We recently ventured out in the desert east of Phoenix to explore the Reymert, AZ Ghost Town. This is the only smelter complex that used to service the Reymert Mine. The direction signs all say Reymert, but it turns out this ghost town is actually the remains of a town called DeNoon. The mining town of Reymert was located about 2 miles east, has been completely destroyed, and there is now a privately owned mining operation on the former townsite.
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James DeNoon Reymert founded the town of Reymert in 1887, and the post office was established in 1890 but discontinued in 1891. He also founded the adjacent town of DeNoon, which was the milling and smelting town. The processing kilns are the ruins you can still see today. This small town, of up to 150 people, was short-lived. Although silver was mined in the Reymert area up to the 1950s, both towns were abandoned shortly after the post office shut down. In the 1970s, a Phoenix-based company bulldozed the Reymert townsite.
Ok, enough history…let’s get exploring! Upon arrival, one’s first instinct is to head straight for the huge kilns that are still standing. instead, I headed up the hill across the wash to investigate a rock wall that we had seen on a previous trip.
The rock wall stretches 30 or 40 feet, and appears to support a flat dirt foundation on top. Other than that, there is no evidence of mining or processing up there. Maybe a vantage point to oversee operations? It definitely provides a great view of the smelter kilns!
I can’t imagine how brutal life was out here in the late 1800s. Hot, unforgiving desert, building huge stone structures. The craftsmanship is amazing, especially considering it has lasted for over a hundred years!
I walked around the front of the wall and followed it as it traversed the hillside. Some serious work went into the construction!
Scattered below the wall were bits of rusty metal, old cans, and even a few pottery pieces. The pottery we found here had a more modern glaze than the Native American pottery found in the area, but was definitely old!
I made my way back down the hill to the wash to meet the others, where they found the foundation of an old windmill and evidence of a natural spring. Pipes lay in the wash, presumably bringing water down hill to hydrate the cattle in the area.
Coming back out of the wash, the kilns cam into view. What an awesome sight to see in the middle of the desert!
There are may old iron bolts sticking out of the wash, and around the complex, so be careful.
The Kilns still had burned and melted silica stuck to the bricks. The construction is stone, concrete, and brick.
We explored the kilns, then headed out in search of the rest of the town ruins in the area. Within a few hundred feet, we spotted the first stone structure.
This appeared to be a two-room building, and with it’s close proximity to the processing plant it might be the main office or possibly the remains of the post office. Who knows.
We then made out way to the main road, and explored both sides, finding a dozen or so stone structures. Some were in better shape than others, but a lot of work went into all of them. This is a humbling reminder of what it was like to live in this area in the late 1800s. Stone walls, dirt floors, cactus, snakes, scorpions, and HEAT! All in hopes of making a living in the mining industry.
Further up the hill, on the opposite side of the road, we found more evidence of human occupation. Old thick glass bottle pieces, pottery sherds, and even stone tools were found. If you choose to bushwack up to these areas, please be respectful and replace these artifacts where you found them.
One of the most amazing finds of the day was a stone tool, possibly a grinding stone or ancient axe head was found near a stone wall. Every other stone in the area is square and naturally shaped. This one was definitely worked and shaped with a purpose.
We also found many small pottery pieces, that looked like Salado Red pottery, commonly found in this area. One of the people with us on this trip has a friend who is an archeologist, and they confirmed that’s what it might be, but they’d need a lot more to really tell for sure.
We even found some sharpened stone, possible arrowheads, or knife pieces. These were definitely carefully worked by human hands. What an exciting day!
There is so much to see if you take your time and look around these amazing historic areas. This seemingly unlivable desert has been a home to ancient people for centuries before miners came. Evidence of years of human occupation is all over, in the form of structures, rusty junk, pottery and tools.
Please be respectful when you visit the places. Leave artifacts where you find them. Leave structures intact. Pack out your trash, and make it a habit to take any other modern trash you see out with you too! Let’s make sure these amazing spots are still there for generations to come! Watch out for the cows!
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