A P R I L 2 0 0 7
‘Killer’ Climbs | Slot Canyon Tours | Superstition Hikes
Lost Dutchman Mystery: Tread a Dead Man's Trail
FRUITFUL FUN Kids of all ages dash for sweet treats during
the “Fruit Scramble” event at the 4th Annual Natoni Horse Race
on the Navajo Indian Reservation. See story, page 16. tom bean
FRONT COVER Navajo hoop dancer Tyrese Jensen, 7, competes in
the 16th Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest held at the
Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix. See story, page 32. jeff kida
BACK COVER A hiker amounts to a Tiny Tim on the window
"sill" of Los Gigantes Buttes Arch near the Lukachukai Mountains
on the Navajo Indian Reservation. See story, page 24. tom till
n To order a print of this photograph, see information on opposite page.
contents april 2007
Arizona is a land of excellent adventures. Whether
you’re a desert dweller, a river rat or a mountain goat,
there’s a holy host of activities to appease daredevils.
This month, unleash your adrenaline with our Great
Adventures Guide. Visit arizonahighways.com
and click on our April “Trip Planner.”
HUMOR The sound of Sunset Crater
gives our writer cause for fury.
WEEKEND GETAWAY There may not be
gold in them thar hills, but the Superstition
Mountains make for a mother lode of fun.
EXPERIENCE ARIZONA Plan a trip
with our calendar of events.
get out there
Photographic Prints Available
n Prints of some photographs are available for
purchase, as designated in captions. To order, call toll-free
(866) 962-1191 or visit www.magazineprints.com.
2 DEAR EDITOR
3 ALL WHO WANDER
Drawing inspiration from a tragic friendship.
Uncovering secrets of those darned canyons.
5 TAKING THE OFF-RAMP
Arizona oddities, attractions and pleasures.
50 ALONG THE WAY
The dog’s a dead duck.
52 HIKE OF THE MONTH
An amble along the San Pedro River reveals
some melting remains of the Spanish Empire.
54 BACK ROAD ADVENTURE
Rim-country road to Hellsgate
Wilderness makes a heck of a ride.
8 Passing Through Paria
A photographer learns deep lessons in life’s
passage through the narrows.
text and photographs by jack dykinga
Guide: Three Slot Canyon Tours
18 Dead Man’s Tale
A writer follows the hot trail of a cold case:
The strange death of Adolph Ruth.
by john annerino
Guide: Three Great Superstition Hikes
26 Teetering Atop Browns Peak
Four Peaks climb tests rusty skills.
by bob kerry / photographs by peter noebels
Guide: Three Challenging Climbs
12 Thrill Trips
A climber rappels down the
subsidiary tower of The Mace,
one of Sedona’s most popular
climbs, ranked a difficult-but-doable
5.9 on the Yosemite
Decimal System. marc muench
FRONT COVER The Dragoon
Mountains’ 5.10-rated Warpaint
climb offers next to nothing
by way of hand- or footholds,
requiring even experienced
climbers, such as Lara Wilkinson
(pictured), to use ropes and
be on belay. marc muench
BACK COVER Receding water
and clay deposits along the Paria
River, a Colorado River tributary,
reflect the colors of the sky and
Paria Canyon’s sandstone walls.
See story, page 8. jack dykinga
n To order a print of this photograph,
see information on opposite page.
32 p o r t f o l i o Forceful Foregrounds
The secret to great photography — it’s right in front of you.
text and photographs by gary ladd
42 h i s to r y Feminine Frontier
Ranch wives weathered hardship to tame the West.
by dave eskes
46 n at u r e Hidden Hoppers
Grasshoppers perfect the art of camouflage.
by john alcock / photographs by marty cordano
48 t h e l i g h t e r s i d e The King and I
A kitschy lamp lights up our writer's inner bachelor.
by roger naylor / illustration by brian stauffer
For more letters, see arizonahighways.com (click o online n “Letters to the Editor”).
2 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
all who wander by Peter Aleshire, editor
Arizona Highways magazine has inspired an
independent weekly television series, hosted by
Phoenix TV news anchor Robin Sewell. For
channels and show times, log on to
arizonahighways.com; click on “DISCOVER
ARIZONA”; then click on the “Arizona Highways
goes to television!” link on the right-hand side.
highways on tv
Produced in the USA
Arizona Highways® (ISSN 0004-1521) is published monthly by the
Arizona Department of Transportation. Subscription price: $24 a
year in the U.S., $41 outside the U.S. Single copy: $3.99 U.S. Send
and change of address information
to Arizona Highways,
2039 W. Lewis Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85009. Peri-odical
postage paid at Phoenix, AZ and at additional mailing office.
CANADA POST INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATIONS MAIL PROD-UCT
DISTRIBUTION) SALES AGREEMENT NO.
41220511. SEND RETURNS TO QUEBECOR WORLD, P.O. BOX 875,
WINDSOR, ON N9A 6P2. POSTMASTER:
Send address changes to
2039 W. Lewis Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85009. Copyright
© 2007 by the Arizona
Department of Transportation.
in whole or in part without
permission is prohibited. The
magazine does not accept and is not responsible for unsolicited
I loved the Charles Lindbergh story
(“Lindy’s Luck,” January ’07), seeing his
perspective of things from the air. I have a
hand-written letter dated 1927 from him to
my great-grandfather, Samuel C. Lancaster,
chief engineer of the Historic Columbia
River Highway in Oregon, after Lindbergh
observed the beauty of that area from the
air. What a thrill it must have been for him
to see all of the scenic treasures in Arizona.
—Ellnora Young, Roseburg, OR
Thank Goodness for Uncle Bill
A few years ago, our uncle, Bill Rankhorn,
who lives in Tucson, arranged for Arizona
Highways to be sent to my sister Margaret
and me, here in England. What an eye-opener
to such a fantastic state. The
photography is just amazing and the
articles are all interesting, showing a
quite different way of life to us living in
a flat rural county just north of London.
It is difficult to pick out any particular
area in Arizona as it is all so stunning.
Our thanks to you and our Uncle Bill for
giving us a glimpse of such beauty.
—Mrs. Pauline Lewins, Hatfield Peverel, UK
What’s in a Name?
Just a quick thanks for publishing the
fine piece about Canyon de Chelly in
December 2006. I have learned to live with
the “misspelling” (Chelly) of my name.
—Chilly Childress, Folsom, CA
Fell in Landscape Love
I just wanted to thank you for such a great
magazine. My grandparents had a room in
their summer place in the Adirondack
Mountains that had a wall papered with
photographs from your magazine. As a
child, I would sit in that room not
understanding the true magic of Arizona.
It wasn’t until 35 years later that I got to
experience it firsthand. With my first
steps off the plane, I fell in love with your
state. My subscription keeps the wonder of
Arizona in my heart and soul till the next
time I can visit. Keep up the great work.
—Bonnie Sturm, Cobleskill, NY
Didn’t Care for January Cover
I just received the January 2007 issue of
Arizona Highways. The cover stopped me
in my tracks — in a negative way. Over
the past couple of issues, I have noted
a few photographs that were not up to
the standards I am used to seeing in the
magazine. Please note: The Christmas
(December ’06) issue was breathtaking,
however. The January 2007 issue gives
me the impression that corners are being
cut. I need not point out anything further
than the front cover. I am guessing digital
printing, and I am guessing it has been
sold to Arizona Highways as a cheaper, yet
equal, quality process. It’s not. Random
dot offset printing is a good alternative,
but pure digital — ugh.
—Daniel Cygrymus, Pittsburgh, PA
Hoping to Visit Soon
My wife and I met a charming family
from Virginia during a European
tour. We became firm friends and have
corresponded regularly. Recently, they took
out a subscription to Arizona Highways
for us. We are fascinated by the raw and
spectacular beauty of your wonderful state
and by the rich history that abounds there.
We live in a country that has a reputation
for being one of the great, unspoiled
wonders on Earth, but I see from your
excellent magazine that we have some
serious competition. It is our intention to
see this beautiful state in person.
—Lindsay Richards, Christchurch, New Zealand
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 3
too often, history is a dark, towering monsoon storm
of heartbreak and tragedy. But sometimes if you’re lucky, a
shaft of sunlight will lance the thunderheads.
Consider the singular friendship of 1st Lt. Royal Emerson
Whitman and Apache Chief Eskiminzin, a gleam of light in the
otherwise dispiriting tale of the Camp Grant Massacre.
Whitman, a Civil War hero and a principled abolitionist,
was a descendant of Mayflower pilgrims. As a first lieutenant
in the regular Army after the war, he was dispatched to the
remote Camp Grant, an outpost at the junction of the San
Pedro River and the paradise of Aravaipa Canyon.
That canyon was the homeland of a band of Apaches led by
Eskiminzin, who clung to their land for decades in the face of
pressure from incoming whites and other raiding bands. But in
February 1871, five hungry, ragged women from Eskiminzin’s
band cautiously approached Whitman’s outpost, searching for
a boy taken prisoner by soldiers. Whitman, an idealistic,
educated, compassionate man, treated them kindly, fed them
and urged them to bring in Eskiminzin for peace talks.
A week later, Eskiminzin and 25 of his people arrived at the
fort, proud but starving. His once-numerous band had dwindled
to 150 starving survivors. Whitman advised him to move his
band to the distant White Mountain Apache Reservation, but
Eskiminzin pleaded for permission to settle near Camp Grant.
Moved, Whitman took a career gamble and allowed them to
settle nearby in hopes he could talk Gen. George Stoneman,
based in San Francisco, into establishing a reservation.
The Apaches flocked to the camp, their numbers growing to
perhaps 500. When Whitman offered to buy hay harvested
from local meadows, the Apaches quickly cut 300,000 pounds.
And when summer dried up the San Pedro and the lower
reaches of Aravaipa Creek, he allowed the bands to move 5
miles up the canyon.
A Bolt of Courage
from a tragic friendship
Tragically, Whitman’s urgent appeal to
establish a reservation was returned
unopened six weeks later because a clerk
noted he had failed to attach a required
summary of the contents.
By then, raids by other bands of Indians
had enraged the population of nearby
Tucson, prompting many newspapers and citizens to call for
the extermination of the Apaches. When raiders killed several
local citizens, many insisted on flimsy evidence that the
culprits had come from Eskiminzin’s band.
Indian fighter William Ouray raised a mixed group
consisting of about 50 settlers and 92 Tohono O’odham Indians
(then called Papago), longtime enemies of the Apaches. They
marched through the night and fell upon Eskiminzin’s camp at
dawn, quickly slaughtering more than 140 people — almost all
of them women and children because the warriors were off
hunting. Ouray’s group sold 27 children taken prisoner as
slaves in Mexico.
When Whitman learned of the attack, he rushed to
Eskiminzin’s camp, where he found a scene of devastation. He
tended the wounded and oversaw burial details, hoping
Eskiminzin would bring in his warriors. When the warriors
filtered into the camp, they “. . . indulged in their expressions of
grief, too wild and terrible to be described,” wrote Whitman.
Only Eskiminzin’s friendship with Whitman now prevented
the grief-crazed warriors from extracting a bloody revenge.
When news of the attack reached Washington, President
Ulysses S. Grant threatened to impose martial law unless
Tucson authorities tried Ouray and his group. A jury acquitted
the raiders after 19 minutes of deliberation.
The Tucson newspapers howled for Whitman’s dismissal,
but he spoke out courageously against the slaughter. His
reward? Three court-martial trials on trumped-up charges and
an early retirement. He moved to Washington, D.C., invented
the popular Whitman saddle, lost his fortune and died of
cancer at the age of 80 in 1913.
Eskiminzin moved his shattered band to the White
Mountain Reservation and started a successful ranch, but
jealous settlers soon seized his land. After Geronimo and the
last of the Chiricahua Apache holdouts surrendered in 1886,
Eskiminzin was arrested and sent off with Geronimo to exile
in Florida. Eskiminzin was eventually released to return to the
reservation in Arizona.
I return to Aravaipa Canyon whenever I can, in part to recall
the life of Royal Whitman. He remains my hero, less for his
courage in battle than for his moral courage. Perhaps if I can
keep him present in my mind, I will have the courage to do the
right, yet futile thing when the time comes.
That is why I go to where the storm of history broke in all its
fury. For there, the story of Eskiminzin and Whitman lingers,
like the pungent, cleansing smell of wet creosote.
Aravaipa Apache Indian Chief
Eskiminzin with two of his children
in 1880, nine years after his short-lived
friendship with Camp Grant
Army Lt. Royal Whitman began.
from the papers of john clum,
1860-1975, university of arizona
library, special collections
Flipped Out by Image
I have been reading your magazine for a good number of
years now, and although I have thought about dropping a
note over the years, I have never taken the time. Recently,
I saw something that was so obvious I figured no one
would pick up on it. On pages 36 and 37 of your January
2007 issue, you have printed the picture backward. All
of the writing on the walls is mirrored. So either the
negative was reversed or the photo was taken in a mirror.
Which is it?
—Jeri Sullivan, Hull, MA
Good catch. We flopped the image and somehow didn’t notice, despite
all the magnifying glasses here. We definitely have the sharpest-eyed readers in the world. Kind of intimidating.
APRIL 2007 VOL. 83, NO. 4
Publisher WIN HOLDEN
Editor PETER ALESHIRE
Managing Editor RANDY SUMMERLIN
Web/Research Editor SALLY BENFORD
Book Division Editor BOB ALBANO
Books Associate Editor EVELYN HOWELL
Special Projects Editor JoBETH JAMISON
Editorial Administrator NIKKI KIMBEL
Editorial Assistant PAULY HELLER
Director of Photography PETER ENSENBERGER
Photography Editor JEFF KIDA
Art Director BARBARA GLYNN DENNEY
Deputy Art Director SONDA ANDERSSON PAPPAN
Art Assistant DIANA BENZEL-RICE
Map Designer KEVIN KIBSEY
Production Director MICHAEL BIANCHI
Promotions Art Director RONDA JOHNSON
Webmaster VICKY SNOW
Director of Sales & Marketing KELLY MERO
Circulation Director HOLLY CARNAHAN
Finance Director BOB ALLEN
Information Technology CINDY BORMANIS
Inquiries or orders Toll-free: (800) 543-5432
Phoenix area or outside the U.S. (602) 712-2000
Or visit arizonahighways.com
For Corporate or Trade Sales Dolores Field (602) 712-2045
Letters to the Editor email@example.com
2039 W. Lewis Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85009
Director, Department of Transportation
VICTOR M. MENDEZ
ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION BOARD
Chairman James W. Martin
Vice Chairman Joe Lane
Members S.L. Schorr, Delbert Householder,
Robert M. Montoya, Felipe Andres Zubia,
William J. Feldmeier
International Regional Magazine Association
2005, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000 Magazine of the Year
Western Publications Association
2004, 2002, 2001 Best Travel & In-transit Magazine
Society of American Travel Writers Foundation
2000, 1997 Gold Awards Best Monthly Travel Magazine
4 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
by Peter Ensenberger, director of photography, firstname.lastname@example.org viewfinder
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 5
Petrified Forest National Park Marks 100th Year
an arkansas senator almost voted down Petrified Forest National Park. He noticed the bill contained
the word “forest,” and protested that the government shouldn’t take over any more timberland. Even in
1899, Arizona Territorial Gov. Nathan Murphy said “. . . the so-called Petrified Forest . . . is not attractive
in the way of natural scenery. . . [and] much expense on the part of the government in creating a
reserve for scenic purposes does not seem to me justified.” Politicians weren’t the only ones against the
park. Businessmen saw profits in those stone trees. Railroad cars full of petrified wood were hauled to
rock polishing companies, and petrified trees were dynamited for crystals. One company even built a
mill to grind up the logs. Finally, President Theodore Roosevelt designated the Petrified Forest National
Monument in 1906. Now visitors who steal pieces of petrified wood often mail them back with a letter
claiming the stolen rock brought bad luck. A National Historic Landmark situated within the Petrified
Forest National Park, the Painted Desert Inn Museum and Bookstore (above) underwent a complete
renovation in 2005, and now offers guided tours of the park.
Information: (928) 524-6228; www.nps.gov/pefo. — Janet Webb Farnsworth
the seductive sirens of the Colorado Plateau have cast
their spell on yet another photographer. This tantalizing
landscape of sandstone skyscrapers and steep-walled canyons
continually charms us with a song too sweet to ignore. We’ve
heard it all before. It’s the echo of an enduring story.
Count Gary Ladd among those unable to resist the plateau’s
“It’s those darned canyons of the Colorado Plateau,” Ladd
admits. “Many of them are extraordinarily beautiful, pristine
and permeated with an aura of timelessness. One can stumble
upon a rockfall from last week, Native American pottery from
a millennium ago, abandoned river channels from tens of
thousands of years ago or rock units laid down hundreds of
millions of years ago. There aren’t many places left in North
America where so many layers of time are so obvious and so
Enchantment with the plateau’s natural wonders started
long ago for Ladd. So strong is his attraction to this canyon
country that he took up residence at its epicenter 26 years ago.
From his home in Page, it’s easy to heed the call of the canyons.
A buffet of national parks and monuments, recreation areas,
national forests and tribal lands spreads out in all directions.
Ladd’s passion for canyoneering has an ironic twist. He
arrived in Arizona 35 years ago to work as a technician on
an astronomical electronic camera, looking deep into space
from Kitt Peak National Observatory at the summit of the
Quinlan Mountains near the Mexican border. After years
of photographing the heavens above, he discovered the awe-inspiring
landscape straddling the Arizona/Utah line, and his
focus suddenly shifted to the canyons below.
A love affair was born.
“I wanted to live within the Colorado Plateau, and I especially
wanted to be close to Grand Canyon and Lake Powell,” Ladd
confesses. “I love these canyons of the Colorado River. I can’t
imagine a better place for me to live and do photography.”
Years of hiking, climbing, rafting and exploring this remote
region make him appreciate its canyons for more than just
their photographic potential. He battles with the conflict of
publishing his photographs and drawing attention to these
primordial and fragile places, but he concedes that increased
human impact isn’t the worst that could happen.
“Certainly it would be better for plant, bug or soil organisms
if we all stayed on the pavement,” Ladd says. “What worries
me far more is the pavement itself — the wholesale mega-destruction
of habitats, air quality and water quality that
continues largely unchecked in the name of progress. Even
if I were stupid and careless my entire life, I couldn’t possibly
match the level of degradation that goes on in these landscapes
every day because of our nation’s lifestyle demands.”
Still, many are drawn to these places when they see Ladd’s
striking images. And he has plenty of them. His photography
stock files burgeon with more than 28,000 4x5 transparencies
and 16,000 35 mm slides, all captioned and cataloged.
“I love working in large format because of the care that must
be used and the quality of the final product,” he says. “I haven’t
gone digital yet, but that will begin to happen soon, if only to
make me a more effective photography instructor. And to keep
my students from razzing me about the ancient technology I
For whatever reason, Ladd neglected the normal stuff
of everyday life while immersing himself in the slickrock
wilderness of the plateau. He admits he can’t cook or sew or
overhaul an internal combustion engine. And don’t ask him
to program a VCR. But he excels at hiking and photography,
and he gets to spend a lot of time backpacking in pristine
landscapes with interesting people who share his devotion to
“I kind of regret not being a scientist, helping to uncover
the secrets of the universe,” Ladd says. “But as it turns out,
photography is just about the most important aspect of my
life. I don’t know what or where I’d be without it. Photography
keeps me in touch with the natural world.”
And his photography helps to uncover the secrets of those
darned canyons of the Colorado Plateau.
of the Colorado
Find expert photography advice and information at arizonahighways.com
(click on “Photography”).
SANDSTONE SUBWAY Gary Ladd has built a satisfying life exploring and
photographing the steep-walled canyons of the Colorado Plateau. A
portfolio, “Forceful Foregrounds,” showcasing his photographic approach
to his favorite subjects, begins on page 32. gary ladd
6 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 7
THESE TWO PAGES, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: JOSEPH DANIEL FIEDLER, TERRENCE MOORE, DAWN DISNEY, JEFF KIDA, GEOFF GOURLEY, LINDA LONGMIRE
A Ham-ane Society?
consuming too many oreos and Mr. Pibbs might
make you feel like a pig, but on 70 acres in the
Sonoran Desert near Marana, Oreo and Mr. Pibb
are pigs. They are two of the more than 600
potbellied pigs that have been rescued by the
Ironwood Pig Sanctuary over the past six years.
Traditionally considered farm animals, potbellied
pigs assumed the role of “exotic pet” after
celebrities like George Clooney made headlines with
their unusual adoptees. While the breeding of pot-bellied
pigs has increased and purchase prices have
skyrocketed to as much as $20,000 — some of the
pigs themselves have fallen by the wayside.
Though highly trainable and surprisingly clean,
potbellied pigs’ specialized care often proves
boorish for average pet owners. Failing to consider
the weight of responsibility that comes with pig
parenting (not to mention the bulk and longevity of
the pigs, which weigh several hundred pounds and
can live for more than 15 years), many owners opt
to abandon or neglect them.
Co-founded by Mary Schanz and Ben Watkins,
the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary offers a humane
solution to the problem by providing a safe haven
for the domesticated swine, while promoting
spaying and neutering and offering assistance to
pig owners. Potential adopters or sponsors
interested in the sanctuary’s approximately 450
rotund residents are welcome by appointment
Information: (520) 631-6015;
Solomon’s Dove Maintains an Old Tradition
in jewish folklore, King Solomon relies on an eagle to carry him upward to angels who
reveal God’s mysteries. In Arizona, the little town of Solomon relies on a dove.
Established as Solomonville in 1876 by Jewish settlers from Pennsylvania, the town
thrived on the founders’ banking business, the Gila Valley Bank, a forerunner to Valley
National Bank, which eventually moved to greener pastures. In later years, the town’s
name was shortened to Solomon, and its survival ultimately fell on the shoulders of a
different establishment known as La Paloma, which is Spanish for “the dove.”
A remote Mexican food eatery, La Paloma was opened by Raul and Prajedes
Hernandez in the late 1970s, and became a popular stop for Phelps Dodge Mine work-ers
in Morenci who commuted along State Route 70. In 1986, Nancy and Charles Curtis
bought the adobe restaurant, expanding it into the building next door, while maintain-ing
the original menu, recipes and methods of Prajedes Hernandez.
Purchased in January by Tom and Shelly Claridge, La Paloma still upholds the
Hernandez’s simple but successful tradition of authentic Mexican taste, drawing devo-tees
from as far as Tucson. The unpretentious place, at 5185 E. Clifton St., has kept the
town of Solomon on the map for more than 25 years.
Information: (928) 428-2094.
Bring the Southwest’s Colorful Bounty to Your Garden
if you thought only cacti grew in the desert, get acquainted with the Southwest’s botanical bounty —
including corn, beans, cotton, garish purple-and-white devil’s claw blooms and burgundy-red amaranth
seedlings — and bring some to your own garden. Native Harvest: Authentic Southwestern Gardening by Kevin
Dahl claims anyone’s backyard garden can host plants indigenous to the American Southwest. From Hopi
blue corn to Tohono O’odham yellow watermelon, Native Harvest marries history and agriculture, covering
techniques used for thousands of years. Promote growth and control pests naturally, and learn how the plants
have been used for centuries, from fresh eating (Tohono O’odham yellow, crisp and sweet watermelon) to
basket-making (from fibrous devil’s claw pods and candy made with amaranth seeds, popped and mixed
with honey). The book, enhanced with detailed photographs, is a joint effort of Western National Parks
Association and Native Seeds/SEARCH, an organization working to preserve Indian cultures and agriculture.
Information: (888) 569-7762; www.wnpa.org.
Shoo Fly Diners Had Help With Pests
in 1869, a popular place to dine in Tucson was the Shoo Fly Restaurant. Diners
were made more comfortable by young swatters, who wore white cotton jackets
and kept the pests at bay. Locals claimed the restaurant got its name from the
flies that hung out there and wouldn’t “shoo.”
— Mary Leavitt
in arizona, extensive
damming has caused many
of the state’s desert rivers
to slow to a trickle or less,
turning the once running
waters into dry streambeds.
But humorist and official
Arizona State Historian
Marshall Trimble believes
there are advantages to
catching native desert trout
in southern Arizona’s dry
rivers. In his book Arizoniana,
Trimble notes, “They’re
already fried and ready to eat
when you catch ’em.”
— Sally Benford
Friday Mornings in Tuba City
The biggest, noisiest, liveliest attraction of Tuba City, on
the Navajo Indian Reservation, is missed by many tourists.
You need to be there on Friday morning if you want to see
the Tuba City Flea Market. Tables and tents rise on a dusty
lot, and all the usual broken appliances and used clothing
go on sale. But side by side with ordinary swap-meet stuff,
tables of beaded work, jewelry, hand-woven fabrics and
deerskins vie for attention.
Navajo elders, leathery men in cowboy hats and women
wearing strands of silver and turquoise over their brilliant
green, rose or blue velvet blouses pick their way across
the dusty lot. The smoky aroma of mutton browning on
mesquite-fired grills floats through the air. The meat and
other goodies wait to be wrapped in thick tortillas, to
accompany piles of roasted corn on the cob. Pots of stew
simmer, frybread sizzles and parts of animals you may not
even want to know about cook over hot coals at a dozen
The flea market is open every Friday from 7 a.m. to
4 p.m., barring bad weather. The Tuba City Chapter
(To’Nanees’Dizi) of the Navajo Nation sponsors both the
weekly flea market and a daily swap meet at their Chapter
To get there from U.S. Route 160 at State Route 264,
turn northwest on Main Street. At the stoplight, turn right
(east) onto Edgewater Drive. Look for the sign that says
“Refuse Transfer Station” on the right. Turn right, and at
the dead end, turn left onto the dirt road into the unpaved
Information: (928) 283-3284.
— Vera Marie Badertscher
Ed Begay, the “Voice of Indian
Pro Rodeo,” sells hats for $20
at the Tuba City Flea Market.
Former La Paloma
owners Nancy and
FLOOD MUD Drying, cracked mud surrounding a boulder near
a Jurassic Navajo sandstone wall in Paria Canyon testifies to one
of the canyon’s innumerable, unpredictable flash floods.
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
A photographer learns deep lessons in life’s passage
through the narrows WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY JACK DYKINGA
PASSING PARIA t h r o u g h
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 11
into the sinuous curves of Paria Canyon with my grand-nephew,
Peter Hodal. I want to go faster, but my raw feet
urge discretion, despite the lure of the cold drink wait-ing
in the truck. As the last of the boulder-strewn land-scape
passes the light’s periphery, my mind wanders
through a vision-quest recollection of how this canyon
has shaped my life for three decades.
For three days, I have watched a parallel transfor-mation
in the face of my 22-year-old companion as we
made this long trek from Utah down to Lee’s Ferry in
Arizona. Weary from the effort of keeping up with him,
earlier this night I was ready to make camp in the last
shady spot in the lower canyon. But we arrived only
to find that a hive of bees had claimed the site. Maybe
they weren’t actually Africanized bees, but painful
experience deterred me from questioning their lineage,
so we moved 100 feet down-canyon and cooked dinner
as the sun set. We could have spent the night there, but
we decided to leave the bees behind and hike through
the night, although it would make the day’s trip 20
Now in the darkness, I wonder what effect the
canyon has had on Peter these three days. A Marine
just back from a one-year tour and 15 convoys in Iraq,
Peter is now on leave. As we have hiked along, he has
delighted in testing the jellylike shoreline quicksand.
By jumping from one leg to another, he could turn
the saturated sand to molasses as he slowly sank. He’s
been a kid again. His eyes have constantly searched the
clefts in the stony canyon walls for the next seep. Eager
for discovery, he’s been the first to find those fern-cov-ered
grottos that signal clear drinking water.
For my part, I want to reconnect to an immensely
beautiful place and show my young friend the desert
that has taught me so much.
My intimate memories of Paria Canyon have piled
up over the years. I came here first in 1978, fresh from
a career in photojournalism, first in Chicago and then
as picture editor of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.
Chicago still weighed heavily on me the first time I came
to the canyon on an impulse fueled by several adven-turous
“Vietnam boots; it has to be Vietnam boots!” Don Bayles
had insisted, knowing that Paria’s quicksand could
suck tennis shoes right off my feet. Seasoned desert rats,
Don and Joyce Bayles knew I needed high-topped jungle
boots designed for wading in rice paddies.
That first time, the narrows of Paria Canyon struck
me speechless. The cathedral-like walls reduced all
conversation to whispers with an overpowering feeling
of human insignificance. Eons of flash flooding have
tormented and sculpted the strangely shaped cliffs with
an equal mixture of sand and water. Box elder and cotton-wood
trees cover the sandy benches, supplying emerald
splashes of color. Towering desert-varnished Navajo
sandstone cliffs glow blue, reflecting the distant sky.
Instead of taking pictures, I simply stared in disbelief.
I was in the West, I was overwhelmed and I was home.
I quit newspaper work soon after that. The job was
eating my soul, and my route to freedom led through
So the canyon taught me about freedom that first time.
And it has imparted some new lesson with each trip.
On a trip in June 1981, it taught me about being a father.
Semilegendary hikers Pete Cowgill and Eber Glendening
invited me to explore Paria Canyon’s most noteworthy
side canyon, Buckskin Gulch. Despite their doubts, I
wanted to bring my then 12-year-old son, Peter. My son
rose to the challenge. Negotiating the deepest pools near
the Buckskin’s midpoint, only his head and his arms
holding his pack remained visible. My admiration and
pride for my son swelled my chest. His self-confidence
increased with each stream crossing.
I watched him grow before my eyes.
Of course, sometimes the canyon can extract a deadly
price for its treasures. During an October 1981 Paria
Canyon trip, with four photography students in tow,
a slight change in the river’s color nearly went unno-ticed.
But then a thin layer of flotsam streaked with
mud appeared along the shoreline. Though no rain was
falling, the ominous clouds to the north told a different
story. It was raining upriver! We sped up, scanning the
canyon for signs of a flash flood as we pushed to reach
the tributary of Wrather Canyon, with its relatively safe
camps (now closed to camping). Soon, large chocolate
waves announced the river’s violent transformation.
The lazy ankle-deep water rose above our knees, then
higher yet. Loaded with silt, the heavy waters bullied
me at every step to keep my 215-pound frame upright.
Suddenly, a frightened hiker running down a side
canyon interrupted our dash to Wrather Canyon’s
arched caves. In broken English, he said he wanted to
rejoin his friend camped across the river. Both were
Swedish biologists experiencing fickle desert weather
I trudge along behind the bouncing blue beam of my headlamp
as it cuts through the darkness three days and 36 miles down
WET-ZONE FERNS Seeping water creates ideal year-round wet
conditions for maidenhair ferns to sprout incongruously green in the
sandstone of a side canyon known as The Hole.
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
Varicolored clay deposits
display a wavy, river-worked
pattern until the
next heavy flow of water
through Paria Canyon.
12 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
for the first time. Across the river, his friend was in
real trouble, since they’d camped on a low area in the
path of an onrushing watery train. Climbing a bluff on
our side, we screamed and waved, urging the stranded
biologist to seek higher ground. He scrambled up the
slope just as sheets of water rose over the banks and
swallowed all traces of his camp.
That night, we shared our camp, our food and our
smiles beneath vaulted canyon walls with the Swedish
biologists. By morning, the river had subsided to waist
deep. We locked arms and crossed as an ungainly
multilegged being, probing the footing with walking
sticks as we crossed the once-benign canyon that now
tested us with every step.
I have never felt more alive.
On other trips through Paria, I sought a connection
with the intricate history of this sometimes-violent land.
For instance, Mormon leader John Lee, while fleeing
federal officials after the Mountain Meadows Massacre,
made his dash to freedom down Paria Canyon. He did
it in the dead of winter. Tucson writer Charles Bowden
and I knew this would make a great story if we could get
Lee’s journal and re-enact his icy journey.
So, in January 1986, we descended into the frigid
abyss. We hadn’t planned on the sun’s low angle and
the mere 10 minutes of sunlight per day that reached
the canyon’s bottom. We hadn’t counted on crossing
ice jams and crashing through stacked, frozen slabs
into waist-deep ice water. We learned what Lee experi-enced.
We felt his pain, and it was real. Staying warm
became our preoccupation. We passed the glacial
hours with silly games like seeing who could spend
the most time inside a warm sleeping bag.
That’s another gift of the canyon. It reduces life to
its essentials. Staying warm, finding water and pick-ing
safe camps replace cell phones, e-mails and traffic
snarls. Perhaps that is the reason wilderness is so
essential. We humans must retreat from our distrac-tions
to understand our own lives.
Maybe we can’t place our feet into the same river
twice. But it is not only the river that changes. I am
a different person after each visit, for the canyon has
transformed me. This journey is a metaphor for life,
for each bend brings new delights, surprises and tests.
All I can do is follow the stream, eager to see around
the next turn.
We finally reach the truck. I stare at the face of my
young, bearded grandnephew and see a different per-son.
We hug, shake hands and smile.
He’ll be back. I see it in his eyes.
POLISHED FACE Microorganisms dwelling on rock surfaces
interact with dust and minerals in the air to form shiny desert
varnish, here glowing blue on a Paria Canyon sandstone wall.
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
For 25 years, Jack Dykinga of Tucson has been a contributing
photographer for Arizona Highways. He says that since 1978,
Paria Canyon has shaped his photography — and his life.
14 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
Location: Northern Arizona, near the Utah border.
Getting There: From Flagstaff, drive north on
U.S. Route 89 for 105 miles to U.S. Route 89A
at Bitter Springs. Take U.S. 89A north 14 miles
to Navajo Bridge. After crossing the bridge,
turn right to Lee’s Ferry and Paria Canyon.
Travel Advisory: Hiking permits are
required and can be purchased from the
Bureau of Land Management. Overnight
permits must be purchased in advance.
Additional Information: (435) 688-3246;
POINT DOWN At one time attached higher on the canyon wall, the mass of sandstone forming
Slide Rock Arch resembles a gigantic arrowhead embedded in the canyon floor, pointed end down.
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
blooms in riotous profusion
in a Paria Canyon seep.
n To order a print of this
photograph, see inside front cover.
BUCKSKIN BENCH Apparently flourishing on a
“bench” of soil in Buckskin Gulch, a tree has gained a
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
Eons of flash
with an equal
mixture of sand
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 17
RIPPLED ROCK Narrow river
channels and tons of debris-laden
water combine to sculpt rippled
reminders of raging floods within
Paria Canyon’s sandstone walls.
n To order a print of this photograph,
see inside front cover.
gift of the canyon.
It reduces life
to its essentials.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT Sunshine
glancing between Paria’s towering,
rocky faces spotlights a copse of
slender-trunked saplings on a
n To order a print of this photograph,
see inside front cover.
VALIANT SHOW Despite eroded soil at its partially
uprooted base, a cottonwood tree puts forth a
contradictory green-leafed display of vibrant health.
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
The famous flood-hewn slot canyon carved from the Navajo sandstone of the Colorado
Plateau has lured many photographers determined to catch the mystical midday sunshine
slanting down to the sandy bottom.
INFORMATION: Antelope Canyon Tours, (928) 645-9102; www.antelopecanyon.com.
FEES: Five 90-minute tours run each day for $28.51 per guest, or catch the light on
the daily photographer’s tour, departing at 11:30 a.m., for $45.38.
COOL FACT: The most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American
Southwest has attracted a wide variety of guests — from international photographers and
canyoneers to pop star Britney Spears, who shot a music video in Upper Antelope Canyon.
A granite crevice that drains into Theodore Roosevelt Lake, Salome Canyon offers a range
of adventures, all of which involve swimming the length of several canyon pools
and some that require a 50-foot rappel.
INFORMATION: 360 Adventures, (480) 633-9013; www.360-adventures.com.
FEES: 12-hour private tours cost $600 for two people and $200 for each additional guest,
or join a group for $200 per person.
COOL FACT: The steep slopes and bluffs of Salome Canyon were the site of Salado Indian
dwellings, built and occupied between a.d. 1200 and 1300.
This mysterious slot canyon lies 8 miles north of Antelope Canyon on private property.
The Navajos allow only two to four people per day to enter this deeper, narrower version
of Antelope, making it quiet and remote.
INFORMATION: Overland Tours, (928) 608-4072; www.overlandcanyon.com.
FEES: Embark on the 5-hour X-Photo tour with professional photographer Jackson Bridges
for $150 per person. If photography’s not your forte, try the X-Combo tour, a 4.5-hour
ramble through Canyon X and Upper Antelope Canyon, for $130 per person.
COOL FACT: The undulating, vivid sandstone there has been said to “morph” into faces and
figures as the light hits it. Keep an eye out for formations like the Portal, the Guardian and
the Elephant Arch.
SLOTTED FOR ADVENTURE Canyon Tours
GOLDEN NEEDLE Etched in stones atop Black Top Mesa, a Spanish
symbol points across the rugged terrain of the Superstition Wilderness to
the distant Weavers Needle. Cast in shadow, the distinctive rock formation
reigns over a long and dark history of gold, greed and murder.
A treasure hunter, a skull and bones and
the Lost Dutchman Mine lead a writer
along the hot trail to a cold case
BY JOHN ANNERINO
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 21
The warm spring wind whistles through the hoodoos as I trace a serpentine path through
bloodstained mountains still haunted with dread. The sun climbs higher. And the morning chorus
of white-winged doves, Gambel’s quail and cactus wrens gives way to the incessant buzz and whine
of deerflies and no-see-ums. I swat at them with a bandanna and continue searching the mesquites,
saguaros and ocotillos for movement. But the trail I follow is 75 years old, and there’s little chance of
discovering new physical evidence to the cold case of Washington, D.C., treasure-hunter Adolph Ruth,
who vanished in this hellish maze of cliffs and canyons searching for the Lost Dutchman’s gold.
. . . the map that killed Adolph Ruth must have
seemed a lightning stroke of good luck.
It’s 2:40 p.m. when I — hot and dehydrated — reach the site of
Ruth’s only known camp, at Willow Springs in the Superstition
Mountains. Corralled by an avalanche of boulders choking
West Boulder Canyon, Willow Springs marks the beginning of
my quest to retrace Ruth’s fatal trail. Nearly disabled by a pain-ful
leg injury, Ruth ventured into this unforgiving wilderness
hoping to find the treasure marked on his map and wound up
with what looked like bullet holes in his skull.
I peer into a black pool of water. Hundreds of young flies
guzzle water, underscoring the thin line between life and death
that Ruth faced alone in this desolate canyon. On June 14, 1931,
My dear Wife and Children,
Yesterday, Saturday, June 13th, Mr. Purnell and Jack
Keenan and I rode 3 burros and two carried my tent, bed-ding,
fifty pounds of flour, 10 pounds of sugar, coffee, etc.
I rode my burro until we got to this water. I didn’t get off
because I was afraid I could not stand on it [my bad leg]
again. . . .
Love, A. Ruth.
Just six months later, a search party discovered his skull in
La Barge Canyon, nearly a mile distant from where they later
found his skeleton on the slopes of Black Top Mesa. Moreover,
both skull and bones were scattered far from this camp, where
two cowboys had abandoned a helpless old man with a map to
one of the most fabled treasures of the Southwest — the Lost
Dutchman Gold Mine. So I am determined to walk 7 torturous
miles along his path to decide for myself whether he fell victim
to the merciless desert sun, as the sheriff ruled, or died at the
hands of a murderer, as I’ve long suspected.
I shoulder my pack. I’m still cramped, stiff and dehydrated,
although I’m fit and pack far more water than Ruth did. But
I’ve limited my fluid intake in order to level the playing field to
that of a frail old man limping down the brutal course of West
Boulder Canyon, carrying little more than a cane and a metal
thermos of hot water in the searing June heat.
Dust whirls as I boulder-hop down a river of gray stones while
the desert temperature soars past 95 degrees. I am lightheaded,
and the rocks moving like marbles underfoot, threaten to
snap an ankle. I slip on them and drop in my tracks, lying on
the hot stones as gnats swarm around my face.
I crawl to my feet, my left leg rigid with a deep, painful cramp.
I try to shake it out, but I’m too dehydrated. I limp a quarter-mile
to a water cache. It takes forever in the pall of heat.
I camp a half-mile beyond the cache at 6:35 p.m. After drink-ing
two quarts of warm water, I walk back upstream to a rank
pool. I strain a gallon-and-a-half of water through my salt-stained
bandanna and treat it with chlorine. I am weary but
refreshed, and spend the evening contemplating Ruth’s fate.
At first glance, the map that killed Adolph Ruth must have
seemed a lightning stroke of good luck. Ruth’s son, Erwin, had
smuggled the Juan Gonzáles family from Monterrey, Nuevo
León, Mexico, into Laredo, Texas, in 1913 and was paid with
a set of maps to the Peralta family’s mines. Ruth and his son
followed one of the maps into California’s Anza-Borrego bad-lands
in 1919, but there Adolph broke his leg and nearly died.
Doctors set his bone with a metal plate, shortening his right leg
2 inches, and told him if he ever broke it again, he’d die.
Twelve years later, Ruth resumed his search for lost gold
after uncovering the infamous Gonzáles-Peralta map among
Erwin’s possessions. Many versions of “Lost Dutchman” Jacob
Waltz’s tale claim that Walz located a rich lode first worked
by the Peralta family. But the Peralta Massacre and the 1854
Gadsden Purchase drove surviving Peralta family members
out of the area. One of the most enticing clues that remained
was the Gonzáles-Peralta map, which included a reference to
Sombrero Butte, possibly another name for Weavers Needle,
long the focal point of Lost Dutchman lore. Ignoring his fam-ily’s
pleas, Ruth drove cross-country with his prized map and
an unidentified man and reached the Quarter Circle U Ranch
near the Peralta Trail on May 13, 1931.
He asked the ranch owner, William A. “Tex” Barkley, to
guide him, but Barkley told Ruth to wait until he returned
from a cattle drive. Impatient, Ruth hired two of Barkley’s cow-hands,
Jack Keenan and Leroy F. Purnell, to take him into the
mountains. But here’s where the mystery deepens. Why did
TREACHEROUS QUEST The fantasy of buried
treasure in the Superstition Wilderness drove desperate,
Depression-era dreamers like Adolph Ruth into a brutal
and deadly reality. Grueling desert temperatures and a
limited water supply could make the sheer, jagged
ridgelines of the Superstition Mountains’ west buttress
look like the gates of hell to weary fortune-seekers.
22 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
Keenan and Purnell pack Ruth into the godforsaken depths of
Willow Springs, at least 7 miles from an area resembling the
terrain on the Gonzáles-Peralta map?
I break camp the next morning, rehydrated and well-rested.
I dog the ghost trail of Ruth up the short, steep climb to Bull
Pass, then down into Needle Canyon, toward the site where
Ruth’s remains were eventually found. Some writers are con-vinced
that Ruth met his fate by climbing over Bull Pass on
foot, but hiking along that trail, I cannot believe he could
have made it through the pass.
I detour to Charlebois Spring to examine a large
petroglyph called the Peralta Master Map, and then retrace
my footsteps through a verdant grove of cottonwood trees
shading La Barge Creek. The path is overshadowed by clues
to the lost mine. In his book, Treasure Secrets of the Lost
Dutchman, the late Charles L. Kenworthy wrote that he had
pinpointed the Lost Dutchman and the Peralta mines on the
nearby rugged slopes.
High above my right shoulder lies Peters Mesa, where treasure-seekers
once found an 1846 Paterson Colt .44 caliber revolver,
three skeletons, a strongbox and 11.5 pounds of gold ore. Why
hadn’t Keenan and Purnell packed Ruth into this canyon oasis,
much nearer his destination?
It’s twilight when I cross the low divide separating La Barge
Canyon from Needle Canyon. I stand in the pass for some time
imagining possible scenarios of Ruth’s death.
After Ruth vanished, a hound named Music led an expedi-tion
mounted by The Arizona Republic to Ruth’s skull. Here,
in these canyons, that discovery mystifies me now. How did
Ruth manage to crawl up Black Top Mesa? And could a flash
flood have carried his skull from there into Needle Canyon,
then up over the divide into La Barge Canyon? If coyotes
carried it so far, and in the process created two bullet-sized
holes, how did they avoid damaging the delicate nasal bones?
The men who found the skull believed Ruth had been shot, and
in January 1932, Smithsonian Institution physical anthropol-ogist
Dr. Ales Hrdlicka examined the skull and found a “strong
possibility” that Ruth was shot with a “high powered gun,”
possibly a .44 or .45 caliber Army revolver.
Nonetheless, Maricopa County Sheriff J.D. Adams con-cluded
in his January 25, 1932, letter to Arizona Sen. Carl
Hayden that Ruth died of thirst. “You know that a crippled
man walking 6 miles over rugged, rough mountainous coun-try
under the burning heat of an Arizona sun in the month of
June would absolutely perish of thirst,” Adams wrote.
I don’t dispute that. But Ruth wouldn’t have made it that
far. West Boulder Canyon would have done him in. How then,
did his remains reach Needle Canyon? And if he died of thirst,
what became of the map? The longer I study the terrain, the
more I suspect foul play.
The sound of water trickling alongside my camp in Needle
Canyon soothes me throughout the night. But this is not
the mysterious desert sanctuary I relished in my teens. It’s
a dead man’s trail through perilous mountains stalked by a
rogues’ gallery of two-legged varmints led by none other
than Ruth’s predecessor, the Dutchman himself. During
his deathbed confession, Jacob Waltz admitted to mur-dering
seven men: three Peralta descendants he’d claim-jumped
for the mine, his own nephew who’d traveled
from Germany to help, two soldiers he later found working
the mine and a lonely prospector with two burros.
“I shot him without giving him a chance to explain,” Waltz
reportedly confided to Richard Holmes in the wee hours of
October 25, 1891. “I unloaded the equipment, and set fire to it,
then drove the burros away.”
Set against a tableau of greed, murder and the specter of the
1930s Depression that drove many over the edge, Adolph
Ruth was a marked man from the moment he mentioned his
treasure map to Tex Barkley in front of his ranch hands at the
Quarter Circle U.
Early the next morning, I climb to the top of Black Top Mesa
to compare the topography with the Gonzáles-Peralta map
and study “Spanish hieroglyphics,” petroglyphs known as the
Peralta Master Map. Far below, I envision searchers huddled
around a campfire as Ruth’s bullet-riddled skull dangles nearby.
I can imagine his white bones scattered like rock salt below the
black cliffs beneath my feet.
I spend an eerily dark, silent night camped alone in Bull
Pass. Everything’s packed, my shoes are laced on my feet and
I’m sleeping with one eye open in case someone else creeps
into this bad dream. Officially, Purnell and Keenan were said
to have bulletproof alibis and were exonerated. They left the
state. Case closed.
I’m not convinced. Who else had the motive, the means and the
opportunity to murder Ruth? The unidentified man who drove
to Arizona with Ruth? A mysterious, machete-wielding “renegade”
reportedly seen in the area over the years? Desperate Goldfield
miners sifting through meager diggings, who didn’t much like
the idea of a pinstriped Easterner driving off into the sunset
with the mother lode of lost treasures?
Two other questions keep me tossing and turning throughout
the night as I count down to first light when I can walk out of
Adolph Ruth’s nightmare. A month after the news of the skull
discovery, Tex Barkley and Sheriff Adams found the rest of the
Thirty-five years later, private investigator Glenn Magill
interviewed Jack Keenan’s widow. She reportedly told him:
“You know, my husband and his partner never were able to find
the mine, even with Mr. Ruth’s maps.”
Those words confirm my own suspicions that Ruth was
betrayed at Willow Springs. He was shot point-blank somewhere
between West Boulder Canyon and Peters Mesa. His Gonzáles-
Peralta treasure map was stolen. His body was packed out from
the crime scene and thrown over the edge of Black Top Mesa.
His severed skull was physically planted for searchers to find
in La Barge Canyon. And the gunman never swung from
TRAIL OF ADVENTURE
Three Great Superstition Hikes
Situated in the Tonto National Forest’s Superstition Wilderness,
this 9-mile-round-trip hike into Rogers Canyon mingles vivid
desert scenery with a surprising riparian area shaded by
sycamore, ash and several varieties of oak trees. Along the trail,
a natural rock alcove harbors a well-preserved, 700-year-old secluded Salado cliff dwelling.
Hike in the early spring or late fall to experience the canyon’s beautiful colors.
A 140-foot seasonal-flow waterfall cascades from a rocky outcrop offering unexpected pleasure
in the dry recesses of the Sonoran Desert. Hikers can reach Reavis Falls on this 15-mile-round-trip
hike through the beautiful mountains of Lost Dutchman lore.
It’s just a 1.5-mile trek from the trailhead to the site where Apache Indians reportedly ambushed and massa-cred
Spanish miners who were transporting gold ore to Mexico. This easy-to-moderate trail shows its true
colors in the spring when vibrant wildflowers carpet the hills below the imposing cliffs of
the Superstition Mountains.
Information on all hikes: (602) 225-5200; www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/home.shtml.
Turn myth into a mountain of fun with our Superstition Weekend
Getaway at arizonahighways.com (click on “April Trip Planner”).
MASTER MINE More likely the markings of an ancient native culture (and a few recent ones), online
this series of “Spanish hieroglyphics,” known as the Peralta Master Map, in Charlebois Spring, are
believed by many of the mine-seeking masses to be drawn either by Spanish conquistadores or by
the Peralta family as a means of locating their notorious mine. JOHN ANNERINO
DECOY CANYON Some believe the dried-up and perhaps
bullet-punctured skull of Adolph Ruth, found in La Barge Canyon
(left), was planted by his assailants to throw law-enforcement
officers and loot hunters off the trail. john annerino
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 23
John Annerino of Tucson spent 12 years exploring the Camino del Diablo
region for his book, Dead in Their Tracks: Crossing America’s Desert
Borderlands. As a result, he was inspired to pick up Adolph Ruth’s old trail.
24 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 25
You know that a crippled man walking 6 miles over rugged, rough
mountainous country under the burning heat of an Arizona sun
in the month of June would absolutely perish of thirst.
ROCKY PASSAGE The pinnacle of Superstition Mountain (top), also known as
“Crooked Top Mountain,” gives a bird’s-eye view of Ruth’s beautiful but brutal desert
passage. JOHN ANNERINO
THE BOOK OF RUTH One of three Peralta Gold Mine maps (above), given to Erwin
Ruth, upon which Adolph would unknowingly plot his own death. Adolph Ruth, c. 1931
(right), just before his ill-fated journey. BOTH COURTESY ASU SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY
FATAL ROUTE The red line shows Adolph Ruth’s likely path in his lethal
search for the Lost Dutchman Mine, starting at the present-day trailhead at First
Water Ranch. Two cowboys packed Ruth in to his camp at Willow Springs. Author
John Annerino has attempted to reconstruct Ruth’s journey. The discovery of
Ruth’s skull on the opposite side of a high ridge from the location of his skeleton
and the implausible distance of his remains from his camp at Willow Springs
convinced Annerino that someone murdered the crippled old man.
MANHUNT Ruth’s skull was found by a search party (above), led in
part by Arizona pioneer George “Brownie” Holmes (right), whose father,
Richard Holmes, was present for the deathbed confessions of the
“Dutchman,” Jacob Waltz. BOTH COURTESY ASU SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY
SUPER S T I T I O N M O U N TA I N S
June 13-15, 1931
Ruth’s remains found
January 8, 1932
Boulder Canyon Trail
Black Mesa Trail
Second Water Trail
Old West Boulder Canyon
West Boulder Canyon
La Barge Canyon
Quarter Circle U
First Water Road
0 ¼ ½ ¾ 1
1 Mile N
FROM SINGED TO STUNNING
The sun rises over Theodore Roosevelt
Lake, draping pink light onto the once-charred
landscape that smoldered a
little over a decade ago during the
Lone Fire, one of the largest forest fires
in Arizona’s history.
TE E TERING ATOP H ISTORY
Four Peaks Climb Tests Rusty Skills and Yields a Historic View
BY BOB KERRY PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER NOEBELS
Like an illustration of a fairy-tale kingdom, four jagged peaks haunt
the distant skyline northeast of Phoenix. We had come to the Mazatzal Mountains for a rock climb, called by
local climbers the Ladybug Route, up a huge rock buttress on the north side of Browns Peak — at 7,644 feet, the
highest and northernmost of the Four Peaks. After watching the peaks from a distance for 35 years and research-ing
their complex, sometimes tragic history, I jumped at the chance when Peter Noebels suggested the climb,
accompanied by Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Manuel “Manny” Rangel and his friend Melinda McClelland,
a strong climber with a sense of adventure.
The adventure began on Forest Service Road 143 with an hour-long drive to the Lone Pine Saddle trailhead.
We drove through a dismaying landscape still scarred by the 1996 Lone Fire. Caused by a carelessly abandoned
campfire, this monster forest fire consumed more than 61,000 acres in 11 days and burned much of the Four
Peaks Wilderness Area.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 29
Location: Four Peaks Wilderness Area,
approximately 40 miles northeast of Phoenix.
Getting There: From Phoenix, take Shea Boulevard
to State Route 87 and turn left, driving 12 miles to
Forest Service Road 143, also known as Four Peaks Road.
Turn right onto FR 143 and follow for 18 miles to
Forest Service Road 648 and turn right, following FR
648 for 1.3 miles to the trailhead parking lot.
Travel Advisory: Always carry plenty of water, at least
1 gallon per day per person. Never hike or climb alone.
The Four Peaks Wilderness Area is said to have the
highest black bear population in Arizona.
Additional Information: Tonto National Forest,
(520) 467-3200; www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/
But forest fires are strange beasts. Trail 133 toward
Browns Peak, also known as Browns Trail, revealed an area on
the mend. The trail winds for 2 miles through thick brush inter-spersed
with burned areas, dotted with pine trees inexplicably
spared by the fire. We passed 100-year-old juniper trees and
granite hoodoos set among young oak trees. With chattering
squirrels in the background, spectacular views of Theodore
Roosevelt Lake stood out from every clearing. The trail follows a
steep gully leading to the top of the mountain and our climbing
goal: a huge buttress of quartzite glowing with green and golden
lichen. Searching for a route, we split into two parties. Manny
and Melinda moved out right on a ledge crowded with small oak
trees. Peter and I started climbing from the gully. As it turned out,
we all ended up on the same ledge after the first pitch, which is
the length of the rope that linked us, in our case about 160 feet.
The climbing was excellent fun, not too hard with a lot of big
handholds. It reminded me of climbing as a kid, up trees and
over fences and whatever else there was to climb. Our exploits
would not capture headlines in a climbing magazine, but it was
just the kind of fun that makes climbing addictive.
Climbing behind Peter on the safety rope, I felt relaxed. But
when I reached the ledge, Peter suggested I lead the next pitch.
I am an experienced climber, but my rusty skills made me ner-vous
about leading my first pitch in a long time.
After 30 feet of steep climbing, I wrapped a nylon sling around
a sinewy oak tree growing out of a big crevice. As soon as I
clipped the rope into the sling, a wave of courage swept over
me; if I fell now, the rope would catch me. Another 100 feet of
easier climbing placed me atop a huge block of quartzite, where
I anchored the rope to belay Peter up.
Peter snapped photographs of Melinda and Manny below,
focusing on Manny’s bright red and white Dr. Seuss hat. I relaxed,
taking in the vista of the Mazatzal Mountains to the north.
Higher up, the climbing got easier. Soon we were sitting atop
the jagged tower, but the climb wasn’t over yet. Our buttress was
separated from the main mountain by a deep gorge too steep to
climb down, so we rappelled on our ropes into the main hiking
gulley, then scrambled up to the top of Browns Peak.
The view from the top encompassed the other three peaks,
all within a hundred feet or so of the elevation where we stood.
Although they rose to eye level, the peaks didn’t tempt us. The ridge
between them featured an incredible jumble of boulders, cliffs
and thick brush.
Resting on the summit at 7,644 feet, we scanned the pan-orama
around us. We knew the appearance of rolling hills was
deceptive. The lower-level terrain concealed a maze of can-yons,
ridges, washes, mesquite trees, cacti and darned little flat
As we looked south and west from the peak, the Phoenix
metro area presented a strange sight. Through the pervading
haze, the surfaces of a myriad lakes, ponds and reservoirs glim-mered
as though floating in air.
Four Peaks stands in the Tonto National Forest, where,
until some 150 years ago, the Tonto Apache and Yavapai
Indians roamed freely. Scouting around, we found an inscrip-tion
on a rock that reads, “TEMPLETON 4th CAV. 1867,”
referring to one of the U.S. Army units that chased Apache
renegades across this landscape before and after the Civil
War. During the Apache Wars, battles between native tribes
and U.S. troops were fought in nearby Tonto Basin, where
Gen. George Crook rounded up recalcitrant Apaches who
refused to live on the reservation. Crook enlisted the help
of Apache scouts, who knew every nook and cranny of the
territory. Round-the-clock pursuit by the soldiers made it
impossible for the Apache bands to gather enough food to
feed their families. The superior number of whites and the
area’s logistics gradually wore down the Apaches. Driven by
starvation, the bands surrendered one by one.
Sitting on top of Browns Peak, it seemed incredible that the
soldiers and the warriors they pursued could have crossed this
country at night; we’d had a hard enough time in daylight.
As the sun faded, we headed down the mountain. The scram-ble
down the rocky gully went a lot faster than our climb up the
Ladybug Route, and we soon returned to the trail. The shadow
of the Mazatzal Mountains obscured Roosevelt Lake, but the
outline of Four Peaks projected onto the far shore.
Returning to Phoenix, I reflected on the day’s marvels. Despite
the ravages of fire and the tragedies of history, the mountains
still rise, the junipers persist and the lakes still shimmer against
the western sky. .
A ROCK WITH A VIEW
The summit of Browns Peak is found on
the Ladybug Route that stretches to
7,644 feet. Belayed from above by
Manny Rangel while Bob Kerry looks
on, Melinda McClelland scales the rock
that offers views of Phoenix from the
highest point in Maricopa County.
THE AFTER-CHAR CHALLENGE
The trails of Browns Peak (right) have become rugged
and difficult to follow since after-fire brush has grown
back at an alarming rate, obscuring the pathways.
Bob Kerry lives in Tucson, where he practiced law for 30 years between
hiking and climbing mountains all over Arizona.
Photographer Peter Noebels, who recently moved from Tucson to Portland,
Oregon, has enjoyed Browns Peak for many years. Whether he’s hiking it or
climbing it, he says Browns Peak is a great adventure and a must-do for all
Find our Great Adventures Guide at arizonahighways.com (click online on “April Trip Planner”).
ADVENTURE GUIDE 3 G reat Climbs
warning: Rock climbing is
extremely dangerous and can
result in serious injury or death.
In all fairness, so can crossing the
street, but it’s not nearly as rewarding
or fun. While we can’t even begin to
scratch the surface of Arizona’s great
climbs, we consulted with Manuel
“Manny” Rangel, Arizona administrator
for www.rockclimbing.com and active
member of www.mountainproject.com,
for three recommended routes. Note:
Each route requires proper training
and equipment. Climbs are rated using
the Yosemite Decimal System, which
starts any climb requiring technical
moves and protective equipment
with a 5-point rating. The higher the
second number, the harder the climb.
The average climber generally stays
within 5.6 to 5.10. Visit
www.rockclimbing.com and consult
with the recommended guidebooks
for exact locations and route details.
sinker Jacks Canyon Level: 5.6
description: For those fresh-from-the-gym sport climbers, this
solid starter route in Cracker Jack Cliffs lets you cut your teeth
before you sink them into the area’s abundance of high-rated
moderate to hard climbs. The heavily pocketed mix of limestone
and sandstone makes it a perfect place for first-time leads.
location: Jacks Canyon, 30 miles south of Winslow off State
Route 87. Sinker is at the east end of Cracker Jack Cliffs.
contact: Coconino National Forest, Mogollon Rim Ranger District,
(928) 477-2255; www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/mog_rim/
guidebook: Jacks Canyon Sport Climbing by Diedre Burton.
the totem pole Queen Creek Level: 5.11
description: This freestanding volcanic pillar in Lower Devil’s
Canyon might intimidate at first but, says Rangel, who claims it
as an area sport-climb favorite, “It’s [5.11], but only a short part
and easy for the grade.” Getting there may be more challenging
than the climb itself. Reliable four-wheel drive required.
location: Lower Devil’s Canyon, east of Superior near Queen Creek.
contact: Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District, (928)
guidebook: Queen Creek Canyon by Marty Karabin.
ewephoria Cochise Stronghold Level: 5.7
description: The granite domes of southeastern Arizona are
world-famous in the climbing community. Ewephoria is a skilled-beginner-
to-moderate route that takes trad (traditional) and sport climbers up the north side of
scenic Sheepshead Dome. For a more challenging pathway to the pinnacle, try the newly rebolted
Absinthe of Mallet (5.10) on the other side, which boasts a spectacular new finish.
location: Approximately 10 miles north of Tombstone in the Dragoon Mountains.
contact: Coronado National Forest, Douglas Ranger District, (520) 364-3468;
guidebook: Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona by Bob Kerry.
BY JOBETH JAMISON
Peter Noebels (opposite page) plots his next
move on Earth Angel Spire, a 5.11-level
traditional route in Oak Creek Canyon near
Sedona. marc muench
Laurel Wright (inset) navigates the 5.9-level
Ride the Wild in Queen Creek’s Lower Looner
Land, southeast of Phoenix. Comprised of
welded tuff, the area’s totem-like spires and
buttes are rough and steep, but the rocks’
plentiful pockets and edges make it a
climber’s paradise. andrew burr
FOREGROUNDS “The nearby Nankoweap granaries and attendant
glorious views from the granaries have been published
hundreds of times. But near there I stumbled upon a
few square feet of sand where water seeped toward
the river. Using a mild telephoto lens, I moved in close
to capture the drama of this dendritic drainage
pattern.” —Gary Ladd
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
The secret to great landscape
photography — it’s right in front of you
Edge of the Colorado River
at the Mouth of Nankoweap Canyon,
Grand Canyon National Park
A PORTFOLIO BY GARY LADD
34 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 35
The secret is this: There is no secret. Successful landscape pho-tography
isn’t built upon a single foundation rock. It is con-structed
with little bricks of experience and intuition, mortared
with years of experience. Talent and desire quicken the process;
shiny new cameras don’t. Not much, anyway. Technical exper-tise
helps, but so do patience, pluck and a pinch of craziness and
luck. So does an eye for shadow line penumbras, cloud move-ments,
subtle colors, changing winds, water reflections, light
echoing from cliffs and a thousand other factors.
But what’s the single most important factor?
Foregrounds, foregrounds, in-your-face foregrounds.
At least, that’s the lesson of 25 years worth of photo workshops
in the Grand Canyon, the Vermilion Cliffs and on Lake Powell.
Today’s photographers can use auto-exposure and focusing,
programmed bracketing and sophisticated optics, but no matter
how clever the equipment, the person behind the camera must
still select the composition. A computer can’t do it, a button
won’t initiate it.
It’s the foreground — incorporating objects rich in detail or
pattern that are close enough to touch and smell that lends life
Most people take notice of the distant mesas, mountains and
canyons, but remain oblivious to the ground beneath their feet.
These people are not effective photographers.
Foregrounds are useful for several reasons:
• Most other photographers are blind to them, leaving them
• Foregrounds often harbor compelling graphic lines that
create patterns expressed as art. Lines are essential because
they are the foundation of graphics, motion and rhythm
that distinguish art from shopworn views burned into our
consciousness by endless repetition.
• Foregrounds offer freedoms, opportunities and intimacies
that distant views lack.
Imagine 10 photographers lined up on a ridge with a view
of a cluster of majestic mesas, each photographer struggling to
create a photograph better than the rest. But what can any of
them do with mesas that are 2 miles away? Move right? Move
left? Climb the ridge? Switch lenses? Will that create a stunning
photograph? The answer? No. The mesas are too distant for the
photographer to have an effect on the image by moving a few
Now imagine 10 more photographers lined up on the ridge,
you among them. Just for a moment, rip your eyes off the hand-some
buttes and look at your feet. Look for a foreground with
strong design elements that will complement the distant mesas.
Study the pattern of branches of the buckwheat plant. Notice
the interlaced symmetry of the sandstone crossbedding.
Consider the ripple marks in the sand. And what about that
reflection in the pool cradled in a slickrock basin or the cactus
flower nearly trampled underfoot?
Usually, the best landscape photographs depend on the near.
The distant stuff is often hazy, colorless and kind of wimpy — not
eminently fruitful material for art unless haze and predictability
can act as foreground foils.
The sandstone and shale and sparse vegetation of the desert
landscapes of Glen Canyon present a wealth of diagonals, paral-lels,
curves and radials. Look at the desert-varnish motifs, the
reflections, the slot-canyon sinuosities and the architecture
of alcoves. Move the camera a few inches and you “rearrange”
these elements. Composition is a matter of geometry. In photog-raphy,
geometry is destiny.
But this shameless miracle works only at close range.
Good landscape photography does not provide an “accurate”
portrayal of reality. Photography selectively stresses the desir-able
and conceals the unwanted or unneeded. Landscape pho-tography
at its best idealizes reality by directing our attention
away from the ordinary and toward the quietly spectacular.
Think of foreground awareness as a kind of stealth. You need
to MIC — Move In Close. This might mean moving physically
closer, or it might involve a telephoto lens to emphasize a fore-ground
pattern or a wide-angle lens to exaggerate perspective
and pattern. When you’re struggling with a landscape, get closer.
Good, that’s it; now even closer.
Finally, here’s the most compelling argument for forceful
foregrounds that I can imagine. Think of a real world in which
you are completely forbidden to see anything close at hand — no
butterflies, no snowflakes, no grasses or leaves, no stones, no
children’s faces. Such a world would be dreary indeed. So, too,
your photographs if they reveal only the far removed.
The charm of foregrounds is really no secret. It never has
been. Yet most photographers still overlook them. Why? Partly
it’s just the way we’re wired. Beyond that, it’s simple laziness.
Foreground work is often uncomfortable, involving stooping,
hunching, kneeling or even lying down in the mud and sand
where scorpions roam.
But if you want to make art, you’re going to have to be foreground-vigilant.
Move in close, real close. Suffer. That’s life.
Besides, we “mature” instructors get a kick out of watching
you rookies squirm.
He r e ’ s t h e q u e s t i o n e v e r y p h o t o g r a p h y - w o r k s h o p s t u d e n t
wa n t s a n swe r e d : W h a t i s t h e s e c r e t o f g r e a t p h o t o g r a p h y?
Photographer Gary Ladd lives in Page, the heart of the plateau country,
where he loves to photograph the colorful buttes and mesas. There is no
better location in Arizona to practice his forceful-foreground techniques.
editor’s note: Gary Ladd will lead two photography workshops
in Arizona’s northern plateau country this fall: Rafting the Grand
Canyon (September 13 to 24) and Preposterous Landscapes
(October 21 to 26). For additional information, visit
www.friendsofazhighways.com. “By using a wide-angle lens, moving in close and including the skyline, I could
reveal the details of a tree that lived 200 million years ago and show the log’s
context on the slope of a hill to create a simple, pleasing composition.”
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
Petrified Logs, Petrified
Forest National Park
36 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 37
“Using a telephoto lens, House Rock Rapid was enhanced
by including a foreground element that offered an
‘anchor’ — a ruddiness of color wildly different from
that of the green Colorado River.”
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
“During a two-week period every fall, the floor of this alcove near
Lake Powell is decorated with a confetti of willow leaves. With a
wide-angle lens, I moved in close, left out the soaring red walls in
the background and ignored the crown of the willow trees to
concentrate on just the graphic tree-trunk lines and the carpet of
ferns and fallen leaves.”
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
House Rock Rapid,
Edge of the Colorado River
at Fern Glen Canyon,
Grand Canyon National Park
“While others unloaded the boats and set up their tents, I
stood in the breaking waves to photograph the beach
(left) and its repetitive patterns before it was trampled by
my fellow river-runners.”
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
“The Coyote Buttes area is famous for its colorful
sandstone knobs and canyons, but in this instance I
focused on the inscriptions of grasses used by the
wind as styli. The colorful sandstone forms a backdrop
for the photograph rather than the main element.”
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Blue Pool, Glen Canyon
National Recreation Area
“In an alcove full of photogenic wonders, I moved in close to
‘dive into’ a small pool (below) beneath a canopy of trees,
using a moderate telephoto lens to bring it in even closer.”
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
38 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
40 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 41
“I found a great angle of view for the group of
sandstone outcrops, but my distance from the domes
required that I use a telephoto lens to fill the frame
with the crossbedding patterns. A trace of the valley
beyond the buttes offers a sense of scale and a
neutral counterpoint to the drama of the sandstone.”
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
geometry is destiny.
42 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
In later years, she would recall James Cameron, a lean, mus-tachioed
cowboy 12 years her senior, as “the handsomest man I
ever saw.” Rittie herself was a fetching mix of Osage Indian and
Scottish heritage, with high cheekbones, long black hair and a
slim waist. A relationship begun gingerly through correspon-dence
had ripened into romance.
Over the next 40 years, Rittie and James needed all the
togetherness they could muster as they eked out a living along
the Hassayampa River while rearing three children under con-ditions
that, today, would be considered primitive. Like their
rancher neighbors, the Camerons took the conditions in stride.
They were part of the deal.
In Rittie’s day, ranch wives toiled from dawn to dark with few
breaks and no conveniences. They crafted clothes, quilts and
diapers out of feed sacks and scrubbed them clean on wash-boards.
They cooked rib-sticking meals from scratch on wood-burning
stoves and mended by the light of kerosene lamps. They
canned (or dried) vegetables from the garden and gave birth
in tin-roofed shacks without electricity, indoor plumbing — or
Doctors were sparse and stretched as thin as circuit-riding
preachers, leaving ranch families to rely heavily on midwives.
In her memoirs, Ranch Trail and Short Tales, Claire Champie-
Cordes recalled the time a midwife was late in getting to her
family’s ranch. “When the baby came, Father passed out by
the bedside and Mother had to rise up, tie the cord and revive
Father. All survived the ordeal, but Mother hoped it would not
Elladean Bittner, who hails from a pioneering ranch family
in Peeples Valley, put it this way: “Arizona was hard on horses
Ranch Wives Weathered Hardship To Tame The West
by Dave Eskes
When Rittie McNary stepped off the train at
Prescott in the summer of 1899, she stepped
into another world — that of a ranch wife. But it
is doubtful she gave it much thought at the time.
The 29-year-old “mail-order bride” from Pawhuska,
Oklahoma, was about to meet her fiance.
Set a Spell
In the 1880s and ’90s, George and Angie Brown lived on a ranch (left) along
the Agua Fria River near Mayer. George served as a Republican legislative
representative and as a deputy sheriff under Yavapai County Sheriff Bucky
O’Neill. In between ranch duties, Angie acted as the enrolling-engraving clerk
of the House for the 11th Territorial Legislature. Found in the Sharlot Hall
Museum archives, the caption on this log cabin photograph (above right)
reads: “A Western Bachelor’s Home. Wife Wanted.”
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 43
all photographs courtesy of sharlot hall museum
44 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 45
Location: Desert Caballeros Western Museum, 21 N. Frontier St.,
Wickenburg; 48 miles northwest of Phoenix.
Getting There: From Phoenix, take Interstate 17 north to
the Carefree Highway (State Route 74) exit, and drive west
to U.S. Route 60. Take U.S. 60 north to Wickenburg.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. (except June through August).
Fees: $7.50, adults; $6, seniors; $1, children, 6 to 16; free under 6.
Additional Information: (928) 684-2272; www.westernmuseum.org.
and women. The women stuck with it because they had no
place else to go.”
Bittner, a feisty octogenarian, is one of nearly 30 ranchers who
contributed oral and written memories, as well as photographs
and artifacts, to “Out on the Ranch,” a permanent exhibition at
Wickenburg’s Desert Caballeros Western Museum illustrating
ranch life from 1900 to 1910 through a replicated Arizona ranch
house stocked with tools, furniture, appliances and clothing.
If Rittie visited the exhibition today, she would feel right at
home under the “sleeping porch” or amid the dry sink, burlap-draped
desert cooler and flat iron. She might even recognize a
vintage butter mold donated by her great-granddaughter Lynn
Layton and rancher husband, Scott.
Rittie and her ranching sisters had little time to ponder self-fulfillment.
Rather, they were earthbound, strong-minded indi-viduals
who often wielded branding irons and deer rifles as
efficiently as butter churns.
Take Nellie Moore, who, with husband Kearny, operated a
ranch north of Aguila during the Great Depression. She and her
husband had no electricity and drew water from a well. A superb
cook who could crank out a
steak-and-egg breakfast for
a dozen hired hands, Nellie
also could rope and shoot.
“Mother didn’t like to ride
horses,” says Roy Moore.
“She left that to Dad. But she
could rope on the ground
and handle a good-sized
yearling.” A resourceful
backyard hunter, Nellie
kept the desert cooler sup-plied
with jackrabbit meat, which she converted into hamburger.
Roy fondly remembers it as “dark and stringy but with a real
During the 1920s, famed explorers Martin and Osa Johnson
hired Nellie to guide their hunting expedition for mule deer in
the Harcuvar Mountains northwest of Aguila. She so impressed
them with her marksmanship that they invited her to join their
upcoming African safari as a “backup gun.” Unfortunately, she
had to skip the safari to care for her ailing parents.
At 5-feet-8 and a muscled 150 pounds, Nellie could shoulder
a creosote-soaked railroad tie and pack her own deer out of the
wilds. In fact, she packed them out until the age of 73. Assisted
by her brother and sister, Nellie once dug a 200-foot-long gold-mine
shaft, using a sledgehammer, drills and dynamite. “She
sharpened her own drills, put on the primers and lit the fuses
herself,” Roy says. Today, the shaft is part of Robson’s Mining
World, a tourist attraction 5 miles north of Aguila.
Ranchers pursued many such sources of extra income.
Wickenburg retiree Alicia Quesada recalls that her father, José,
managed ranches in the 1930s, sold braided horsehair lariats,
rented out a breeding bull and sometimes picked up prize money at local rodeos. Her mother, Francisca, sold eggs or ironed for a
neighbor. “She would wrap the eggs in paper and put them in
a bucket filled with river water to keep them fresh,” Alicia says.
Women also took on sewing jobs or sold vegetables and butter.
While ranch wives faced daunting workloads, their typically
large families provided a measure of relief. “We had to help my
mom by gathering and chopping wood,” says Alicia, one of five
siblings. “We learned how to make tortillas every morning — a
big stack — and we cleaned house. When we got a little older, we
helped with the ironing and washing.”
For Francisca, Monday washday featured tubs of boiling water,
bars of harsh yellow soap, pounding, scrubbing, rinsing and
wringing the clothes out by hand. It was an assembly line for
late-in-life arthritis. “Mother would start the wash when we left
for school,” Alicia says, “and she would still be at it when we
Where washing took up one day, wood-burning stoves domi-nated
the entire week. They required constant attention, with
ranch wives raking out ashes, adjusting dampers, relighting
fires and “controlling” the temperature by stoking the blaze or
letting it burn down. Old-timers estimate woodstoves consumed,
on average, four working hours and 50 pounds of firewood
each day. During summers, many wives moved them outside
or substituted Dutch ovens and chuck wagons. Those who con-tinued
to cook inside rolled out of bed at 3 or 4 a.m. to beat the
The bill of fare at the Quesada household routinely featured
tortillas, pinto beans, potatoes, rice and greens. Although
Francisca kept a garden, she occasionally picked wild greens,
called verdolagas, and sautéed them with onions and salt pork.
Like many Mexican-American ranch wives, she preferred drying,
rather than canning, her vegetables. Every so often José “butch-ered
a beef,” kept a small portion and took the rest to the Brayton
Commercial Co., a large general store in Wickenburg where a
price would be fixed on the meat, and store credit extended.
When José butchered a beef, nothing was wasted. Francisca
collected blood in buckets and fried it with onions. The head
was skinned, barbecued and eaten, including the eyes. “We ate
everything but a few of the entrails,” Alicia says, “and the hide
was made into a rug.” Most of the family beef was cut into strips,
hung on a clothesline and converted into jerky. Other perish-
Winter settles in on Orchard Ranch
(right) in Lonesome Valley, home of
Arizona Territorial historian Sharlot
Hall. Hall grew up on the ranch and
moved back as an adult after her
mother died in 1912. Her diary
mentions the isolation she felt there,
especially during the winter months.
In 1917, the Dearing Ranch (below),
near Thumb Butte in Yavapai County,
offered Prescott cowboy poet Gail
Gardner inspiration for his famous
poem, “Sierry Petes.”
ables, such as eggs and butter, were placed in the ubiquitous
desert cooler, an open-sided box draped with wet burlap that
prevented spoilage for about three days.
Desert coolers were frequently homemade, along with furni-ture,
toys, clothes, quilts and sometimes, even soap. Ranch fami-lies
bought only what they could not make. Francisca, a skilled
seamstress, converted cotton flour sacks into dresses, sheets
and crocheted tea towels, as did her neighbors and thousands
of other ranch women across the West. Flour manufacturers,
catching the drift, began making sacks with colored patterns.
Because the cramped, cobbled-together ranch houses seldom
allowed for closets, women stored clothes in trunks or hung
them on pegs. Privacy was in short supply. “The boys slept
doubled up in the kitchen and the girls in a separate room.”
Alicia recalls. “Our parents had their room.”
Despite adverse conditions, ranch wives managed to keep
their houses relatively tidy and their families healthy. When ill-ness
struck, they often turned to home remedies such as boiled
wild herbs, which Francisca used to treat centipede bites, or,
perhaps, a drop of kerosene laced with sugar to suppress coughs.
They used sewing needles for stitching up wounds and, in a
pinch, rolled-up magazines for splints.
In the sunset of her life, Rittie moved to a small house in
Wickenburg where she continued to cook on a woodburning
stove, cultivate a garden and keep guinea hens until her death at
92. “She still was tall and slender,” Lynn Layton recalls, “and she
had gorgeous snow-white hair in a big roll on top of her head.
She was never still. She was doing all the time.”
One thing in particular sticks in Lynn’s memory. “She had
big, strong hands,” Lynn says. “I guess she was one of the lucky
ones. She didn’t get arthritis.”
Although most Arizona ranching
families had little time for
socializing, when they did, it
was reason to dress up a bit. At
the Stephens Ranch in Yavapai
County, the young girls show
off matching outfits, probably
handmade by their mother.
46 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 47
abounds in Arizona,
animals so beauti-fully
concealed that most of
us never notice them. I am not
talking about an elk standing
motionless in a dense stand
of ponderosa pine trees or a
coyote crouched behind an
ironwood tree. The creatures I
have in mind are grasshoppers,
masters of disguise. A chal-lenge
to see, grasshoppers can
entertain and amaze a walker
almost anywhere in Arizona.
If we take a grasshopper
hike through the foothills of
the Huachuca Mountains in
southern Arizona, we might
pause for a moment, and sit on
some rocks to catch our breath
and admire the landscape.
While extracting sandwiches
from our daypacks, we detect
a hint of movement in a clump
of grasses next to a nearby
rock. The little movement
that catches our eye leads us
to a wonderful insect, one of
the toothpick grasshoppers,
long and ridiculously thin, a
nearly perfect imitation of a
The hopper freezes, follow-ing
strategy of its species,
which is to rely on cam-ouflage
rather than flee a
potential predator, such
as the Mexican jay we
saw earlier. And what
camouflage it is, for the
insect aligns its body par-allel
to its perch so as to
merge seamlessly with its
the grasshopper’s anten-nae
are flattened and grasslike,
much wider, shorter and more
compressed than the antennae
of its cousins. We forget about
lunch (for a minute or two)
while oohing and aahing over
this stunning insect.
After admiring our grass-hopper
enjoying our lunch), we
resume walking while keep-ing
our eyes peeled for more
beautifully camouflaged hop-pers,
knowing that Arizona
boasts one of the most diverse
grasshopper faunas in North
America. Unfortunately, unlike
the mammals, birds and even
butterflies of the West, grass-hoppers
have not inspired field
guides lavishly endowed with
color illustrations. It will prob-ably
be awhile before watching
grasshoppers is as popular as
But we don’t mind being
pioneers. The key lies in walk-ing
along with our eyes on the
ground, waiting for something
to move. Most grasshoppers
trust their expertly camou-flaged
color pattern rather
than leaping wildly all over
Here’s another one. It jumps
only a foot or so, waiting until
the last possible minute to
avoid being flattened by my
hiking boot. We keep our eyes
fixed on the spot where the
insect lands, but even so, it
is hard to believe that we are
looking at a grasshopper, not
a fallen oak leaf. Just like the
grass mimic, this leaf-imitating
grasshopper pulls off its decep-tion
by using a combination of
tricks. Its rich tan color exactly
matches an old oak leaf and
its thin, laterally compressed
body and ridged thorax has
“oak leaf” written all over it.
Moreover, the insect lies on
its side in the leaf litter to fos-ter
the illusion of a fallen leaf,
enhanced by antennae shaped
like an oak leaf petiole.
I have stumbled across many
such marvelous grasshoppers,
this one resembling a stem,
that one a fallen leaf, these,
mere stones. The Huachucas
harbor a lovely, deep-orange-red-
and-black species with a
real fondness for orange-red,
black-dotted rocks. A solid-gray
grasshopper hangs out
on the somber, gray limestone
outcrops of the Chiricahua
Mountains. A grasshopper
found in the desert areas
around Phoenix sports a poin-tillist
coat to match the highly
weathered granite boulders on
which it rests.
And let’s not forget the peb-ble
mimics. One of my favor-ites
sits quietly in the fine
gravel of desert washes in cen-tral
Arizona, with blotches and
patches that break up the out-line
of its body and subdivide
it into a collection of pebble-sized
segments. The differ-ent
“pebbles” are white or pale
gray or pale pink, and create
the illusion of being part of the
desert floor. Take your eyes off
the hopper for even a moment,
and it will magically disappear
into its surroundings.
Why do so many grasshop-pers
try to blend into the wood-work,
leafwork or stonework?
The answer comes in the form
of jays, loggerhead shrikes and
a host of other birds that like
nothing better than a beakful
For millennia, insect-eating
birds have been scanning their
environment with keen eyes.
In this bird-eat-bug world,
any edible grasshopper whose
color pattern happens to make
it harder to find has a better
chance of living long enough
to mate and leave descendants
that will inherit its life-pre-serving
The spread of camouflaged
grasshoppers in the past cre-ated
pressures on the grass-hopper
hunters, favoring any
jay or shrike or sparrow that
inherited vision superior to
its compatriots, the better to
pinpoint hard-to-find prey.
As these eagle-eyed predators
became more common, their
presence gave an edge to any
grasshopper that happened to
look even slightly more con-vincingly
like a few pebbles or
a green grass stem. The never-ending
arms race between
the eaters and the eaten has
resulted in today’s visually
gifted birds and their all-but-invisible
If this explanation is on
target, then the noxious, bad-tasting
lack the camouflage of their
delectable cousins because
they have nothing to gain by
hiding from birds that quickly
learn to avoid these nasty-tast-ing
We can test this proposition
by taking another grasshopper
walk in the scrubby mesquite
range in the San Simon Valley
of southeastern Arizona after
summer monsoon thunder-storms
have generated fresh
grasshopper food. The hoppers
are everywhere, some superbly
camouflaged, some not.
Among those that stand
out is the huge horse lubber
grasshopper, a study in jet
black, fluorescent green and
cadmium yellow. It makes no
effort to evade me, but when I
touch the creature it raises its
green wings to flash previously
hidden, bright-red hind wings
while also hissing at me and
spraying a stinking chemical
mist from openings in its tho-rax.
I withdraw my hand.
I’m not the only one to
give the horse lubber a wide
berth. Entomologist Douglas
Whitman has offered some
horse lubbers to hungry cap-tive
birds, most of which said
in effect, thanks but no thanks.
Those willing to down a couple
of immature lubbers vomited
and thereafter wisely refused
to touch the things.
The horse lubber is repre-sentative
of most billboard
grasshoppers in combining
a memorable color pattern, a
lack of evasive behavior and
an evil taste. The robustness
of this relationship shows
that when an insect is chemi-cally
protected, it can afford
to be conspicuous, and even
advertise its unpalatability. But
edible grasshoppers must rely
on wonderfully detailed cam-ouflage
to keep out of view of
The amazing grass-, rock-,
leaf- and pebble-mimicking
grasshoppers are the legacy of
this process. If you can find
them, congratulate yourself
for having detected some of
the most beautifully concealed
creatures of the desert.
Hop to It
Perched on a lichen-covered rock, a colorful
toad lubber grasshopper (above) appears
to be part of the landscape. The bright
colors of the horse lubber grasshopper
(below, left) alerts potential predators of
their poison. While predators may not enjoy
their toxic taste, horse lubber grasshoppers
frequently eat their own dead.
John Alcock of Tempe is Regents’ Professor of Biology at Arizona State
University. He has written about the biology of desert animals, large and
small, in a number of books including Sonoran Desert Summer and In a
Desert Garden, both published by the University of Arizona Press.
Formerly a wildlife biologist for the Bureau of Land Management,
photographer Marty Cordano recently relocated to Alaska where his work
focuses on nature and environmental issues. He likes grasshoppers so much
that he doesn’t mind if people refer to him as a grasshopper “lubber.”
A toothpick grasshopper (right)
mimics a slender green stem
blending into the foliage to hide
from predators such as wasps, ants,
snakes and birds. The pallid-winged
grasshopper (below) lives mainly in
desert and semidesert areas from
southwestern Canada to Argentina,
making it one of the most widely
dispersed grasshoppers in the world.
Grasshoppers have mastered
the art of camouflage
b y joh n a l co c k
p hoto g r a p h s b y ma r t y co r da n o
48 a p r i l 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 49
The and I
He smirks at me but I don’t mind.
It’s just something he does with his mouth. He actually
oozes quiet encouragement, perched in the corner of my
home office, all sideburns, twitchy lip and eyes locked in
a permanent state of droopy-cool. A reminder not to take
anything too seriously.
The collar of his rhinestone-studded jumpsuit is turned
up high and open at the throat. A blue scarf dangles seduc-tively.
His hair is impossibly black, swept back and big,
marred only by the bulb and shade protruding from the
top of his head, throwing off a hunka-hunka burning light.
If you know me, you know my Elvis lamp. We’ve been
together for more than two decades, a holdover from my
bachelor days, the lone piece of furniture I contributed
to the marriage.
What? You thought maybe I bought the lamp while
married? That my wife signed off on the purchase of
a giant Elvis lamp? That we prowled galleries from
Sedona to Scottsdale with a fabric swatch to make sure
the specific King of Rock ’n’ Roll illumination device we
picked matched the window treatments? Is that what you
thought? Ba-ha-ha! Good one.
No, “E” and I are a team from way back. He’s my talis-man,
my confidant, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, my
But friend or not, there’s no denying that the King is
three and a half feet of raw, glaring kitsch. An eyesore.
Jarring and jangly, coming at you out of nowhere, like
a forearm shiver from a drunk in the parking lot of the
discount smokes-and-bait shop.
The hulking ceramic beast insults anyone with even a
modicum of taste. So over-the-top tacky he would hurl
Martha Stewart into a grand mal seizure. Artists and
designers can gaze upon him only through a pinhole
in cardboard. If feng shui were a superhero, Lamp Man
would be his archenemy, stomping down chi at every
When we have female visitors, I hear my wife warn-ing
them in a hurried hiss as they come down the hall.
I know they steel themselves before walking in, yet still
they flinch at first sight of him. There’s just no way to
prepare oneself for how the King dominates the room,
overpowers the Southwestern decor. Afterwards, I hear
them consoling my wife.
Which helps explain the tense ritual occurring several
times a year, the one where my wife tries to convince me
to donate Elvis to her yard sales. We live in Cottonwood,
the yard-sale capital of the free world.
Cottonwood sprang from the entrepreneurial spirit of
early settlers. Nearby Jerome boomed with mining activ-ity,
and neighboring burgs Clarkdale and Clemenceau
were company towns where mine owners stringently
enforced the rules. Folks wanting to start a business,
own some property or who just chafed under the weight
of regulations settled in Cottonwood, named after the
graceful trees lining the banks of the Verde River.
Although I suppose we’re not markedly different from
other small towns across Arizona. Lack of basements
puts Arizonans in a constant storage squeeze, forcing us
to unload carefully hoarded piles of junk. I mean, mer-chandise.
Fortunately, an idyllic climate makes this an
ongoing activity. Our population of energetic seniors puts
a recreational spin on yard-sale browsing, but everyone
wants to be part of the process. It’s a great way to meet
our neighbors and paw through their things.
In fact, when entries were solicited for what image should
adorn Arizona’s state quarter, I submitted a photo of a card-board
box with a brightly colored piece of paper taped to it,
proclaiming “Big Sale” and an arrow pointing the way. I’m
still waiting to hear back from the commission.
Those empty boxes, secured by rocks, adorn virtu-ally
every street corner in Cottonwood, each Thursday
through Saturday of the year. Shorter than a saguaro cac-tus,
but no less majestic, they stand, or actually, squat as
a defining symbol of the landscape and lifestyle of rural
Arizona. Where the men are men, and women want to
haggle over the price of a shoetree.
My wife recognizes the bargain-hunter mentality. She
knows how to hook them, knows that certain buzzwords
and phrases mobilize their ranks, phrases like “Elvis
memorabilia.” (She’s also after my Elvis toenail clip-pers
and Taking Care of Business melon-baller.) Like a
Colonel Parker with estrogen, she wants to cash in on the
King. If she happens to do so by disposing of the ceramic
monstrosity currently haunting her house, that would
simply be a happy coincidence.
But I draw the line. The King stays. For the sake of my
inner bachelor. And as a memorial to every guy who’s ever
decorated with neon beer signs or cinder-block shelves or
cattle skulls or seats swiped from stadiums or blacklight
posters or inflatable furniture or a driftwood dining set
or a car battery ottoman.
The King stays.
By the way, those blacklight posters are now worth a
fortune on eBay.
Roger Naylor lives in Cottonwood, and whenever he accuses his
wife of not appreciating classic kitsch, she simply reminds him
whom she chose to marry.
Brian Stauffer, a former Prescott resident who now lives in Miami,
Florida, is familiar with Cottonwood’s garage-sale treasures.
b y R o g e r N a y l o r h i l l u s t r a t i o n b y B r i a n S t a u f f e r
50 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
a wild duck has made repeated attempts to drown
my dog in the backyard swimming pool — not on purpose, of
course, but real nevertheless.
I live in Phoenix, on the Sonoran Desert. Who could have
anticipated that I would some day have to match wits with a
duck over the life of a hybrid canine, sometimes referred to as
For nearly two years now, it has been me against the duck,
and so far I’ve been winning (the dog is still alive), but the
contest is far from concluded. I could blow my lead at any time.
The duck has two advantages: The duck can fly, and I don’t
want to hurt him.
I just want him to go swim in somebody else’s pool, or
maybe even a lake. Plenty of those are nearby in parks and
on golf courses. And almost every resort or upscale housing
development has a large water feature, a kind of thumb-your-nose
at the environment that apparently even ducks find
Here in a nutshell is the situation with my dog and the
The canine, a 25-pound husky-corgi mix named Bone (so
when I say, “Heel, Bone,” he knows where to go), has short legs
and a long body. He absolutely abhors people luxuriating in the
Rarely do I swim, but several years ago I made an exception.
To understand this story fully, you need to know that my
favorite activity in the water, and one, actually, I’m quite adept
at, is floating on my back, relaxing to the point of sleep.
Well, on this particular afternoon, the dog came into the
yard, spotted me floating like a dead whale and panicked. I
don’t know what he thought I was doing, but he began to bark
and bark and run around the pool faster and faster with each
lap, stopping only to bark and bark again.
And then it happened.
The little pooch got too close to the edge, slipped and fell
in. The closest Bone had ever gotten to water prior to this was
in the bathtub, and he hated that like some Presidents hate
Immediately, he began to dog-paddle. He had perfect form.
But his legs were not long enough or strong enough to carry his
weight — and so he began to sink.
Luckily, I had not yet fallen asleep, saw his plight and
retrieved him before he got more than a foot or so below the
surface. Normally, I can’t tell what dogs think, but at that
particular moment, I could tell exactly what flashed through
Bone’s brain: What the doggie doo happened here? I thought all
four-legged animals could swim.
From that day to this, Bone has stayed away from the pool;
that is, if no one is in it. But he still goes a little nuts when the
pool is occupied. He runs around the perimeter as fast as he
can, working up a tantrum and pausing only momentarily to
bark a few times. He gets so worked up I fear he may fall into
the pool again.
And that gets us back to the duck.
You can see the problem. Suppose we awake one morning
and let the dog out. He spots the duck bobbing in the pool,
goes berserk, begins racing around barking and finally, in a last
desperate attempt to rid the homeland of this interloper, flings
himself at the feathered floater in the pool.
In that event Bone would be, so to speak, a dead duck.
Day after day, I’ve chased that speckled brown quacking
invader from our pool. Splashing a little water after him does
the trick. Sometimes he stays away for a few weeks and then, as
soon as I let down my guard, up he pops.
My wife heard that ducks fear swans, so we bought a plastic
swan (it was really meant to be a flower pot) and put it in the
pool. It seemed to work. The duck hadn’t appeared for some
time, though every time it rained, the pot filled up and the
Months went by and it became clear that I had won the
battle with the duck. He was nowhere to be seen.
Yesterday he came back. This time he had a lady friend with
him. What’s next? The kids, then the relatives?
Suddenly the odds have shifted. Now, it seems, I’m faced
with the quack-quack version of Hitchcock’s The Birds. If those
ducks start landing on the roof, I’m moving.
Bone can fend for himself.
Robert J. Early was editor of Arizona Highways from 1990 until
2005; he teaches writing courses at Arizona State University West
and at Phoenix College.
by Robert J. Early illustration by Joseph Daniel Fiedler along the way
Collection The four volumes of the Special Scenic Collection
feature spectacular, full-color photographs of
Arizona highlights from the Grand Canyon to
our spider work of waterways. With descriptive
text composed by renowned Arizona Highways
contributors, these books inform as well as delight.
Now, for a limited time, you can purchase all four for
$39, a 20-percent savings! (Regular price $49.)
Ask for promo code
8322-MKT7 to take
advantage of this offer.
Shop online at shoparizonahighways.com or call our toll-free
number (800) 543-5432. Or stop by our retail outlet:
2039 W. Lewis Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85009; (602) 712-2200.
s av in gs!
Purchase all four
ACT NOW! Offer expires 4/30/07. Discount applied automatically during checkout, shipping and handling not included. Cannot be combined with any other offers.
AGCM4 $12.95 ACRS4 $9.95 ANLS5 $12.95
The Dog’s a
52 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
hike of the month
Before you go on this hike, visit arizonahighways.com for other things
to do and places to see in this area. You’ll also find more hikes in our archive.
the hike to Presidio Santa
Cruz de Terrenate offers an
easy, mostly shadeless walk
through desert creosote and
short brush, with
constantly moving lizards
below and a generous sky
above to break the sameness
of southern Arizona’s terrain.
In terms of physical
remnants, the presidio,
established in 1775, offers
only a stone foundation and
a few adobe walls, likely part
of the commandant’s quarters,
barracks, a chapel and some
defensive walls. They stand
on a rise above the San Pedro
River, with interpretive signs
to explain why the Spanish
came here and the difficulties
This place served as the
northernmost outpost of
King Carlos III, who wished
to extend Spain’s control
north into what is now
Arizona. His agent here was
an Irish expatriate named
Hugo O’Conor, and others
followed, but none could
control this particularly wild
part of New Spain.
In spite of meager remains,
this is still an evocative patch
of ground, especially to those
who easily feel the grip of
history. It brings thoughts of
enterprise, survival, bravery
and boldness, and it reminds
us of the presumptuousness
of explorers and the
inevitability of exploration.
Best of all, the presidio is
sufficiently removed from
the noise of modern life to
give visitors a hint of the
awesome isolation its
founders must have felt.
As I stand on the rise above
the river, I see little evidence
of loud Tombstone to the east,
or booming Sierra Vista to
the west. The afternoon quiet
allows the presidio to give its
own silent testimony to the
desperate struggle that took
place here, for water, wood,
food and survival itself.
Spain abandoned the never-completed
outpost after five
years. Its last commander,
Teodoro de Croix, wrote that
Indians had terrorized the
presidio, killing two captains
and more than 80 men “in
the open rolling ground a
short distance from the post.”
Their “incessant” attacks
prevented the cultivation of
crops, obstructed mule trains
carrying supplies, depleted
horse herds and “put the
troops in the situation of not
being able to attend their
own defense, making them
useless for the defense of the
You might say the Apaches
revoked Spain’s guest privileges.
Lesson: Humans will always
need to know what’s out there,
and those who encounter
explorers will always want to
keep what’s theirs.
From the trailhead parking
lot off In Balance Ranch Road,
the hike to Terrenate measures
1.5 miles, partly along an old
railroad bed. Consider it a link
between different eras.
The Presidio is part of the
Bureau of Land Management’s
San Pedro Riparian National
Conservation Area, which
includes the ruins of the
An amble along the San Pedro River reveals the melting remains of Spanish conquest
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 53
Grand Central Mill and the
railroad town of Fairbank,
both born amid the Old West
Energetic hikers can see all
these sights, part of the San
Pedro Trail, in one day. A dirt
path runs north from
Fairbank — consisting of a
couple of buildings, including
an early 20th-century
schoolhouse under renovation
as a future interpretive
site — past the town cemetery
to the ruins of the Grand
Central Mill, a one-way total
of 1.5 miles.
The cemetery sits on a hill
and consists of a single
readable headstone — “Matt
Nelson, February 25, 1899.”
The remainder of those
buried here merit only sad
rock piles and splintered
But farther down the trail,
the old mill overtakes an
entire hillside with neatly
placed stones that rise from
the trailside in four steps, like
a cliff dwelling. The stamp
mill probably had 10 to 15
stamps going at once,
pounding silver from rock
hauled from the nearby mines.
As the interpretive sign says,
the stamps fell about 100 times
per minute, seven days a week,
creating a deafening noise that
could be heard for miles.
Imagine that interminable
racket banging out over the
now-silent valley, a clarion
call of enterprise and
settlement, which, only 100
years before, the beleaguered
residents of Terrenate, just
across the river to the
northwest, would have
considered a symphony.
The Empire Falls Down
BY THE OLD MILL The Grand
Central Mill’s massive stone wall
(right) stands as a reminder of the
1880s silver boom in nearby
Tombstone. Silver-bearing ore
brought to the mill by mule trains
was crushed into fine powder and
processed to make silver.
SAN PEDRO RIPARIAN
NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA
To Tucson 10
San Pedro River
Length: 1.5 miles from trailhead to Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate.
1.5 miles from Fairbank to Grand Central Mill.
Elevation Gain: Minimal.
Payoff: Isolated, but close to towns; evocative historical ruins.
Location: 70 miles southeast of Tucson.
Getting There: From Tucson, drive east on Interstate 10 about 43 miles
to Exit 302. Take State Route 90 south toward Sierra Vista for about
19 miles. Just south of the little community of Whetstone, turn left
(east) onto State Route 82, drive about 10 miles to In Balance Ranch
Road and turn left (north). Follow this good dirt road 2 miles to the
Terrenate trailhead parking lot. The turnoff to the town of Fairbank
is also located off State 82, 2 miles east of In Balance Ranch Road.
Travel Advisory: Always carry plenty of water, at least 1 gallon per day
Additional Information: Bureau of Land Management, Sierra Vista,
(520) 439-6400; www.blm.gov/az/nca/spnca/spnca-info.htm.
GRAVE SITUATION A weathered
wooden cross marks a grave in the
cemetery just north of Fairbank, a
ghost town along the San Pedro River.
Established in 1881, Fairbank became
an important railroad depot and the
closest stop to Tombstone, then one
of the largest cities in the West.
by Leo W. Banks photographs by Randy Prentice
TRAILING ALONG Spindly shadows
line the San Pedro Trail (left) in the
San Pedro Riparian National
Conservation Area where more than
350 species of birds migrate.
Cruz de Terrenate
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 55
back road adventure
everyone i talked to who
had traveled the southern
approach to Hells Gate, at the
confluence of Haigler and
Tonto creeks in the depths of
described the journey with a
blend of excitement and
reverence reserved for places
with a spirit bigger than
theirs. When I noticed the
word “wild” kept popping up
in each description, I knew it
was time to experience this
country for myself. Seeking
the perfect intersection of
wild country and the Wild
West, I set out on the
adventurous road to the Hells
Traveling in lonely, open
range through a classic high-desert
landscape, this route (5
miles on Forest Service Road
129 and 8 miles on Forest
Service Road 133) proved as
untamed as the countryside,
which was a fitting
foreshadowing of the rough
3-mile hike into the canyon.
Anyone who has traveled
to Hellsgate Wilderness north
of Phoenix knows the place is
more beautiful than hellish.
It’s just the getting there that
feels more like a passage
through the underworld than
a stroll through the door of
paradise. The road is filled
with large rocks and makes
for a rough ride, so a high-clearance,
vehicle is necessary for this
trip. It’s also a good idea to
take along at least two or
three spare tires.
The start of the road in
Pleasant Valley in the town of
Young feels as ethereal as the
valley’s name suggests. The
verdant valley, one of the last
vestiges of the real West left
in the state, spreads as cool
and calm as the color of its
green grasses while mountain
ridges form a dramatic
The valley’s present
peacefulness belies its
claim to fame — the vicious
Pleasant Valley War, a feud
between the Tewksbury and
Graham families that lasted
from 1882 until 1892. Some
historians say the battles
boiled down to cattlemen
versus sheepherders; others
say it was a drawn-out feud
between rival cattlemen
colored by horse thievery and
The feud affected the whole
community and spread out
to anyplace the two factions
met, including Holbrook
and Tempe. Many of the
casualties rest in Young’s
The back-road adventure
to the Hellsgate Wilderness
starts in Young where Forest
Service Road 512 becomes
State Route 288 and where
the road bends between
mileposts 307 and 308.
Instead of continuing on the
bend, veer right, turning
west onto FR 129. This road,
paved for a short distance,
heads out of town and
into the rough-and-tumble
backcountry where boulder-filled
through hardscrabble hills
with barely enough dirt to
cover bedrock. As if to soften
the scruffy scene, prickle
poppies, with their floppy
white petals, congregate
along the roadsides, and
brighten shadowed cliffsides.
The route parts company
with civilization at a fork near
Walnut Creek, around mile
4. Veer right to stay on 129
as it pulls away from Young’s
outlying homes and enters
the rangeland that men so
bitterly fought over. At about
mile 5, veer left onto FR 133.
From here, the going gets
LAYERED LOOK Views of
McDonald, Neal and Gisela
mountains (above) offer a softer look
at some of Arizona’s wildest country.
into wilderness makes
a heck of a ride
by Christine Maxa photographs by David Allen James
ROCKY ROAD The rough road
leading to Hellsgate Wilderness
(above) offers stunning vistas as it
meanders through the high-desert
rangeland that sparked a violent feud
known as the Pleasant Valley War.
THE OLD GRAY BARN In the town
of Young, an old barn (below)
harkens back to the region’s range-war
days, marking a long history of
Arizona livestock ranching.
54 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
very rough. A ubiquitous
layer of cobbles clatter and
pop under tires as the road
plods up and down steep
hills rutted by the weather
this mountainous terrain
conjures up in the summer
and winter. At times, the road
squirms with hairpin turns
and precipitous drop-offs; the
road rarely allows vehicles to
leave lower gears. Just keep
moseying along like a cowboy
on horseback would as he
surveys the land.
Striking panoramas appear
when the road starts a four-wheel-
drive zigzag down
into Board Cabin Draw. After
a wet winter or summer
monsoons, the hillsides
turn emerald and look as
rich as the gemstone. These
grasslands drew the Haught
family (of the Mogollon Rim’s
Fred and Babe Haught fame)
to the area in the 1880s.
Cattleman Joe Haught, Fred
ranches the land on which
this route travels. His winter
camp, a compound straight
out of a Western novel, lies in
Board Cabin Draw, at about
Chances are Haught is the
only person one sees on this
route, checking on his cattle
or fixing a fence. Chances of
seeing no one, however, are
Climbing out of Board
Cabin Draw requires four-wheel
drive to safely finesse
up the slope. Once it tops out,
the road settles, offering
views of the countryside,
which gets prettier as the
route travels along.
The Hellsgate Wilderness
rubs shoulders with the
road at about mile 13 on a
saddle. Here’s where the south
segment of the Hells Gate
Trail starts, at the Smokey
Hollow Trailhead. Haught
said it was the quickest route
between Payson and Young.
“A doctor from Payson
traveled on a white horse
through Hells Gate to operate
on my aunt,” Haught recalled.
“We cleared off the kitchen
table, laid out a sheet and
he went to work on her leg,
which had tuberculosis in
the bone. My aunt ended up
living to an old age.”
Back-road travelers can
explore the route the good
doctor took through the
Hellsgate Wilderness, or
continue on 133. The road
ends in a couple of miles
at the wilderness border.
No mechanized vehicles
are allowed in designated
I camped at the Smokey
Hollow Trailhead. While I
set up camp at twilight, a
fireball of a meteor zoomed
across the pale sky, ducking
behind clouds a couple of
times as it traveled across
the southern horizon. Of
course, I made a wish; and it
came true. If I could have a
chance to wish upon another
falling star like that one, I’d
make sure Hellsgate country
would always remain the
same — one wild place.
Note: Mileages are approximate.
> Begin in Phoenix taking Shea Boulevard east to its intersection
with State Route 87.
> Turn left (north) onto State 87 and drive to Payson and State Route 260.
> Turn right (east) onto State 260 and drive 32 miles to Forest
Service Road 512, also called the Young-Heber Highway.
> Turn right (south) onto FR 512. Follow 512 for 24 miles to Young,
where the road bends to the left between mileposts 307 and 308.
> Instead of continuing left on the bend, veer right (west) onto Forest
Service Road 129. The Young Public School sits on the left-hand side of the
road. Continue on FR 129 for 5 miles, staying to the right at all forks.
> Turn left at the next fork onto Forest Service Road 133. Continue
along FR 133, where you will need a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive
vehicle. Drive 4 miles to a winter cowboy camp and start the climb to
Board Cabin Draw. (To hike the Hells Gate Trail at Smokey Hollow
Trailhead, watch for the trailhead sign at about mile 13.) Drive
approximately another 4 miles on 133 to the road’s end and the
Hellsgate Wilderness sign.
COWBOY CULTURE Ranch hand
Alfred Stratton (below) carries on the
cowboy tradition that has thrived for
more than 100 years.
PRICKLY PERSPECTIVE A prickly
pear cactus (right) withstands the
tide of time, weather and the tumult
of Pleasant Valley’s violent past.
Vehicle Requirement: A high-clearance,
vehicle is necessary for this trip.
Warning: This route travels some
remote and isolated country
on rocky, boulder-strewn
roads. Because the roads are
very rough, it’s recommended
to carry two or three spare
tires. Back-road travel can be
hazardous. Be aware of weather
and road conditions. Carry plenty
of water, and take provisions
in case of a breakdown. Don’t
travel alone, and let someone
know where you’re going and
when you plan to return.
Pleasant Valley Ranger Station,
(928) 462-4300; www.fs.fed.
56 a p r i l 2 0 0 7
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH The
Tonto National Forest spreads out
from a vantage point on Diamond
Butte (right), south of Arizona’s
PLEASANT VAL LE Y
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.