Quiet appeals to locals in Chloride, Dolan Springs

Chloride and Dolan Springs are located around 20 miles apart and are vastly different in several ways.

However, residents of both small unincorporated communities located off U.S.

Highway 93 northwest of Kingman will tell you essentially the same thing about why they like their communities.

They say they like the small-town feel, the friendliness of their neighbors, the quiet and the mild climate.

"I love the peace and quiet," said Bob Dixon, a 25-year resident of Chloride who publishes the monthly Chloride Chronicle.

"I sit outside (my home) at night.

I look at the stars.

I haven't heard a gunshot in years."

Dixon's sentiments get echoed in Dolan Springs.

John Ford, who doubles as president of the Dolan Springs Chamber of Commerce and administrative assistant to District 2 County Supervisor Tom Sockwell, cited the "atmosphere, the beautiful skies, the Joshua trees, the (Cerbat) mountains."

Ford, a Dolan Springs resident since February 2000, is serving on a committee to plan the future of growth and development.

"It's just a pretty place," he said.

Ford, Dixon and other residents of Dolan Springs and Chloride serve as boosters and ambassadors of their communities.

Boosters promote Chloride's mining past by preserving buildings, salvaging lumber from shuttered mines to recreate an old mining town (Cyanide Springs) and by conducting special events.

Chloride is about 4,000 feet in elevation, about 500 feet higher than Dolan Springs.

The tone for Chloride gets set by small signs, spaced apart, located on the south side of Chloride Road, which brings motorists on the four-mile drive from U.S.

Highway 93.

Chloride Road changes into Tennessee Avenue – the main drag – in Chloride.

"You've reached a town where you don't have to hurry," the signs stated.

Chloride has changed little over the years, said Sue Wright, a 15-year resident who operates an art studio and gift shop in her Tennessee Avenue home.

Her home was built in 1910 but originally was located southwest of Silver Hill.

"It is pretty much the way it was in the 1800s," Wright said of Chloride.

Chloride takes its name from a type of ore found in the area.

Miners arrived in the late 1840s and found silver, gold, lead, zinc, molybdenum, vanadium and turquoise.

Miners found silver in the 1860s in what is now called Silver Hill.

The Butterfield Stage served Chloride from 1868 to 1919, and the former Santa Fe Railroad served Chloride from Kingman from 1898 to 1935.

Chloride's census from 1910 listed 250 residents, said John Thompson, an eight-year resident and chairman of the board of the Chloride Domestic Water Improvement District.

Chloride now has about 300 residents.

However, the population swelled to more than 2,000 people in a heyday that lasted from 1900 to 1920.

During Chloride's heyday, a total of 75 mines operated.

However, the cost of materials and labor triggered the shutdowns of the mines in 1944.

Chloride has the longest continuously operated post office in Arizona and the oldest volunteer fire department in the state, Thompson said.

The post office, located on Tennessee Avenue, opened March 27, 1873, closed July 14, 1875, and reopened Feb.

1, 1893, according to information supplied by postmaster Christine Brown.

Twenty-five years later, in 1918, the volunteer fire department was established, present-day Chief Butch Watkins said.

"They had a fire chief and a board (of directors)," he said.

"They had a wagon.

They pulled a tank on it."

The fire department, located on Second Street, still uses a 1939 Fore Fire Engine built for Chloride.

Besides preserving buildings, Chloride residents sought to revive the past by building the Cyanide Springs Wild West town adjoining a park between Tennessee Avenue and Payroll Street.

Cyanide Springs has existed for about four years.

Cyanide Springs contains fake storefronts with colorful names such as Dead Ass Saloon, a jail, livery stable and museum.

The Immortal Gunfighters of Chloride stage weekend gunfights in Cyanide Springs.

A mural of the gunfighters appears on Wright's property.

Wright paints using mud and ink, and sells work by other local artists inside her shop.

Her guest book includes a notation from two visitors from Poland.

Wright and other artists have made Chloride their home.

Artists display sculptures and other creations on their front yards.

"I would consider (Chloride) an artist community," said Bill McAdams, a 10-year resident who moved to town from Saudi Arabia.

"When you drive around town, you are amazed by the interest in art."

McAdams, who is retired from the aviation industry, wolfed down a hot dog inside the Mineshaft Market, located across Tennessee from the post office.

The market, owned by Skip Weichelt, houses the chamber's visitor center.