Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Vintage Vacations...Chloride, Arizona!

Happy New Year!
Greetings from Arizona!

Happy New Year, friends!  I love this time of year...new beginnings and new places to explore.  I have had so much fun with my Vintage Vacations series of posts.  Traveling the seemingly endless roads in the wide open spaces of the Wild West, one can come across the strangest and most remote of places.  And I have come to believe that the hardy souls who settled these lonely places had to be strong of will...and filled with a longing for beauty where ever it might be found.  Western settlers often had a sense of the whimsical and used whatever they could find to express it. 

I am so excited to share with you the quirky little town of Chloride, Arizona where we went exploring on New Year's Day.  Look at the top left corner of the vintage Arizona map.  Follow Highway 93 about 50 or so miles from Boulder/Hoover Dam southeast toward Kingman. 

First stop...Breakfast 

The Southwest Diner in Boulder City, Nevada.
Boulder is a vintage lover's dream...I'll be blogging about it someday soon.

Welcome to Chloride
We passed by this exit sign many times over the past few years.

Chloride is considered the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in Arizona.

From our good pal Wikipedia we learn that prospectors first located mineral resources in the area in the 1840s...silver, gold, lead, zinc and turquoise.  The town itself was founded about 1863, but mining was not widespread until a treaty with the Hualapai Indians could be signed in the 1870s. The mountains above Chloride are called the Cerbat Mountains.

Abandoned Railway Station

The Arizona and Utah Railway from Kingman was inaugurated on Aug. 16, 1899.  It is a point of pride that Miss May Krider drove the last silver spike.  The town once boasted a population of nearly 5,000 inhabitants, but by 1944 it was nearly a ghost town.  The population today is somewhere between 200-300.

Here is a fun factoid...sometime between 1927 and 1929, author Louis L'Amour visited Chloride to check out a claim he had purchased.  During his visit the town caught fire.  Though Mr. L'Amour assisted with the bucket brigade, they failed to stop most of the town from burning to the ground. 
It's probably just a coincidence.

This post office is the oldest continually operating post office in Arizona

Christmas Greetings

As you enter town you are greeted by a fence covered in rusty odds and ends and strings of glass bottle necks.  The picture above does not do it justice.  I was told by a resident that the owner of Shady Lady's Attic Antiques created the fence art.

Rusty Chloride Sign

Purple People Eater.

Glimpses of Ghost Town set and Shady Lady's yard art.

Junk creations are located all over town.

A few folks decorated for the holidays.

Old Gas Station

Roy Purcell's Journey

"The Journey" a 2000-square-foot set of murals.

When we stopped at a little general store that offered tourist information we were given a map of local points of interest.  At the end of Tennessee Street was written "To Murals...1.3 miles unpaved road."  We had no idea what was in store, but we shifted to 4-wheel drive and followed the bumpy snow-covered dirt road up into the hills above town.  Every so often a painted arrow would direct us where to go. We were only the second set of tracks in the snow.

The murals were very much a surprise...so colorful and filled with symbolism.  We later learned the murals were the work of artist Roy Purcell with the help of local residents.  In 1966 Purcell had taken a break from working on his Masters degree in Fine Arts at Utah State University to work as a miner in the Cerbat Mountains near Chloride.  The murals, called "The Journey" are done in the abstract Modernism tradition.

This panel is called the Premonition Scene

The Goddess Panel is to the far left.

The Mandala Panel.

Roy Purcell restoring the murals in 2006

I hope you enjoyed this little Vintage Vacation.  The town of Chloride was very sleepy and quiet on the day we visited, but I hear there is always something going on in town.  Gunfights and Melodramas take place most weekends...except when it is too hot or too cold.  Chloride has over 20,000 visitors each year.  I think we were the first for 2015!


Musings from Kim K. said...

Looks like a fun place to visit. We loved our family trip out West. I look forward to going back one day. Thank you for taking us along!

Tammy's in Love said...

Your travel reports always make me feelike I have actually been there!!

Dorothy Crutchfield said...

I enjoyed looking at the pictures of your trip to Chloride! I actually know a woman named Bonnie who used to own a motel in Chloride. She and her husband sold it a couple of years ago and moved back up home to Alabama where she was from. She was one of the "Kings", and her sisters used to take vacations and go out there to visit her.

Margaret said...

How cool! I have never been to Arizona. What an interesting town. I was thinking the guys from American Pickers would like to go there too :) Maggie

Pam~ Virginia Retro said...

Such an interesting town, would love to visit the west one day. Fun post! :)