miles Northeast of Sierra Vista lies what remains of the ghost town, Charleston, a ¾ mile hike up the San Pedro River (on the west bank) off East Charleston Road.

Founded in 1879, Charleston’s survival was based on milling silver ore mined in Tombstone, the mill was located on the opposite side of the San Pedro in “Millville”. The mills in Millville were constructed because of the lack of water in Tombstone. These mills stamped silver ore into fine powder to be smelted. In Charleston’s heyday, the population was over 400 people. The town was notorious for being “wild and lawless”, widely reputed by east coast newspapers. When Tombstone’s silver mines flooded in the mid-1880s, Charleston began to decline. This was topped off by the Sonoran earthquake of 1887, which left almost all of the town in ruins.

Today, all that remains are foundations and scattered adobe ruins. There is also a (very well hidden) cemetery 1-1/2 miles up the river from Charleston.

Charleston can be accessed via a hike ¾ miles up the San Pedro River. The Mormon Battalion Memorial along East Charleston Road can be used as a landmark. The majority of the ruins are covered in underbrush, so watch out for the wildlife!

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Photo by C. S. Fly – Scan from Ghost Towns of Arizona, by James E. and Barbara H. Sherman, page 29