Ghost Towns and Mining History
There are more than 40 ghost towns sprinkled around the Bradshaw Mountains in Yavapai County. I've given you summaries and pictures of a few of the more notable ones we discussed during our trip.
Crown King is located near the top of the beautiful Bradshaw Mountains just north of Phoenix. Crown King's post office was established June 29, 1888 and discontinued May 15, 1954 and has since been reopened. The Crowned King gold mine was the mainstay of the town of Crown King. Enough ore was produced from this and surrounding mines to warrant building a railroad to Prescott to haul ore and supplies. The owners of the mine did not tolerate drunkenness in their employees so the town attracted a higher class of miner. George P. Harrington bankrolled the Crowned King mine and was liked by all. Over $2,000,000 in gold was taken from the Crowned King mine alone. Today, many summer and year round residences remain in addition to two saloons, a restaurant, the general store, and more. (From Ghosttowns.com
Bumble Bee' post office was established February 3, 1879 and has not been discontinued. There never was a gold boom at Bumble Bee; it was a stage stop on the Prescott-Phoenix stage line. Originally known as Snyder's Station, the site has changed hands many times over the years. Most of the buildings are original and some were constructed to form a tourist attraction that since failed.
Oro Belle's post office was established May 17, 1904 and was discontinued August 31, 1918. Many mining claims in the area led to the town of Oro Belle. George P. Harrington organized the Oro Belle Mining and Milling company in the late 1890's and the town eventually had a sheriff and Justice of the Peace. Harrington was replaced as mine superintendent by a mining engineer named Schlesinger who was not popular with the employees. In fact he was eventually run off after being threatened with hanging because he penny pinched too much on the miners food. Harrington was reinstated. Interestingly enough, Oro Belle was owned by the Illinois Grocers Association (IGA). The saloon at Oro Belle, including its bar (which came from nearby Alexandra), was moved in its entirety to Crown King where it can be seen and visited today!
Stoddard's post office started December 15, 1882 and discontinued September 15, 1927. Named in honor of Isaac T. Stoddard, Stoddard contained the first copper smelter in its district. Stoddard had a school, boardinghouse, general store, auto garages, and much more. There was a population of about 300 people in Stoddard during its heyday. When the price of copper dropped in the 1930's, the town closed down.
Big Bug's post office was established March 31, 1879 and discontinued March 31, 1910. Big Bug's history is intertwined with the life of Theodore Boggs, one of the Bradshaw Mountains early prospectors. Boggs, who's mother was a granddaughter of Daniel Boone, came to California with the Donner party. Thereafter, he settled on Big Bug Creek, named for the size of the local insects. It wasn't long before the town of Big Bug was born. Mining activity continues to this day, but not much remains of the original town. Foundations are mixed in with the current residences.
Cherry's post office was established March 3, 1884 and discontinued March 15, 1943. At one time 6 mills were in operation to serve the over 40 mines in the vicinity of Cherry. There were over 400 residents to serve the mines. Cherry had its beginning in the early 1860's and had a town of about 100 until the mines played out in 1879.Then Cherry lived on as a stage stop until the Jerome bonanza made the district attractive. Promoters established the city that had the post office and today summer homes dot the countryside.
Jerome's post office was established September 10, 1883 and has never been discontinued. Once the fifth largest city in Arizona, Jerome has now been reduced to a ghost of a city. Copper was the mainstay and the mines are rumored to have started over 1000 years ago by the Tuzigoot Indians. In 1882, the United Verde Copper company was formed by James A. McDonald and Eugene Jerome of New York, and Governor Tritle of Arizona. Copper demands increased and so did mining in Jerome. At one time, Jerome have over 15,000 residents inhabiting its streets. The depression years marked the end of prosperous times for Jerome and the mines finally closed in 1950. Then, some residents founded the Jerome Historical Society and proclaimed Jerome to be America's newest and largest ghost city. This is probably what saved the town from total extinction. Today, small shops line the street along with ruins of its past such as the famous traveling jail. Jerome is a well spent trip and is highly recommended.
Walker's post office was established December 15, 1879 and was discontinued September 30, 1940. Now home to summer cottages, Walker was once a boom town sustained for over eighty years by the mines. As much as 2700 residents were reported to have lived here. Walker was located by Captain Joseph Reddeford Walker and the Walker Party in 1863. The fire station is still there today and a giant charcoal kiln is nearby and worth the walk.
Clarkdale is almost 2,000 feet below Jerome, and, like Jerome, fed off the wealth of Cleopatra hill. Today, the town has many residents, and at first glance, has a very modern look. The ghost town of Clarkdale, called "Patio Town", was largely hispanic, and today, virtully all the buildings are abandoned. Around patio town lies a few small foundations.
Al Francis built Fort Misery as his home while he lived in the Bradshaw Mountains. Al was in charge of hauling ore from Oro Belle to Crown King. He jokingly called his home "Fort Misery" and the name stuck. Francis was responsible, along with Burro John, for putting up William Bell "Kentuck"'s grave headstone. Fort Misery was inhabited through the 1920's
Named after famous British actress Lily Langtry, Jersey Lily was owned by British investors. A post office was open for a few years but only $7000 in gold was ever taken from the mine. Today, nothing remains.