The Silver Bell Historical Society

History & Mission

  • The Silver Bell Mountains are located in Pima County, about 40 miles northwest of Tucson, Arizona, or 25 miles west of Interstate 10 by way of Avra Valley Road. 

  • Development of the Silver Bell copper deposits began in 1873 on the Mammoth Lode. In 1881, after construction of the Southern Pacific Railway through Tucson, the Huachuca Mining & Smelting Company began mining rich oxidized copper ore from the Mammoth, Old Boot, and Blue Coat claims. In 1882, four different companies operated in the district but were soon discouraged by transportation problems and low metal prices.

  • The town of Pelton supported the mining operations of the Young America mine (also known as Mammoth and then Oxide) from the 1870s to about 1900.

  • Supporting operations at the Old Boot Mine from about 1880 to 1900 was the first occurrence of the "town" of Silver Bell. When Imperial purchased the Old Boot Mine, a new town of Silver Bell (often referred to as Old Silver Bell), was established in 1903. 

  • In 1891, Silver Bell Mining Company built a smelter in Tucson, and it operated intermittently. In 1902, the Imperial Copper Company obtained the Old Boot, Mammoth, and other claims, developed a sizable ore body and built a railroad from Red Rock to Silver Bell, which was completed in 1904. During this period, several companies were organized, including Oxide Copper Company to develop the Young America Group and the Cleveland-Arizona Copper Company (later El Tiro Copper Company) to develop claims adjoining the Imperial and Indiana-Arizona Company. 

  • In 1915, American Smelting & Refining Company (ASARCO) purchased the holdings of Imperial Copper Company and operated underground mines until 1919. In 1934, all machinery, equipment, and buildings were moved out, and the Arizona Southern Railroad from Red Rock to Silver Bell was dismantled. In 1940, ASARCO acquired the property of the Oxide Copper Company.  In 1948, a camp was established to accommodate crews for check drilling and additional exploration work. This work further increased the reserves and made it possible to enter into an agreement in November 1951 with the Defense Material Procurement Agency. This agreement provided for complete financing by ASARCO.

  • Both the Oxide and El Tiro pit areas were recognized and extensively drilled some 40 years before ASARCO's operations in the late 20th century and early 21st century. 

  • In 1951, the third town of Silver Bell was established and existed through 1984, after which all buildings were removed -- many homes moved into the Avra Valley. Today, all three instances of Silver Bell and Pelton are gone. The old railroad is gone. 

  • The Silver Bell Historical Society seeks to discover the rich history of this area and to maintain a sense of community for its residents. This is, indeed, our mission.

  • You're invited to join us in these endeavors!

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Our Mission


 The Silver Bell Historical Society offers unique resources to researchers, scholars, and the public. History records two communities: Silverbell, which existed in the early 20th century, and Silver Bell, which existed during the last half of the 20th century. Both towns have been deserted, although many who lived here share fond memories of a unique and fraternal place -- in the middle of nowhere in Pima County, Arizona. Located near Marana and Tucson.

You Can Help Preserve Our History.


A society can be defined as  
the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community, and as  an organization or club formed for a particular purpose or activity. You are invited to share in the development of the Silver Bell Historical Society.

How You Can Help

One of the peaceful streets in Silver Bell with Waterman Peak in the background.

We invite you to use the "Contact Us" form below to share your story of Silver Bell. Some of you lived in Silver Bell and have first-hand knowledge. Others of you have parents or grandparents who have shared their stories with you. We want to include those stories within this website. You may also help with generous contributions to defray the costs involved with operating the Silver Bell Historical Society, an Arizona non-profit corporation.

Charter Members and Officers

The Silver Bell Historical Society is a non-profit organization; however, it can only function with people and funding. Check out our members and how you, too, can become a Charter Member!

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Whether you lived in Silver Bell or not, and whether you attend our functions or not, you may wish to help us keep Silver Bell alive. We appreciate your generous contributions!

You can make donations in our Online Store.

Contact Us

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Contact Information

Email us at

Our phone contact person is Carol Hunter: (520) 403-7555

The town site of Silver Bell is located at

25000 West Avra Valley Road, Marana, Arizona 85653, United States