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Will You Still Love Me Once the Copper Is Gone?

Walking through the ghostly remains of the abandoned town of Swansea, Arizona

sunny 12 °C
View Phoenix Rising From The Flame on GregW's travel map.

In the late 1800s, some prospectors working in western Arizona came across a silver deposit. They worked the land until the silver was gone, and then abandoned it, leaving a "worthless" deposit of copper. As the century turned, copper became more valuable and T.J. Carrigan, noticing the nearby railway line, bought up the claims to the land and launched the Clara Consolidated Gold and Copper Mining. Soon after copper mining and milling was taking place in this little piece of desert. They named the place after the town in England where most of the copper ended up, Swansea.


The town carried on successfully for years, until The Great Depression of the 1930s. With the declining copper market, the fortunes of Swansea faded and by the late 1940s the town was completely abandoned.


Today, Swansea is mostly a crumbling collection of buildings in the desert, about 4 hours from Phoenix, or an hour north-west of Bouse, Arizona, along a gravel road that despite the warning sign, isn't too bad to drive, assuming it is dry.


Despite having a population of almost 1,000 people, there is little left but flat desert. The huge piles of slag that still exist from the mining operation are the most lasting monument to the town of Swansea.


Anything made of brick and cement is crumbling, anything made of metal is rusting.




In 1908 the railway came to town. Today, you can still see the railway beds, the ties mostly buried under the sand and rock. The station house is falling down, today supported by trusses made of 2x4s so they don't fall over on the few folks hiking around the town.




The worker's cottages were shocking small and close together, and that's coming from a guy who is now living in Europe!




As you can see from the last photo, someone is working on restoring the worker's cottages. They have applied a new layer of stucco on the buildings and are putting up a corrugated tin roof. Why, of all the buildings, these are being restored, I don't know. They are some of the few buildings on the site now that have more than just the foundation and a few feet of half-ruined walls standing.



Hundreds of people lived here for a period of 50 years. Today, nothing. A ghost town, they call it. Abandoned by living humans, but still haunted by the memories of its past inhabitants. Perhaps haunted by more than just memories.


...wait, did you hear something?


The crumbling state of Swansea is a reminder that you can try and keep it at bay through organization and maintenance, but eventually time and the desert will intrude.



Posted by GregW 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites

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Love the pics, Greg! Especially the one with your haunted look. Reminds me of a Robbie Robertson song...

by tway

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