Ray, Sonora, and Barcelona in central, east Arizona are no more. Once upon a time there was a concrete structure that might have been a machine gun emplacement.
Title graphic: Ray-Sonora, Arizona

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about the Machine Gun Nest

A few have responded to my question about there being fortification above .Ray--what looked like a machine gun nest. Here are the responses and a little bit about labor unrest.

.Dick .Woods:

My brother and I used to visit the machine gun nest every so often. The story goes that it was put in when Pancho Villa was still raiding towns along the Gila River. It makes a good story but I have no way to know if it is true. The structure was concrete with a heavy metal "hat" that swung away from the top. There was a blind corner at the entrance - you had to watch for snakes when you went into it. As I remember, it wasn't very large and probably would hold a half dozen people tops. There was also a warehouse with racks of repeating rifles at the mine - these were disposed of during the 1950's. There was also the ruins of a machine gun mounted in the downtown park (next to the post office). There were some interesting stories that went along with that too but I suspect they were created late at night at the bar.

end .Dick .Woods' email

.Brent .Nebeker

I was just reading more on your page about .Ray-.Sonora, you mentioned what you thought were machine gun nests. My dad has told me that some old-timers told him that they had these there to protect the town from possible invasions from Poncho Villa and his gangs in the early 1900's. I really don't know the validity of this, but it may make some sense.

end .Brent's email

.Mike .Roberson

"I too stumbled across a 'machine gun nest' in .Hayden. It seems very similar to the one you described in your web-site. I asked my dad if that was what it was. We kids already knew it was to wipe out Krauts and/or Japs. He said that it was a 'provisional pumping station.' Made some sense, there were a lot of old pipes and piping in the thing. Also, looking back it was in a terrible spot to be anything defensive or anything of that nature."

end .Mike's email

Union Activities

To me the other possibility was worker unrest. The following exerpt from Arizona Governor .Campbell's recollections of his time in office (1917) when the IWW (International Workers of the World or .Wobblies) was trying to organize the mines.

July 13th Review (pp 49-50)

(1200 IWW deported from District by Citizens)

Brig. Genl .Parker, Commander the Southern Division. All requests from Governor referred to .Parker. .Campbell urged that troops be sent to .Clifton, .Morenci, .Bisbee, .Jerome, .Mohave Co., .Humboldt, .Ray and .Ajo. Governor wired Sheriff .Wheeler for a statement of the reasons why the men were deported. The Sheriff at late hour had not acknowledged receipt of the inquiry.



After the .Jerome Deportation and the arrival of troops no further strikes or stoppages of Copper production occurred in this District. The poison well had been removed. The Governor alone, faced the music of future public praise and comdemnation.

While the .Wobblies had lost their fight at .Jerome they had made headway in their attacks upon the Copper Camps of .Globe and .Miami, .Bisbee, .Clifton and .Morenci. .Ray of all the major copper camps remaining untouched by the .Wobblies. The reason was due to foresightedness of the General Manager of the .Ray Consolidated Copper Co. Mr. .Lewis S. .Cates, now President of the .Phelps-.Dodge Corp.

.Ray held an isolated position in the rugged mountains of Pinal County, connected with the outside world by a single county road and a Railroad, controlled by the Company to its Junction Point with the .Arizona Eastern Ry. at .Kelvin, a rarely used and almost impossible road connected with .Superior, site of the .Magma Copper Co. Anyone entering .Ray was obliged to use the Railroad or these two roads. A handful of Company Deputy Sheriffs could easily command them and under .Cates they did. No suspicious character or known labor agitator was permitted to enter the were quickly picked up and with the help of Judge .French, Justice of the Peace were arrested as a vagrant or trespasser and "floated out of Town." .Ray was an out and out, 100 percent, non-union community, and this means all Unions. .Cates well earned his sobriquet "The Czar of the .Pinals." .Ray had no strikes, .Cates' methods worked during the critical period. The inference might be gained that .Cates was a rough-neck, came up in the mining game to his commanding position in the Copper World, the hard way but he was not by any means.

.Lewis S. .Cates was born (a blue blood) of a distinguished New England family, educated and a graduate of the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology as Mining Engineer. Casting his future in the Western Copper Camps his ability and courage to tackle tough and difficult jobs was soon recognized by his Employers. He pushed up the ladder rung by rung until he Became General Manager of the .Ray Consolidated Copper Co. at .Ray, .Arizona, a stepping stone to higher and more important positions. .Cates, the cultured gentleman was a natural mixer among all kinds - a firm and trustworthy friend to high and low alike and an unforgiving enemy.


(Written between 1934 and 1939)

FROM: http://digital.library.arizona.edu/bisbee/docs2/rec_camp.htm


Conversation at Bisbee, AZ, Museum

In 2004, I was able to visit many places in Arizona. At the museum in Bisbee, I talkedd to an authority on mining. He knew of earthen fortifications on the Mexican side of the border in Pancho Villa's day, but no others. He was sure there were no fortifications around Bisbee and that any union-management disputes were solved without the military. He did say pumping stations were build in the area around the mine, which was a more likely fit with the description I had given him. Hmmmph!

email from .Justin Bittick--12/31/2005

My name is .Justin Bittick and I was born in .Ray 1961, just a few years before the town died. You asked about the machine gun nests at .Ray. My father, Joe Bittick, was born in 1909, Winkleman, AZ, and retired from the Kennecot .Mines there at .Ray. He told me about the bunkers being put in for the First World War out of fears that Mexico might accept Germany's offer of an alliance and attack the .US. The mine would have been a prime target. He never mentioned Pancho Villa but who knows?

email from Terry Hall--12/29/2011

"As Justin Bittick stated The so called machine gun nests were from WW1. The one located up the mountain from the old Ray Con Club was as he described except the reason it had a swinging steel cap is because there was a retractable frame inside for a search light most likely to either scan the sky for bombers or the surrounding terrain for invading forces." "


I feel that the site was a fortification but who was the foe? If you have any information that might fill in the gaps--send it along. ovk

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Assembled by ovk. Last updated 1/25/2012.
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