I can barely type fast enough! I just spent the entire day passing through no fewer than five REAL ghost towns. It was the creepiest thing ever, and ya wanna know HOW I know they were REAL ghost towns? (wait for it). CUZ I DIDN’T SEE A BLOODY THING!!!!
Oy! I drove 200 miles and went through a half tank of gas, but those ghosts just didn’t show themselves. Of course it was daytime, so… Then again, perhaps a full moon is required. Or a blood moon. Or maybe a séance! Or maybe I just needed a better map!
I was working from Ghosttowns.com, and though there were a few signal-free miles, I was for the most part connected. Alas, the site had little in the way of actual directions. I was hoping that once in the area there would be signage or perhaps the local tourism office might know something, but nada.
The first town on my “map” was Pratt, but the site told me that it was under water. Presumably when they flooded the valley making Lake Pleasant. OK. The next three were all swallowed by Wickenburg, the big town in the area.
Now Wickenburg was ok. It’s basically a small modern town with a historic district reflecting its Wild West heritage. There were the requisite antique stores (we used to call them crap-shacks back in Nashville), restaurants/saloons, and museums. There was a walking tour that Murphy and I followed, along which there were several statues of period townsfolk. We went past the town “jail” which was actually just a tree to which prisoners were chained, one of whom was still there!
We “met” a new arrival to town. A young woman who had just arrived from the East to take a job as the new schoolmarm (beside many of the statues was an audio box. Pushing the adjacent button activated a brief history clip, including a fiction narrative of the person). Later we saw her school The Garcia Little Red Schoolhouse.
The single room building is open to visitors.
Heading west (naturally) we went in search of three towns that, at least according to the web site, seemed promising. One was the Vulture City mine. Sounds interesting, but it was dead. Yuk-yuk. Actually, I never found it. I drove quite a way and never found the mine, though I knew that tours were given on Saturday. I was hoping to see something! Nope. Now I gotta tell ya, there is a town called Vulture City and the High School is Vulture City High. Can’t ya just see the team mascot? Hmm. Think I would have lobbied for a name change on the town, but hey, not my place.
So back on the road west I came to the town of Aguila. This was an actual town with live people (I think), but I never found the Harquahala Observatory nor the GT of Forepaugh. Both were supposed to be nearby.
It was still a nice drive, the weather was perfect, and I had my best (non-human) friend with me. We had fun and managed to get out a few times and wander. The area is surrounded by the aforementioned Harquahala as well as the Harcuvar, Rawhide, Big Horn and Bradshaw Mountains. Interestingly, the area to the west of Wickenburg lacks the Saguaro cactus that are so prevalent elsewhere in the Valley even though Wickenburg is well below 3000 feet. Typically Saguaro do not grow above 3000 feet.
After four hours of this exploration, Murphy and I were ready to go (I asked her and she gave me an affirming “woof”). Wickenburg was interesting, though if I were to make a recommendation, I’d direct someone to Old Cottonwood. I think it has more charm. Still, I’ve read good reviews about Vulture Mine (so obviously someone has managed to find it), so perhaps a return trip will happen one day. But given that it’s an hour from our current home, I have to consider long about how badly I want to see that mine!
Next trip? I have a lead on another town. This one is a more solid lead!