We obtained this book from Arizona Highways’ Online Shop. The book’s full title is; ‘Arizona Ghost Towns: 50 of the State’s Best Places to Get a Glimpse of the Old West” by author Noah Austin. Published in 2020, it is a treasure trove of information about the territory’s early mining towns gone to dust over the past century and more.
Each settlement is described in some detail with GPS coordinates to help locate them, and explanations of where their names are derived from, a thoughtful set of directions and what’s to see nearby, if anything.
Here’s an outtake of one narrative to give you a sample of the style and insight. “In the 1860’s, the discovery of a rich vein of silver in Northwestern Arizona’s Cerbat Mountains gave rise to several of Arizona’s first mining camps. One of those was Chloride, which quickly grew into a bustling community and major producer of mineral riches.”
“The remote location of what became known as Silver Hill posed challenges for early prospectors. Reaching it required taking a steamboat upstream from Yuma to a site near present-day Bullhead City, then braving attacks by Hualapais while crossing some 40 miles of desert. The arrival of the railroad in Kingman in the 1880’s helped ease the miners’ hardship and allowed large-scale mining to begin in earnest, and in 1899, a 25-mile branch line, the Arizona and Utah Railway, was completed from Kingman to Chloride. May Krider, a young Chloride resident, won a popular vote to drive the railroad’s ceremonial silver spike, and the town celebrated the milestone with dances, contests, and a community barbeque.”
“By 1900, Chloride had a population of around 2,000, and some 75 mines were being operated in the area. Among the most lucrative was the Tennessee-Schuylkill, which reportedly produced $7.5 million in gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc between the late 1890’s and the late 1940’s. Chloride also had hotels, a bank, a hospital, and numerous saloons and restaurants. One hotel advertisement from 1899 touted modern furnishings and locally sourced foods, adding the Chloride was “destined to be the greatest lead producing camp in Mohave County.”
Many of these ghost towns mentioned in this book are located in Southern Arizona and Ms. Karen and I have visited these over the past several years and know them fairly well, such as:
• Ruby – One of the best-preserved ghost towns on our list. Also the newest ghost town, the last person leaving in the 1960’s.
• Pearce – Pearce is considered a ghost town, even though a few people still remain, two or three vineyards included.
• Courtland – Part of the Ghost Town Trail, Pearce, Courtland and Gleeson are all within a few miles of each other. Makes a good Day Trip.
• Gleeson – Now privately owned, the Gleeson Jail is a treasure of artifacts for your perusal. It may be open on the first Saturday of the month in the morning.
• Castle Dome City – A city lovingly rebuilt from the remnants of mining in the area. Well worth the trip.
• Fairbank – Managed by the BLM and the Friends of the San Pedro River. What is left is well-preserved including the School which serves as a gift shop and learning center.
• Harshaw and Mowry – This wonderful guest post was written about a man and his family who lived in Harshaw.
• Kentucky Camp – Stay in this ghost town courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service and a few bucks. Immerse yourself in the area’s history.
• Klondyke – Not much is left of Klondyke but the story of Klondyke is a good one.
• Sasco – The forgotten Ghost Town, with a smelter and hotel. Much of the rest is history.
There are others we have been to that are not mentioned in this book. Noah Austin explains that there is just not enough left to see or talk about. However, we have been to Charleston and I would respectfully disagree, although, historians, and ghost town buffs, would like to keep it secret, due to vandalism. Charleston, was the town, not far from Millville which was the mining operation, serving Tombstone’s silver processing.
But I learned new information about all the ghost towns in reading this excellent book. It made us interested in visiting the many others mentioned in this book, like Chloride, although many are not in our Southern Arizona zone. We have been to some outside our self-imposed geographical restrictions, like Vulture City near Wickenburg. You can read about our adventure in Wickenburg here.
Another of the ghost towns mentioned in this book is Alto, not far from Patagonia. We cannot believe that we missed this. There is also Salero, which the book claims is better preserved but on private land. We will never know.
There are plenty of other ghost towns mentioned here in two to four pages, with some good photographs. They are alphabetically arranged but a map you can find the ghost towns geographically as well. You can find the book on Amazon or on the Arizona Highways Online Book Shop. Enjoy.