A living relic of the Past
SUPERIOR, Pinal Co., Arizona
Gary B Speck
Superior, Arizona doesn’t make many ghost town lists, but then with a 2010 population 2837, it is too big for most folks to even bother looking at, even though it is way down from its 1970 population of 5028. However, their loss is our gain. This wonderful class E copper-mining town is located just off US 60/70, between Phoenix and Globe in the heart of Arizona’s copper country. That is where it presents its roadtown façade, a face most people end up ignoring. Despite the busyness along the highway, this is NOT a town on the go. Take a look at the population trends mentioned above.
Let your car wander off to the north, just a couple blocks. Stop and visit the colorful buildings lining Main Street in the old ABANDONED downtown. Stop at the nearly useless stop sign that anchors a dead downtown filled with empty storefronts reaching in four directions. The former Superior High School overlooks the still active post office and its moribund cousins. To the north, are the fenced-in offices of the BHP Copper Mining Company, mill and smelter stack. The faded signs of long-dead businesses hearken back to a day when this was a major player in Arizona’s copper mining industry.
Superior dates to 1910 when the Magma Copper Mining Company took over the old Silver King Diggings to get at the wealth of copper underlying the worked-out silver deposits. These deposits were so rich that the mines produced through the depths of the Great Depression (1929-1933.)
Today’s Superior is a movie-set like early 1900s downtown with a few growing gaps. The old theater pictured in this 2003 view was torn down between 2003 and 2009 and its site is an empty hole in the buildings. A portion of the Magma Hotel has followed suit, although restoration efforts are currently underway on that landmark. Few cars line the street, and the painted parking places almost seem like an oxymoron. The café is empty and reflects the old hotel. Another item that I’ve noticed happen between my visits in 2003 and May 2009 is the downgrading of the flashing signal light at Main Street & Magma Avenue to a stop sign. Ahhh, reverse progress! Hey, at least the old saloon is still open!
Today, Superior slumbers in the warm Arizona sun, its heyday in the past, and its future uncertain. Even so, the friendly citizens, picturesque buildings and wonderful scenery make this a first class stop. This is definitely a town that time has forgotten about and it IS a living relic of the past.
This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.
This was our Ghost Town of the Month for December 2013
· SE¼ Sec 35, SW¼ Sec 36, T1S, R12E / NW¼ Sec 2, NE¼ Sec 3, T2S, R12E, Gila & Salt River Meridian
· Latitude: 32.3834038 / 32° 23' 00" N
· Longitude: -111.5006893 / 111° 30' 02" W
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FIRST POSTED: December 01, 2013
LAST UPDATED: January 11, 2014
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