Friday, June 2, 2017

Ruby, Arizona March 2017

Out of all the ghost towns in Southern Arizona Ruby is one of the best preserved for a number of  reasons. First, for many years the town remnants were on private land and visitors could not walk around. Second, there is a caretaker who oversees the grounds and charges visitors. As a result, there are dozens of standing buildings, ruins and two lakes Town Lake and Eagle Lake created mine tailings. One is contaminated from mining while the other one is pristine and visitors can swim in it during the summer. Even with the entrance fee I would recommend Ruby to any ghost town enthusiast. Ruby was an underground mining operation with mine shafts extending down 700 feet. Many of the hills surrounding Ruby are unsafe for walking. Please stay on designated paths.

History: The area around Ruby was first mined in 1870. After the first strike a small community formed called Montezuma Camp. Ore deposits showed lead, silver, gold, zinc and copper. Julius Andrews, store owner and post master, named town after wife Lillie Ruby Andrews. The most prosperous period for Ruby began in 1926 when the Eagle-Picher Lead Company overtook operations. In 1926 Ruby had electricity, doctor, hospital and school. From 1934-1937 the Montana Mine was leading producer of lead and zinc in Arizona. In 1936 the mine was third in silver production.

Ruby had a reputation for lawlessness and a couple of murders highlight its violent past. Because the town is close to Mexico it had problems with raids and bandits. Philip C Clark who ran the general store in 1913 commented that he kept firearms in every room of house. Clark also spread a tall tale that a pipe in front of his store fired poison gas from a switch in the building. Supposedly the tale kept revolutionary soldiers from robbing the store. Subsequent owners did not heed Clark's advice about safety and paid the price. In 1920 John and Alex Frasier bought the store. Within a couple of months Alex was shot dead and John shot in eye by two bandits. In 1921 Frank Phearson bought store. August 1921 Frank and  wife were killed by armed men. Incredibly their young daughter was spared.
(Info from: Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps bu Philip Varney)

Rub has worked with many groups including Arizona Game and Fish and US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect it wildlife. A big-game fence was constructed around the property to keep cattle out. A colony of Mexican free tail bats numbering around 150,000 live in Ruby's shafts from May to September. There have also been sightings of a Jaguar and unconfirmed reports of a Mexican wolf being heard as well. (Info from Ruby information sheet)


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