The Old Santa Rita Mountains Mine Site
Used In The Movie "Hombre"
Starring Paul Newman

 

 

(Click on any photo for enlarged view)

The old mine site that served as the primary "set" in the 1967 movie Hombre starring Paul Newman is located at the northern end of the Santa Rita Mountains approximately 30 miles southeast of Tucson. The buildings and other mine structures at the camp located high on the mountain side east of the ghost town of Helvetia provided a very "realistic" backdrop for the movie's storyline.

This is a short summary of the movie presented in one review:

John Russell (Paul Newman), a white man raised by an Arizona Apache tribe, is forced to confront the society he despises when he sells the boarding house he inherits. While leaving town by stagecoach, several bigoted passengers insist he ride with the driver (Martin Balsam). But when outlaws led by by Cicero Grimes (Richard Boone) leave them all stranded in the desert, Russell may be their only hope for survival.

 

 

Located on a very popular 4WD road, the "Gunsight Pass Trail", the old mine site is not identified by name on topographic maps. Research on the Mindat.Org site identifies the location as part of the Eclipse Mine Group. It was a source of copper, lead, zinc, and gold. Primary production from the mine is reported to have been prior to 1900. Its co-ordinates are: N31 51 20.46 and W110 45 34.00

This is the site today.

 

 

With the image from the movie available, it is possible to recreate the location of the structures that were there during the filming. The road to the left in the movie photo that was an access route to the site in 1967 is now completely grown over. There are no signs of any of the buildings . Only a few pieces of sheet metal remain. There is almost no lumber. The washout to the left on the mine dump has persisted for nearly 50 years and is little changed. A few pieces of pipe, mine rail and cable are scattered about.

 

 

In this screen shot from the movie of the cabins on the dump, the base of a headframe is just visible on the waste dump in the background. The photo to the right is the same view toward the old waste dump as seen today. There is no evidence that there were ever any buildings here! Nothing remains of the head frame on the distant waste pile.

 

 

I am not certain what happened to the structures at this site. Down in the valley to the west, the mining company that held some of the old claims there, knocked down the existing structures to prevent their use by transients. I wonder if that was the same fate for the buildings at this site?

 

 

A lot of the action of the movie is centered on the old shack up on the hill. To me the "staircase" does not seem to be of the same vintage as the shack and the old ore chute. The photo on the right shows the same area today.

 

 

I wonder if the stubby posts are the remnants of the old ore chute seen in the photo above? The photo on the right is the clearing that was the location of the shack.

 

 

In the movie scene below, Paul Newman and the other actors are walking through Gunsight Pass, located on the ridgeline southeast of the mine. The Sierrita Mountains are in the distance. The photo on the right is the current appearance of the pass.

 

 

The ambush and holdup of the stage coach occurred at Gunsight Pass.

 

 

This stage coach scene, part of the holdup, was filmed just east of Gunsight Pass. The road here has changed little in the nearly 50 years since the movie was filmed.

 

 

Other locales in the area also appear in the movie. I enjoyed Hombre both as a movie and as a source of information about what this part of the Santa Ritas was like nearly 50 years ago. The movie is readily available online.

I have photos and info of the Rosemont area which is located below Gunsight Pass on the east side posted here.

For other mines in the Santa Ritas, there are then and now photos at this page.

 

 

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