Sunday, 9 March 2014

Box Canyon, Wickenburg

In view of our last disastrous dirt road drive I’d hesitated to suggest exploring Box Canyon on the Hassayampa River but the lady in the visitor centre assured us it really was an easy drive.   So on another gorgeous sunny morning (whoever said you get fed up of constant sunshine hasn’t got a clue what they’re talking about!) off we went.
After heading north on highway 93 we turned right onto the scenic loop road just after marker 195.   Even though it’s marked as a primitive road, it’s a good graded gravel/dirt road.
It follows the river and at one point descends into a sandy wash unsurprisingly it’s marked as a flash flood area, the views are spectacular.

We followed the road for seven miles until we came to the ‘no dumping’ sign and turned right into the parking area, if it wasn’t for the sign you’d easily drive past. There was a fire ring and when we got out there was broken glass, thankfully we hadn’t parked in it. 

The parking area

Looking towards the river

The road down to the river has plenty of tyre tracks, so you could probably drive down, but it’s a bit rough so I don’t think for one minute DB would’ve been happy taking BT down it, especially not after last time!

Down in the river

A  chap panning for gold in a small stream of running water, told us there’s quite a lot of gold still to be found in the area.   We noticed some white plastic pipes sticking up, these we were reliably informed by our gold panning friend, were claim markers.   Each claim is 20 acres and there is a marker in each corner  north, south, east and west.

The entrance to Box Canyon is almost hidden in the trees, it’s only small but very pretty, although it’s not somewhere I’d like to be if it was pouring with rain.

We continued our hike, we were walking mostly in soft sand, it gives your legs a really great workout but it’s hard work, we were looking for the ‘Majestic Mine’ that we’d seen marked on the map.

The whole area is pretty with lots of saguaro dotting the mountain sides, the rock formations were interesting and I’m sure our geologist guide from Saturday would’ve been able to tell us all sorts of interesting facts about what we were seeing.

When we arrived at where we thought the mine should be, we couldn’t see anything that looked even remotely like it could be a mine.   Although searching the surrounding mountain sides there were some suspiciously straight lines, and what looked to us, like spoil heaps,  so we think it might be the mine and if it is, the access must be from the top of the mountain.

We decided we’d explore the river the other way towards The Narrows, lots of yellow butterflies were fluttering around some water on the gravel.

Neither of us had realised how hot it had become until we started walking in the shade, which was lovely. 

There was more water in this section of the river and some government guys were busy measuring things, although they didn’t actually say what they were doing we wondered if it was something to do with water flow.

Further along there was obviously what was someones camp on a ledge above the river, I’m not sure I’d like to camp there as although it would be pleasant in the heat of the day, it’d soon be dark down there and just a bit creepy, maybe it belonged to someone working a nearby claim. 

We passed a gauging station, the ladder goes right to the top of the rocks, so I’m not sure how deep it gets down here during the monsoon season.

A little further along we arrived at the narrows,

it’s very pretty, there’s more water here but it was too deep and to wide for us (okay me) to cross without taking my boots off, so we turned back.

On the way back to the truck

Heading back

We had a great day, and would love to come back here and explore more, if you had an ATV you could probably drive all the way back to the RV park.   That’d be fun! 

Hmm, somehow the Cheshire Cats name has appeared in the middle of the photograph, sorry about that, I'll check my settings before I post again.

Have fun, we are!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Vulture Mine Tour, Wickenburg

Early on a Saturday morning we headed off to join the Vulture Mine Tour. Discovered in 1863 by Henry Wickenburg, the Vulture Mine, according to an informational plaque, sparked the development of Arizona and the city of Phoenix, not to mention the town of Wickenburg.
The current owners of the Vulture Mine believe there is still a lot of high grade ore to be found in the mine, which, with modern mining equipment and techniques can now be mined.   A guided tour is the only way to view the historic remains. 

Our guide was an experienced geologist who told us about the mining techniques then and how they differed or not from modern mining. 

Old drill bits

Old machinery litters the site and as we walked around our guide explained what the machines did.   He also showed us a mine shaft and I’m sure he said it went straight down for 700ft. 

This is an old mine lift and was used for either men or machinery and dropped straight down a wood lined shaft.   If the steel cable lowering the lift failed notches in the wood stopped it falling to the bottom.  I’m not sure how they got you out though!   I don’t think I could’ve gone down that narrow shaft.

We walked past the remains of the Post Office before spotting an almost intact snakeskin.  

Our next stop was the eating house and saloon, the old bar and floor are still there, I bet they could tell a few tales.

The remains of Henry Wickenburgs house has pipes sticking out through the walls, these pipes provided cooling air in the summer and he could also shoot through them if necessary.   I’ve never seen that type of security/air con system before, but hey if it works………………….

Right next to that is the hanging tree, 18 men were hung here for highgrading or stealing gold ore.

The biggest building is the assay office, which also contained the bullion store, inside you can see an old staircase and even an old sewing machine.

The final part of our tour took us down into what is called ‘The Glory Hole’ this is a collapsed section where old mine workings have given way and you can see into the old shafts.   

White markings on the rocks show where new blastings will take place.
Our guide told us that if we found a piece of ore on our walk out of the ‘Glory Hole’ we could keep it.   Well, despite listening to him all morning it still all just looked right bits of rock to us.
All the old buildings on site are made of high grade ore, which with modern techniques could be extracted, but as they are historical remains, they’ll be left just as they are.
There is a lot more to the Vulture Mine site but it’s a working mine so it’s not possible to see it all.
Have fun, we are!

Hassayampa River Preserve, Wickenburg

Not far from Desert Cypress RV Park, just along Highway 60 is the entrance to the Hassayampa River Preserve.   The entrance road is quite narrow and we almost shot past.
The headquarters of the preserve are in this lovely old ranch house, which I believe was once a dude ranch.
After paying our entrance fee, $5.00, and retrieving our water from the truck we headed off to explore.   There are lots of short trails which in total add up to about 3 miles.  We decided to start with the River Ramble trail

There wasn’t a lot of water in this section of the river but there were lots of dragonflies flittering about.

Partway along we veered off to climb up to Lyles Lookout, although this is only a short trail, it’s steep and rocky, but has great views from the top. 

The trail to Lyles Lookout

Climbing up to the lookout

Some of the views from Lyles Lookout

The railway line runs close by the preserve.   At night as the trains pass through the sound of their whistles echoes across the dry river bed and all the coyotes sing like mad.   When we commented on this to someone, I forget who, we were told that the train whistles hurt their ears, is it true?   I have absolutely no idea.
I love to hear the coyotes sing, but it really does make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.  

Part of the trail along the dry river bed.

Our next trail was the Lion Trail this area had some very old Freemont cottonwood trees and was a bit like walking through bosque.

The preserve is a birders paradise, but even though we sat by the pond for quite a while and heard lots of different birds, we didn’t actually see any.

Have fun, we are!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Arizona Pioneer Living History Museum

Every time we’ve been heading north out of Phoenix on I17 we’ve seen signs for the Pioneer Living History Museum, every time I’ve said that looks interesting, and every time DB’s answer has been ‘we haven’t got time’.
It’s not a long drive from Wickenburg so we finally got to visit, again we took highway 60, then headed east on 74 and north on I17, at exit 225 we followed the signs and were there in about 2 minutes.
The museum is on 92 acres, all the buildings have been donated some are original and some have been restored.
The opera house
This old wagon certainly looks as though it belongs.

I took a ride behind these gorgeous Percheron (I think) horses through the pumpkin patch and back.

The Sherriff gave us a tour of the old jail.

We watched the gunfight, there were a couple of schools visiting and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.   One of the volunteers was really good with bullwhips, I tried to take a photograph but he was so fast all I got was air.

The Newman Cottage was open to visitors and compared to some of the others it was palatial.   If I remember correctly, Newman drove cattle from Oregon to Arizona and not long after arriving he died, his widow sold the cattle for $200 apiece and became a very wealthy woman.

Inside Newman Cottage

The church and Teacherage.  Although small the Teacherage was home to the teacher who taught in the school next door.   This was luxurious accommodation as most teachers lodged with families and paid them 30% of their salary for the privilege.   This Teacherage was built in the late 1880’s and moved from Pleasant Valley, just east of Payson in 1966.

 China and lamp from the same time period, inside the Teacherage.

The shell of the Phoenix Bakery was relocated in 1975, the building weighs 300,000 lbs and it took 5 days to move it the 30 miles to the museum.
The bakery was started by a German apprentice, Edward Eisele who was actually on his way to England to work for a cloth manufacturer.   After being beaten and robbed he was unable to take up his apprenticeship and so made his way to America.   He worked as a coal miner and wagon train cook arriving in Arizona he worked as a cook for the team surveying the Arizona Canal.   In 1881 he found employment at the Phoenix Bakery, 3 years later he bought the bakery, a friend, Alfred Becker joined him in 1887.  Baking 200 loaves a day delivery was on foot, then by bicycle, it was the first bakery in Arizona to introduce horse drawn delivery and the first in the territory to try out the horseless carriage.  Lots of innovations followed including waxed paper, pre-sliced loaves and TV marketing.
As the museum is a city park and with support from the Eisele family the building is to be restored and will eventually sell baked goods to visitors.

 Some of the decorative ironwork on the outside of the building.

Meritt Farm

While we were visiting we noticed some posters for a civil war battle re-enactment at the weekend, so we returned to watch them, some photographs below. 

The first two battles of the day were civil war re-enactments. 

Union Troops

Confederate Troops, The Texans of Bexar County

Confederate Camp

Firing the canon

The final re-enactment of the day was the battle of Kettle Hill during the Spanish American War.  Firing the gatling gun.  

The museum was well worth a visit and we’re glad we went back to watch the battle re-enactments as well.  DB is pleased because now when we travel north on I17 I won’t be asking to visit, well not for a few years anyway! 

Have fun, we are!