Explore Bouse and the Sonoran Desert!

Bouse Chamber of Commerce (928) 851-2509

44362 E. Main Street, Bouse, AZ 85325-0817

Map of Bouse area:
Map of Bouse "downtown." Green X marks the block with the Bouse Museum / Chamber of Commerce office and the Bouse Post Office.    


Bouse history from 1800s to nowadays.

A history of Bouse from its origins to current days, available at most Bouse stores, Bouse Museum & Chamber office on Main Street; or online here.

By Bouse residents
Renee Townsend
and Carolyn Brown


Camp Bouse

Sequestered between rugged mountain ranges in the remote Butler Valley is the site of a top secret WWII training base, Camp Bouse. New night fighting tactics and an ultra-secret tank-mounted weapon designed to "change the course of the war" necessitated complete secrecy. The men named their new weapon "The Gizmo."

General George S. Patton, Jr. led a reconnaissance party through the desert Southwest in 1942 and reported not seeing one inhabitant in four days. This led to the establishment of the Desert Training Center (DTC) and California-Arizona Maneuver Area (C-AMA): 31,500 square miles, or 35 million acres, of desert in southeastern California, western Arizona and southern Nevada.

Camp Bouse was so extremely top secret, it was not listed with the dozen other training camps of the DTC. To this day, historian/authors often miss Camp Bouse when writing about the DTC.

Come visit! The first full weekend in February, the Bouse Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual Camp Bouse Dedication at the tank memorial site on Highway 72 Saturday, and a Camp Bouse tour & picnic Sunday. Bring your ATV or 4-wheel drive and join the fun.


How to get there from Bouse:

East of Hwy 72, drive north east on Main Street to the stop sign. Turn left on Rayder, which turns into Swansea Road. Go 2.2 miles to the Bouse Y trail head (look for the BLM information sign on the left) and continue on the Swansea Road (left fork).

Camp Bouse is approximately 25 miles from Bouse, accessible by four-wheel drive or ATV. Passenger vehicles might make the trip, but there is deep sand along the way.

a brief history of Camp Bouse

September 1, 1939 - World War II breaks out in Europe

December 7, 1941 - Japan attacks Pearl Harbor

1942 - Poston Japanese Internment Camp opens along the Colorado River

1942 - General George S. Patton, Jr. led a reconnaissance party through the desert Southwest in the autumn of 1942 and reported not seeing one inhabitant in four days. This led to the establishment of the Desert Training Center (DTC) and California-Arizona Maneuver Area (C-AMA): 31,500 square miles, or 35 million acres, of desert in southeastern California, western Arizona and southern Nevada.

1943 - Fighting ends in North Africa

1943 - Desert Training Center annexes an additional 11,000 square miles.

August, 1943 - Troops begin arriving in Bouse, Arizona. One trooper reported, "It was so hot, you could fry an egg in your hand."

Paranoia and deep secrecy were the orders in Bouse. Camp Bouse was so top-secret it was not listed among the training camps of the Desert Training Center's (DTC) California-Arizona Maneuver Area (C-AMA). Troop movement was extremely restricted -- once in Camp Bouse, there was no chance of transferring out. Gold miners working active claims in the mountains around Camp Bouse were encouraged to evacuate -- usually a little over-their-heads target practice encouraged their departure. Even all the dogs in Bouse, 25 miles away, were rounded up and relocated. To this day, researchers often miss Camp Bouse *.

Our Bouse troopers were deployed in Europe, but The Gizmo never got a chance to prove its worth in battle -- the powerful light was used for night advances, stream crossing and to identify and seek out the enemy. The tanks were later exchanged for a different model. One report said the Gizmo-fitted tanks sank in the mud in France and were left to rot.

For more on Camp Bouse, read Where Heroes Trained, written by the troops who were stationed here.

1944 1-Apr
   Camp Bouse declared surplus
1944 30-Apr

   Desert Training Center land returned to
   Department of Interior and private landowners

1945 8-May
   Germany surrendered
1945 6-Aug
   United States bombed Hiroshima
1945 9-Aug
   United States bombed Nagasaki
1945 14-Aug
   Japan surrendered


WWII troops trained at Camp Bouse to use a top-secret new night-fighting weapon they dubbed, "The Gizmo."
The Gizmo

The Desert Training Corps And

Notes on Tactics and Techniques of Desert Warfare

Major - General George S. Patton, Jr.

Commanding General, Desert Training Center

U.S. Army 1942

Compiled and Edited by Charles M. Province
President and Founder of The Patton Historical Society

Copyright, 1989 Charles M. Province


Where Heroes Trained

736th Medium Tank Battalion (Special)
February 1943 – April 1944
Editors: Dr. Roger M. Baty & Eddie L. Maddox, Jr.


A World War II Secret Weapon:

WWII Veteran Carsie Denning, Sr. Relives the Secretive CDL Project by Carsie K. Denning, Sr.


The Desert Training Center /

California-Arizona Maneuver Area,

1942 – 1944

Historical and Archaeological Contexts

Bischoff, Matt C. published in 2000. Prepared for the Bureau of Land Management, California Desert District. This book has great photos of what remains of the desert training centers -- mostly rock alignments and desert creosote bush.

* This book makes no mention of Camp Bouse, as researchers were directed to focus on the Mojave Desert, but a few Camp Bouse photos found their way into the book (see page 28).




Swansea is one of Arizona's best preserved ghost towns, with ruins of a smelter, mine shafts, and more than a dozen buildings. Swansea did not have typical wooden gold rush-era buildings like those in Jerome, Oatman or Bisbee.

Swansea was named after Swansea, Wales, where semi-refined ore was shipped. The ore was shipped from the mines via railroad to the Colorado River, loaded on river freighters and then transferred to ships on the Gulf of California to sail for Swansea, Wales, via Cape Horn.

Swansea, Arizona, was headquarters for the Clara Consolidated Gold and Copper Mining Company which built a copper smelter in the early 1900s to process ore locally instead of shipping it to Swansea, Wales. Clara Consolidated closed the smelter in 1912, but other companies continued mining in the area until 1924.

A post office was established March 25, 1909 but closed June 28, 1924.

A railroad connected Swansea to nearby Bouse in 1908 and the camp’s population grew to a total of 750. Swansea had a newspaper, electric light company, auto dealer, lumber company, barber shop and an insurance agent. There are two cemeteries at the site, and ruins of the smelter are extensive.

The town was active until copper prices bottomed out during the Great Depression.

To reach Swansea from Bouse: take Main Street northwest of Arizona Highway 72. Turn left at the stop sign onto Rayder Road, which becomes dirt at the Bouse Y trail head– look for the BLM information sign on the left. Take the left fork of the road – Swansea Road – which later crosses the Central Arizona Project canal. Thirteen miles from Bouse is the ruins of Midway, the water stop on the railway connecting Bouse and Swansea. Bear left on the fork at Midway, crossing under power lines after 0.4 mile, and go northwest 5.7 miles to Four Corners road junction, then turn right 7.2 miles to Swansea. The last part of the journey is steep!

High-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles are the best choice, though cautiously driven cars may be able to navigate the dirt roads to the site.

Swansea worker's housing
Ruins of the smelter at Swansea


copyright © 2007 - 2013 Cate Mueller

Page last updated:

August 1, 2013