Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mobile: Arizona's Little Desert Town


Sitting about 35 miles southwest of Phoenix, Arizona, is the minuscule town of Mobile. With fewer than 100 residences living there, it is also home to several solid-waste landfills and UFO sightings. Just north of Mobile is a private airport where many student pilots receive their training. This desolate town was where the first black community was located in Arizona.

Founded in the 1930’s, Mobile was once rumored to have been named for some of its early African-Americans settlers that lived there and came from Mobile, Alabama. That story was put to rest when records proved the town was named by the railroad companies in the 1920’s. In the 1930’s two railroad cars were used as schools and segregated by color. One was for the white children and the other was for the black children. Many of the African-American pioneers living in Mobile had established a place they called, “Negro Flats” tanks to do all their baptisms. This tank was basically a cattle watering hole in the desert where the other cowboys would stand around and poke fun at their beliefs during the many baptisms.

The town experienced its highest population count around 400 souls in the 1950’s. Mobile was deficient in places of employment, running water and learning accommodations that only offered up till 8th grade education. Many of the residence departed from Mobile leaving it a virtual abandoned town. Now days, this tiny desert town has less than 100 people calling it home. In 2007, it was annexed as part of Goodyear, Arizona with a huge development planned. But with the troubled economy, that plan was put on hold.

Now when you drive out there you see scattered houses, an abandoned trailer park, and the mounds of landfills throughout the place. Sharon (Autumnforest) and I drove to the small town cemetery. You notice the scattering of headstones standing amongst the dirt of the desert. The sign on the post was made by our very own Autumnforest. Nearby the cemetery is a burnt-out house that perhaps a family used to occupy. Off in the distance is the Estrella Mountains were many UFO sightings have been reported. (Check out my post of the UFO Sightings at Estrella Mountains. )

Mobile may not be much to look at these days, but like all the other small Arizona towns, it is rich in history.






10 comments:

  1. As always, brilliant pictures. Interesting little town too!

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  2. Another cool place in this hot desert state. The burnt-out house was a sad thing we came across knowing that a family probably lived there before the fire. It looks like they lost everything.

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  3. what a wonderful way to spend your time... love what you are doing.. and the way you write

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  4. Once again... another beautiful, yet sad post. You're blog; and talented eye are amazing!

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  5. Thank you Constance for coming to my blog and commenting, also for the kind words.

    Brenda, thank you. The weather was not my friend that day and was way too hot. I wanted to spend more time there.

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  6. If I had a truck, I would have taken you out to the baptismal hole at Negro Flats. It's actually a cattle watering hole but was used by locals for baptisms. Quite an amazing sight in the middle of the desert. Lots of forgotten places along AZ roads. Beautiful pics, as always, Julie!

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  7. Love the pics Ju! It is a shame that there seems to be so many forgotten places out there in your neck of the woods. I guess the desert takes it's tole and forces people out for various reasons. The picture of the cross with the barbed wire and the "mystery hole" is particularly interesting. It makes you wonder who is buried there, where is their family, etc. I understand from Autumn that there aren't a lot of "fancy" carved stones in AZ. especially in the more desolate areas. Very sad. It would be really cool to find someone who lived in that area and ask them the history of the place. Maybe they could shed some light on who is buried where and such. Great pics as always....did you and Autumn bring me that fireplace like I requested? Hmmmm????? LOLOLOLOL

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  8. Autumn; that would have been cool to be able to see the actual place where the baptisms were held. I am looking forward to our next trip to Gila Bend and the UFO cafe. We can check out the trailer park and cemetery again since we have to go by them to get there.

    Tara; sorry, there was no place to put the fireplace in the car. If we had a truck.....well maybe. The cemetery is a sad little desert place with scattered headstones. There was no one at the office when we were there. I am not sure it is even open. I would like to know whose grave that was that had the hole. It looked vandalized but it could have been an animal. It was too bad that someone didn't fill in the hole. Maybe the person in charge lived in the house that burned down nearby.

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  9. I would think this time of year the heat is no one's friend in AZ. I love the saying "But it's dry heat!" HAHAHA!

    There are so many forgotten little places. I find it a little sad that no one remembers them or those that once lived there. I wonder sometimes if even family members know or remember. Although, I'd imagine in some cases; they might choose to forget.

    The baptismal watering hole would have been amazing to see, as well!

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  10. Brenda; once most of the residence left, I'm sure that many of the graves were forgotten and neglected. And yes, it is usually a dry heat, which I can handle, but this time of year, the monsoon brings on the humidity. Granted it may not be as high as others are experiencing but it is high for us.

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