I was lucky enough to grow up in the small mining community of Morenci, Arizona. Our crowning glory is one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. It is an amazing sight! Most people see this area as just a place that you have to drive through, a nuisance, an eye sore. I see an amazing place full of history, history from the old west, and history from the mining industry that helped settle this part of the nation.
Just four miles from Morenci lays Clifton, who in its heyday rivaled Tombstone with its boisterous cowboy activities! In Clifton, there is a small street that veers off the highway, it is easy to miss, and it looks messy, as if it does not have much to offer. However, the history that you sense just walking down Chase Creek is awe-inspiring, there are old “shoot ’em up” bars and the breathtaking skeletal remains of what was once a vaudeville theater. Half way down Chase Creek probably one of the world’s most beautiful catholic churches, that never fails to catch the stray tourists’ eye and yields some memorable photos. The Phelps Dodge Copper Mine actually started in Clifton and you can still see the remnants of a few mining buildings from the highway on your way through Clifton to Morenci.
Morenci is also unique in that you can drive an hour in one direction and be in a breathtaking forest up in the White Mountains, where you can enjoy a day of skiing. Drive an hour in the other direction and your smack dab in the middle of the desert taking in the beauty that it has to offer.
I enjoy the small community feeling that this area offers. You know that if something happens, the people here will stand by you and support you. That is a great feeling, the feeling of family, that it why I am proud to call Arizona my home!