Using the ghost town book, MapQuest, our GPS and an old-fashioned paper map, we ended up visiting five of the seven ghost towns. We had to do some back-tracking and turning around, which made for a fun day exploring the back roads of SE Arizona.
Our first stop was the town of Gleeson. Like many ghost towns, Gleeson began when copper, lead, silver and turquoise were discovered in the area. The town, first named Turquoise, received a post office in 1890. In 1900, the townsite was moved from the hills to the flats to be closer to a more reliable water supply. Turquoise, which lost its post office in 1894, reopened as Gleeson, named for Irishman John Gleeson, who filed claims for the Copper Belle Mine.
Here is the jail, which seemed to be in pretty good condition.
Evidence of mining can still be seen in Gleeson.
Next on our list was the town of Courtland. Rich was our designated gate-keeper on this trip. As long as there wasn't a "no tresspassing" sign posted, we opened the gate (and closed it) and continued up the road. I am using the term "road" very loosely, but it was perfect for the Jeep.
Based on the research we had done, we were getting very close to Courtland, but we reached a dead end...big gate with LOTS of no tresspassing notices. With no other choice, we turned around and retraced our tracks back to Gleeson. Writing Courtland off, we continued to the next town. But going down the road a bit, we saw a sign pointing towards Courtland. We followed the sign, and soon found ourselves in what is left of Courtland....which isn't much.
This is the only town we visited today that is completely uninhabited, and there were just a couple of ruins. However, in 1909 it was a bustling town of about 2,000 people. The draw was mining: Calumet and Arizona, Copper Queen, Leadville, and Great Western mining companies operated here.
Stop #3 was Pearce, named for Jimmie Pearce, a Tombstone miner who longed for a better way of life after the boom years waned and pickings were slim. He and his wife saved their money and bought a piece of property northeast of Tombstone. In 1894, while walking his property, Jimmie Pearce found gold. The town of Pearce grew, and a post office opened in 1896, and the population grew to about 1,500.
The mercantile, built in 1894, remains and is actually for sale. Too bad it was closed, I would have liked to seen the inside.
Here is the jail...or what is left of it.
And this is the original post office, which is now a private residence.
It was getting close to lunch time, so we found a place to enjoy our picnic alongside the mercantile building. Not the best place for a picnic, but at least the building shielded us from the winds.
Next on our list was Dragoon Springs. Again, we ended up doing a little back-tracking. As we turned down one dirt road, we saw this sign. Not sure of what we actually saw, Bill backed up so we could get a better look. Are they serious? Upon closer inspection, we realized the phone was not connected. Someone has a sense of humor....
Getting back on the right track, we came upon another gate. This gate had a sign "please keep gate closed...cattle in pasture."
After driving a few miles, we were happy to see this sign. We knew we were headed in the right direction.
The Dragoon Springs Station was a Butterfiled stage station established in 1858 in the heart of Apache country. This station was where the Butterfield stage would swap out horses for new ones to continue along the Overland Mail Route. This station was in operation for only two years, when the Pony Express proved to be a quicker method of delivering mail cross country.
At one time, the walls stood 10 feet tall, but this is all that remains today.
The station is located in a beautiful area.
At one time, Confederate soldiers were stationed here to help deal with the Apache Indians. In a skirmish with the Apaches, four soldiers were killed and quickly buried not far from the stage station.
Our final stop for the day was the town of Cochise. Unlike the others, this town was not established due to mining...but was a railroad town. It was created in 1880 and in its heyday had a population of around 3,000 residents. Today, there are around 25.
The Cochise Hotel was built in 1882 and is still standing. It is listed on the National Historic Register. It is also for sale, so if anyone has longed to be in the hotel business, this could be your opportunity. ;-)
The old country store is located just across the street from the hotel. My guide book says the building is occupied but closed to the public.
By this time, it was starting to get a little late...and we were getting a little tired. We headed back to Benson via I-10. Ronda had planned ahead and had supper in the crock pot. What a great way to end a very fun day in Arizona.