Much like its neighbour California, Arizona has a history of mining and hence is familiar with the boom that follows discovery of minerals and the bust that arrives when they become exhausted. In the vast open country of Arizona when the mines close the population has no choice but to move on leaving behind a ghost town. This has left Arizona with more ghost towns than any other state, but you do need to go looking for them. There is a Ghost Town Trail between Tucson and Tombstone to take you to some of them but many others are forgotten and left to crumble gradually into the ground.
Pearce is a place northeast of Tombstone where former miner Jimmie Pearce set up a ranch. In 1894 he found some gold on his land, and the Commonwealth Mine was founded. The town of Pearce quickly sprang up and by 1896 had a population of 1500 people. When the mine closed in the 1930s most of the people left, but a handful still live there. This picture shows the Pearce General Store.
Click on Minimap to navigate
To move forwards or backwards through the Arizona trail click the arrows above, or select your next destination on the Minimap.
Goldfield 'Ghost Town'
After all those crumbling ghost towns, now for one that makes a living from being a ghost town. Goldfield Ghost Town is the site of a real ghost town dating back to a gold strike in 1892. The town grew to around 4000 people but by the late 1890s difficult geology made the mine uneconomic and Goldfield died. In 1910 efforts were made to restart gold mining and the town was renamed Youngsberg. The gold ran out after a few years and by 1926 the town had reverted to a ghost town. It has now been rebuilt as a tourist attraction. What you won’t see is much in the way of genuine remains of Goldfield or Youngsberg, but you will get the flavour of a mining boom town albeit with a plentiful helping of tourist shops.
Not far from Courtland is a town that died twice, albeit with different names. Indians had long mined in this area for turquoise, so when copper, lead and silver were found in the 1870s the mining camp was named Turquoise. After gold was found near Pearce in 1894 the mines closed down and the town was abandoned. In 1900 an Irish miner from Pearce called John Gleeson filed a claim for copper mining, and soon Turquoise was reborn as Gleeson. The town grew to around 500 people and boomed up to and during World War I. After that war copper prices fell, the mines closed and people drifted away. The Post Office finally closed in 1939.
Most of the towns on the Ghost Town Trail have either a few residents left or someone looking after them. Courtland is an exception as it is completely abandoned. It was founded by lumberman W J Young who named it after his brother Courtland, a partner in the Great Western Mining Company. Mining of copper started in 1909 and soon Courtland was home to around 2000 people mainly living in tents. Buildings followed and Courtland had its own Post Office, shops and even in later years a movie theatre. Mining died out after the First World War and people drifted away. The Post Office survived until 1942 but now there are only the remains of some of the stronger buildings such as the jail.
In the north west of Arizona just off the road between the Hoover Dam and Kingman there is a not-so-ghostly ghost town. Choride sprang up in 1862 when silver chloride was discovered from which the town took its name. Mining started slowly due to hostile Hualapai Indians but in the 1870s the town began to boom. In 1898, the Sante Fe Railroad extended its tracks from Kingman to Chloride and by 1900 the town had a population of 2,000. In the 1930s the town began to decline and the railroad closed in 1935. By the end of World War II most of the mines had closed and Chloride had become a virtual ghost town. However, it was not destined to go the way of towns like Courtland. In the 1960s, a band of hippies led by Roy Purcell made their home in the hills just east of Chloride. During this time Purcell painted what are now known as the ‘Chloride Murals’ on rocks about 1.6 km (1 mile) out of town (4x4 or foot access only). Nowadays many artists, writers and musicians live in the town and the population is over 300. The other major industry in Chloride is tourism with visitors entertained by a re-enacted gunfight at noon on Saturdays. Alongside the homes that are occupied there are many abandoned buildings such as the old Railroad Depot shown in the picture. Old Town Choride is a recreation of how the town may have looked in mining days. Click Tab 2 to see the Old Gas Station or Tab 3 to see Old Town Chloride
Click on Minimap to navigate