Palo Verde Historical Museum Presents: A look back at Ehrenberg's history

Herman Ehrenberg, for whom the La Paz County community of Ehrenberg was named, was born in Prussia in 1816 and came to the United States when he was 18 years of age. (Archived file photo by Uriel Avendano/Palo Verde Valley Times)

Herman Ehrenberg, for whom the La Paz County community of Ehrenberg was named, was born in Prussia in 1816 and came to the United States when he was 18 years of age.

He worked at various things but was known as an adventurer, engineer, miner and surveyor. He spent most of his time in southwestern Arizona and mapped the town of La Paz, Arizona. When the Colorado River changed its course after flooding, it left the town of La Paz over a mile from the river and it could no longer be reached by riverboats.

The town of Ehrenberg had the nearest boat landing to La Paz and it was a good place to cross the Colorado River on the Bradshaw Ferry. It was first named Mineral City and the name was later changed to Ehrenberg. When La Paz was no longer a river port, the merchants (including the Goldwaters) and many of the people of La Paz moved to Ehrenberg.

By the mid-1870s, it became the most prosperous town in the territory and the population had grown to 500 people. It had stores, saloons, a blacksmith and wagon shop, two bakeries, a hotel, a Catholic Church, and the offices of the California and Arizona Stage Company.

The first school was opened in 1872.

The building was a former saloon with a dirt floor. The teacher was from San Diego and knew no Spanish and none of her students knew English. The store owner next door was her interpreter. They held some classes at night, outdoors with no lights, because of insects and did exercises in language and poetry.

In 1884, Jesus Daniel, a gold miner, was appointed Postmaster.

His prospecting business left little time for the post office, so it was never open on weekdays and was usually open on Saturday afternoon.

If he was sober enough, it was sometimes open on Sundays. He had a sign that read, “This office is open when its open and closed when it is closed.” Daniel’s term as Postmaster lasted until 1891.

The discovery of gold around Ehrenberg, La Paz, and other nearby areas brought lots of people to the area and the small town of Olive City sprang up just outside of Ehrenberg, near the Bradshaw Ferry. The Ferry was established in 1863. Olive City lasted a few years and was washed away by river flooding.

Gold mining in the area had played out by 1900 and Ehrenberg was almost completely deserted for many years. It was a town of mostly abandoned adobe buildings. The post office was closed in 1914. It was re-opened in the 1950s, when Ehrenberg started growing with river camps, mobile home parks, scattered homes and a few businesses.

Ehrenberg has a cemetery where many of the early settlers are buried. There is a historical monument at the cemetery that was dedicated in 1934 and remains in the primary historical interest in Ehrenberg. By 1998, one of the main attractions in Ehrenberg was a cock-fighting establishment operated by Copper State Enterprises.

It accommodated several hundred people at a time and was located in the river bottom west of Highway 95. State law closed it in 1999.

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