Breakdown in a Ghost Town - Motorcycle Tiny Living Camper

The day started out amazing. Who wouldn’t be excited to take a motorcycle road trip along the Arizona Ghost Town Trail and get the opportunity to explore seven ghost towns in all their forgotten glory? Alas though, we only made it to two of the seven because Rich’s Harley (God bless her) decided she hadn’t experienced her very own chariot ride on the back of a tow truck.

But first things first – if you’re interested in seeing once thriving wild west communities that have dwindled away through the decades to abandoned and decaying remnants you should check out the ghost towns on this route.

Arizona is considered the ghost town capital of the country, boasting between 275 & 300 abandoned frontier boom towns. The first town on our list is Cochise, AZ. Founded in the 1880’s as a railroad stop, this ghost town isn’t really abandoned, boasting a few hardy souls still clinging to the land. As history goes, the historic landmark, the Cochise Hotel, is best known, where Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday’s mistress worked.

Next ghost town was Pearce, AZ, located 16 miles SE of Cochise. History has it that Mr. Pearce, a rancher, was out one day, dismounted, threw a rock which split open revealing gold. He immediately filed a claim and the mine eventually became one of the richest mines ever found in Arizona, producing over fifteen million dollars in gold.

And that is where our tale takes a turn for the worse, because in the town of Pearce, just past the jail, on the corner of Ghost Town Trail and Pearce Road, Rich’s Harley wouldn’t start. We spent the next several hours waiting for a tow truck to be dispatched from Tucson (90 miles away) and being serenaded by the local coyotes as nighttime descended upon us. Once Miss Alice (Rich’s Harley) was safely on her way to the Harley dealership in Tucson), we rode double back to the campground to await her getting fixed and were never able to make it to the remainder of the ghost towns on the trail.

But here’s a list of the rest of the ghost towns if you’re ever in the area. And stop by the jail in Pearce, AZ, look on the register for our names and be thankful when your own trusty steed starts and carries you away…just saying 

Courtland, founded in 1909 as a copper mining community suffered only a single murder – a disgruntled waitress who shot her boyfriend over a lover’s quarrel. The success of the town was not meant to last though, with the production of copper dwindling a few decades later and the final nail in the coffin when the post office closed its doors in 1942.

Gleeson, a forming mining camp founded in the 1870’s, was briefly known as “Turquois” (without the ‘e’) for the turquoise stone discovered in the area. At one time it boasted a school, hospital, theater and a dozen restaurants, but by the 1930’s was abandoned due to the falling price of copper.

Probably the most famous, or infamous ghost towns on this route is Tombstone, founded in 1879 for silver mining. Its population swelled to an outstanding 14,000 at one point, but as they say, the good times weren’t meant to last and by the turn of the century the area mines were shut down due to rising water levels. Today, Tombstone survives as a tourist attraction, with reenactments of the 30 second gunfight at OK (Old Kindersley) Corral where the Earp brothers faced off against the Clanton-McLaury gang.

Charleston, founded in 1879 as a settlement for the areas silver ore only lasted until 1886 and is said to have only a few remaining remnants in the area, so we’re not sure we missed much by not being able to go there.

And last but not least is Fairbank, the last stop on the ghost town trail. Settled in 1881 as a railroad stop, this town survived much longer than most, eventually becoming abandoned in the 1970’s.

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