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Date of visit:
January 10, 2002

For location of this site in AZ, click on the map:
 Location of Tombstone Territory ...
 

We rate these site(s) a:

Site(s) Highlights:
 Easy access
 Few remnants
 Private property
 Tombstone is so-so
 On dirt roads
 Many foundations
 Take water
 Bring camera
 Peace and solitude

 Kachina

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Go to first part of trip - Steins Railroad Ghost Town
Go to third part of trip - Bisbee - "Queen of the Copper Camps"
Go to fourth part of trip - Kartchner Caverns State Park (Arizona)
Pearce - Hanging on to life
Pearce, AZ
Pearce, AZ

Pearce Post Office

Pearce Post Office
Pearce was named for Jimmie Pearce, a man who tired of being a Tombstone miner after the boom years waned and pickings were slim. He and his wife, who ran a boardinghouse, were saving their money to buy a piece of the great outdoors. They managed, finally, to purchase some ranch land northeast of Tombstone.

One day in 1894, while out surveying his spread, Jimmie found free gold on the side of a hill. He was back in the mining business, but as an owner, not a laborer.

A town grew at the base of Jimmie Pearce's Commonwealth Mine. A post office opened in 1896 and the population swelled to about 1,500 as commercial businesses, which eventually included a motion-picture theater, lined both sides of a long main street.

Jimmie Pearce sold the Commonwealth for $250,000. His wife, remembering harder times, inserted a clause into the contract granting her the sole right to operate a boardinghouse at the mine, which remained open into the 1930s.

Several buildings remain from Pearce's heyday, including the post office, a school, a jail, a few ruins and foundations, and the remarkable Old Store, built in 1894 by the Soto Brothers and Renaud. The mercantile is a large adobe building with a high false front and an elaborate tin facade.

The Pearce Cemetery is west of town along Middlemarch Road, a trail across the Dragoon Mountains taken by soldiers trekking between Fort Bowie and Fort Huachuca in the 1870s and '80s.

Site Gallery - Pearce
The Old Store The Old Store The Mercantile
The Mercantile The Mercantile Post Office
Jail Old ruins Old ruins
Old ruins The mine remnants The mine

Courtland - completely deserted
Passing through Courtland
Passing through Courtland
Courtland is the only community on the Ghost Town Trail that is completely deserted.

It also has the sparsest remnants.

The only remaining vestages of Courtland are a concrete jail, a collapsing store, stone walls, foundations, mining evidence, and a vanishing cemetery south of town.

Once, however, Courtland thrived. In 1909 several hundred people swarmed to the region as the Calumet and Arizona, Copper Queen, Leadville, and Great Western mining companies all began operations. The Great Western was owned by W.J. Young, who named the town for his brother Courtland. Eventually home to about 2,000 people, the settlement had a post office) newspaper (the Courtland Arizonan), movie theater, butcher shop, ice cream parlor, pool hall, Wells Fargo office, the Southern Arizona Auto Company (a local Stevens-Duryea agency), and the Mexico and Colorado Railroad, a branch line extending north from Douglas.

The town survived into the Depression but lost its post office in 1942. By that time many of the buildings had already been moved or razed.

Site Gallery - Courtland
The Old Jail The mines The store
The foundations The foundations Townsite

Gleeson - A turquoise mining town
Gleeson, AZ
Gleeson, AZ
Gleeson and the hills at the southern end of the Dragoon Mountains had long been mined by the Indians for the decorative turquoise. When white men came in the 1870s, they found copper, lead, and silver as well, but they still named their camp Turquoise. The town received a post office in 1890, but the mines closed down and the town was abandoned after Jimmie Pearce found gold at the Commonwealth claim in 1894.
Then in 1900, a Pearce miner and Irishman named John Gleeson prospected the Turquoise area and filed claims for the Copper Belle mine. Other mines with names like Silver Belle, Brother Jonathan, Pejon, and Defiance joined the Copper Belle. The town site was moved from the hills down onto the flats to be closer to a more reliable water supply, and Turquoise, which had lost its post office in 1894, reopened as Gleeson.

John Gleeson sold out by 1914, but the boom continued and copper production rose due to World War I. After the war, prices fell, production declined, and the mines shut down. The post office closed for the last time in 1939.

Gleeson is well worth exploring. just north of its main road are the long adobe ruins of the hospital, with mining evidence in the hills behind. Down the street from the hospital stands a saloon-store that had an off-again, on again existence for decades and is closed at this writing. Across the street south of the store are the ruins of the jail (virtually identical to the one at Courtland) and the foundations of the school.

A road heading north from the store passes the adobe ruins of the Musso house (posted against trespassing). A prohibition-era rumor suggested the Mussos sold bootleg liquor and stored it beneath a shallow fishpond in the backyard.

The Gleeson Cemetery, the final stop along the Ghost Town Trail, is west of town on the main road to Tombstone.

Site Gallery - Gleeson
The hospital The hospital The jail
The Musso house The foundations Saloon / store

Tombstone - A hyped ghost town
Tombstone tourist attraction
Welcome to Tombstone
Tombstone, along with the Grand Canyon, is known to tourists from around the world. More than 200,000 visitors come here annually, taking videos of the staged gunfights, and returning home having seen the "real Old West." Tombstone does have lots of hype, but it also has lots of history and considerable charm for the ghost town visitor.
In 1877, prospector Ed Schieffelin stood at Camp Huachuca and gazed longingly at the hills to the northeast. Their rich color looked promising to him, and he expressed a desire to do a little digging. A soldier, well aware of the Apache warriors who controlled the area, told him, "All you'll find in those hills is your tombstone." In February of 1878, Schieffelin set out alone to seek his fortune. He eventually found a rich ledge of silver ore, and, remembering the soldier's remark filed two claims: the Tombstone and the Graveyard.

In order to show the ore to his brother, Al, and have it assayed, Schieffelin traveled all the way to Signal (now a ghost town site about 170 air miles from Tombstone). The brothers returned with Signal assayer Richard K. Gird, who had recognized the value of the ore and persuaded the brothers to let him become a partner. Upon returning, Ed went out and found two more silver streaks in two days and filed claims for the Lucky Cuss (which was what he considered himself), and the Toughnut (which he figured would be a difficult ledge to follow or "a tough nut to crack"). An estimated $40 million in silver (worth about $1.7 billion in today's dollars) was extracted from these and other area mines between 1880 and 1886.

Entrepreneur John B. "Pie" Allen was a leader in turning a disjointed series of camps with names like Watervale, Richmond, Tank Hill, and Gird Camp into Tombstone, one of the West's largest and most genteel towns. Yes, despite its fame as the site of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, Tombstone actually was a rather cultured place. It had four churches, a school, two banks, a newspaper (the Epitaph), an opera, and a population of 15,000. The violence of the OK Corral, which lasted but a few seconds and resulted in three deaths, was a rarity. Raucous behavior was much more common in Charleston and Millville.

Site Gallery - Tombstone
Boot hill Boot hill Boot hill
Boot hill Bird Cage Theatre Store
Store Courthouse Gunfight show
Gunfight show Gunfight show Gunfight show - tips

Kentucky Camp - A gold mining ghost town
Kentucky Camp
Kentucky Camp

At the Camp

At the Camp
Kentucky Camp is a promising development for ghost town enthusiasts.

For many years, in an attempt to return land to its pristine condition, the Forest Service actually leveled buildings, many of which had historic value.

Now, in a fortuitous reversal of policy, the same organization is trying to save, preserve, and restore sites on public land. One wonderful example is Kentucky Camp.

The name of the town comes from the Kentucky Mine, which yielded substantial quantities of gold during the excitement at nearby Greaterville in 1874. The gold played out in 1886, and Kentucky Camp was abandoned. It came back to life in 1904 when mining engineer James Stetson believed that he could extract gold from placer deposits by channeling snowmett runoff from the Santa Rita Mountains and storing it in a reservoir. His plan had the financial backing of Easterner George B. McAneny. But Stetson died in 1905 from a fall from a third-story window of the Santa Rita Hotel in Tucson (perhaps suicide, although no note was found). The next day he was to address stockholders of McAneny's Santa Rita Mining and Water Company. Shortly thereafter, McAneny died, the water project perished, and Kentucky Camp was abandoned. It was sold for back taxes and became part of a ranch.

The Forest Service acquired Kentucky Camp in 1989 as part of a land swap. In 1991, "Passport in Time" volunteers began work to stabilize the five remaining buildings. Their work has been continued by volunteers from the Friends of Kentucky Camp.

Kentucky Camp consists of a combination dormitory-office, an assay office, two residences, and a barn. The Forest Service and its volunteers are doing a tremendous favor for those of us interested in preserving the history of the West.

Site Gallery - Kentucky Camp
Main road to Kentucky cCamp Access road to Kentucky Camp Entering Kentucky Camp
At the camp At the camp At the camp
At the camp At the camp At the camp

All text source and site maps extracted from:
Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps,
Philip Varney, Arizona Highways Books, © 1994
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