Nov 5, 2012

More Ghost Town Hunting!!! ( still mention beer!)

Well, after far too much time off, my good friend Brad and I decided to take advantage of a couple of shared days off, and take another trip to south eastern Arizona to hunt down a few more ghost towns! Something we both love to do, but haven't done in quite some time (almost a year I believe).

So, early on this first day of November, Brad pulled up to my place at about 6am. After waiting a little bit, and realizing our friend Bobby had slept in, and would not be joining us, we made our way to Dunkin Donuts, for some road trip essentials, and made our way to Graham County.

Our trip took us up through Superior, over "Top of the World", into Globe, where we took a turn to the south east, onto the San Carlos Indian Reservation towards our first stop, some 2 hours from where we started.

Geronimo Arizona
Taking us passed towering views of majestic Mt Trumbull, some 8,000+ feet high, through towns with names like Clapper, and Peridot, we soon came upon our first stop, what is left of the town of Geronimo. Established in 1896, and named after the famous Apache warrior, this town served as a stop on the Arizona-Eastern Railroad. That is about as much info as I could find on this old town. Not much is left, just an old merchant building, that looks to have been in use until not all that long ago. Still enough to get out, and snap a few pictures.

Making our way a little further to the south east, we were soon in the old town of Eden. Set amidst acres of cotton fields, this town still sports a small population of mostly farm workers. There are 3 significant structures still standing. The old post office, converted to a store around the turn of the century, a church, and an dance hall called "Merryland". The town, established in 1882 was never very large, and currently lists about 150 residences, that live amidst a scattering of old ruins.

The old Klondyke Store, yours for just $375,000
Just south of the Eden road, down Arizona Rt 70, was the turn off for Klondyke Rd. 27 miles of well maintained, albeit very dusty dirt road, that makes its way through the Avarapia Wilderness Area, passed numerous ranches, through dusty canyons, and near breath taking views of the Avarapia valley. We saw cattle, quail, and even a deer as we made our way down, to the turn for the old town of Klondyke. Good news for anyone looking to invest in a ghost town, the old store of Klondyke is for sale! I guess the asking price to an abandon store in a ghost town is just $375,000, listed under the "Unique Lifestyle" section of the area real estate listings. The town of Klondyke, never reached a population over 500, support a few small silver and lead mines near by, as well as supporting the many near by ranches. The post office, with store, was established in 1904 by a Mr Bedoya, and served as the store keeper and post master until 1917. The town struggled through the depression, until 1955, when the post office closed, and just about all the remaining residence left. Leaving behind a population currently less then a dozen hardy souls. A few scattered buildings around the store, a cemetery, and a church a half mile down the road are about all that remains of the old town today.

After an attempt to find the old town of Avarapia, and turning around due to the road being ill maintained, we turned around, passing the old Klondyke store once more, and making our way down another 28 or so miles of more dusty dirt roads to the old town of Bonita, formally known as Fort Grant. Bonita holds a certain rather dubious distinction, as being the site of a somewhat unknown, but fairly significant murder. It was here, on Aug 17, 1877 at the old Atkins Saloon (now the Bonita Store) where William "Billy the Kid" Bonney, known at the time as Henry Antrim, or Kid Antrim shot and killed his first person, one Frank "Windy" Cahill. This took place after Cahill called Billy a "pimp" ( I guess back in those days, pimp wasn't considered a "compliment" like it is today for some reason). Obviously, this was just the beginning of many more, but certainly marks a certain spot in history that some (like myself) find morbidly fascinating.
The only structure that still remains from those days is the old saloon, later turned store where this shooting allegedly took place. Brad and I stopped considered this a sort of high point of this trip, and spent some time taking pictures and imagining the events that took place on this very spot some 135 years ago. Billy the Kid was later found decided to have been guilty of murder (no trial ever took place) but was never arrested for it, as he left the Arizona territory soon after for New Mexico. Never to return to Arizona again (as far as we know).

After searching out, and failing to find the old town of Sunset (about 12 miles from Bonita) we made our way into the agricultural hot spot of Wilcox Arizona. Driving passed miles of fields for corn, sorghum, chili peppers and more, we were able to find a few interesting old buildings before hitting the town of Wilcox for lunch at our favorite BBQ joint in Southern Arizona, "Big Tex's BBQ". After a hardy lunch of beer brisket, we walked across the street to the town square, and were lucky enough to find a wine tasting in progress. After sampling a few of the local wines, we made our way a little further south, to the site of our last trip, Fort Bowie, (to this day, one of my favorite historic stops in S Arizona) to maintain our ghost town hunting tradition of enjoying a beer and cigar at some point on the trip.

We parked at the Fort Bowie trail head, opened a few of San Tan Brewing's "Rail Slide", lite a couple of cigars, and made our way easily down the path till our cigars were smoked, and beer was empty. Then made our way back to the parking lot, to the car, and began making our way back to the valley, where our families awaited our arrival.

This was our 3rd or 4th ghost town hunting trip, (you can read about a few of the passed ones here and here), and I have to tell you, with each trip, I am learning to love this hobby more and more. Not only is it a way to see the state, and learn some of its history, but its almost a way to see that history, and look at it, honestly, without crowds or folks, or park rangers telling you what happened. Its a self guided, immersion into the states history, and I find that to be not only educational, and enlightening, and its also fun, and a great way to spend a day with some good company. Look forward to me writing about another trip, hopefully very soon!

If you want to see the complete set of photos fropm this trip, you can go to our photo sharing site here to view

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar

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