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Harrisburg, AZ

To quote from Robert W. Service’s “The Spell Of the Yukon”:

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land “way up yonder”,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

“Just finding” the Pioneer Museum’s of our Heritage (Pioneer Cemeteries) is my lure.

Such was April 20, 2007 when I ventured west from Wickenburg. Having researched both Harrisburg and Swansea, although historical documentation is scarce.

Traveling South West from Wickenburg on Highway 60 approximately 54 miles, I come to Salome, Arizona. Turn left on the only black top hard surface road leading South East called Salome Road. At the time I was in Salome, there were signs indicating Interstate 10 some 32 miles. Follow this hard surface road approximately 5 miles and you will come to a historical marker on the right shoulder (west) of the road. The marker reads:

Harrisburg was established on this site in 1886 by Captain Charles Harris, and his partner Governor Frederick Tritle, as a mill town to process ore from the Socorro and other mines in the area. By 1887 two mills were operating here.

The post office was established April 29, 1887 and discontinued September 29, 1906. Harrisburg was a ghost town by World War I. La Paz Historical Commission

It’s not clear based on historical information but Harrisburg may have been referred to as Orville and or Centennial. There was believed to be 30 people living here with one saloon, and one general store and the stamp mills.

Today the valley is populated with Hobby Mini-Ranch’s, a gravel operation and full fledged working Ranch’s.

Slightly south of this marker on the right side of the road, just past 40725 Salome Road there is a road/trail with a “Y” leading off the black top on your right. Extremely hard to identify this road unless you know exactly where to turn off the black top. If it has rained recently I would reconsider this road for a dryer day. Follow this road west approximately ΒΌ mile, until you come to the main gate of the Harrisburg Ranch. Turn left following the fence line on the west side of the fence. You will travel past some derelict structures along the way, continue about 1/3 mile. You will come to the beautiful Pioneer Cemetery of Harrisburg. Every well maintained and cared for by the La Paz Sheriff’s department and local residents.

The cemetery is fenced with a large stone monument in the center which was erected by the La Paz Sheriff’s department in December 1985. A tattered United States Flag flutters in the breeze. There are five headstones currently standing that are ledge able. Several small white rock enclosures outlining additional graves, but no names or dates indicating those interred.

When I walked the cemetery with dowsing rods, I identified five additional interments which had absolutely no markings. To the best of my ability I outlined the graves with rocks for future reference.

In total there are 33 interments, there were 17 children, including one infant. Children represent 52% of the graves in this pioneer cemetery. Unfortunately mortality of children and adult males was high in pioneer days. Epidemics and mine accidents took their toll on the residents. Twenty six male interments with seven female interments, 73% of the graves are male.

Harrisburg Pioneer Cemetery

Using the existing headstones as reference, William J. Bear was the last interment here, passing on June 19, 1920. Unless there has been more recent interment’s that were not identified by a headstone.

I am in hopes of finding the person that is the Record Keeper of Harrisburg Cemetery to help identify all thirty three graves here. If you know who that person is, please have them contact me at n.j.dushane@comcast.net or 1-970-227-3512.

Last 5 posts by Neal Du Shane

1 comment to Harrisburg, AZ

  • How were you able to get into the Harrisburg Cemetery? My husband is a descendant of the AMBROSE family that lived there from about 1887 to maybe 1900. We were there in fall of 2006, try as we might, everyone told us not to try to get in there as there were neighbors with guns, willing to use them, to keep people out. Those that told us were dead serious about it. So we gave up. I don’t know who has the records, but I would bet there may be an Ambrose in there, probably a child. Fielding Ambrose married Eliza Corine Shipp in CA then traveled to AZ where daughter Midora “Dora” was born in Harrisburg in 1887. Living outside Harrisburg, until her later years where she returned there, died there in 1970. We have yet to locate her grave. Her last companion Howard Kast died after she, and is buried in the local cemetery in Salome. We are willing to connect with anyone wanting to exchange info on this area, this family.

    Lynn & Pete Lowrie