Home Regions Arizona

Take a Road Trip Through Arizona History

Driven correspondent, MotorTrend’s Rick DeBruhl, takes a drive through fascinating Arizona history. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Phoenix, there’s nothing like a trip to old mining towns like Wickenburg, Congress, Prescott, and Jerome.

Check out the video above. Or, read the full transcription below (lightly edited for clarity). Let the adventures begin! 🛣


Driven Correspondent, Rick DeBruhl (00:22) – While there are a lot of great things to do in Phoenix, the reality is if you want a true taste of Arizona history, well, you have to head out of town. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. We’re going to head up to Wickenburg, Congress, Prescott, Jerome, way northwest of town, to get a taste of what Arizona was like back before it was a state, when it was just a territory back in the 1800s.

RD (00:43) – When most people think of Arizona’s past, what they think of are cowboys and gunfights. What they don’t realize is most of Arizona’s past is really built on mining. That’s right, gold.

(01:01) – Henry Wickenburg was one of those people who came looking for gold and he found it at a place called the Vulture Mine. In fact, before the mine was closed, more than 30 million dollars’ worth of gold was pulled out. Now, in addition to finding the gold, well, he also found a town named appropriately enough after Henry himself – Wickenburg. These days, well, it’s a little cuter than it probably was back then, not quite as rough and tumble.

But more than 150 years after it was born, it’s still welcoming people to the Old West.

Beth Gallant, Antiques & Artisans Emporium (01:26) – Wickenburg is easy to live in. The fastest you’ll drive is 45 mph. There’s everything here. We have a fabulous hospital. We have every kind of doctor you could want come up once or twice a week. It’s just a wonderful place to live. Easygoing, laid-back. Wickenburg | Visit Arizona


RD (01:52) – The town of Congress owes its start to gold as well. There was a miner by the name of Dennis May who found gold back in 1884. The town itself was established in 1889. But these days, the old section of Congress is pretty much a ghost town.

(02:22) – At one point, the mine here in Congress was the largest producer of gold in Arizona. And with a railroad passing just three miles away, well, this place was booming…until one day, it wasn’t. And the gold ran out.

All we have now, are empty buildings and a reminder of what used to be old Congress.


RD (02:49) – Welcome to Prescott. You know, this was the original territorial capital of Arizona when it first became a territory back in 1864.

(02:59) – One of the most famous sections of Prescott is Whiskey Row. Originally, this whole row of buildings burned down around 1900.

When it was rebuilt, it was “saloon city” shall we call it. At one point, 40 saloons.

Now, it’s saloons and a bunch of cutesy little places. Visit Prescott


RD (03:24) – About a 40-minute drive from Prescott is the town of Jerome, literally built onto the hillside. And unlike the towns of Wickenburg and Congress that were founded because of gold, this place was founded because of copper. Spaniards had mined it, the Indians had minded and eventually, well, the new settlers mined it, that is, until the 1950s when that vein of copper ran out.

Diana Martin, Jerome resident (03:46) – You know what? When you’re in Jerome, you can be yourself. You don’t have the pretense. You can come up here and be yourself and have a great time. As you saw in the bar in there, they are locals. We love this town.

RD (03:59) – The town of Jerome didn’t die. Those miners, well, they were replaced by artists and writers and craftsmen and musicians to keep this town alive for at least another century.

So, it’s the perfect place to wind up our Great American Drive. Jerome | Visit Arizona