Charleston Arizona

Charleston, Arizona is a ghost town located in Cochise County, Arizona. the town operated from the late 1870’s through the 1880’s. The town is founded as a sister city of Millville, Arizona, which is located just across the San Pedro River. Charleston served as a type of residential community to Millville.

Charleston, circa 1885 - Photograph by C. S Fly
Charleston, circa 1885 – Photograph by C. S Fly

Millville, and later Charleston, is built to process ore from nearby Tombstone, which is located about 9 miles northeast of Charleston. The stamp mills in Millville is owned by Tombstone Mill and Mining Company and Corbin Mill and Mining Company started operations in 1879. Peak operations are from 1881 – 1882 where the mills processed 1.4 million dollars in silver bullion.

J.W. Swart's Saloon in Charleston, circa 1885
J.W. Swart’s Saloon in Charleston, circa 1885

At its peak, Charleston suffered a nasty reputation of a rough and tumble town. Following the notorious gunfight in Tombstone, Charleston which claimed the Clantons, the McLaurys, Johnny Ringo, “Curly Bill” Brocius, Pete Spence and Frank Stillwell, as citizens, it is no wonder the town is found guilty by association. In Charleston, Frank Stillwell was the previous owner of the J.W. Swart saloon prior to selling in 1881. The bulk of the these men are under the employment of the Clanton’s Ranch. On May 6, 1882, The Tombstone Epitaph reported on Charleston that the town is “well regulated and free from turmoil” and “one of the most peaceful places we were ever in.”

In 1886 the silver mines in Tombstone flooded with water. The mills in Millville were forced to shut down, and Charleston and Millville went into steep decline. In the 1890’s, Charleston is abandoned and considered a ghost town. Charleston was briefly inhabited in the 1890s by a small population of Mexican immigrants who used the remaining wooden structures as firewood.

Charleston Town Summary

NameCharleston, Arizona
LocationCochise County, Arizona
Also Known AsCharleston Station
Latitude, Longitude31.6358, -110.1725
Elevation1216 meters / 3990 feet
Post OfficeApril 17, 1879 – October 24, 1888

Charleston Trail Map

Charleston is located about 9 miles southwest of Tombstone, Arizona. Charleston and Millville are not accessible by car and can only be reached by hiking up the San Pedro River. The Bureau of Land Management has begun maintaining trails to and from the area. 


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