Wanna get away? How about an eerie adventure into the unknown.
Arizona should be considered the ghost town capital of the country. It has more than 275 abandoned settlements of American origin. So many of Arizona’s ghost towns were once boomtowns of Wild West heritage. These towns still exist, but are slowly giving way to various stages of decay, year by year.
If you get the itch for a ghost town road trip in Arizona this summer, here’s your must-see list.
Southeast of Tucson near the Mexican border is the postcard-perfect town of Bisbee. The weather adds to its beauty making it a perfect tourist location with its historic architecture and thriving cultural scene. However, Bisbee was not always so quaint and tranquil. Check out how Bisbee was once, and still is to some spirits.
Located just north of Bisbee, Tombstone has a similar origin. Many think of Tombstone’s famous gun fight portrayed in old western movies. Tombstone is actually not abandoned. It still has a population of people living their daily lives. The nickname “the town too tough to die” sure fits.
Another town with a disquieting name, Chloride is located just north of Kingman and old Route 66. Chloride is great to stop by, just to sightsee, but its quieter than other touristy ghost towns and you can catch a glimpse of the distant past everywhere you look.
The historic downtown will inspire the imagination of how it was with its old saloon, undertaker’s office, antique jail, and Lavender Lace’s Boarding House for Fine Women. If you look even deeper you will find a bizarre collection of art and even a display of murals.
Jerome was once known as the naughtiest town in the west. South of Flagstaff and deep in the Black Hills of Yavapai County at 5,000 feet above sea level, Jerome is considered “America’s Most Vertical City” and the largest ghost town in the U.S.
Founded in 1876 when gold and copper were discovered in the area. All of the wild west characters cavorted in Jerome, and soon the population burst to well over 15,000 in the 1920’s making it the 4th largest city in Arizona at the time. The attraction of the saloons and brothels, and there were many, was also a draw to the area at the time.
Prospectors discovered riches of gold and silver here in 1877. In 1912, local businessman Julias Andrews opened a post office and named it after his wife Ruby. Eventually, the mining camp became known as Ruby. The most prosperous period for the town was from 1910 to 1940 when the Montana Mine became Arizona’s leading producer of lead and zinc. However, this prosperity came to an end quickly.
Residing only 4 miles from the Mexican border, the town of Ruby met its match with Mexican bandits. Between 1920 and 1922, three double homicides were committed by Mexican rebels or bandits in Ruby and in the nearby desert. Known as the Ruby Murders, this led to the largest manhunt in the southwest at the time. The mine closed in 1940 leaving old machinery and buildings of a time long gone.
This living history museum is located 40 miles east of Phoenix and is the gateway to the Superstition Mountains in the legendary Valley of the Sun.
Goldfield, in the past was thought to be the town to overtake Mesa due to its 3 saloons, a boarding house, general store, blacksmith shop, brewery, meat market, and a schoolhouse. All signs of imminent growth. Unfortunately, when the gold dried up, so did the town.
Through the years, there were many attempts to reopen the mine, but now Goldfield is a popular tourist town. The historic town offers many old west attractions: pan for gold, take a ride on Arizona’s only narrow gauge train, and witness an old west gunfight performed by the famous Goldfield Gunfighters. Goldfield is great fun for the whole family and offers beautiful mountain views.
Phoenix on the Cheap would love to hear from you. If you know of any more Arizona ghost towns to add to our list, leave a comment below.