Friday, April 22, 2011

Ghost Towns and Gold Dust

We took a side trip from North Ranch RV Park to a ghost town called Stanton, AZ. It was really only a short distance, and a lot of it was on a pretty well-maintained dirt road. When we arrived, we saw this gateway.

The sign reads "Stanton LDMA." We asked a man on a 4-wheeler, "What's an LDMA?" He told us that it is the Lost Durtchman's Mining Association, a private club." He added that we were welcome to drive in and look around. As soon as we had parked the car, this lady came out to greet us.

She seemed to be lonely and wanted to talk. She even invited us to stay over for Sunday's Easter Sunrise Service. She also directed us to the park office:

At the office we learned more about the Lost Dutchman's Mining Association, including that we could become members for one lifetime fee of $3,750 "for husband and wife." You can learn more about the LDMA at this website. For the rest of the story, I'll let other websites have their say:

Legend has it that when a prospector left his group to go round up some mules on a nearby hill, he literally stumbled on gold nuggets lying right atop the soil. The subsequent strike, on the aptly named Rich Hill, allowed the group to dig up $100,000 of gold in less than six months. This mother load is how Antelope Station was born.Nevertheless, by the 1890s, Stanton was a legitimate community filled with miners, their families, a general store, a stamp mill, a hotel, a boarding house, and several other buildings. Unfortunately, the town declined and eventually died out when the gold had dried up.

(Someone doesn't know how to spell "lode."

It didn’t take long for Charles P. Stanton to transform the town when he entered in 1871. Not only did this soon-to-be town boss change the name to suit himself, he took on various roles such as postmaster, deputy, and justice of the peace. However, history does not paint a kindly picture of this man of many hats. Apparently, Mr. Stanton had some persuasive “friends” that allowed him to quietly take over the town. This band of thugs helped him stage various dirty deals that landed him a rather poor reputation, even by Old Western standards. Stanton’s hold on the town ended in 1886 when he was shot to death in his own store by a man claiming to be avenging an insult Stanton had hurled at the man’s sister.

The Saturday Evening Post, which bought the town in the late 1950s, gave the 10-acre site away in a jingle contest. The New York winner of the contest had no idea what to do with a beat-up ghost town and sold it.

(What would we ever do without our stalwart magazines?)

Stanton is owned today by the Lost Dutchman Mining Association, which runs an RV park there. Once known as Antelope Station, Stanton experienced gold rush fever in 1863 in the form of a gold strike. What was once a stage stop transformed over night into a western boomtown thanks to its rather large deposits of gold. Located about twenty miles north of Wickenburg, Stanton is, today, part of an RV park, but still retains its ghostly allure for travelers in search of an authentic Arizona ghost town experience. (Yes, it's an RV park, but it's open only to its members.)

An 11-room hotel, the stage stop and dance hall still stand along Antelope Creek between Congress and Yarnell on County Road 109, 50 miles northwest of Phoenix.

In 1892, the Prescott newspaper reported that the residents of Stanton, Arizona liked to "drink blood, eat fried rattlesnakes and fight mountain lions".

(Maybe so, but I don't believe everything I read in the papers!)

Many of Stanton’s buildings are in terrific condition due to the fact that the town was closed to the public for decades. Today, Stanton is owned by the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association and has been transformed into a campground for RVs. Many recreational prospectors visit the site to try their luck. The town’s original structures are in use for campers. The camp’s office was once the stage stop. A recreation hall now occupies the building that was once home to the town saloon. The former Hotel Stanton is the present residence of a small library, a kitchenette, and a game room.

There are more pictures, if you'd care to see them. Just click on this link. (Note to Rick -- I tried the slideshow thing, but, at least with Blogger, I have to have Adobe Flash Player, which doesn't work with a 64 bit operating system, and I'm not ready to tear this computer apart to get it to work. If you have any clues, I'd love to hear them!

So that's what we saw in this one short stop in ... Our Life on Wheels!


  1. I'm sorry, but I can't see paying $3750 for that. I'd be lonesome too if I lived there. Interesting story tho.

  2. Great story about the history of Stanton and all your photos were great. Looks like another one of those colorful places to visit.

    Adobe is still catching up with 64 bit browsers and has a 'beta' 64 bit flash system out now for testing.

    In the meantime, most of us, me included, use a 32 bit browser that is compatible with most of the older software even though I'm running a 64 bit Windows 7 OS.

    Jerry, you perhaps downloaded the 64 bit Internet Explorer and that's why you have the problem.

    Your choices are to wait for Adobe to release the 64 bit Flash Player or switch to a 32 bit browser that will work just fine.

  3. Great photos but I don't think I would fork over that kind of dough either! Love ghost towns and enjoyed your story.

  4. Enjoyable post and good pictures too. I am glad visitors are allowed to look around without paying. I wonder how many actually belong to their association. I suppose the association and fees are their way to pay taxes and keep up the buildings.


  5. The Legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine has always intrigued me...But, we have never been there ..yet! I loved the old Hotel/Dance Hall...Now that's the Old West, Mr. Dillon!

  6. Great story. It will add it to the places to visit when back in the area.


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