Arizona is a pretty young state that didn’t see much American expansion until the mid-19th century. Arizona saw a rise in settlements during this time period, including an explosion of small mining camps that grew into boom towns. Some managed to survive into this century, like Jerome and Bisbee. Others, however, only lived a few short years before dying with the town’s collapsed economy or from other disastrous events. Read on to get an abbreviated history on some of these abandoned Arizona towns.
Once a prime farming town in Pinal County, a short distance from where Florence currently sits, Adamsville was established in 1871. Life in the town was reportedly cheap but violent. Shootings and stabbings were a common occurrence (but that seems evident of the Old West lifestyle) until the town’s population was eventually absorbed into Florence.
2. Canyon Diablo
Located about 25 miles west of Winslow, Canyon Diablo in the late 1800s was a railroad settlement that catered to the workers moving through the area and those working on a nearby bridge. At the time it was a place known as a rough and tumble town; in its early days, it had no lawmen, its main street was reportedly called Hell Street, and its large number of saloons and brothels operated 24 hours a day.
You won’t see much evidence of this old town these days. There are ruins of the Two Guns trading post, which enjoyed a short-lived existence along Route 66.
3. Castle Dome Landing
This boomtown was founded along the banks of the Colorado River in 1863 as both a mining camp and river port. Accounts are fickle about the town’s population during its mining heyday; some claim it only had a population of 50 while others say it rivaled nearby towns like Yuma. In any case, the mines went through several periods of extraction before both they and the town were entirely abandoned in 1978.
Today, Castle Dome Landing sits under the Colorado River, when it was submerged by Martinez Lake in 1935. A hint of the town continues to exist at Castle Dome Museum, located roughly 20 miles away from its original location.
This old mining town was located a short distance from Tombstone but was originally settled as a residence for mill workers. It lasted just short of a decade and, like many western towns, it was known for its lawlessness and was a haven for outlaws.
The town of Courtland was a bit of a late bloomer by some frontier town standards. It was founded in 1909 during the copper boom and enjoyed a 30-something year lifespan with residents living in shacks and tents. The town had a pretty tame reputation compared to many of the other towns on this list and today the only structure that remains is the old jail, which had a pretty crazy history itself.
6. Pinal City
Located in the same area as the present-day Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Pinal City was a town with a mining and ranching economy for roughly twenty years. It evidently was the place where Wyatt Earp’s common law wife, Celia Ann Blaylock, died from an overdose of alcohol and laudanum in 1888. Other than decaying ruins, not much exists of the town these days.
This ghost town was a smelting town, the second stop for ore mined nearby. The town was inhabited for about 15 years by 600 people. During the last few years of the town’s history, the Spanish flu wreaked havoc on the town, killing many of its residents and filling most of the cemetery. The smelter eventually closed and most of the buildings were demolished. What remains today are vandalized ruins damaged from paintballers over the years.
8. Vulture City
This mining town lived to have a similar fate as many others. It was founded in 1863 shortly after the discovery of a gold mine nearby named Vulture Mine and had a pretty violent history. The town was eventually abandoned by the 1940s.
Have you happened to come across any of these towns? What are some other ghost towns you know of? Don’t forget to check out our
previous article on Arizona ghost towns!