Arizona has its share of “Ghost Towns” and Klondyke is one of them. Located in Graham County the town has only about a dozen residents left now. It was founded in the early 1900′s and named after Klondike in the Yukon Territory in Canada. The area was a mining community that was home to nearly 500 people during its heyday.
When miners returned from the Klondike gold rush they settled here to pursue their dream of finding gold. The first store in the town was started in a tent by Mr. Bedoya. He later built a saloon and a wood store. He also opened the John F. Greenwood store and the post office, which he was the postmaster of between 1907 and 1918. The town, at the time, had a school and a church. The Depression hit Klondyke and about half of the citizens moved on. The post office ceased to operate in 1955.
The history of the area tells of the Jacome Indians being the original inhabitants of the area. Although there isn’t much known about them it is believed they are related to the Apaches.
The area had both the mining industry looking for gold and ranching.
In 1909 Jeff Power and his family homesteaded in Rattlesnake Canyon and worked the mine nearby. There was Jeff, his wife, and 4 children, a girl, and three boys. Martha Jane, the wife, was killed in a buggy accident in 1915 when the horses ran wild with the buggy. In 1916 Jeff took his family to his mine in the Galiuro Mounts and build a cabin in Rattlesnake Canyon. His daughter, Ola May, died when she was bitten by a snake in 1917. The oldest son, Charley, was wounded in the First World War which leads Jeff to decide that his other sons were not going to serve.
They, Tom and John, failed to report when drafted which sent Sheriff Robert F. McBride to deliver a letter to the Powers asking them to come in for prosecution. The letter was ignored. Several weeks later, on the night of February 9, 1918, Deputy US Marshal Frank Hayes, Sheriff McBride, and Deputy Sheriffs Martin Kempton and T.K. Wooten went to the cabin with arrest warrants for Tom and John for draft evasion and warrants for Jeff and his hired man, Tom Sisson, for an unrelated charge. Just before Dawn on the 10th, as the Power camp was preparing breakfast, they heard two of their horses gallop by and the dogs began barking. When Jeff stepped outside with his rifle Deputy Sheriff Wooten yelled for him to “Throw up your hands!”
There was a furious gunfight after that leaving Sheriff McBride, deputy Sheriffs Kempton, and Wooten, and Jeff Power dead. Marshall Hayes escaped to nearby Klondyke while the Power boys and Tom Sisson fled south to Redington on the San Pedro River. This lead to the largest manhunt in Arizona’s history. The group entered Mexico but on March 8th they surrendered to the US Army patrol.
At their trial, all three men were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Sisson died in prison at the age of 86, but the Power brothers were paroled in 1960, 42 years after their conviction. They were pardoned by Governor Jack Richard Williams nine years later.
The whole family is buried in Klondyke cemetery.
The Powers Cabin has been restored by the forest service. It is located in Rattlesnake Canyon in Galuiro Mounts many miles south of Klondyke and is accessible only by foot or horseback. It is a nine-mile journey from the trailhead to the cabin.
If you are interested in hiking then you will find the area around Klondyke to be perfect. It is ideal for hiking, hunting, bird watching, trail riding, and enjoying the beautiful serenity of the area.
Klondyke is a village located in the environs of the Coronado National Forest west of Safford