This ghost town was named after one of the owners of the Great Western Mining Company by the name Courtland Young and is located at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains. It came into existence in 1909 when the area was experiencing a copper boom. It is during this period when 4 large mining companies set up shop here.
These were the Leadville, the Great Western, the Copper Queen and the Calumet & Arizona. This lead to the establishment of a tent city here within a very short period of time as hundreds of settlers thronged the place. Next was the laying of two railroads by two different operators to serve those who had settled at Courtland.
These railroad companies were the Southern Pacific owned Arizona & Colorado Railroad and the El Paso & Southwestern owned Mexico & Colorado Railroad. On 13th March 1909 a post office opened in the town of Courtland and it is the same period when the town’s first newspaper was produced, which was called the Courtland Arizonian.
When the town hit its peak, a total of 2,000 individuals called this place home and there were several businesses and establishments in the area including a movie theater, a car dealership, hotels, an ice cream parlor, the county branch jail, a baseball field, a number of houses and a horse racing track.
In 1911 the Chamber of Commerce was formed and the agenda that was given priority was supplying the town with water. The Courtland Water and Ice Company had just been formed and it helped install 5 miles of water mains to serve the town within months. It had been thought that the Dragoons had an abundance of copper but at the onset of 1917 each of the mine shafts hit a limestone layer at a depth of 300ft at various intervals.
This meant that mining activities in this region were no longer viable and eventually these mines were abandoned. This came hand in hand with decline in profits from the mines after 10 years and in 1921 a huge number of those living here left to seek better opportunities elsewhere. In the midst of all this, the post office in this town continued operating until 30th September 1942.
The Courtland jail was built after a Mexican man imprisoned in the old “jail,” which was a derelict mine shaft with a wooden door tried to escape by placing his mattress (that showed resemblance of mattress for obese person) against the door and setting it on fire. The Deputy then was John Henry Bright and as he went to bring the prisoner breakfast, he found him unconscious, whom he dragged out.
The new jail cost the county a total of $1,000 and it was made of steel and reinforced concrete. Mostly, a total of 4 to 8 prisoners would be found in this jail at any one time and though the town court had a system that allowed prisoners to serve their sentence by working on the roads, most of them opted to stay in jail, which they had nicknamed “The Bright Hotel.”
This meant that the county had to spend quite a lot in feeding these inmates. Today, the Courtland jail is the only building left standing in the ghost town.