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Fairbank Historic Townsite in AZ

Shortly after Thanksgiving Day, our camp hostess took us to the historic town of Fairbank for a day ride. Our party included my husband and myself, another couple who was camping at Lazy Horse Ranch, a friend of our hostess, and our hostess Ann. Two of our four dogs accompanied us, a factor which created a bit of friction… More on that momentarily.

It took approximately an hour for us to reach our destination. The trailhead is approximately 60 miles from our camp. The weather that day was beautiful and warmer than we expected. Although the thermometer topped out at 61 degrees, it felt much warmer in the Arizona sun.

This was an out-and-back trail. We covered 8.4 miles, often riding in the San Pedro riverbed. Arizona is just like Colorado… in desperate need of rain. We rarely see any pond or riverbed with any water in it at all.

Fairbank was first settled in 1881. It played a significant role in the development of Southeastern Arizona, as it was the closest rail stop to the booming town of Tombstone. It was named after one of the principle investors in the railroad, who also was the founder of the Grand Central Mining Company. That company had a significant interest in the Tombstone Silver mines.

The dog factor

Before we embarked on the trail, there was a bit of discussion about our dogs coming along. Ann had ridden with us and our dogs many times. She expressed her agreement that our dogs would not create an issue when an objection was raised by one of the other riders. I am fully aware of the fact that dogs can create issues for horses, and riders, while on the trail. However, our dogs are great on the trail. They will lie down on command, even if that command is issued from a person on horseback. They stay off to the side or to the front of me. As long as Alan and I are in front, there is never an issue with the dogs being along.

Furthermore, our Arabians walk fast. Unless we are riding with folks on gaited horses, which for some reason is not a common event, we are usually in the front. As we expected, our two dogs never came in contact with the rest of the party, who trailed behind Alan and me.

The ruins of Fairbank

Because we were not in charge of this trip, we didn’t do any exploring on our own. We intend to return to this location and enjoy some further exploration. We never made it to the actual town ruins.

Currently, it is possible to explore the remaining structures. There is a schoolhouse, outhouse, a couple of wooden homes, a stable, a commercial building, some remnants of the railroad, and a hotel. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos that I took of these buildings, but I will return and get some!

Shortly after Fairbank was founded, the population was around a hundred people. In 1890, it peaked at 478 residents. The town was abandoned in the1970’s, after a few fluctuations in population.

The topography

At some points on the trail, we rode on the railbed. I often rode a “rails to trails” path in Kansas. The trail is open to hikers and bikers as well as those on horseback. Most of the other folks using the trails were headed to the ghostown. We didn’t see many on our route. There is a toilet available on the trail, which is not terribly common!

The trail is well marked and cleared. For awhile, we rode in the wide and dusty riverbed of the San Pedro river. We tied up and had lunch in the riverbed. The plant life was a mixture of flatland mesquite and mountainous flora and fauna. In theory, when water is present, other types of plant life can flourish!

We will return here and I will report back on the town firsthand. You can learn more about Fairbank here and here.

Shortly, I will be writing about Fort Bowie. That might turn into a series, as there is much to tell about that ride. Stay tuned!

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