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You Can Visit These Ghost Towns Near Phoenix
People were drawn to Arizona because of the mining opportunities. Gold, silver and copper were the natural resources that eventually led to Arizona becoming a state. Prospectors left California, came to the Arizona territory and brought with them the people who would support the mining efforts — the people of mining towns. Ghost towns aren't necessarily spooky or haunted by spirits, evil or otherwise. Philip Varney, in his book Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps defines a ghost town as having "two characteristics: the population has decreased markedly, and the initial reason (such as a mine or a railroad) no longer keeps people in the community."
Here are some details and links about the more interesting Ghost Towns that are within about 100 miles of the Phoenix area. They are all day trips from the Phoenix area, although you may want to spend some more time at a few of them. Some of them are open to the public. They appear here in alphabetical order.
Note: The locations... indicated might not be exact on Google Maps. You might have to look around the area to find ghost town remains or structures.
Still, today, there are people looking for lost treasures associated with some of these mines.
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Bumble Bee - North of Phoenix
Bumble Bee got its post office in 1879. There are still people here, and the interesting sights are either occupied or private property. There was never a gold boom here; Bumble Bee was a stage stop. The community built a fake set of ghost town store fronts to attract tourists but it is now abandoned. Bumble Bee is on the way to Cleator and Crown King.
Directions to Bumble Bee
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) North to the Bumble Bee cutoff.
You can see this location marked on a Google map. From there you can zoom in and out, get driving directions, and see what else is nearby.
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Cleator - North of Phoenix
The Turkey Creek Mining District was where gold prospectors came in 1864. For a brief period there was a post office here. James Cleator came to Arizona in 1900. His son still owns the bar that the elder Cleator bought in 1905. In 1915 Cleator bought the town, previously known as Turkey Siding and became the postmaster. Cleator now has a population of 10 people. There are some other buildings and a school and a phone booth.
John from Phoenix writes (2006): "Thank you for you guide and write ups on the Ghost towns. We had a great weekend exploring a few of them. Just thought you might want to update the info on this particular one. The bar is now owned by someone other than a Cleator, and the current population recently dropped from seven to six (it would seem one of the residents was ill and decided it was too much, so he took his own life. Not to make light of this situation, in this colorful little oasis in the desert, but it is also said the the recently deceased is... now haunting his old home.)
Directions to Cleator
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) north to the Bumblebee exit. Follow Bumblebee road (FSR 259) for about five miles to the town of Bumblebee. Cleator is about eight miles down the road.
You can see this location marked on a Google map. From there you can zoom in and out, get driving directions, and see what else is nearby.
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Congress - North of Phoenix
Gold was discovered in Congress in 1884 and more than 400 men came to work the mines aided by the addition of the railroad. The Silver Dollar Saloon is where they spent their leisure time. There are remnants, an old mine, and a cemetery to be seen in Congress. There was an upper and a lower part to the town. The upper part of Congress is where the businesses were located, and the people lived in the lower part. A fire destroyed most of the businesses in Congress in 1898, but the mine was worked until the 1930's. The mine and the Old Congress Cemetery are not open to tourists.
Directions to Congress
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) to U.S.60 West to Wickenburg. Take U.S.93 to State Route 89 to Congress.
You can see this location marked on a Google map. From there you can zoom in and out, get driving directions, and see what else is nearby.Continue to 5 of 19 below.
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Copper Creek- South of Phoenix
About 50 buildings supported about 200 people that lived in the copper mining town called Copper Creek that was begun in 1863. In 1907 the post office was established and it was closed in 1942. In 1908 the Sibley family built a mansion worth seeing in Copper Creek, but you have to be in good shape to walk there.
Directions to Copper Creek
It is not easy from here. From Phoenix take I-10 East toward Tucson to 87 toward Florence. Take State Route 79 south to State Route 77 toward Mammoth. Copper Creek is about 12 miles east. A 4WD high clearance vehicle is essential.
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Crown King - North of Phoenix
The Crown King Mine's history began in the 1870's. In 1888 the post office opened. The gold mining town was named Crown King and had about 500 buildings, including restaurants and hotels. The railroad came to Crown King in 1904, but the town didn't last much longer as a mining community. Many of Crown King's original buildings remain. Today one can still visit the general store and saloon, a school and a cemetery in this summer home area in the Bradshaw Mountains.
Directions to Crown King
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) north. Take the Bumble Bee exit. You will pass the ghost towns of Bumble Bee and Cleator on your way to Crown King.
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Fort Misery - North of Phoenix
Fort Misery was built by a man who helped build the railroad to Crown King. The mining camp got its name because of the hard times that people experienced there. Fort Misery is one of several mining camps located near Crown King. People lived in Fort Misery until the 1920's.
Directions to Fort Misery
Fort Misery is not too hard to find, but requires a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) North to Crown King exit. The Fort Misery mine was five miles southwest of Crown King, 7 miles from what was the Old Senator Highway.
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Gillette - North of Phoenix
Gillette can be found on the banks of the Agua Fria River. It was founded in 1878, and was a town of six streets. The Burfind Hotel was the largest structure in Gillette and now lies in ruin. Gillette was founded by the superintendent of the Tip Top Mine. About 9 miles away, the town was started to process the ore from Tip Top. In 1884 the mill was moved to Tip Top. Gillette was still a stop on the stagecoach route until the railroad made the stagecoach unnecessary.
It isn't easy to get to Gillette today, and a sturdy high-clearance vehicle is recommended.
Directions to Gillette
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) North to Route 69 going west. Gillette is about 5 miles west of the Table Mesa Exchange.Continue to 9 of 19 below.
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Jerome - North of Phoenix
Jerome is Arizona's most famous ghost town and is by far the largest. The post office in Jerome was established in 1883 and is still operating. Jerome was a copper mining town and almost 3,000 inhabitants lived and worked there in 1900 making it the fourth largest city in the Arizona territory. Jerome is actually an Arizona State Park. There is a museum, many original buildings, including the jail, and the mine to be viewed. It has become somewhat of an artist's colony since the Jerome Historical Society fought to keep the town alive. Today the Town of Jerome has a Chamber of Commerce and a volunteer fire department. There is much to see and do in Jerome — it will take an entire afternoon. If you intend to eat at the House of Joy (a former brothel) you need reservations weeks in advance. Nearby Clarkdale is where the smelter operation was built and where you can take the Verde Canyon Railroad for a scenic train ride.
If you enjoy a glass of vino, Jerome has several spots for... wine tasting that are well worth a visit.
Directions to Jerome
To get to Jerome from Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) North to State Route 69 into Prescott. From Prescott take Alt 89 into Jerome. Any type of vehicle will do. For a fun drive back, take the winding mountain road out the other side of Jerome to 260 toward Camp Verde.
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Don't Stop Here!
There are more ghost towns to visit within a couple of hours from Phoenix on the next page.
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Octave - North of Phoenix
The mine at Octave is traced back to 1863. After producing millions of dollars worth of profits, the Octave mine was closed in 1942. There were various buildings in the town, but only one standing building remains. Octave is near the towns of Stanton and Weaver. Octave was known for its Friday Night dances. The land in Octave is privately owned.
Directions to Octave
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) to U.S.60 West to Wickenburg. Take U.S.93 to State Route 89 past Congress and take the turnoff toward Stanton and Weaver. Octave is at the end of the road. A high clearance vehicle is required.
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Oro Belle - North of Phoenix
The Oro Belle Mining and Mill Company was started around 1898. One can still see foundations of buildings and the safe house, although the safe is gone. The Oro Belle mine was shut down in 1908. The saloon, including the bar, are now in Crown King having been transported there in 1910.
Directions to Oro Belle
Oro Belle is not too hard to find, but requires a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) North to Crown King exit. The Oro Belle Mine was five miles southwest of Crown King, 3 miles from what was the Old Senator Highway.Continue to 13 of 19 below.
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Sasco Loop - South of Phoenix
The Sasco Loop is comprised of three towns: Sasco, Silverbell and Silver Bell. Sasco got its name from the Southern Arizona Smelting Company and the town's history began in 1907. Sasco was a smelter town, and had businesses and a hotel. The post office closed in 1919. At Silverbell there are still some visible remains of the town from the road, but the town is private property. About 3,000 people once lived there and the post office started up in 1904. Silver Bell was a copper mining town as late as the 1980's.
Directions to Sasco Loop
From Phoenix take I-10 East toward Tucson to Avra Valley Road Exit. Take a high clearance vehicle.
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Silver King - South of Phoenix
Silver King is near Superior, AZ and is privately owned. Permission must be granted before anyone can have access. The post office at Silver King was established in 1877, and the postmaster and saloonkeeper were one and the same person. It was known as a peaceful camp. Mine production at Silver King reached its peak in 1886. There were enough people to support two hotels. The owners tried to shoot each other, but were not successful. Silver King also had a church. Vandals burned down the most famous building in Silver King.
Directions to Silver King
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) go to U.S. 60 East toward Superior. A high clearance vehicle is required.
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Stanton - North of Phoenix
Stanton had its first gold strike in 1863 and used to be called Antelope Station. Charles Stanton came to town, elected himself deputy, justice of the peace and postmaster and changed the name of the town. He was not popular and was shot to death. Stanton is now private property, basically an RV park. Check to see if visitors are allowed.
Directions to Stanton
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) to U.S.60 West to Wickenburg. Take U.S.93 to State Route 89 toward Yarnell. Stanton is six miles east of Arrowhead station.
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Stoddard - North of Phoenix
The Stoddard-Binghamton and Copper Queen mines gave rise to the town of Stoddard, named for Isaac Stoddard. It is located northeast of Mayer, Arizona. A post office was operational in Stoddard between 1882 and 1907. By 1924 the town's inhabitants had gone. A school and a few buildings are left. At its peak, about 300 people lived in Stoddard. In 2012 public access to the mine was cut off due to private ownership.
Directions to Stoddard
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) north to State Route 69 to Mayer. A 4WD high clearance vehicle is required.Continue to 17 of 19 below.
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Tip Top - North of Phoenix
The Tip Top Mine was founded in 1875 and about 200 people are said to have populated the mining camp. There were several stores, a restaurant, a laundry and a saloon. A town called Gillette, now also classified as a ghost town, sprang up nearby Tip Top to support the mine operations.
Directions to Tip Top
With great difficulty! From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) North to the Table Mesa Exit. After the Agua Fria crossing there are several miles of very tough terrain. Do not try to get to Tip Top without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
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Vulture Mine - North of Phoenix
The Vulture Mine is about 14 miles from Wickenburg, Arizona. In 1863 gold was discovered here. It is called the Vulture Mine because legend has it that a vulture felled by a gunshot landed near a gold nugget.
The Vulture Mine thrived through the 1890's and was still operational in the 1920's. In 1942 the mining here stopped. There are various buildings, a school and a hanging tree still to be seen there. There is an entrance fee to Vulture Mine and visitors can take a self-guided tour. An additional fee will allow you to pan for gold.
Directions to Vulture Mine
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) to US60 West. The turnoff is about 2.5 miles west of Wickenburg. Travel about another 12 miles to the Vulture Mine at the end of the pavement on Vulture Mine Road.
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Weaver - North of Phoenix
Located along Weaver Creek, Weaver shares the Rich Hill area with Stanton and Octave. The town was named after Pauline Weaver, a guide, who happened upon a gold find. Thugs, thieves and criminals inhabited Weaver when the gold mine was exhausted. There is a cemetery there, and there are a few other items to see such as the walls of the Weaver post office.
Directions to Weaver
From Phoenix take I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway) to U.S.60 West to Wickenburg. Take U.S.93 to State Route 89 past Congress. Road to Stanton is on the right side, 2 miles after Congress. Then about 6 miles to Stanton. Weaver is 2 miles behind Stanton.