1880s Southwest Transportation Hub
Passengers stepping off the train in 1880 Fairbank found themselves in a thriving transportation hub. Three railroad lines passed through the town, one connected with the Mexican port of Guaymas. From Fairbank passengers boarded the stage for the final travel leg into the mining town of Tombstone. An elegant hotel and restaurant, serving such delicacies as oysters on the half shell, provided creature comforts in the wilds of Southeastern Arizona.
Ores from Tombstone’s silver mines were brought to mills along the San Pedro River. Supplies and silver flowed through a flourishing Fairbank. The last bit of commerce and population hung on until 1974. Today wind whistles through the tinned roofed buildings. Bird song and woodpecker tappings replace the shrill sounds of an approaching steam engine.
The Bureau of Land Management acquired the old Spanish Land Grant that Fairbank was built upon in 1987. The townsite is a gateway to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservaiton Area. Hiking trails lead to the Fairbank Cemetery, mill sites and along the river – an important habitat for both resident and migratory birds.
The stone Fairbank School has been restored and houses a small history museum, replicated 1930s classroom and bookstore/gift shop. The book selection is extremely well chosen with regional history and nature emphasis, travel and hiking guides and children’s titles. The Schoolhouse is staffed Friday through Sunday.
When You Go: Fairbank Townsite is located on State Route 82 halfway between Whetstone and Tombstone, on the east side of the San Pedro River. Visit the Land of Legends, the Cochise County visitors website for more information on Fairbank and other adventures.
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