Fairbank is a Southern Arizona ghost town, and one of the best preserved, thanks to numerous conservation efforts. It’s located in the San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area about 10 miles west of Tombstone. Here conservation efforts have saved the San Pedro River, a haven for dozens of species of critters and birds.
Fairbank was named for Chicago investor Nathaniel Fairbank. He was the founder of the Grand Central Mining Company, which had investments in several Tombstone silver mines. In the 1880′s Fairbank was the closest railhead to Tombstone, then one of the largest cities in the West (population about 15,000 in 1886).
From Fairbank, trains took silver ore from the Tombstone mines and delivered it to the stamp mills at Contention City and Charleston. When the Butterfield Overland Mail Line started in 1885, Fairbank was also an important stage stop.
By 1886, Fairbank had about 100 residents. Back then this little town had a steam quartz mill, a general store, a butcher shop, a restaurant, a saloon, a Wells Fargo office, the railroad depot, and a stage coach station.
Fairbank AZ Ghost Town Today
Today, the schoolhouse has been restored. Inside during our January 2012 visit, we found a knowledgable docent, his dog, and many books and historical photos about this area along the San Pedro River. Outdoors, there are numerous interpretive plaques that help identify some of the old buildings and explain what life in Fairbank was like back then. Fairbank is open to the public 9:30 – 4:30. They have a couple of pleasant picnic ramadas here too.
Take a self-guided tour around what was once a thriving boom-town of the wild west!
- The Adobe Commercial Building (# 4 on map) was recently stabilized by the BLM. By 1883, it consisted of a general store, a post office and a saloon.
- The Montezuma Hotel was constructed in 1889. It was just south of the Adobe Commercial Building, where HWY 82 is now. See if you can find portions of the old foundation.
- The Small House (#3) was built in 1885. It is a example of a once common house type of which few are left. It had been divided into two rooms.
- The Schoolhouse (#1) was constructed in 1920 with gypsum block made in Douglas AZ. It was in use through the 1930′s.
- The House (#5) was built in 1925. The porches were originally screened, and later infilled in 1954.
- The Stable and Outhouses (#2,6,7) date to the early 1940′s during a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project that operated out of Fairbank.