The historic Western mining town of Clifton, Arizona, has been been the subject of many documentaries, newspaper articles and even a popular Country and Western song! Here are just a few:
Backroad Planet partnered with Chad Harris of Hotseat Media to create an Amazon Prime series called Town. The series immerses viewers in the lives of real people, intriguing local characters from diverse backgrounds who are the lifeblood of small town America. In Episode 1, Chad travels to Clifton, Arizona, a backroad town Howard traveled through last year on his Arizona Road Trip.Watch Now
Clifton's comeback is the cover story for the June 28 issue of the Tucson Weekly.
"Sleepy Clifton is on the brink of a renaissance, led by locals and transplants who love the town's overflowing history and are putting their backs into its revival."Read the Article
PBS Arizona's "Milestones" series visits Clifton's historic cliff jail.Watch Now
"Salt of the Earth" is a 1954 film written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico. All three blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their alleged Communist affiliations. Told from the point of view of the miners' wives, its plot is based on the 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico. In the film, the company is identified as "Delaware Zinc," and the setting is "Zinctown, New Mexico." The film shows how the miners, the company, and the police react during the strike. It was shown round the clock at the Clifton Union Hall so workers from all shifts could see it.Watch Now
Very engaging portrait of modern Clifton by Desert USA writer Michael Kaufman:
Arizona is full of former mining towns oriented towards tourists: Tombstone, Bisbee, Jerome and Goldfield. While these towns do offer visitors to the Grand Canyon State an accessible introduction to the state's mining history, some people might feel jaded wandering around in towns full of antique shops, expensive restaurants, and souvenir shops. Large crowds might also turn off other visitors. Fortunately, there are other towns that are not tourist-oriented and may offer a more authentic mining-camp experience. One such place is Clifton, Arizona.Read the Full Article
Los Mineros means "the miners" in Spanish and a PBS documentary by that name documents a half century of struggle for equal rights by Mexican-Americans who worked in the copper mines in Clifton and Morenci.
Journeyman D.T. gentry sold hit song "Open Pit Mine" to the country singer George Jones in the early 1960s. The recording made it to the country "Top 20" in 1962 and became popular again a few years later in a full band version by Johnny Gray.
In "Revenge of the Saguaro: Offbeat Travels Through America's Southwest," Tom Miller talks about tracking down the song's composer, D.T. Gentry:
In 1952, 24-year-old Delbert Gentry headed west from his native Arkansas, looking for work. "I stopped in Clifton for a few days and stayed with friends. I was so struck by the area that I applied for a job at the mine," he recounted over the phone in a rich Ozark accent. "They wouldn't take me on account of my size. I was five-three and worked in he potato patches. I made enough to get back home to Arkansas."
Yet something about Clifton stayed with him. Gentry moved north a few years later and found work at the Fisher Body Plant making car frames for General Motors, where he worked until his retirement. During convalescence from minor surgery, he wrote out his copper miner's Romeo and Juliet. It had been taking shape in his mind ever since that brief stop in Clifton nine years earlier.
In the summer of 1961, Delbert Gentry went to a George Jones concert and stood in the autograph line afterward. "Would you listen to a song if I sent it to you?" he asked the star. Jones gave him his address and a friend of Gentry's made a reel-to-reel demo tape of "Open Pit Mine".
"I sent it off and got a contract by return mail September 1, 1961. It was a dream come true. Every six months or so I get a small check. Sometimes it'll be shut off for a couple of years, then I'll get another one."
As for the characters in the song, Gentry says he was only in Clifton a few days, and never anyone there named "Rosie."
From Morenci, Arizona where the copper mines glow
I could see Clifton in the canyon below
In Clifton lived Rosie; we danced and we dined
On the money I made in the open pit mine
I loved my sweet Rosie and she loved me too
There was nothing for Rosie that I wouldn't do
Her hugs and her kisses, they were something divine
Gave me reason for working the open pit mine
While I was out walking with my Rosie one day
We passed a store window with rings on display
I bought the one she wanted; how they really did shine!
Spent the money I saved from that open pit mine
Her love would bring heartbreak that I would soon learn
Cause she would two-time me when my back was turned
Rosie would go dancing and drink the red wine
While I worked like a slave in that open pit mine
One night I caught Rosie on her rendezvous
She was huggin' and kissin' with somebody new
It was there that I shot her while their arms where entwined!
Then I buried her deep in that open pit mine
I took a look at my future and what did I see?
There was nothing but trouble a-waiting for me
But on the sun's next risin', I'll be satisfied
Cause they'll find me there sleeping by my sweet Rosie's side