On a recent 3 day Road Trip through SouthEastern Arizona, we stopped at a few ghost towns, namely Pearce, Cortland, and Gleeson along the Ghost Town Trail. These are all located near Sunsites east of Tombstone.
Pearce was a mining town named for miner and rancher, James Pearce. He discovered gold nearby and established the Commonwealth Mine in 1894. The Pearce Post Office was opened in 1896. The railroad station opened in 1903.
In 1919, Pearce had a population of about 1,500. The town declined in the 1930s, and became almost a ghost in the 1940s, when the mine closed for the last time.
The Commonwealth Mine became one of Arizona’s major silver producers. The mine produced about $8 million worth of silver and $2.5 million in gold at a time when silver was priced around 50 cents an ounce, and gold was $20 an ounce.
Pearce is the home of two properties on the National Register of Historic Places: the old Pearce General Store, which opened in 1896, and Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church. There are a number of other historic structures in and around Pearce, some still in use, but mostly ruins.
From the looks of things, the General Store is open occasionally, but it was closed when we were there.
From Pearce, you can take the Ghost Town Trail Road (paved) south to Cortland and Gleeson. It’s a pretty drive through Old West history.
Like all the old towns in this part of the country, Cortland was a rough and ready mining town. At one time it had about 2,000 people living here, and two newspapers, 5 miles of water mains, and a theater.
As elsewhere around here, the mines wore out in the 1940’s and the population moved to better pickings. There are still ruins here worth visiting.
Around 1900, Gleeson was a copper mining town of about 500 people. The most prominent structure today is the old jail, but there are many other ruins.
The fire of 1912 burned down most of the town, which was quickly re-built. The mines wore out in 1940 and Gleeson became a semi-ghost town.
Locals Tina Miller and John Weist, are working to restore some of the buildings, including the jail. Visit the website here.