Let's Visit Some Ghost Towns!!!!!

  • Posted on: 21 August 2017
  • By: Gina

Hey, the occupants might be gone…moved years ago…..or dead….but these old towns are still full of life…..Ghostly Life, that is.  And lots of fun stories.   And I’ll bet there are a lot of ghost towns in the U.S.A. that you’ve never even heard of!!  Old cowboy towns, railroad towns, farmers towns, gamblers towns, riverboat wharf towns, towns near long gone forts, stagecoach stop towns, and towns in the middle of nowhere, built for reasons only those who are gone ever knew.

Some of these old towns just died because the Gold or Silver ran out and the prospectors moved on, followed by the store clerks, and then the rest of the populace.  Some died because they were just too violent to stay alive.  Some died because the railroad or modern highways passed them by, locating so far from the town that after awhile, no one could make a living anymore, and travelers just passed them by, maybe without so much as a glance.  Whatever the cause for their demise, most of these old towns are now “ghost” towns.  Some have ghosts, some don’t.  But you won’t know til you get there.  And maybe, if you’re lucky and you visit one of the old towns that is rumored to be “haunted”, and you’re open to it, you might just meet one of the town’s former residents.  (Or I guess, if they’re still there, they are its present residents.)

Now, even if you’ve never been to Arizona, you’ve heard of Tombstone, the OK Corral, and the legend of Wyatt Earp, his brothers Morgan and Virgil, Doc Holliday, and the Cowboys.  Other than Dodge City, Kansas, I don’t think there’s a more famous old west town in America than Tombstone.  And if you've never been to Tombstone, you've probably at least watched the movie, right?  One of the greatest westerns ever made!!!!!  (Thank you Kurt, Val, Sam and Bill.)

But, have you ever heard of Bumble Bee?  Contention City?  Oatman?   Or how about Vulture City?  No?  Well, they and about twenty or so other old west towns (not all ghost towns because some old towns, like Tombstone, just flat out refused to die) are all in Arizona.  So, what's so special about Bumble Bee, you ask?  Well, first of all it wasn’t always called Bumble Bee.  It started it’s life as Snyder’s Station, named after the man who founded it and built his ranch there.  Soldiers soon arrived to protect the inhabitants of Bumble Bee from the marauding Indians, then a stage line soon was established, Snyder built a hostelry and stable…..and  the town enjoyed it’s own success, being a very successful stage stop. 

And then, Gold was discovered down the road a piece!  That brought prospectors by the droves.  During that time the town’s name was changed. Whether the name that was then given the town was because of actual Bumble Bees and their nests or because people referred to the local Indians as “thick as bumble bees”, no one knows for sure.   Unfortunately the mines were pretty much exhausted by the early 1900s, people had come and gone, more gone than come, and the town started a struggle to stay alive, which it kept doing for years, moving to follow new survey alignments three times.  But the fourth time was too much.  The Black Canyon highway bypassed it a little too far away.

In the 1930s the town was sold, the new buyer wanting to turn it into a tourist attraction.  He build new buildings, corrals, etc., but it didn’t work.

Then in the 1960’s the town was sold again, lock, stock and barrel, to Charles E. Penn, a magazine publisher.  But, before Penn could fulfill his dream of returning the town to its glory days and enticing tourists to come, he died two years after buying Bumble Bee.

But, don’t despair, because right down the road is Bumble Bee Ranch, one of Arizona’s Dude Ranches.  And if you want to go there, read on.  I’ve clipped their “about us” page and pasted it here, just for you!  So, enjoy.  And maybe one of these days we’ll see ya at the ranch!

stage coach

Nestled in a valley at the foot of the Bradshaw Mountains the 180 acre ranch and its surrounding 74,000 acres of trails are the perfect place to get-away-from-it-all. Bumble Bee Ranch includes the old town of Bumble Bee.

There are two stories how Bumble Bee got its name. The first, a miner ran into a large beehive while mining in a cave; the second, we believe to be the true story. The U.S. Calvary were sent to scout the area and to see how many Indians were here. When reporting their findings they said the Indians were as thick as bumble bees. There are Indian ruins everywhere with two archeological sites on the ranch property.

The town of Bumble Bee was founded in 1864 on the main stagecoach route between Phoenix and Flagstaff, via Prescott. It was once known as Snyder's Station, which was the center of social and economic activity in the area. Weary travelers stopped here on the three day trip between the two cities. Bumble Bee's economy was based on cattle ranching and sheep herding. It was also home to miners and prospectors seeking their fortunes of gold and silver in the Bradshaw Mountains. There are still a few ol' miners out in the mountains hoping to find the mother load.

Today the ranch is owned by Ken Kendrick who acquired its 180 acres and the town of Bumble Bee in 1998. In town are five cabins the ranch provides for its employees. The original general store still exists which also operated as a saloon and a gas station. The ranch manager and her family have a 10 acre homestead. The previous ranch owner maintains a cabin on ten acres at the south end of town and has open range grazing rights on 74,000 acres with the Bureau of Land Management. The ranch has access to this land for entertaining its guests. The historical school house sits on 1.4 acres and is privately owned. That completes the 201.4 private acres of Bumble Bee. The ranch/town are home to 19 people, over 40 horses, 3 goats, and a herd of 18 roping cattle.

Ken Kendrick's intent in acquiring the ranch was to make it available to the public. The ranch entertains tourists, corporate outings, family gatherings, weddings, saddle clubs, horse clinics, boy & girl scouts, and anyone else looking for a great western adventure.

In addition, the ranch provides a venue for many children’s charities. Charities such as the Foundation for Blind Children, Hope Kids, Mentor Kids USA, and many more organizations that come to visit and enjoy all the wonderful fun activities the ranch offers. Last year we entertained over 800 kids and guests for the Hope Kids event. When the ranch is not busy with public activities it is open for the children charities that qualify to come and play.

The ranch is a full service facility including catering and an event coordinating department. It is a blank canvas you can customize to fit your needs. There is a guest house, we call it the "Big House", camping sites, restroom and shower facilities, a large pavilion with seating for 175 and a fully stocked wet bar, stage and dance floor.

The ranch and its staff are flexible and eager to work with you. We have a fully equipped commercial kitchen that received the "Golden Plate Award" from Yavapai County, Arizona Health Department.

To plan you western adventure, please call Kelly at 623-374-0002.

So, Hope you enjoyed this little "history" lesson from Happy Clutter, and maybe it inspired you to visit Bumble Bee, or some other ghost town.  So, until later......Happy riding!  And keep on coming back to see us.



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