Monday, June 20, 2011
The Ghost Town of Ruby, Arizona
There is a small ghost town that sits near the Arizona/Mexico border in Santa Cruz County, and at the foot of Montana Peak. Ruby, Arizona, is another mining town left abandoned after the mines closed but is well preserved for tourist to take pleasure in seeing. Initially named “Montana Camp”, Ruby has a history of unregulated control, murder and chaos.
It has been told in the 1700’s Spaniards first discovered the minerals but left because of the harsh desert and hostile Apaches. It would be almost a century when a couple of mining engineers would renew Montana Gulch. Many followed, but like the Spaniards, they left because of the unfriendly Apaches living in the area.
By the 1870’s, another prospector made numerous claims and started a settlement at the base of the mountain he called “Montana Camp”. The mine produced an abundance of gold, silver, copper, and zinc. By the late 1800’s a mercantile was opened and huge amounts of high-grade ore was found. The word quickly spread and many miners, along with their families, rushed to Ruby to get their piece of the wealth.
Julius Andrews bought the mercantile in 1897 and on April 11, 1912 he opened the post office. He named the post office “Ruby” after his wife, Lille B. Ruby Andrews. Short afterwards the mining camp was also referred to as Ruby. The post office stayed in business until May 31, 1941 when it finally closed its doors.
Living in Ruby was not easy for the miners and their family. It was hot, dirty and very dangerous. They lived in tents or adobe huts and only had one general store to do all their business with. The men would usually hunt or rustle cattle to feed their families. Living close to the Mexican border was a problem as well. Not only did their fear being attacked by the Apache, but the Mexicans too. Another element the residents of Ruby had to face was poor water conditions. They ended up building a dam to catch the runoff and to power the mines.
In 1914, the general store was purchased by another and a much larger store was built up the hill from the old one. That building is still standing in Ruby today. In the 1930’s was when the highest reported number of people lived in Ruby. There were 1,200 residences of miners, their families, businessmen and some unruly soles. During that time the mine was the largest zinc manufacturer in Arizona and third in producing silver. But it was only a decade later in 1940 when the mine closed with Ruby becoming a ghost town a year later.
Ruby is well taken care of and maintained with its 25 buildings including the old jail, homes, mine machinery, school and playground which are still intact. Ruby and Vulture Mine are the two most successfully well preserved ghost towns in Arizona.
I know the area where Ruby is located is not very safe with all the border problems and smuggling, but I still want to visit there someday and share the awesome photos of this rather interesting mining ghost town.