After a week of parties and social gatherings, the first day of 2024 called for a relaxing solo road trip. My destination of choice was an old mining town about 60 miles east of Phoenix called Superior. Its history dates back to 1875, and for a lot of reasons, the town has remained frozen in time for at least the last several decades. One of the reasons for that is the fact that a primary source of copper, the Magma Mine, closed in 1984. Today, Main Street has been bypassed by U.S. Highway 60, and perhaps that is one of the reasons why it remains so well preserved. Driving it is taking a step back in time.
Along the way, I stopped at a 100-year-old botanical garden sitting on over 300 acres of the North Sonoran Desert. It is called the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and it gave me a glimpse of some of the surprisingly diverse plant and animal life that can survive in the harsh climate of the southwest region. One of the century-old Eucalyptus trees, called “Mr. Big,” living there has a 22-foot circumference.
The highlight of the trip, however, came not during my visit to Superior and the surrounding area, but when I got home and started doing some research. One of the black and white photos that I found of Superior was taken precisely in the direction and location of a shot I had taken just a couple of hours earlier. While the photo was not dated, it appears to be from the 1920s based on the vehicles featured within it. Perhaps some of our eagle-eyed readers can identify some of the cars.
Superior is not technically a ghost town, as there are about 2,500 people who call it home, but on New Year’s Day 2024, it sure felt like one. I had Main Street and the surrounding areas to myself as I perused some of the old architecture like the Superior High School (built in 1925 and closed in 2000). The school was recently purchased by the town – it was being used as a private residence – and there are plans to renovate it as a multi-generational community center. For now, though, it sits behind a chain link fence.
There is something magical about urban exploration in towns that were once bustling centers of commerce and social activity but have since quieted down. In fitting anniversary fashion, my 1992 NSX rolled 120,000 miles on the drive home. My short day-trip was just what the doctor ordered to kick off the new year in style, and I look forward to more similar adventures in the near future.
Did you also manage to get your classic car out for the holiday? Let me know how it went!