A Living Ghost Town
Chloride was founded in 1862 with the discovery of silver ore. During its heyday, there were more than 75 mines in operation, and the population reached 2,000 in 1920. Today, there are still a few mines in operation, but Chloride looks elsewhere for prosperity.
Chloride has been served by both stage coaches and trains during its colorful history. The Chloride Post Office, also established in 1862, is the oldest continuously operating post office in the state of Arizona.
The Chloride Historical Society maintains several old buildings including the Old Jail and the Playhouse. Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month mock gunfights are held at Cyanide Springs. There are gunfights every Saturday at "High Noon". The 1st and 3rd Saturday the gunfight troupe is the High Desert Drifters, the 2nd and 4th Saturday the Frontiersmen perform.
Chloride is a peaceful place for tourists to visit and for others to retire to. There are many fine artists, writers and musicians who now call Chloride home. There are a few shops to display their goods, but the lifestyle is relaxed and merchant hours are flexible.
We like to wander from shop to shop and see what's new or what we can find that's real old, or that may add some character to our condo in Laughlin, Nevada. On this visit, my wife found a wonderful painting, and I was able to add a specimen of rock quartz crystal to my collection.
Chloride now has a central water system that solved a lot of the town's problems. The Chloride Fire Department houses an operational 1939 Ford fire engine built especially for the town by the Ford Motor Company. It is still in use. A Mack fire engine has been added, and both are used when needed.
Chloride has a small RV park and overnight RV parking. The drive around the city is quite interesting. Some of the residents have turned their household junk into lawn art, and some have just tossed their old appliances and junk into their yard. The town is whatever you want to make it. It might even be a good place to retire when you are finally ready to get away from it all.
Located in the hills behind Chloride are the famous Purcell Murals painted by the artist Roy Purcell in 1966. These murals are well worth the mile and a half drive on a rough dirt road. Roy was a prospector with time on his hands, so he painted some intriguing scenes on the face of the boulders in the area. The murals have held up well during the past 30 years, and the colors remain vibrant. Roy Purcell is well recognized throughout the Southwest, his artwork can be found in collections of such major international corporations as Standard Oil Company (AMOCO), Dow Chemical, and The Royal Bank of Canada. He is represented in the collections of many well known figures including Clint Eastwood, Dale Robertson. His latest work "Portraits of Nature" is Roy's vision of the Mojave Desert, which he captures in a collection of his watercolors of birds, animals, wildflowers, and desert landscapes bound into a 200 page book.
We hated to leave Chloride, but we're headed for Boulder City to visit the Hoover Dam and explore Black Canyon bridge, located just above the dam. We'll let you know what we find there in one of our future reports about places off the beaten path. Until then, watch out for rattlers and carry plenty of water.
All Town Yard Sale
Chloride has an All Town Yard Sale the first Saturday in May and October. Hosted by the Chloride Chamber of Commerce. Lots of bargains on antiques and general junk are available. The Historical Society of Chloride traditionally holds a bake sale and includes some of the finest pastries ever eaten by human beings.
Annual March St. Patrick's Day Celebration, the Saturday before the official St. Patrick's Day. Annual events include a zany parade down the main street, gunfights, vendors, visits to the Chloride Historical Society's Jim Fritz Museum at Cyanide Springs, a bake sale, drawings for wonderful prizes and an opportunity to visit a variety of unique businesses.
Old Miner's Day
Old Miner's Day commences the 3rd Saturday every October and is the biggest event of the year for Chloride. Festivities commemorate mining days when Chloride was the silver mining capitol of Arizona. No one is sure of the exact number of years this occasion has taken place, but rumors say over 100 years. A large parade, mock gunfights, a huge number of vendors hawking their wares, pie baking contests, great food and nice trophies are the norm.
Annual Car Show
On the second Saturday in October, some of the nation's finest automobiles travel to Chloride for the Annual Car Show. Spectators line the streets to watch these magnificent machines slowly travel the streets of town. Trophies and other prizes are awarded to winners in several categories. Food vendors, jewelry vendors, antique vendors, and junk dealers add to the gala affair sponsored by Shep's Miner's Inn. Also included in the mix of festivities is a mock gunfight scheduled at high noon.
Text & Photos By Jim Bremner
Other points of interest in the area.
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