My travels on the Ghost Town Trail began here in Gleeson, 20-some miles east of Tombstone, and would take me through Pearce some 12 miles north and finally to Cochise on Hwy 191 southeast of Benson. For part of the way, the "Trail" is actually an unpaved road in fairly good condition. No 4-wheel drive needed.
Gleeson Jail with American & Arizona flags flying.
Gleeson was founded by John Gleeson who, in 1900, discovered significant copper ore deposits in the surrounding hills.
Gleeson Jail and small museum.
The former owner, Tina Miller, sold the jail to Joe Bono in 2013. Mr. Bono continues to have it open to the public on the first Saturday of every month. For more info: www.gleesonarizona.
By sheer luck, as I was taking photographs of the exterior, Richard, who introduced himself as the caretaker, drove up and asked if I would like to see inside. He didn't have to ask twice. Thank you, Richard.
This is my interpretation of the Gleeson Saloon, which was probably a pretty rowdy place when a thousand miners lived here.
An adobe ruin at Gleeson.
From its size, this could have been a hospital or school, I just don't know. But I will find out.
One of Gleeson's many mines.
The hills around here are dotted with mines. This is one of the more substantial ones that I saw.
A rock & concrete ruin at Courtland.
There are quite a few ruins in what was the boom town of Courtland, a couple miles north of Gleeson on Ghost Town Trail. Courtland was born in 1909 and died in 1942. Once, more than 2,000 people lived and worked here.
Mare and Filly along the Ghost Town Trail
Out here you can drive for a very long time and not see towns or people. But I did come across the occasional small herd of cattle and sometimes horses free-grazing.
Leader of the Herd
What a beauty!
Historical marker just before entering Pearce.
Patti Burris lives here. If she's not a ghost, Pearce is not yet a true ghost town.
She owns the historic Pearce Store and the gift shop across the street. She says they have a festival every Thanksgiving weekend and that's about the only time she opens the store to the public. Consequently, you will not get an interior photograph from me until I can manage to get there on a Thanksgiving weekend.
Sight of the 80-stamp mill above the town of Pearce.
The town was named for James Pearce, miner and cattleman, who discovered gold nearby at what became the Commonwealth Mine in 1894. So productive were the mines here that the Southern Pacific ran a spur all the way from Cochise in 1903. By 1919, Pearce had a population of 1,500. All but a few hearty souls had left by 1950.
Pearce Wooden Ruin
Most of the ruins along the Ghost Town Trail are rock & concrete or adobe. You won't find many wooden ones like this.
At one time, about 1500 people lived in Pearce. If they didn't die here, almost everyone else left for better pickings by the 1940's.
Pearce Cemetery Rock
Founded in the 1880's, Cochise Arizona was named for the great Chiricahua Apache chief. Mainly, the town served the Southern Pacific Railroad with water and coal for its mighty steam engines.
Built for railroad workers in 1882, it later gave passengers a place to overnight and dine on their journey across the Southwest.
As an historical footnote, Mary Katherine Horony lived in Cochise and worked at the hotel in 1899 after the death of her long-time, sometime companion, the irascible, often intoxicated, and always lethal Dr. John Holliday passed away. Most people only remember her as Big Nose Kate.
For more Ghost Towns in the area see our page “Ghost Towns and Tours of Southern Arizona” listing stories and sites around Southern Arizona.