No one would have ever come to the desert Southwest if it weren’t for the search of minerals. Coronado got lost seeking gold in Cibola but ended up finding it in Southern Arizona. He also found Native Americans from the Sinagua (without water) tribe living peaceably on the land. They didn’t give him the trouble that the Apaches had inflicted on the Anglos. Arizona is rich in minerals and people came to mine. The Anglo Saxons, the white guys, were the first to come after the Native Americans to look for minerals. Gold, Silver, and Copper. Traders, cattle ranchers, farmers, and homesteaders followed. Nearly every great fortune of the West was made in mining.
I wasn’t looking for minerals or trying to find my fortune when I started out on my four-day excursion on 89A, one of the first highways constructed in Arizona. I am a modern day explorer. I travel in my minivan with an ice chest full of ice and water. I have another box with camping supplies, sleeping bag, blankets, and dried fruit. No horses, wagons, or fear of being attacked by Apaches.
Map of Arizona historic highways
Route 66 is one of the most famous historic routes traveled by modern day explorers. Route 66 crosses the United States. It was not easy to travel anywhere out of Clarksdale for lack of cars and roads. In 1927 highway 89A was completed. I followed 89A from Congress-Yarnell-Prescott Valley-Jerome and ended in Clarkdale. Clarkdale is very close to Sedona, Cottonwood, Page Springs (known for its wineries), and Camp Verde.
Highway 89A is not for the driver who can’t keep their eyes on the road. It is steep and curvy. It has great views. There are a few places to stop and take pictures. My husband used to drive this road and I would close my eyes. My eyes are no longer closed because I am the driver. It can become nerve racking but it is worth the drive.
The first mining claims in Clarkdale were made by the Irish in 1876. William A Clark arrived in town and purchased the United Verde Copper Company in 1888 for $80,000. He bought out the Irish who had also laid claim to the land and named the town of Clarkdale after himself. Doesn’t everyone want a town named after them?
The West was wild and just about anyone whose pockets were lined with cash was free to do what they wanted. Clark was one of those prosperous guys. He started mining “chalcopyrite”, referred to as “fool’s” gold.
Chalcopyrite was mined in the town of Jerome about 40 miles from Clarkdale between 1876 and 1953. This was no easy task considering the physical labor and expense it took to bring the chalcopyrite forty miles down very steep mountains. Clark brought in the narrow-gauge railroad which boasted 187 curves and 28 bridges in the last 14 miles of its 27-mile run, making it one of the largest copper mining operations in Arizona.
The “J” for Jerome can be seen painted on the mountain when standing in Clarkdale. The smelting mill in Clarkdale was the major source of employment. The process of smelting was to take the oxygen from the ore and leave the metal behind. Clarkdale processed the chalcopyrite into copper from 1913-1953.
The smelter with the letter C on the mountain for Clarkdale
William Andrews Clark was a man with three great ambitions in his lifetime. One of those ambitions was to own a town that would be one of the most modern mining towns in the world. Clarkdale, a town which bore his name, would be such a town.
Mr. Clark needed a place to house his employees. Before the idea of neighborhoods, people built their houses anywhere they found land. Free style camping. Mr. Clark didn’t want this kind of haphazard living style. He wanted his workers to be close together and he wanted a design. What he really wanted was control. The concept of company housing began. Clarkdale was the first “neighborhood design” to be developed in the state of Arizona. Construction started in 1912 and continued until 1930. The town had 560 dwellings and homes, and two hotels. Before a home was built it had to be approved by Clark or his son.
The first house he built was the Pilot House in 1912. It was two stories tall and made of concrete. Clark didn’t like the idea at first because it was too expensive for the number of homes he wanted to build. He decides to use the building as a boarding house. Men who worked in the smelter rented out the rooms. Workers slept in eight-hour shifts. When one worker woke up, another took his place in bed. That made space for three people to rent at the same time. There were limited opportunities for shift workers in their daily living. At this point in time, there weren’t many women around.
The divided town
The town was divided into four sections: Upper Town, Lower Town, Patio Town, and Santa Fe town.
Mr. Clark believed the “well housed and contented employees were an asset to the company”.
The Bungalow or Craftsman style homes were built for the white people. Engineers and executives. Fifty-five of these homes were built from 1915-1917 with bricks produced in a factory in Clarkdale. They were low cost, simple living quarters with an artistic touch to the American trying to get by with modest means.
Park in the middle of Clarkdale
The original HOA contract
In 1912 workers earned $630 a year. The rents started at $15 per month for smaller homes and $45 for larger homes. Wide boulevards, large lots, and a great assortment of home designs made up the housing. A park in the middle of the city served as a place for the “white folks” to get together and socialize. Services included power, light, water, and sewer. There was a police force, street maintenance, garbage collection, and volunteer firefighters. All residents were required to keep the premises and yards clean. Clark did not allow his employees to own the land. They were required to lease.
White overall guys
Lower Town was blue collar. These homes were cheaper than the homes in Upper Town. Every home was identical in design. The people living in Lower Town had very low salaries.
Lower Town homes had three sizes of Neoclassical, small single family, large single family and duplex. Small homes have a sleeping porch recessed into one corner. Large homes have a sleeping veranda under a shed roof. The yards were small and life was contained to the home. Most of the homes had fences around them for protection. The people who lived in Lower Town or the Patio Homes were not invited to mix with the Upper Town folks. Each had their own swimming pool and ball parks.
Patio Park was designed for immigrant Mexican laborers. There was an open courtyard between two houses. This was referred to as the patio. Mr. Clark felt that the Mexicans liked being outside. I don’t think Mr. Clark really understood the Mexicans who worked for him. Mexican culture is a very close culture and they like to be with each other and socialize. That is why they liked the patio. This neighborhood still exists and is inhabited by Mexicans to this day. Unfortunately, this area of the town is in disrepair.
Saint Cecelia Church in Patio Town
Santa Fe Town/Rio Vista
The last neighborhoods constructed were the Rio Vista and Santa Fe town. Houses sold for $1,250-$2,225 in 1912. Duplexes had front and rear facing gables and porches at each end used as sleeping quarters.
The Rio Vista “View of the River” was near the Verde River. People built their own homes and rented the land from the UVCC. Railroad workers built their homes between Lower Town and Patio Park and called it Santa Fe after the railroad company. It also had the name Twittyville, E Twitty, the train master for the UVCC.
The Mine Closes
Clarkdale had a population of 4,200 in 1917. The population increased to 5,000 in 1920. In 1935, Phelps Dodge Mining Corp. purchased the United Verde Copper Company for $22,800,000.00 and operated the mine until 1953. The price of copper dropped. The mines were closed. The population dropped to 500. There was no more work and the population moved on.
Clarkdale’s nearest neighborhood is more than 1,000 years old. In the twelfth century, Tuzigoot was occupied by the Sinagua tribe. Sinagua is Spanish for “without water”. The only indication of their life is a cluster of rocks representing past buildings on top of a small sandstone ridge close to the Verde River. There were 250 people living in 80 rooms. The village was abandoned sometime in the 15th century.
Tuzigoot means “cracked water”. It was built between 1100-1450 AD. The building was two stories high and had 110 rooms. The Sinagua tribe depended on rain to help grow their crops. They hunted deer, antelope, rabbits, and ducks. They used salt to make their food taste better and keep from spoiling. They made axes, knives, hammers, jewelry from shells, turquoise and red stone. They grew cotton and wove textiles.
Artifacts found with the buried
The settlement of Tuzigoot has some similarities to its neighbor Clarkdale. There were elements of different social status. Researcher found this information while digging up graves. Those with a higher status were buried with food, shells, stone jewelry, and pottery. Those who were of worker status (blue collar) were buried with only their tools.
Plaza for socializing
Clarkdale had a park in the middle of the city and Tuzigoot had a plaza. Plazas are found all over the world and are places where people get together and socialize. People who live in the US are more accustomed to parks than plazas. The Hopi plaza was a flat open area between the rooms and was the “hub” of social and ceremonial activities. The people used the plaza to eat and share the goods that they made. The people who lived in the village shared the same beliefs and religion.
A possible dish for sharing food
Mining was also a part of their lives. They began extracting argillite and copper from the mines. They used the minerals for making pots, cooking tools, and jewelry. They didn’t possess the proper tools to do much mining.
Mammoths in the Verde Valley
The Verde Valley were the Hopi lived had a cooler and damper climate. It was able to support large animals such as mammoths 13,000 years ago. Today you will find a hotter and drier climate. The Hopi were presented with a severe climate change almost 1,000 years ago. No more glaciers and ice fields forming on the mountains in the Colorado Plateau the nearest mountain range that provided the village with the necessary water to grow their food.
Researchers don’t have one definite reason to explain the disappearance of the tribe. Some of the reasons could have been the result of being attacked by another tribe, or disease. Some researchers believe that a volcanic eruption (Sunset Crater) 60 miles away in the city of Flagstaff scared them away.
Just like Coronado, I didn’t find gold or silver. I found copper. Not in the ground, but in a museum. Copper from all over the world. The museum is in Clarkdale, a booming mining town that now caters to tourists and retirees. The population is now 4,200.
Drake is the curator of the Copper Museum. His love for copper is apparent in the collection of copper products displayed. He has a family background in copper. He spent a year looking for a place to display his parents collection of copper. The museum recieves donations from all over the world. Italy, France, Germany, and the Arab countries. The rooms are categorized as the kitchen area, war room, wine and beer making, and ornamental decorations.
Casings used for attack
The Goddess of wine and drunkards
Jugs for drinking and making beer
Jelly, bread, and torte molds
The project for the Copper museum began in 2001. It ranks as #387 on the National Historic Register. The museum has something for everyone to feast their eyes on. They allow dogs to enter the museum. This was important for me because I was traveling with my dog.
The town of Clarkdale has buildings that are no longer in use anymore. The town gas station just closed about one year ago. There are a few bars and restaurants. The people who live in Clarkdale do their shopping in Cottonwood, less than 10 minutes by car.
Gas station in Clarkdale
The current population of Clarkdale is made up of retirees, hospital workers, and the tourism industry. Thirty percent of the population is Hispanic and 400 are Native Americans.
The Clarkdale Lodge is the only hotel in town. The rooms are a little small for the “studio” which I stayed in for four days. It was comfortable and had a good feeling of being in a place more than eighty years old. Tourists who come to visit Clarkdale are just passing through. Many of them stay in Cottonwood which is the next closest town or continue on to Sedona.
Passing through Clarkdale requires a stop at this bakery. The bakery was named after the owners oldest daughter. The owner used to be a food blogger and chef. She and her brother own the bakery. The baked goods come fresh out of the oven everyday of the week but Sunday. They are opened from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Do not pass this place up. They are closed on Tuesdays.
These two neighborhoods , Clarkdale and Tuzigoot, exist side by side. One ceased to exist 1,000 years ago and another lost its population more than sixty years ago. Both of these neigborhoods lost their livelihood. They could no longer support themselves and moved on.
Does your old neighborhood look like it did when you lived there? How has it changed? Has it changed for the better or the worst? My neigborhood has changed. Many of the people who used to live there have moved on.