Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Day Spent in Ghost Towns

 Saturday, April 12, 2014

Today we visited several ghost towns - completely different meanings of the phrase "ghost town", but all somehow earning that title. It's days like this when I feel like a true South-westerner. Driving down quiet hilly highways and bumpy dirt roads, hiking several miles to find an old mining town, seeing a snake and worrying about other wildlife (but comforted by the fact that someone is carrying!), and having a sarsaparilla in an old saloon. I'm so glad I've gotten to experience all these while I'm living here!

Now, for the events of the day: We met up with our friends, Mitch and Roxy, and drove to Cochise County. After picking up letterboxes on the way, we made it to the trailhead for our hike. Destination: Contention, today's first ghost town. There used to be a mining community as well as a train that ran through, now there is nothing. Literally - it was probably the most deserted trail we've ever hiked. 

We first went for a letterbox that was hidden around the area of an old Presidio - which translated basically means Spanish military fort. There were mostly just old foundations and adobe walls scattered around. The fort is dated back to the 1770's! We just walked around a little loop trail and looked at the remnants before going on our way.

The next bit of history that we walked on was where the old railroad tracks used to be, as far back as the 1800's. As I mentioned before, a train used to run from here to Tucson & other places, but when the mining community shut down and the World Wars were going on, they tore up the railroad for the iron, and pictured below is what remains.

We walked quite a ways down this rocky path, until we came upon the San Pedro River. Here we crossed, and on the other side found 2 letterboxes and our ghost town.

Finally, we reached the area where Contention used to be. There are no remains of the buildings that used to stand, but here you can find some pictures and more details on the area.

Below - Much to my delight, the square hole in the rock turned out not to be a giant snake den, but a small, cooled room. :)

Above - the sky was amazing all day! I loved these striped clouds.

After getting all letterboxes, we sat down for a picnic on the "beach" next to the small river. It was so quiet and peaceful, besides some rock throwing of course!

We finally packed up and walked back down the trail to the car. Altogether, today's hike was around 6 miles.

We drove to another nearby ghost town called Fairbanks. It's kind of a little historical village set up, and reminded me of one I used to visit back in Iowa called Usher's Ferry.

It was a quiet area but had quite a few more tourists, (probably because there wasn't a 6 mile hike to see it!) and we only went in one building.

This is the old schoolhouse, we enjoyed trying out the old desks and drawing on the chalk board. :)

Finally, our last stop and ghost town was Tombstone. Unlike the others, people still live in this town, and it is only called a ghost town because there is no longer any mining being done. It's now a Western-themed town (they really play up the movie "Tombstone"!) and you can enjoy all sorts of tourist attractions. Our first visit was to the old county courthouse.

After walking down the old Western street, we finally went for dinner at Big Nose Kate's Saloon. You can always tell what restaurants are good by how many people are there eating, and this place was packed! It was our second time visiting, and it was a great experience. 

Of course it's Curtis' first time going to a saloon as a 21 year old, and since he didn't drive he was able to enjoy a beer. :)

Oh, this was his 16 oz. burger too! :)

We finished the day with one last short hike at sunset. The sky was incredible!

And that was our weekend! :)

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