Gila National Forest
In 2009, the 40-acre property that contains the historic rock tomb of Sergeant James Cooney, who discovered silver along Mineral Creek in 1870, gained permanent protection. The tomb, which previously was privately owned, lies within the Gila National Forest, completely surrounded by public land. We purchased the property and held it until the U.S. Forest Service secured the funding to acquire it as an addition to Gila National Forest.
In addition to its historic significance, the property protects frontage along Mineral Creek and provides access to a trailhead for the Mineral Creek Trail, which winds through Mineral Creek canyon, a narrow gorge with dramatic, colorful cliffs.
Cooney’s TombCooney discovered silver in the area while serving in the U.S. Army. After his enlistment ended in 1876, he promptly returned to Mineral Creek to stake his claim; but his hopes for riches were cut short: Apache Indians attacked the mine, killing Cooney in what has become known as the Alma Massacre. He was buried in a rock tomb and his tomb is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tomb is all that remains of a small mining town called Cooney, established after his death. The town also came to a difficult end—washed away by a flood in 1911.
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Places We Protect: Historic Lands