Photography Club Treks Ruby

Robert Thoresen

Hearty club members made the trip to the ghost town of Ruby on a beautiful Friday morning and explored the grounds until mid-afternoon. The drive was pretty rough in some areas, with nine miles of dirt road from Arivaca and a dirtier, longer and rougher segment from Ruby towards Rio Rico, which purports to be U.S. Forest Road No. 39. No sedans are recommended on this picturesque trip which is on a par with the Box Canyon cutoff through the Santa Rita Mountains.

Mining commenced with The Montana Mine in 1877. The population topped at around 1200 in the mid 1930’s. The town’s name was created in 1912 when the post office was established. The mine was the state’s leading producer of zinc and lead at that time and also was the third top producing mine of silver. The ores played out very quickly and in 1940 the mined closed. All milling equipment was moved to other locations and a year later the town was officially abandoned.

The site is open Thursday through Saturday. There is a $12 entry fee that goes to a nonprofit restoration project that is barely able to keep the remaining buildings from further deterioration. A significant effort has gone into keeping the school standing which was originally built in 1917 by the then owner of the mine, Goldfield Consolidated Company. Peak enrollment in the grades one through eight facility was 150 in 1939. An addition was added in 1938, three years before town abandonment. School boards never seem to get their planning right!

The mid 1930’s 2.5 ton Ford dump truck probably is the second most photographed relic of the town. The headlights might be in working order, but there is no battery, radiator, engine or floorboards. The truck might also soon be long gone since its mooring cable is unattached.

The extremely functional and efficiently designed Ruby jail was built in 1936 and cost an efficient $600. It’s a poured concrete blockhouse with two cells, two steal doors and no windows. Prior to its construction town drunks were chained to mesquite trees.

The most unexpected site is the sand tailings south of town. With the wind blowing one might expect to see Lawrence of Arabia appear from the outhouse. With steady eastward winds, the town’s reservoir, Slovako Lake, should be sand-filled by mid-century.

With the closest restaurant being Sweet Peas Restaurant nine mile back in Arivaca, club members instead packed their picnic baskets and nestled at the picnic grounds above Town Lake for some noontime ambience before departing for Green Valley. The legendary whiskered care keeper Old Sundog seems to have also taken to abandoning the town. For more about Ruby and making travel plans go to

The PCQC was formed in 2009 and makes regularly scheduled field trips throughout the year. All Quail Creek residents are invited to the monthly meetings. For current events and further details go to the club’s website at