Arizona July 23, 2017
This Absurdly Awesome Ghost Town Attraction In Arizona Is Perfect For A Day Trip
Drive down any wide, open road in Arizona and you’re bound to come across a tiny town that looks like it has some intriguing history. Old, weather-beaten buildings and rusting relics of the lives that once called these towns home lay dormant, ready to tell stories of decades past. Luckily, sometimes you don’t have to do much digging; quite a few of these towns proudly share their history with anyone willing to listen.
One of those places is Tortilla Flat, part historic mining camp, part ghost town, and modern day tourist attraction. Sitting at the edge of the Superstition Mountains en route to Roosevelt Dam, Tortilla Flat is one of the smallest, most remote towns in the state.
The town’s history begins centuries ago when the Apache used a trail that passed through here to travel through the Superstition Mountains. As American settlers moved into Arizona Territory, this trail was eventually converted into a stagecoach line.
In the mid-1800s, prospectors
began setting up camps in the area in hopes of striking rich by finding gold in the nearby Superstition Mountains. Finding little luck in the rugged mountains, these camps likely didn’t last long and eventually dwindled to nothing when a freight camp was established here in 1904 for the construction of Roosevelt Dam.
Once the tourists began traveling to see the newly constructed dam, Tortilla Flat became one of the hot spots along the way. Among the thousands of visitors, well-known folks like Teddy Roosevelt, Clark Gable, and John Wayne have been known to have passed through or stopped here.
So, is this place a ghost town? Yes and no. Most publications call Tortilla Flat a ghost town since it once had a population of 100, large enough to warrant a school house but few other permanent buildings. However, people have continued to live here which means it was never truly abandoned. In 1987, a fire swept through the area, consuming what little stood of the town. The general store and restaurant were rebuilt at the end of the decade and the town has maintained a small population of six ever since.
When driving up to Tortilla Flat on Apache Trail, you’ll notice a long line of wooden, false front buildings. These are home to the saloon, general store, and gift shop. The saloon serves a menu of local favorites, like burgers, chili,and Mexican food with offbeat décor. The walls are lined with dollar bils—some signed by frequent visitors and even celebrities—as well as photos and local artifacts. The bar also features saddles as seats!
Also in the area is the old replica schoolhouse which now serves as the town’s museum. Established in 1932, the school had a small class of 14 students and apparently sits next to the old hanging tree. Walk up the ramp and take a peek inside to see old photos, newspaper clippings, and more!
Tortilla Flat is located approximately one hour east of Phoenix via Apache Trail. Directions from Sky Harbor Airport
can be found here. For more information about visiting Tortilla Flat, you can visit their website.
If you want to visit another cool little town, you may enjoy Seligman in northern Arizona! Read more about it in
The Small Town Along Route 66 In Arizona With A Story That Will Fascinate You.