Route 60: The Mining Towns

Four miles east of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the mining town, Superior, Arizona. It is the first of three mining towns that I have often photographed  while wintering in Arizona. Eighteen miles further is Miami and then after another 6 miles  is the county seat, Globe. 

There is beauty in this semi arid landscape. It is rocky and rugged with a wide range of cacti and other plant life suited to the climate. Even though the elevations of this area are higher than those close to Phoenix  summer temperatures can regularly reach up to 100 degrees F while below freezing temperatures are common in the winter.

Mining in the area began in the 1870’s. The original Magma mine in Superior was founded in 1875 and closed in 1996. Today, efforts are underway to open a much deeper mine below the Magma site. Copper has been mined in the Miami area since the early 1900’s. It has been described as a classic Western copper boom-town.

One would think when first walking the streets of Superior that it was a ghost town. It is not. While the homes are small and run down most are occupied. Many of its downtown brick buildings are boarded up. On my last visit through there, there were several buildings being renovated so perhaps the ongoing mineral exploration is having a positive affect.

Most of my images were made in the Superior to Miami area. I was attracted to the rustic run down aspect of these towns and the affect that the harsh climate and the up and down nature of the economy has had on the buildings.

The central image of this article was made in Superior. It is part of the façade of an old hotel. While the walls and the signage were almost completely bleached out by the sun I found that by adjusting the setting in my image software I could bring out the hidden colours. I called it ‘Vacant’ and entered it in Lake Country’s Artwalk several years ago. It sold!

I noticed during my last visit that this building is being renovated and  probably is now an active hotel again.

The images in the gallery below represent the geographical landscape and some of the sights from around the Superior and Miami areas.  I found several active antique stores in Miami. They were chock-full of memorabilia and old household items that would interest most antique hunters. One of the store owners allowed me in to photograph her store. That was fun.

Also in Miami were several old cars stored behind a tall fence. To make these images I had to hold my cameral high over my head above the fence and hope that I was pointing it correctly. Most of the time that was not quite the case.

This entry was posted in Education, My Work, The Creative Process, Travel.


  1. Paul Durose September 19, 2020 at 7:42 am #

    Great article and photos Stu. If we ever get a chance to travel that way again, we’ll have to slow down and explore. Thanks for sharing Stu.

    • Stu Dale September 19, 2020 at 3:13 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Paul. There are few coffee stops you can make in the area. A stop there would give you a feel for the area.

  2. Cathy and Jim September 19, 2020 at 7:45 am #

    You have captured and preserved time so well in this tiny copper mining town in Arizona, Stu. Your imaging effects make for a stark reminder of the ravages of weather extremes in the arid geography on both the historic buildings and ancient vehicles. Wonderful!
    I even looked up Superior, Arizona, and found, among other interesting information about the first inhabitants, the Salado native Americans, that Wyatt Earp’s common law wife, Mattie, is buried there!

    • Stu Dale September 19, 2020 at 3:15 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Cathy. The whole area has an interesting history. It really. Would have been the Wild West.

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