Ruby Arizona: Our Best Ghost Town

Ruby is the best of the hundreds of Arizona ghost towns, or at least the best preserved of the many in Southern Arizona. Ruby Arizona is about 12 miles south of Arivaca. About half way there, the road goes from pavement to dirt. But it’s well-maintained and a standard sedan can easily travel on it (unless of course the area gets a hard rain). Caution: DO NOT rely on your GPS.
Watch these videos and learn about its history and how you can experience this amazing place-out-of-time like we did. In the first video, get an overview of the mine and the inhabitants of the town. In the second video, Howard Frederick shares many stories about Ruby, including its bats, jaguar, and murders. Ruby is open to the public. For $12/person you can walk in Arizona mining history.
For $18 you can catch blue gill & trophy bass. You can also picnic & camp at Ruby. For the history of Ruby, including the murders that occurred here in both 1920 & 1921, you can go there and buy the book: Ruby, Arizona: Mining, Mayhem and Murder. A recommended read.

Ruby Old Building

Looking through a doorway of one of the many buildings at Ruby that still stand.


Ruby was a mining town in the early years of the last century. The mine produced gold, silver, zinc, and copper and was, for a time, highly profitable.
In the 1930′s, Ruby’s population was about 1,200, with 150 students attending the school. The Post Office was established in 1912, and general store owner, Julius Andrews, named the town after his wife.
In the early 1920′s, there were two double murders here. The mine closed in 1940 and, by the next year, the town was mostly abandoned.
When Ms. Karen & I first moved to Tucson, we enjoyed a lovely day trip to Ruby with friends, Dan & Wanda. Since then, Ruby has often been closed to the public. As of 2012, Ruby accepts visitors. I, my film crew and entourage, went to Ruby on a recent Saturday to do an on-camera interview with one of the partners who own this historical gem, Howard Frederick.
Howard is exceedingly knowledgeable about Ruby and the interview went very well. To view the two videos, click HERE.
Ruby School Slide

The slide behind the Ruby schoolhouse.


Michael is the caretaker at Ruby. If you go, be sure to check in with him. He will give you a site map and happily answer your questions.
Ruby is open to the public from Thursday-Sunday during daylight hours. Probably not by coincidence, the only good restaurant in the area, Sweet Peas Cafe’ in Arivaca, is open Thursday – Monday. Alternatively, take a picnic lunch and enjoy the picnic area on the sandy beach on the far side of the lake.
Historical information and maps are provided for self-guided tours and entrance fees are $12 per person over 12 years of age. The fees go to the non-profit foundation: Ruby Mines Restoration Project.
The Project is not trying to restore Ruby to its former “grandeur”. Simply raising money to help keep the building from deteriorating further.
Fishing in the pond is permitted, with no license required, for $18. The caretakers can be reached at 744-4471.
Pima Community College also conducts tours of Ruby. Details at (520)206-6579.
Also, you can order the book: Ruby, Arizona; Mining Mayhem and Murder It’s authoritative and and a good read.
Ruby Interviewing Howard

Interviewing Howard Frederick, one of the partners who owns Ruby.


When you leave Ruby, you can return to I-19 by going back through Arivaca, or continuing south on Forest Service Road-39. It’s a pretty drive (unpaved for about 13 miles) through Sycamore Canyon. Just after you reach pavement there is a sign to Pena Blanca Lake nearby.
If you take this route, which ends up at Rio Rico on I-19 almost to Nogales and the Mexican border, watch out for hunters during hunting season.
If you appreciate Arizona history in general, and ghost towns in particular, do visit Ruby. Highly recommended!

Ruby, Arizona: Mining, Mayhem, & Murder by Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon, Bob & Al Ring. Published by U.S. Press & Graphics; Tucson, Arizona (2005).
Gleeson SaloonFor more Ghost Towns in the area see our page “Ghost Towns and Tours of Southern Arizona” listing stories and sites around Southern Arizona.

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