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This historic site is an easy 1.5 mile hike from Fairbank. Just follow the old road bed north from town.

The Grand Central Mill was built to process silver ore from the Tombstone Mountains. This mill and the other mills and towns north and south of Fairbank, lasted only as long as the silver mines did, about 10 years.

The Grand Central Mill processed ore from the Grand Central Mine, owned by Williams and Oliver. The stone foundations of the stamp mill is all that is left. When the mines began to flood in 1886, the ore towns grew smaller, until no one was left.

The mill stamped or crushed ore from the mines to a fine powder, which was mixed with water from the river, to make a paste. When mercury was added, the silver adhered to it. When intense heat was applied to this amalgam, the mercury vaporized and was siphoned off to be used again. This process continued day and night.

The stamping was accomplished with 10 to 15 iron rods rising and falling, one right after the other. The entire valley would have trembled with noise. Stamp Mill Description


Located about 4 miles north of Fairbank, Contention was one of six ore-processing towns in the area. It was both an ore town and a railroad stop. Now hidden in mesquite, its adobe walls slowly erode back to the earth.

Hiking to Contention is a little more complicated. Follow the old road bednorth from Fairbank to the first big wash, Willow Wash. Then hike (wade)along the river (during low flow only) to the site. The route is not marked, so use the map.

Remains at Contention include the stone foundation of the Contention Mill and a few adobe walls.


The Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate was established in 1775 to guard the northern reaches of New Spain. It was part of a network of forts in what is now the American Southwest. A stone foundation and a few adobe walls is all that remains today.

The Bureau of Land Management has designed hiking trails through the site to minimize visitor impact. Interpretive signs are along the trail and brochures are available. Parking for the 1.2 mile Presidio Trail is located on Balance Road , two miles north of Hwy 82 in Balance. Ranch Road is 2 miles west of Fairbank.)


The old headquarters for the previous land owners is located two miles south of Fairbank. It consists of an old railroad depot, 2 houses, 2 barns, a blacksmith shop and smokehouse. The area is currently used as private residences. Public use of the area requires a permit from the BLM office.


Once abandoned, railroad beds often turn into roads or trails, or they just vanish from sight. Traces of the following railroads can still be found in this area and some are on the map. Please remember to leave all historic artifacts exactly where you find them.

The New Mexico and Arizona Railroad, the first in this area, was incorporated in June 1881. It followed the San Pedro south from Benson then made an abrupt turn west at the Babocomari River. A wye was constructed there to turn the locomotives. It was around this wye that Fairbank had its beginnings.

The Arizona and Southeastern Railroad, the second RR to go through Fairbank, began construction south to Bisbee in 1888. Later, in 1894 its own line was built to Benson from the wye in Fairbank.

Southern Pacific Railroad acquired the New Mexico and Arizona line through Fairbank in 1898.

The Tombstone Branch of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad was constructed from the Arizona and Southeastern Line in 1903.