Oct 12 2010

Forgotten Mansion – Lost Town

Melissa Crytzer Fry

I am a complete sucker for a good story. Add to that the fact that I am like a child in a toy store when I’m in the middle of nature, and you’ll likely understand why my recent quad adventure with neighbors was so memorable.

It included a trek into the remote desert, picturesque views and a fascinating tale of a lost city.

These rolling hills in Arizona’s Galiuro Mountain range lead to the remote area of Copper Creek Canyon, a struggling mining town erected in the early 1900s. Click to enlarge.

As history notes (and my sore back can attest), rough terrain is the hallmark of the journey to Copper Creek. So when we finally reached our destination on switchback after switchback (on the comforts of a padded seat, mind you… not a wagon or saddle), I had already developed a deep appreciation for what I was about to see.

The stone turret, peeking out of the cottonwoods, didn’t disappoint. If anything, I was astonished at the resilience of the early townsfolk to have built and survived in this truly remote area. Not to mention, their mansion was three-stories and built to last. (Take a look at these wonderful vintage postcards that show just how harrowing the building process was. They also depict the infancy of the Copper Creek mining area, including the mansion and the mercantile, then intact).

This photo shows the remains of the three-story Sibley Mansion – built to attract mining investors – in the Galiuro Mountains. Click to enlarge.

For Writers: When I think about it, I see multiple parallels between the Sibley mansion and the novelist’s writing journey. These buildings, without the conveniences of modern technology, were built stone by stone. In much the same way, the writer starts with a foundation (plot), adding stone after stone, layer upon layer: character, setting, sensory elements, tension, dialogue. It’s a labor-intensive process, and sometimes it seems daunting, overwhelming.

But when I look at the territory these settlers had to cover – the hardships they had to endure – I think that it’s the least I can do, as a novelist, to follow my dream. The settlers’ dreams and determination literally crossed mountains, often resulting in death and hardship.

So, despite the tough road to publication, I think I owe it to myself to keep going. To show that same tenacity. To keep writing. And so do you.  I don’t want my novels to become the forgotten mansion, the lost town, existing only in my memory.

4 Responses to “Forgotten Mansion – Lost Town”

  • Jamie Says:

    I love this post — mostly because it’s exactly what I’m missing in my writing practice. I’m missing the tenacity and dedication that keeps you on the path — the trust and faith that reminds you that little by little that hulking pile of disorganized ideas might turn into something that someone might want to read. But we all have to do the work…the heavy lifting of each of those stones to get there. It’s often a long road, and as I travel it, I’ll be happy for the reminder of Sibley Mansion and all the dreams and work that went into it’s construction. Thanks for that!


    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I think if all writers are honest with themselves, they’ll admit to struggling with the same commitment to dedication you mention. It’s too easy for life to ‘get in the way,’ for our egos to be shattered by rejection, or – during the writing process -to become overwhelmed by the task of writing a book (the bits and pieces that need to connect ARE mind-boggling). So I think reminders like these are crucial. I think all writers also need a support system to ensure the path is followed! I’m here to help when you need it!


  • Rachna Chhabria Says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Melissa, that we owe it to ourselves to keep going: to build that word city little by little. To follow our dream/s, to work with tenacity, with a firm faith in our abilities. This not just keeps us going when we have a tendency to plunge into despair,its also what moves us closer to realizing those dreams.

    A wonderful and motivating post. Glad I read it first thing in the morning. It will inspire me the entire day. 🙂


    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Thanks, Rachna. Many a day, your blogs have helped motivate me. Glad we can reciprocate!


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