Daytripping through the oldest mining town in Arizona.
Chloride Ghost Town is Located approximately 23 miles north of Kingman, Arizona and 80 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada, and just a short 4 miles off Highway 93.
Chloride was originally founded in 1862 with the discovery of silver ore. The Post Office is the oldest continuously operating post office in the state of Arizona.
Nestled in a pocket of the Cerbat [sir-bat] Mountain Range, the town is at an elevation of 4000′. The name Chloride came from the silver chloride found in the hills among other minerals in the area. Turmoil with the Hualapai Indians slowed mining considerably but In 1870, a signed treaty with the tribe cleared the way for extensive mining of the area.
If you follow the dirt road that leads out of town, you’ll eventually reach them.
In 1966, Roy Purcell took a break from pursuing a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at Utah State University to labor as a miner in the Cerbat Mountains near Chloride, Arizona. With the support of local residents, he painted “The Journey,” a 2000-square-foot set of murals on some boulders about a mile and a half outside of town.
Recognized throughout the Southwest, his artwork can be found in collections of such major international corporations as Standard Oil Company (AMOCO), Dow Chemical, and The Royal Bank of Canada. The mural is both large and hard to reach. The granite boulders that served as Purcell’s canvas rise 75 feet above the canyon floor, and some of the painted figures are 4 stories high.
One day he took a hike up into the hills outside of town. He came upon a solid wall of rocks and knew this was to be his canvas. He did not have the money to buy paint but began to draw shapes on the rocks with a pencil. He went back into town and happened to meet an old retired miner named Pat Patterson who was like the town’s godfather. They started talking, and Purcell told the miner about his dreams of painting murals on the rocks. The miner wrote Purcell a check, and that was the beginning.
Using his imagination, Purcell used auto paint from the Ford Motor Company and set up camp in a nearby cave. He got up at early light, painted, went to work and then came back and kept painting. His wife brought his meals to the campsite.
While painting one day, Purcell was ordered to stop by Bureau of Land Management agents because he didn’t bother to find out who owned the land. “So I stopped and ate my lunch,” he said. “Then they left and I went back to work. They didn’t say how long I was supposed to stop. I never heard from them again.” The petroglyphs near the murals are harder to see, but Purcell used some of them as inspiration for his murals.
From May 27 to June 2, 2006, Roy Purcell along with other artists returned to Chloride to restore the faded murals which were originally painted in 1966.
With the help of some area business’s sponsorship and 10 other artists, 19 murals were restored, adding vibrant color to the faded panels.