CLEATOR

NAME: Cleator
COUNTY: Yavapai
ROADS: 2WD
LEGAL INFO: T10N, R1E
CLIMATE: Mild winter warm summer
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Anytime
COMMENTS: Visit the bar if it is open. There are many other things to do in the area so plan on making it a day trip
REMAINS: Many old and original buildings left. Most currently occupied. The schoolhouse is all original and was built in 1930 by the WPA.

Cleator's post office was established March 21, 1903 and discontinued July 15, 1954. Cleator, originally named Turkey, after nearby Turkey Creek, found its existence from being a railroad station. The enormous amount of mines in the Bradshaw Mountains necessitated the building of a railroad, the Prescott and Eastern, between Crown King and Mayer. Cleator lies at the base of the mountains on what was the rail line and today is an improved 2WD road. James P. Cleator owned interest in the town and a ranch with a partner to whom he traded his interest in the ranch for the whole town in about 1905. The name was then changed to Cleator. As James P. Cleator was getting up in years, he son Tommy took over the town and owned it up until he died in the early 1990's. The town is still owned by the family but is looked after by Dave Rhodes, who runs the local bar. Carolyn Ripley used to run the bar and is one of the nicest people you can meet at a ghost town or anywhere for that matter and it is with great appreciation that we at Ghosttowns.com would like to thank her for her hospitality and generosity. While we were on a recent trip with a T.V. film crew filming a pilot on which Ghosttowns.com is featured, she was more than helpful in giving us great locations to film. In addition, it was her generosity that inspired us to start the Virtual Museum on this web site. There are many artifacts remaining at Cleator that you can see preserved on camera in our Virtual Museum. One of the most interesting artifacts are letters written from Tommy Cleator to his mother while Tommy was in the service during World War II. If you get the chance, you must stop by the Cleator bar on a weekend day and meet Carolyn. Be sure to share with her your appreciation of our past as she loves to know that people really do care about preserving our heritage. - GT

Cleator (Turkey Creek) is located 7 miles southwest of Cordes, where the old route of "Murphy' Impossible Railroad" was going try Cedar Can-yon, witch after the rail was removed, become the dirt road to Crown King, and offer a glimpse of Arizonas gold and silver mining in the past (read story bellow about "Murphy's Impossible Railroad"). In 1864 gold was founded in the area and a stagecoach station opened 2 miles west of the creek. In 1869 a post office was opened with the name Turkey Creek, witch existed in only 5 months. Gold ore was quickly empty and replaced with mines down the hill and when Murphy's Impossible Railroad reached Turkey Station (also known as Turkey Creek Station and Turkey Siding) in 1902, mostly of the mines was ready as a costumers for transport. Leveret "Lev" Pierce Nellis was there the year earlier and because he expect that railroad will receive his place, he build country store, saloon and he opened the post office again. In couple of years, he was owner of the mostly town. James P. Cleator arrived to Turkey Creek much later. He was born on Isle of Man in 1870. Cleator escaped to the sea when he was only 12 year old and worked as a cabin boy. When he was 16 year old, he took a trip to Spain as a seaman. In 1889 he arrived to America and walked in land. After he made 10.000 $ under the California gold fever, he arrived to Arizona try Mexico in 1900. He visited Lev Nellis in 1905 and offered him to step as a partner into his business, and Nellis accepted. The business runs well so they started ranching business. In 1915 they split partnership - Nellis become cattle and 2500 $ and Cleator become the town. Ten years latter postmaster James P. Cleator renamed the post office after him self. The town of Cleator was a town full of live, were the ranchers, mine workers and railroad workers meet each another. Cleator become empty town in 1920 when the mines closed and J. Cleator, who married in 1919, after almost living alone in 50 years, had a wife, two children, one closed mine and one ghost town. He put the town for sale in 1949 but nobody come to buy the town. Post office closed on July 15, 1954 and J. Cleator died 5 years later. After him, hes son Tom was owner of the town until he died in the beginning of 1990. The family is still owner of the town, but the town is kept in eyes by attendant Dave Rhodes, who is running the local bar. The old schoolhouse build in stone is still standing as a more houses. The original Cleator store and saloon are periodical open. After Cleator, by driving on the zig-zag road who climbing op to hill, witch is the original trail of Murphy's Impossible Railroad, you will arrive to forest paradise. Here lies the town Crown King. Bobby Zlatevski Murphy's Impossíble Railroad (Prescott and Eastern Railroad). When the Santa Se, Prescott & Phoenix Railroad was build and connected central Arizona with the rest of the country in 1895, town of Prescott flourished. Gold witch was founded in Bradshaw Mountains was estimated to be about 390.000 $ in year. To bring the gold ore to the smelters, contractor/mine owner/railroad president Frank Murphy decided to connect the towns in the hills with railroad. In the year 1898 he finished build a 26 miles long, normal gauge railroad line Prescott & Eastern Railroad, to the mine and trade centre Mayer, with one important stop by the town of Humbolt who had a smelter. But Murphy had much bigger plans. He wished to build the track 25 miles more from Mayer and whole way to the Bradshaw Mountains, to Crown King mines. Because the Crown King was about 620 meter above Mayer and because climbing percent and ground non-stability, citizens of Mayer called the idea for "Mur-p-hy's Im-possíble Railroad". Murphy advertise in the news paper in the East and offered the workers 5 $ in day  that was double as much as the normal salary on that time. In autumn 1901, standard gauge Bradshaw Moun-tain Railroad was under construction and divided in two forks. The short one was 8 miles from Poland Junction to Murphy's mine interest by Poland. That line was built in 7 months. The first delay was in January 1902 when the railroad construction stooped totally, because they found a loot of gold and cobber in the area. Half of the workers forgot everything about railroad work, and take off to be miners. Two carriages with the workers were quickly imported from the East to replace a lost working power. Construction of the second fork from Mayer, try Cedar Canyon to Tur-key Creek (later Cleator) and after that op the south slopes of Bradshaw Mountains, take 3 years. The costs were 3 times bigger then calculated and there was more then expected terrain problems. But, the rail finely reached Crown King in 1904 and "Murphy's Im-possíble Railroad" became reality. During his existence, Bradshaw Mountain Railroad transported about 1.100.000 $ in gold and solver from Pine Grove, Tiger, Big Bug, Turkey Cre-ek (Cleator) and Crown King mine districts. Finely, the mines were empty and they closed down. The rail was removed in 1927 but left a fantastic route/road (Crown King Road = FR 259) for backcountry lovers, and offer possibility to visit the old mine places in the eastern part of Bradshaw Moun-tains. This is the only way (and main road) to reach Crown King. Bobby Zlatevski


Boris Vasilev and Rich Rayls at the Cleator Bar. Notice all the artifacts laying around.



This is a letter from Tommy Cleator, son of James P. Cleator, to his parents while he was in the army during WWII.
Courtesy Carolyn Ripley, Cleator, Az


Cleator
Courtesy Tom McCurnin


Cleator
Courtesy Tom McCurnin


Cleator
Courtesy Tom McCurnin


Cleator
Courtesy Tom McCurnin


Cleator
Courtesy Bobby Krause Zlatevski


Cleator
Courtesy Bobby Krause Zlatevski


Cleator Bunkhouses


Cleator


Current Residences at Cleator


Todd Underwood, Boris Vasilev, Rich Rayls - the Ghosttowns.com crew - at the Cleator bar filming an interview about Ghosttowns.com - May 1998


Carolyn Ripley showing off her rattlesnake catcher to some of the film crew in front of the old Cleator general store.


House near Cleator
Courtesy Bobbi Jo W.


House near Cleator
Courtesy Bobbi Jo W.


Cleator
Courtesy Dolores Steele


Cleator
Courtesy Dolores Steele


Cleator
Courtesy Dolores Steele


Cleator
Courtesy Dolores Steele


Cleator
Courtesy Dolores Steele


Cleator
Courtesy Bobby Zlatevski


Cleator
Courtesy Bobby Zlatevski


Cleator
Courtesy Bobby Zlatevski

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