Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who Closed Ruby?

Tuesday evening's blog mentioned our trip to the ghost mining town of Ruby and the fact that Ruby was closed when we got there. That prompted reader Mary Russell to comment: "The perfect description - a closed ghost town! Who opens it?"

That's a darned good question, and to find the answer we Googled "Ruby, AZ." Lots of sources, and this is what we learned from one (Mining and Murder in Ruby, AZ):

Ruby, one of the best preseved ghost towns in Arizona, was first discovered by Spaniards in the early 1700's. They found it not rich enough for their tastes and moved on. In 1854 two mining engineers picked up the old Spanish placers, eventually discovering rich gold and silver veins in the area. By the 1870's, more propectors had filed claims in the area known as Montana Camp, named for Montana Peak (which actually has that little mark over the second "n" so it's pronounced Moan-TAHN-ya.)

Over the years the camp grew, with the usual assortment of disputes over claims, gunfights, murders, saloons, a mercantile and other places where lonely and discouraged miners could work off their energies with members of the oppostie sex. Fierce Apaches tried to take back their land, and vicious Mexican bandits tried to take the gold. And so on and on. You are welcome to read the history on Google!

In 1937, the gold was gone, and the silver, lead and zinc that had been the mainstay of the town finally petered out. The mining was done, and in 1941 the Post Office was closed, and so was Ruby, Arizona

Today the old ghost town remains private, owned by a couple of different families who are working to preserve the town and make it into a recreational area. The good news is, they now allow visitors. The old settlement continues to boast more than two dozen buildings. The town is looked after by an on-site caretaker, who charges $12 per person for a tour, Thursday through Sunday. We went that way on a Wednesday to find the gate chained and padlocked.

Now you know who closed Ruby, and who opens it, and when.

But we're getting ahead of getting there. From and back to the rally grounds at Amado, AZ, it is a 79 mile trip, largely by seldom-tended gravel road. Leaving Amado, we passed the Longhorn Cafe at the same time that a Corvette Club rally did. This was one of the most unusual Corvettes.

The hillsides and fields were ablaze with bright yellow wildflowers.

Our lunch stop was the tiny town of Arivaca, where we had been advised to seek a lunch of a "carne asado burro" at La Rancherita.

Casting caution to the wind, we entered the covered patio, ordered, ate and enjoyed!

Now, most restaurants offer patrons the use of a restroom, especially those who are on the road. La Rancherita was no exception. Their restroom was across the street, in the offices of the Arivaca Human Services Department. You had to ask permission, of course, before being directed through the small dining area and the kitchen to a small closet in the rear.

Shortly after leaving Arivaca, we found the gravel road and charged merrily along. We had to slow down as we forded, for the first of about a dozen times, this tiny creek.

This is a view looking upstream from one of the many crossings.

Soon we had Montana Peak in sight (remember the little mark above the "n").

At this "junction" the entrance to Ruby Ghost Town is to the right, and the main road meanders off ahead and left.

Of course, Ruby was closed, but we got a few distance shots of the old town.

All in all, we had a great afternoon. The scenery was fine, the weather was perfect, and most of all, we had some time for ourselves, which was needed at that point.

And a big welcome to our newest followers, "Cindy K" and Ali. Don't know much about Cindy K, but Ali has her own blog: Ali's Page.
We'll tell you about our visit to Tumacacori National Historic Park next time we meet along ... Our Life on Wheels.


  1. Thanks, Jerry, for that very interesting story about Ruby. Your pics are really beautiful, too. You've given us all a lot of great information that encourages a visitation to that area. Great post!

  2. Hello, Jerry. Thanks for welcoming me as a new follower. My husband and I are part-time RVers, not full-timers. We are currently enjoying a six-week tour of the Grand Circle area of Utah and Arizona. I enjoy reading your blog! Carol

    My blog is

    My husband, Dave's blog is

  3. Cool a Ghost grandsons would love this. Thanks for the Information.

    Cindy and Walker

  4. I know Ruby well! When I was a kid my dad was a Boarder Patrolman, and worked that section of Arizona for years. I remember stopping with him at Ruby several times. Once we met a couple of tourists from England, who were fascinated to see my dad wearing his boots, Stetson, gun belt and badge. They had me take their picture with the “Arizona cowboy sheriff.” Another time a mountain lion crossed the road just ahead of us as we walked along. Thanks for bringing back some fond memories.

  5. The old western ghost towns are one of the things we enjoy so much about the southwest. Lots of rugged history from a rough & tough by-gone era. We are always amazed at the Herculean efforts those pioneers put forth to build their towns & dig their mines. Next time in that area we'll have to check out Ruby for sure. She sounds like quite a gal:))

  6. Thanks for the history of Ruby, it was very interesting - never knew they could 'close a town' ghost or otherwise. Great pictures too - especially the one of Suzy!!

  7. Interesting report of your adventure. I hope we can all go back and explore Ruby when it's OPEN! Thanks for the great photos.

  8. just found your blog, I'm your new follower


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