— Jenny Neill

A Brief History of Nothing

what is left of Nothing, Arizona

On a whim, I decided to go looking for ghost towns on a recent visit to Arizona. That road trip led me to Nothing.

Arizona, especially the part of Mohave County in which this abandoned settlement was established in 1977, is still very desolate. Hot, arid with few services nearby, there really is no reason to go to Nothing now. But that is precisely what my husband and I did on a very hot summer day this August.

We had some idea of what to look for and expected there might still be an exit signpost on US 93. There wasn’t. Only the fading rock shop sign was left to let us know we’d found it. Completely gone was the proclamation that had once attracted tourists: “The staunch citizens of Nothing are full of Hope, Faith, and Believed in the work ethic… [they] had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing.”

We knew we would not be visiting the fellow who put Nothing on the map. Richard Kenworthy left for Del Rio, Texas some time ago. Though I haven’t discovered exactly when he left, the 100+ degree summer temperatures and intermittent traffic along this road gave me an idea as to why.

Keep Out sign in Nothing, Arizona

The only indications someone had once lived here were the notice on the one remaining building to keep out and the debris to the north and south of it. The demolition that happened sometime in the past decade left behind concrete rubble mixed with other broken down building bits. Trash, old furniture, and rusted barrels had been pushed into large heaps. The sole resident was a raven who watched over us and the dusty lot from his perch above.

raven watches over Nothing, Arizona

The original residents of Nothing managed to eke out a living by running a gas station and selling rocks as souvenirs. In 1997, a photographer described “Old Miner” Jim who lived in the Outback (a mobile home) as a 20th century prospector who bred polydactyl cats and looked for “leftover gold” in the desert.

Nothing, Arizona as it appeared in 1997

Notes posted in an online forum for road trip enthusiasts suggest the gas station operated up through at least 2003. And as recently as 2006, this location was used as a meeting point for rock collectors. For how much longer Kenworthy and the other residents of the settlement stayed is still a mystery to me.

Nothing, Arizona as it appeared in 1997

Articles from 2009 and 2010 suggested this spot might be on its way to becoming a tourist trap once again. A regional news site reported that the property had a new owner, Mike Jensen who had grand plans of returning it to being a road stop attraction. Nothing was destined to become a permanent home for a promising mobile wood-fired pizza business.

With only the raven to greet us, our hunger for a freshly baked slice did not get sated. “Pizza Man Mike” blamed the government for not being able to vend there as he’d intended. His complaints of permit issues and unexpected health code requirements are pretty common ones for any restaurant startup. Though, if the $1.1 million price tag he allegedly agreed to pay for Nothing is accurate, I’d bet that health and zoning requirements were the least of his business problems.

toilet paper trash at Nothing, Arizona

Despite news stating the land was sold in 2005, Kenworthy is still listed as owner for the two parcels that make up this intriguing ghost town. (The Mohave County Assessor records showed different owners for 2010 than for 2011. Only a title search is likely to prove who actually owns it now.) With a declining value thanks to a continuing recession, there’s no doubt Jensen agreed to pay way too much. For Nothing.

All color photos reused with permission. © 2011 Mike Russell. All rights reserved.
All black and white photos reused with permission. © 1997 Marc Kollmuss – tm.woRK.