The long drive on U.S. Highway 93 between Las Vegas and Kingman, Arizona can be quite monotonous for those who are in too much of a hurry to take a break from the road. This 100 mile stretch of road is used by daily business commuters and it is also a key tourism corridor. Highway 93 also sees a high volume of weekend warriors and party animals that set sights on the Las Vegas nightlife. With this mix of traffic to encounter, the drive on Highway 93 between Las Vegas and Kingman can be a white knuckled driving experience that leaves the nerves frazzled, but there is some relief to be found along the way in an old ghost town called Chloride.
Chloride is located about 23 miles west of Kingman on Highway 93. The billboard signs for the access road are easy to spot even with road weary eyes. Once off the beaten path, it is like a weight is lifted off of the shoulders and wherever one was originally heading to is no longer of major importance. Taking one’s own sweet time becomes the mode, since there is no rat race to contend with. Soon the Chloride welcome signs appear and the memories of the outside world fade away. The timeless nature of an old historic ghost town truly is the ultimate escape from the stress filled highway.
There are ghost towns and then there are living ghost towns. Chloride definitely is the latter of the two and this small community is very much alive in this modern age. Chloride is an old historic mining town that was established in the mid 1860s after a variety of valuable mineral strikes were found in the area. A railroad line from Kingman was built in the late 1890s and Chloride soon became the county seat. More than 5,000 people called Chloride home back in those days, but as mining operations declined in the early 1900s, so did the local population. Fire struck Chloride in the late 1920s and most of the town was never rebuilt. By the time that the 1940s rolled around, Chloride was almost completely abandoned.
Western novel writer Louis L’Amour was staying in Chloride during the big fire and he too was drawn into the local prospecting claim game. During that period of history, western novels and western movies were the number one American entertainment venue. Many folks that were close to retirement back in those days longed for living the western lifestyle. Writers like Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey painted the field of dreams. This background has turned Chloride into a timeless place that is a haven for retirees, craftsmen and artists.
Chloride is now a cozy little artisan town out in the middle of the desert and this living ghost town has a way of captivating all that pass through. Community pride runs thick in this place that seems light years away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. The residents of Chloride have a unique way of expressing their community pride, which becomes obvious when touring the town. Every home and every front yard along the main street area is decorated to the hilt with artistic creations and strange sculptures. A slow cruise through Chloride is like driving through a museum of weird desert folk art!
The desert folk art theme of Chloride extends well up to the mountainside. On the outskirts of town there are marked dirt roads that go to the Roy Purcell Rock Murals on the hillside. The dirt roads are a bit too rough for low ground clearance passenger cars, but the hike to this outdoor art gallery is just a short distance. The name of the rock mural collection is called “The Journey” and this Roy Purcell creation is well worth checking out.
There are rock shops, art galleries and plenty of antique hunting to do in Chloride. There is a local motel that actually is open for those who yearn to spend some extra time in this artisan community and there are a couple of good eateries too. The coffee shop is the best place to rub elbows with the locals and many tales of this ghost town's past can be heard. Classic desert tourist trap exhibits in the downtown area will keep visitors of all ages entertained and there are good opportunities for photographers to capture memories that will last a lifetime.
Chloride certainly is an interesting living ghost town that is well worth checking out! Those who are in a hurry commuting on the highway will likely never even realize that this jewel of an artisan ghost town exists and this is part of the beauty of it all. There are no big crowds and there is plenty of fresh air to breathe in this peaceful place. The classic western dream is still very much alive in good old Chloride Ghost Town!
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