Ajo is the first ghost town I’ve visited. It was a bizarre experience to walk through the beautiful town square and see no one in the streets or on the sidewalks. The shadow of the massive mine that built the town looms large. The entire time I was there I couldn’t help but wonder; Is it possibly for this remote ex-mining town to rebuild and rebrand itself?
Members of the Desert Alliance would say yes. Their approach seemed largely focused on creating a culture. Through the building of an art commune and self-sustaining agricultural program Ajo could become a destination for retirees, artists, and tourists. However, the remoteness of the small town presents a massive problem. Why go all the way to Ajo when you can have a similar experience in Tucson or Tubac? Ultimately for Ajo to become a thriving community again the town needs to find a way to differentiate itself. Whether it’s going to be art, agriculture, or eco tourism I can’t say but they have to offer something other places in Arizona can’t.