December 2017. A few miles east of Apache Junction, 40-minutes or so east of Phoenix, AZ, is an area of history that many people may have seen on TV without knowing it (especially if you love those old Western movies and TV series). You likely did not know that this same area was adapted for and called various town names through the years.
On either side of the road as you drive east on SR-88 are the parts of this historical Western treasure. On the north side of the highway lies Goldfield Mining Town (aka Goldfield Ghost Town). On the south side, you will find the Superstition Museum, Apacheland, and the Elvis Chapel…yes, the Elvis Chapel…that Elvis.
First, let’s take a look at Goldfield. Today it is a tourist attraction and learning place for school children. During the gold rush, it was a mining town. Later on, it was used in the shooting of Westerns–both movies and television (along with Apacheland and the chapel). You still get a feeling of the Old West and the Arizona desert when you walk through the town.
The little town has a steam engine and cars that will take you on a pleasant trip around the perimeter of the town, as the engineer tells you about some of the history and sites to visit in the town. For just a few dollars, the ride is a great way to help plan how you will plot your day through the many sites and events.
One of the attractions that you can visit is the old-time bordello–complete with the “penthouse” at the top. It houses exhibits of Old West styles and culture, from the decor to the dresses.
Downstairs and around back from the bordello is a favorite exhibit of many visitors–the Superstition Live Reptile Exhibit. This exhibit welcomes visitors to see some of the residents of our desert up close, including snakes, lizards, and spiders. In the last year, the exhibit has included a couple new critters–although not resident to our area (thankfully) there are two beautiful cobras now on display. Some of the reptilian residents of our desert are included in the slideshow below:
There are some fun activities for kids there as well. One such attraction is the opportunity to pan for gold just like the 49ers of the Gold Rush! There are pieces of gold, pyrite, and gemstones waiting to be discovered by the young prospectors.
Yes, my granddaughter found trouble once again and had to go into the town’s jail. Fortunately for her, she was found not guilty and did not suffer the same consequences as others who passed through the Goldfield Jail:
There is also the story of the slightly off-center house. Now it wasn’t so off-center when it was built, but nature takes its course…lol. It is a fun experience in physics (I know, school, right?) and the audience gets to participate! Lots of strange goings-on…
We missed seeing one of the gunfights that is put on at various times during the day, but it is similar to what you may see in Tombstone, AZ. We wrapped up our trip by checking out some of the old equipment that was used back in the day. It is a favorite subject for my daughter the photographer and artist. We ate at the saloon–basic American cuisine, but quite good and not too awfully expensive, before heading to Apacheland and the Elvis Museum.
Goldfield Mining [Ghost] Town is located on AZ Rt 88, just a few miles east of Apache Junction.