As one of the best preserved mining ghost towns in Arizona, Ruby was formerly known as Montana Camp and was a mining town in Bear Valley. The name given to it (Montana Camp) was due to the mining activities that took place at the foot of Montana Peak at the time. Mining activities in this area commenced in 1877 and some of the minerals found here were copper, gold, zinc, silver and lead.
Julius Andrews was the owner of the general store that operated at the mining camp and on the 11th day of April 1912, he established a post office and named it “Ruby” after his wife Lille B. Ruby Andrews. Soon after, this camp came to be known as Ruby. However, three gruesome double homicides by Mexican rebels or bandits that led to the largest manhunt in Southwest’s history were the center of focus of this town between 1920 and 1922.
These homicides were experienced in Ruby town or the nearby desert. At the same time, this town had hit its highest with a population of 1,200 with Eagle-Picher Mining Company operating the mine and it also went ahead to upgrade the camp. Between 1934 and 1937, the mine was leading in production of zinc and lead in Arizona. It was ranked 3rd in production of silver in 1936.
Finally, the mine closed in 1940; the post office ceased operating on 31st May 1941 and around this time, settlers in this area, deserted the town. Today, you will find a total of 25 buildings standing here including the old school, the old jail and houses, buildings, mine workings, old mine machinery and a playground. These are some of the attractions here for visitors who drop by on various occasions.
Pima Community College offers occasional public tours and to be admitted to the site, there is a charge since Ruby lies on private property. The other mining town that has been preserved in addition to Ruby within Arizona is Vulture Mine, which is located close to Wickenburg, Arizona and is another great place to visit.
The old rustic slide that stands next to the old school house is perhaps the best representation of how life in this city was before it finally became a ghost town. Going by its population in its hay days in addition to activities that people engaged in here for some considerable period of time, Ruby can as well be termed as one of the most successful cities that ever existed.
Though most of the former towns that have since become ghost towns engaged in almost similar activities, the success realized in each of these as well as the population, varied from one town to another. The homicide incidences experienced in this town in the 1920’s came to be known as the Ruby Murders and are still alive as part of the dark moments of this town in history.
This was perhaps the worst time for a city that had realized immense growth that could have been presumed as the best place to live in those days.