This is from a blog post for Arizona Highways:
I’ve always been intrigued by the stories of those folks who live in tiny, rural communities — Who are these people? What do they do? Where do they work? What’s an average day-in-the-life like?
My curiosity has deepened thanks to my gig here at Arizona Highways… you see, one of the perks of the job is that I get to travel around our amazing state.
Along the way, I’ll sometimes pass through a middle-of-nowhere outpost… I usually want to stop the car, get out and wander for a bit. Sometimes I’ll take that moment… I did that recently when I passed through Quartzsite.
Occasionally, a stop-over can turn out to be very fruitful, like when my colleague (and sometimes partner-in-crime-slash-fellow-jerky-girl), Managing Editor Kelly Kramer and I (I, being Kathy Ritchie the Associate Editor in this outfit) stumbled upon Daniel’s Really Good Fresh Jerky in Parker, AZ.
Whoda thunk it? Really good jerky in Parker.
Unfortunately, rural America is shrinking fast. And rural Arizona is certainly no exception. The 2010 Census Report shows that places like Parker, Bisbee and Tombstone have lost a good chunk of their populations.
■The town of Hayden shrank 26 percent, dropping to 662 people in the past decade.
■The Sun Valley area in Gila County dropped 79 percent, to 316 residents.
■Parker dropped 2 percent. Superior fell 13 percent.
■Tombstone and Bisbee each lost 8 percent of their populations.
According to Mark Mather, Associate Vice President of the Population Reference Bureau, a research group in Washington, D.C, “many rural areas can’t attract workers because there aren’t any jobs, and businesses won’t relocate there because there aren’t enough qualified workers. So, they are caught in a downward spiral.”
Here’s another interesting tidbit, as some rural areas simply wither away, metropolitan areas are ever expanding and exploding… In fact, according to the report, of the 10 fastest-growing places, all were small cities incorporated into the suburbs of expanding metro areas, mostly in California, Arizona and Texas.
But let’s face it… many of the off-the-beaten-path-hamlets in Arizona are not going to be absorbed by the bright-lights-big-city.
That means a day will come when many these places will simply cease to be much of anything at all… maybe some will be resurrected or maybe some will fall off the map completely.
I don’t know how or even if we can save some of these rural outposts, but what I can suggest is that the next time you drive through a Parker or Superior, get out and walk around.
You never know what you might find.
~KAT, Associate EditorShare this:
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Here’s My Reply:
Parker Area Tourism
July 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm
Dear Miss Ritchie:
I first want to thank you for telling people to stop in Parker and get out and look around. I am confused though, as to why would you include Parker, AZ in your “Future Ghost Towns” story with a 2% reduction from the 2010 census. You failed to mention that although the Town was down in their count for the census, our county was up. So, they moved outside of the one-square mile township. These numbers do impact our local government because counties and municipalities generally are allocated a portion of these receipts based on resident population. Our economy is based on tourism and our county and town are far from becoming “ghostly.” La Paz county saw a 6.7% increase in total travel spending for the year 2010. In 2009, we saw a decrease of almost 17% in total travel spending. The entire State of Arizona was down 10% in total travel spending. So, we’re on our way back up. In recent and consecutive years, La Paz County has provided up to $216 million in total travel spending. (Per Dean Ruyan Associates for Arizona Office of Tourism.)
The Town of Parker is in great financial shape and our Downtown Shopping Area will be full this year. Four new businesses have moved into the downtown area that include Sears and the return of a NAPA Auto Parts store. Furthermore, the County is in negotiations to house a 2500 ft tall solar power plant that will employ 1500 people for 2-3 years and 41 permanent employees. Plus, it will provide another “destination driver” attraction to our area.
In addition, for the year 2010, according to Dean Runyan Associates for the Arizona Office of Tourism, La Paz County is tied for third place in State Transaction Privilege Taxes Generated by Direct Travel Spending. That’s ahead of Mohave County and Yuma County on Arizona’s West Coast and includes Maricopa County! Unbelievable!
And, your readers should know that Parker, Arizona is the home of the famous “Parker Strip Recreation Area.” Parker is the home to many beautiful hotels, motels, RV Resorts and camp sites along both the Arizona and California sides of the 16-mile stretch of the Colorado River. We boast the best boating on the “West Coast” of Arizona, the “East Coast” of California and “Best in the Desert Racing Association” has tagged Parker, Arizona as the “Off-road Capital of the USA.”
So, don’t put us in that category just yet, Kathy! And, by the way, when you and Kelly were in Parker at Daniel’s Really Good Jerky, you were right across the street from our visitor’s center. It is surprising to me that a managing editor and an associate editor for an Arizona Highways “blog spot” wouldn’t stop in a visitor’s center to learn more about the community.
Thanks for your time!
Parker Area Tourism