While driving to Flagstaff, Arizona, for a couple of days to check out Sedona and other sites, my sister and I drove past Chloride, AZ, on Route 93 about thirty miles outside of Kingman. She had been here once before and we decided to stop for lunch. Chloride is referred to by some as a friendly living ghost town. A couple of thousand people once lived here back when the mines were humming and miners were pulling silver chloride out of the Cerbat Mountains, but now only a few hundred live in the town with the oldest continuously operating post office in Arizona.
The first stop we made after driving past an abandoned gas station, the old Post Office, and other used and unused buildings was Yesterdays, the main restaurant in town. Here you can get a steak, fish, or chicken liver meal with a well-priced beer. It has a little bar in the corner and murals along the walls. There’s also artifacts and other interesting items from past lives in Chloride. The service was good and it seemed like a great place to meet locals. Hoever, you want to get there early since the restaurant closes at 5pm each day.
After lunch, we took a walk around the town before getting back on the road. For a little town, there’s a lot of history here. It’s the oldest continually inhabited mining town in Arizona and is now mostly settled by artists and retirees. Instead of mining, of which there is still a limited amount going on, the town relies on visitors to generate economic activity.
I'm Not the Sheriff
I met a man on the porch of the general store. He was sitting back sipping on a soda and relaxing on this hot day in the desert. I asked what the rules were about carrying a beer while walking around taking pictures. He said cops don’t really come through town and “ain’t no one around who really cares”.
I smiled as I entered the store, but then a thought struck me. I stuck my head back out and said to the dude “Now, you ain’t the sheriff looking for something to do, are ya?”
He laughed back. “No, but I gotta go to court tomorrow.”
“Roads were made for journeys, not destinations”
Shep's Miners Inn
There aren’t any hostels in the area, but there is Shep’s Miners Inn. The inn wraps around the sides and back of Yesterdays Restaurant. It started as a rest stop and repair station for stage coaches before it was transformed into a hotel for miners and their families when trains replaced stage coaches. The inn has a cottage-like feel to it and seems like a reat places for a get-a-way for a couple of days. You can make reservations by clicking on the booking.com link above.
one of the biggest draws for tourists within town limits is Cyanide Springs, a replica western town where a group called High Desert Drifters hold gunfights the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month. The gunfights start at 12 noon.
A craftsman also operates a wood shop on the grounds.
Outside of town, people like to visit the old mines, Hualapai petroglyphs, and murals painted by famed Southwestern artist Roy Purcell. The murals, collectively called “The Journey”, are on the side of a 2000 foot mountain side about a mile outside of town.
Abandoned Stone Home
While talking to the young woman working at the store in town, I asked “What’s a story about here that isn’t in the tourist material?”. She then told me about an abandoned stone house on Old Chloride Road just outside of town. She said it was built by a naval officer who came to the desert because he had developed a great fear of drowning and didn’t want to be around water anymore. He came to Chloride to build his retirement home in the desert and do some mining. He died in a drowning accident on the property a short time later. The home was eventually turned into a brothel for a number of years. Word is, it was a very busy place.
A cat ran out of the front door as I approached the former territorial jail of Arizona. The U.S. Marshall would lock up his prisoners here for court, serve short sentences, or to wait for transfer to the territorial prison in Yuma, AZ. Although, prisoners tended to escape a lot in those days – that’s why the territorial prison was built. It provided a challenge to those hoping to end their stay before the allotted time was up.
Seven Spanish Angels
A bit of excitement visited Chloride a few years back when George Canyon, a country singer from Canada, picked the town for the location to shoot his video “Seven Spanish Angels”. I was told he walked around the town and grabbed some of the residents to play the parts of the cowboys walking through Chloride’s living ghost town. You may notice that a woman is killed in the song but not in the video. Word was Canyon didn’t want a scene were a woman gets shot in one of his videos, so they left any re-enactment of the verse out.