Ghost Ranch Lodge Ashtray

Submitted by Michael Ely August 8th, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner
Miracle Mile is home to a strip of vintage neon-lit hotels here in Tucson and one of the most famous was the Ghost Ranch Lodge. Built in 1941 on what was once a working cattle ranch, Ghost Ranch Lodge was an oasis consisting of 83 single story rooms and casitas on 8 acres of lush desert land with beautiful cactus gardens and orange trees and lawns, along with a restaurant and lounge. Many of the units were designed by prominent Tucson architect Josias Joesler and the cow-skull sign was designed by Georgia O’keefe. Sadly, after over 60 years in business, the lodge began to fall into disrepair and was eventually closed. The whole property was fenced in by a chain-link fence and the wonderful sign was taken down. There was even an arson fire which destroyed the restaurant and lounge. People in Tucson were very sad to see the end of this once famous landmark…..
However, that’s not the end of the story! Do to an outcry of citizens, the city stepped in and today and the Ghost Ranch Lodge is being totally restored and made into a housing community for retired and low-income residents! Even the sign has been put back in it’s place. It’s a happy ending!
This is a rare ashtray from the Ghost Ranch Lodge circa 1960’s.

2 Responses to “Ghost Ranch Lodge Ashtray”

  1. Allee Willis

    I’m SO happy to hear that this place was saved!!! That’s pretty unbelievable given that it closed and was decaying, not to mention hit by fire. And that it turned into a housing community for retired and low income residents is even better.
    I never used to like glass ashtrays but have gotten so into them over the years because of the places they commemorate. Given the history of this lodge it’s fantastic that you have this one. Did you get it by staying there or did you find it in a store, flea ot thrift shop?

    Incredible that the sign made it back up there after being taken down. Who stored it in the meantime? You’d think some Georgia O’Keefe lover would have snapped it up and not given it back.

    Just from the roofline visible in the second photo the Ghost Ranch looks like an incredible Deco structure.

    Are the other hotels/motels on Miracle Mile still in business? Needless to say, I would LOVE to see photos of them. How long of a stretch is Miracle Mile ?

  2. Michael Ely

    The Miracle Mile strip is about a mile long, and, yes, many of the old neon-lit hotels along the strip (and nearby on Oracle) are still in business. They are very kitschy, and I will take some photos and share them in a future post.

    Yes, my partner and I stayed at the Ghost Ranch Lodge several times in the 1990’s while visting Tucson (before we moved here 16 years ago), however the 1960’s ashtray was found in a local thrift store. I was able to figure out it was from the 1960’s because of the 1966 Best Western logo.

    Don’t know who had the Georgia O’keefe sign before it was restored back to where it belongs. Word is that it was under repair for the housing project.

    As of late, the citizens of Tucson have become obsessed with saving Tucson’s old neon signs and other vintage pieces of historic architecture. For example, the Magic Carpet miniature golf course was shut down, but people have bought the neon sign and the kitschy structures and plan to place them around other parts of the city as art pieces (the giant tiki head was placed in front of a bar). Same with the drive-in that just shut down. The giant marquee sign has been saved to be relocated elsewhere.