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Arizona Ghost Town Drops Into Charity Coffers Investor Decides It’s Time ‘To Get Rid Of Some Stuff,’ Turns Over Town Deed To Salvation Army

Sun., Feb. 8, 1998

This donation was a little too big to fit into one of the Salvation Army’s usual gift receptacles.

An entire ghost town, the once-thriving desert mining community of Sasco, Ariz., has been given to Salvation Army chapters in Tucson and El Paso, Texas.

“Rarely does any charity get a million-dollar gift - much less the deed to a ghost town,” said Greg Bodine, director of planned giving for the Southern Arizona and El Paso Salvation Army.

The 120-acre site, about 35 miles north of Tucson, is valued at $1.2 million.

The town was founded in 1902 by the Southern Arizona Smelting Co., and the population eventually peaked at 600 people.

But by 1921, Sasco already was considered a ghost town.

Now there’s nothing left but crumbling stone walls.

It was given to the Salvation Army by Phillip Haas, who made his money in real estate and cattle and has homes in Tucson and El Paso. He bought the site in 1955.

“I just loved the area,” he said. “The desert is just fascinating.”

Every chance he had, he “took a drive up there to see the flowers blooming in the spring,” he said. “To me it was like a collector’s item.”

Haas has survived two heart attacks and undergone heart surgery.

“I thought maybe it’s time to get rid of some stuff,” he said Friday.

Bodine said the Salvation Army plans to sell the town, turning it into money for the Tucson and El Paso chapters.

“We are hoping some entrepreneur might see it as a tourist attraction,” he said.

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