Rustic Charm

There is boundless allure in the image of the Old West — gunfights, saloons, striking gold and pioneering a new life. Visitors trek for miles to get a taste of this bygone era, which has been preserved throughout the Southwest. Chloride, Arizona, appeals to travelers as the oldest continuously-inhabited mining town in the state.

Named for the veins of silver chloride found in the surrounding hills, Chloride popped up as a mining camp in the 1860s. Soon prospectors found that the area was rich in copper, lead, zinc and turquoise as well.
Chloride was granted township in 1917, when the population was more than 2,000. However, most of the mines closed in the 1940s and it soon turned into a ghost town.
Now the population is about 150 residents, but Chloride still draws a crowd for its historic charm. One of the main attractions in town is the Cyanide Springs Ghost Town, a wooden replica of what main street may have looked like during the mining boom.
“Years ago, a gunfight group that used to perform here went up into the old mines and got some of the old wood and built it (Cyanide Springs) by hand like the old timers would have had to do, with no electric power,” local Jeannie Inman said. “They built this whole little town by hand — there’s a saloon, a fake jail and different little buildings.
“A French group that does video production has come several times to record videos in that area because it truly looks authentic, with the old wood and paint. So lot’s of people like to walk around and take pictures.”
The High Desert Drifters perform a shootout at high noon on the first and third Saturday every month at Cyanide Springs.
The Chloride Historical Society operates the Jim Fritz Museum located in the Cyanide Springs area, open for viewing from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays. There is additional memorabilia of the town’s history in the Silver Belle Playhouse next door, also open on Saturdays.
The perfect time to visit is this Saturday, Nov. 7, when Chloride hosts its all-town yard sale, which is a very popular annual event. Yard sales begin at 8 a.m. and the bake sale begins at 9 a.m. on the corner of 2nd Street and Tennessee. The event is free to attend and guests can pick up a map of the yard sales at Simple Remembrances in Cyanide Springs or at the bake sale.
While in town, be sure to check out the funky gift shops for unique souvenirs. Simple Remembrances is a wood working shop, with beautiful custom plaques, cutting boards, urns and more. Guests can even watch the owner in action as he creates his pieces.
Cactus Breath is a new shop in town, also located in Cyanide Springs, with an eclectic offering of gift items, old movies, posters, T-shirts, candy and soda.
Two longtime favorite shops are Shady Lady Antiques and Claim Your Treasure, which has an entire Christmas display room.
Grab a bite to eat at Yesterday’s Restaurant, open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a full bar. Shep’s Miners Inn is a historic motel surrounding the restaurant offering rustic overnight accommodations. The motel was originally built in the 1800s as a stagecoach repair and rest stop.
Before heading home, check out Roy Purcell’s famous murals on a rock wall in the Cerbat Mountains a mile outside of town. This acclaimed Southwest artist visited Chloride in the 1960s when he first painted the mural. Then he revisited the spot and touched up his work with help from family members about 15 years ago.
To reach the paintings, head east on Tennessee Avenue, go across the cattle guard, and follow the signs. Part of the road is not paved and depending on conditions, may require a four-wheel drive vehicle. Visitors can also hike up to the murals.
On the canyon wall opposite the murals, you can also see petroglyphs left behind from the Hualapai tribe that inhabited the area.