Arizona January 07, 2017
You’d Never Know These 7 Ghost Towns Are Hiding In Arizona’s Most Populated County
Ghost towns and Arizona go together like chips and salsa; it’s a natural combination that makes each a little better. Since our state is home to literally hundreds of ghost towns, we decided to feature a few that you can find in our most populous and most urban county. Maricopa County has at least a dozen abandoned towns so here are a few that once thrived in the Sonoran desert and (with the exception of number two) you can still spot the remains of the communities that once lived in these places.
1. Agua Caliente
Located just a little ways off the road between Gila Bend and Dateland sits the remains of this former resort. Agua Caliente, as the name suggests, had natural hot springs that led to the opening of a hotel and a small ranch in 1897.
It enjoyed a modest life and was a nice little R&R spot for soldiers at nearby camps during World War II. However, the resort eventually faded into obscurity before closing due to the water source drying up and the construction of Interstate 8. These days, the town's remains sit on private property so while locals probably won't mind you driving through to peek at the ruins, you might want to avoid stopping to really explore.
These two photos show what Beardsley looked like in 1908, just a simple little farming community sitting at the junction of two railroads. The area was named after Williams Beardsley, who started development on an irrigation project here about two decades before the photos were taken.
A post office wasn’t established until 1936 but was short-lived; the area was bulldozed for railroad expansion and now sits under the city of Surprise.
Now a tourist attraction sitting under the Superstition Mountains, Goldfield was a mining town established in the early 1890s. The mines operated for about five years, with the town reaching a population height of 4,000 before the mines closed and the town was abandoned in 1898.
Within a short time, another town was built on top of Goldfield’s ruins, called Youngsberg. This one also focused on mining and lasted until 1926 when, once again, the mines closed and the town shut down for good. What you’ll encounter today is a tourist attraction established in the 1980s that seeks to recreate a vision of what the towns may have looked like. Little was left of either town other than a few crumbling building foundations and whatever was left behind.
4. Harquahala Mines and Observatory
Less of a town and more of a little community, the Harquahala Mountains at the edge of Maricopa County were once home to mines, an Army heliograph station, and even a Smithsonian observatory. The observatory was established to study the sun and operated from 1920 until 1924 or 1925 when it was relocated to Wrightwood, California.
Today, you’ll find the remains of the old observatory, mainly the concrete foundations and tin sides. You’ll also encounter abandoned mines and even little cemeteries in the area as well. The area can be accessed via a long dirt road and directions can be found at the
Bureau of Land Management website
Located about 17 miles north of Agua Caliente, Sundad was meant to become a haven for tuberculosis patients in the 1920s but the sanatorium was never built. You’ll find some old tanks, building foundations, and lots and lots of rocks outlining proposed lots and in playful designs.
Since little information exists about the area, it’s difficult to say if the designs are the result of travelers passing through or if they were part of the proposed landscape. Either way, it makes for an interesting visit!
6. Tortilla Flat
These days, Tortilla Flat refers to the little restaurant and general store but previously it operated as a mining and freight camp. It also became a popular stop for people traveling through the area via stagecoach. A 1987 fire destroyed most of the original buildings except for the little one-room school house that dates to 1932. The buildings you see today were rebuilt shortly after the fire.
7. Vulture City
Dating to 1880, Vulture City was the town was established for the nearby Vulture Gold Mine, which quickly became one of the richest gold mines around. At its peak, the city had a population of about 5,000 and had everything you would expect from a mining town. The town declined during and after World War II and was abandoned within a short time period. You can find the remains of the town near Wickenburg and
guided tours are even provided on Saturdays
Want to explore more of Arizona?
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