Clifton, Arizona: Cliffside Jail

A handy cliff and a working knowledge of dynamite solved Clifton's jail cell shortage.
Address:
US Hwy 191, Clifton, AZ
Directions:
On US 191, the main road through town, at Zorilla St., west side of road.
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Cave Jail, Copper Mine

Take the time to drive another ten miles north of the Clifton Jail and see one of the country's largest copper mines at Morenci, AZ. There is an overlook up route 191 about eight miles north of Clifton. Follow the signs, or ask anyone. The entire town is dedicated to the support of the mine. Tours and information are available at the Morenci Motel and Lounge.

[Ken Pavloski, 01/25/2007]
Cliffside jail. Cliffside Jail

Clifton's a small mining town in the mountains of Arizona, and its first jail was built in 1878 by blasting two cells out of a solid granite cliff. Supposedly no one ever escaped from the Clifton jail. The story also says that the stonemason who built the jail, Margarito Verala, went out celebrating after getting his check when the job was done, got drunk, shot up the dance hall, and wound up being the first guest at the new jail.

The gate was unlocked when I went by, and you could walk down the stone steps to the two cells. Very creepy (and dark!) And from the looks of some of the trash down there, there had perhaps been some recent residents there as well. Right next to the jail is a baby locomotive that used to be used in the nearby mines. Clifton also has a nicely restored train station just down the street and some wacky public art called the Copper Crystal.

[Dean Jeffrey, 07/22/2002]

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