Mining in the Swansea Area began around 1862, but major activity had to wait for the coming of the railroad. In 1904 the Arizona & California Railroad began constructing a line from Wickenburg to Parker. Seeing an opportunity for further development several of the original miners, Newton Evans and Thomas Jefferson Carrigan, secured investment money and began to develop Swansea.
By the end of 1908, a 350 ton capacity furnace, a 3.5 mile water pipeline from the Bill Williams River, and the hoists for five mine shafts were under construction.
By 1909 Swansea had a population of 500. The following year the Arizona & Swansea railroad began operation from Bouse. The railroad was key in moving supplies and people in and out of the growing mining town. Financial problems set in by 1911 and the mines shutdown with a brief reopening in 1912.
The American Smelting and Refining Company bought the mines in 1914 and rebuilt much of the town. The new owners ran the mines until 1937 when the Great Depression closed the mines for good.
Little remains in the town from the glory days of Swansea. The townsite has suffered from the weather and vandalism in recent years. You can still see several adobe and brick buildings, the railroad grade, numerous foundations, and the mine shafts. The open mine shafts and tunnels are dangerous and should be avoided.
Please do not take any of the historic artifacts. From rusty cans and weathered wood to bricks--these all tell the story of Swansea.
Getting There: Swansea can be accessed by vehicle from Parker or Bouse. The trip is about 25 miles either way and the graded gravel road gets a little rough for the last few miles. A high clearance vehicle is recommended, but four-wheel drive is not necessary.
The site is remote so be prepared for desert travel. Carry plenty of water and tell a friend where you are going. Stay with your vehicle if it breaks down.
From Bouse take the main road east through town. It bends north and turns to gravel just outside of town. Stay left at the first major "Y" about three miles from Bouse.
Look carefully and you will see remnants of the Swansea railroad grade by the road. You will cross the Central Arizona Project canal and about five miles beyond that come to another "Y" with a bulletin board. This is called Midway, as it was halfway from Bouse to Swansea on the railroad. Stay left at Midway and travel about 10 miles more until you reach a fourway stop. Turn right (east) and follow this road into Swansea.
From Parker head south crossing the railroad tracks just outside of town. About a quarter mile further south is Shea Road on the left (east). Turn here and follow the paved road for about 13 miles turning south onto a dirt road marked by a county sign pointing to Swansea. Continue straight at the fourway stop until you reach Swansea.
Swansea in its heyday
The same area by the mid 1980's
Limitations: In addition to existing rules and regulations, there are supplemental rules which are used to help manage this site.
Lake Havasu Field Office
2610 Sweetwater Avenue
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406-9071
Phone: (928) 505-1200
Fax: (928) 505-1208
Field Manager: Jason West
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F