A historic hotel built in 1899 is returning to life and bringing the sleepy little village of Morristown, Arizona to life with it. Local residents have long awaited the boarded up landmark to be restored. Thanks to a partnership with owners of the nearby Luxury gold mine, its finally happening.
Historic hotel renovation
For more than two decades, the hotel turned general store sat boarded up and decaying in the fierce desert heat. Once a thriving junction point with the railroad, Morristown became one of those places everybody drives past without noticing, on the way to somewhere else.
You can’t miss the historic hulk of a building and the story which goes with it makes the renovation extra special.
Nearby Wickenburg is one of the oldest settled towns in the state of Arizona. It was founded by Henry Wickenburg who discovered the Vulture Mine.
Gold seems to be nearly everywhere in the vicinity and the San Domingo mining district is one of the most productive in history. It’s still a daily destination for avid prospectors. Before there was a hotel in modern day Morristown, there was a train station called “Seymour” on the maps.
It was nothing but a place to load gold from the Vulture Mine but it also became a stage stop and had affiliations with the Pony Express. It sits right at the point where the San Domingo Wash meets the Hassayampa river and lies along the only direct route to Phoenix.
That’s about the time Phoenix was beginning to rise from the desert as a food supply for the miners in Wickenburg. Long before it became a hotel, the stage stop was a bawdy house serving the local miners. A twin of the building was reportedly constructed as a Pony Express station, by the same family, using the same blueprints, in the Sierra mountains of California.
Castle Hot Springs
When Castle Hot Springs was found, a resort soon opened which had its heyday in the 1920’s. Everybody stayed there from Hollywood actors and actresses to writer Zane Grey to the Rockefellers. That’s when the building went into use as guest lodging.
“People would get off the train and spend the night at the hotel before taking a 5 hour stage coach trip to the resort.” It helps, as they say, to get in on the ground floor of things and that’s what John Hardee did.
“Originally working as the hotel’s stage coach driver, John Hardee ultimately bought the hotel.” The family owned the property since the 1930’s. When the hot spring resort’s main building was heavily damaged in a fire in 1976, it closed. The facility at “Castle Hot Springs Junction” went into decline. It couldn’t compete as a general store and was eventually abandoned.
In 2022, Lisa Miller, the owner of 120 acres of mining claims near Morristown, purchased the property “to pair with her Gold Mine Adventures.” As a coincidence, the Hot Springs resort has also been renovated. The resort has been reopened for a while now, once again bringing in tourists for a 5-star luxury experience at the unique desert oasis.
Ms. Miller plans to remodel the building into a sort of visitor center and portal to her Luxury gold mine experiences. The new website offers “Mine Tours, Gold Panning, Parties, Catering, and a BBQ Area” along with snacks and souvenirs in an 1899 Historic Hotel and Landmark.
They provide “cowboy & mining adventures while having so much fun in an authentic & historic setting.” To give you an idea what the Luxury mine is like, along with a general feel for the San Domingo mining district, take a ride along with Nugget Shooter in the above video. He happens to be my neighbor.