Not all ghost towns populated by spirits - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Not all ghost towns populated by spirits

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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2009 2:45 pm | Updated: 1:53 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Inside Arizona: There are numerous old ghost towns in Arizona, which are as diverse as the landscape that surrounds them. Many of them have left little evidence of ever having existed and are in Cochise County. These were once communities in which the pioneers of the Old West gathered to seek food, water, shelter and fortune in the high desert mountains and valleys.

There are numerous old ghost towns in Arizona, which are as diverse as the landscape that surrounds them. Many of them have left little evidence of ever having existed and are in Cochise County. These were once communities in which the pioneers of the Old West gathered to seek food, water, shelter and fortune in the high desert mountains and valleys. It is the passion and leisure pastime of many to search out and discover these remnants of our past that can still can be found in the ghost towns of the Old West.

Cochise County is also full of quaint communities that have tourism as a major part of their economic base. These towns grew into cities that survived abandonment and subsequent extinction after their mines were closed down. Tombstone and Bisbee were both originally mining camps; each has survived into the future by both honoring and promoting their past.

Not all historic towns of the West have been so loved or so lucky. Many ghost towns were mining camps that never developed into towns or that disappeared with time after the ore veins ran out and the local folks passed or moved on to greener pastures. Some ghost towns were also infamous outlaw hideouts, provision supply centers and mill, smelter, water or railroad junction sites. All but a few were eventually left to the elements of time.

Many of the little known and more remote ghost towns are hard to reach today without a 4x4 vehicle and some planning and research. To find these sites, one must do some homework and wisely hire an experienced local tour guide, in order to make a safe and sane visit to these historic town sites. They are on both public and private lands, and the rule is always "Look but do not touch." Always ask permission for special access and about safety concerns.

Of the more notorious ghost towns in the Cochise County area, many are located in the vicinity of Tombstone. Gleeson and Courtland are both within 20 miles east of Tombstone, on the east side of the Dragoon Mountains. Gleeson was originally a small copper and turquoise mining town and has some nice old ruins left to view. Courtland was both a copper mining town and a supply center in its heyday and has several buildings and foundations left today.

On the west side of the Dragoons near Tombstone lies the ghost town of Charleston, a one-time silver mining town and outlaw hideout; it is also located near the site of the historic Battle of the Bull. The ghost town of Fairbanks, also located west of Tombstone, was originally named after Nathaniel Kellogg Fairbank. Another, called Contention City, is just north of Fairbanks and is along the San Pedro River near the small town of St. David.

In the nearby northern part of Cochise County are the ghost towns of Dos Cabezas, Pearce and Cochise. All of these are partial ghost towns, with people still living in them. Dos Cabezas was both a supply center and a stage station. It is located about 15 miles southeast of Willcox and is an easy stop while driving up into the nearby Chiricahua National Monument. There are a number of old buildings to view. The old town of Pearce, located about 18 miles south of Interstate 10 at the base of the Cochise Stronghold, has some great historic buildings left, including an old store and post office. It was once a short-lived gold mining town, founded in the early 1890s. The town of Cochise, also partially populated, was once a railroad junction and train stop. The train still goes through the middle of town. The Cochise Hotel, an original 1880s boarding house, is still in operation along with a gift shop and post office. Many famous Westerners, including Wyatt Earp, stayed at the Cochise Hotel. This ghost town still entertains guests from around the world.

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