Unlike many of the other
ghost towns in the
area, Bumble Bee was not a mining town – rather, it was once a flourishing
stage stop on the Prescott-Phoenix stage line. Originally, the stop was
known as Snyder’s Station named for W.W. Snyder who first settled the
Though the region was "infested” with hostile
Indians, Snyder saw opportunity in the creek that ran nearby and the lush
pastures, where he could graze his horses and cattle. But the Indians were
not happy with having white settlers in the area and began to attack a
number of area ranches. Soon, The U.S. Cavalry sent in their troops to
protect Snyder, as well as the other area ranchers and prospectors.
Though small amounts
of gold could be found in Bumble Bee, the vast majority was to be
found in the neighboring camps, including Turkey Creek, Golden Turkey,
Cleator, Gloriana, Gillette, the mineral rich veins at Tip Top, and
dozens of other small settlements.
building in Bumble Bee, April, 2007, Kathy Weiser.
Image available for photo prints & editorial downloads
the original road through Bumble Bee was crude, it led to the mines,
which the many prospectors were determined to reach. When a stage was
established with a stop at Snyder’s ranch, Snyder built a small
hostelry and stable to accommodate to the travelers. Then, when gold
was discovered in the adjacent Bradshaw Mountains, prospectors were
crawling in nearby Bumble Bee Creek.
Soon, enough people
had arrived in the area that a post office was established in
February, 1879, taking its
name from nearby Bumble Bee Creek, so named because early travelers
said that the Indians
were as "thick as bumblebees.”
As the railroad
pushed westward, it pushed the stagecoach out and about the same time;
the rich ores were diminishing in the area. Bumble Bee was destined to
die. Its few remaining residents did everything to keep the town
alive, moving the town site three different times as new roads were
surveyed. Finally, though, it was by-passed so far by the Black Canyon
highway, it became a true ghost town.
In the mid 1930’s an
attempt was made to bring Bumble Bee back to life by making it into a
tourist attraction. Several new buildings were constructed, but the
attraction never drew the tourists they hoped for.
Over the years, the
property changed hands a number of times, until the entire town was
placed on the market and purchased in 1960 by newspaper king, Charles
A. Penn. Though Penn had plans to restore the town and build a
museum, it never happened.
Time and weather have taken their toll
on what little is left of the old ghost town, though several buildings
continue to stand. The site is on private property and some of
the old buildings are occupied; however, photographs can be taken from
the road. At the time of this writing, the old school building, which
houses a private residence and formerly, a gift shop for several
years, is for sale.
The rest of the businesses have long
closed have been left to the elements.
Bumble Bee is some 55 miles north of
off I-17 at Exit # 248.
of America, updated May, 2017.
Also See: Arizona Ghost Towns