Brenda, Arizona

13-miles east of Quartzsite is a tiny little, dust-covered area called Brenda. If you are on the I-10 heading East and you blink, you’ll miss it. I know because that happened to me and I ended up driving for 40-minutes looking for a place to turn around.

I came here looking for a little ghost town full of lost things, abandoned graves, and a mine shaft or two. Instead, I found virtually nothing but RV hook-ups, open spaces, and a whole lot of cacti. I suspect that the area takes in RV overflow from Quartzsite or attracts those people who want to spend their days hiking in the desert wilderness when it is cooler.

Apparently there are 676 people living in the area… I don’t know where they would even live. They must come in RVs and leave when it gets hot.

The town is named after one of the twin children of Grover and Anna Spitznagel, two homesteaders who settled the land in 1932. The twins were born in 1930 in Oklahoma and a mere ten years after their birth, Grover passed away and was buried in Tulsa. He left behind two daughters and four sons who were all living in Brenda, AZ. There are later marriage records for a Brenda Spitznagel in Alameda in the 1960s (California, Marriage Index, 1960-1985).

Eventually, one of the Spitznagel buildings became a little restaurant for those who came in on the stagecoaches in the 1920s: the Black Rock Cafe. The ultimate destination of these travellers was likely the nearby Ramsey Mine, a mine that produced a mosaic of ores: Barium-Barite, Gold, Iron, Lead, Manganese, Strontium, Copper, Silver, Vanadium, and Zinc. I could find no historical stories or even graves from the mine so it was likely not in operation for very long. Even historic Arizona newspapers failed me!

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