Thursday, February 26, 2009


I have always wanted to see these dwellings since I first saw them in an encylopedia many, many years ago. But I'm going to have to wait for another time. We went to the visitor's center and I found out the climb up to the lower cliff dwellings was a steep 350 foot climb. My ankle is doing much, much better but not that good. I didn't get to go up to the actual dwellings; so I did some research on them and I'll be more prepared the next time we come here.

For over 100 years, these ruins have been called the Tonto Cliff Dwellings. We don’t know who named them, and there is no way of knowing when they were first seen by Europeans. Cowboys, settlers, and the cavalry were probably aware of the ruins by the 1870’s, although no known documentation exists from this period.

The diary of Angeline Mitchell provides the earliest known description of the dwellings. Angeline came by wagon train to Arizona in 1875. In 1880, under protest from her family, she agreed to teach school in the remote and often hostile Tonto Basin. In her diary, she described her experiences with cattle stampedes, warring Apaches, and a trip to the cliff dwellings.On December 12, 1880, she and six students visited the cliff dwellings. Awed by what they found, Angeline observed: “The dwelling is built of small rocks laid up in cement and is cemented inside and out, and sets well back beneath an overhanging rock. This rock is, I should think, about 200 ft. high and curves over. We found traces of 33 rooms and some 18 of them are in fair preservation. It is seven or eight stories high or perhaps more, I should think, judging from the poles still clinging high up to the rock... Across a gulch to the right is a second, smaller but deeply interesting and the most perfect I’ve ever seen. It has traces of 22 rooms and 16 are in fair order. 2 rooms and a hall are as perfect as the day they were finished. The hall is a narrow space between two rooms and has a short flight of steps leading to a landing on the upper floor. The stairs are quite wide, but very low, not more than 3½ to 4½ inches, I should think, in height from one step to the next…so worn by the myriad (of) feet there as to be hollow troughs in the center.”Much of what Angeline described is no longer there. Nature undoubtedly played a role in what was seen then, and what is here now, but increased settlement was introducing human impact.”

These dwellings were home to the prehistoric Salado people, named in the early 20th century after the life-giving Rio Salado, or Salt River. For three centuries, they made their living from what nature provided in mountainous desert terrain.Nomadic peoples found their way into the basin as early as 7,000 years ago. The first permanent settlements date from the latter half of the 8th century AD. Hohokam colonists, expanding their domain in the lower Gila and Salt river valleys (near present-day Phoenix), moved into Tonto Basin. By 850 the Hohokam were established in pithouse villages, where they lived for a few hundred years. Perhaps because of conditions within, perhaps because of outside influences, their way of life changed. Pottery styles, construction methods, settlement patterns, and other traits indicate that by 1150 the inhabitants of the basin no longer followed Hohokam traditions, or those of any other Southwestern group. A new culture had apparently emerged - the Salado. Like the Hohokam, the Salado were farmers. Bonding rocks with mud, the Salado constructed apartment-style dwellings adequate for sleeping, storage, cooking, and protection. The Salado lived in Tonto Basin for about 300 years. Sometime after AD 1450 they left. No one knows why, though the Salado were not the only ones to depart their homelands in the southern mountains of the Southwest around this time. The cliff dwellings, less than 150 years old, were abandoned to the sun and wind.

We have only a vague notion of who the Salado were. They left no written record of their existence, no chronology of events that shaped their society. The most vivid signs of life are in their pottery, in remnants of fabric, in smoke stains from their cook fires, and in hand prints on pueblo walls - all reminders that humans once led rich and productive lives here by the Salt River.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


We had a Valentine's Day dance here at the RV Park and we had such a great time. The band is called the Desert Coyotes (country) and were really quite good.
The gentlemen in the picture
is known as Mr. Steve here in the park. He is 91 years young and going strong. He danced almost every dance and was one of the last to leave. For all you single female friends of mine - Mr. Steve is looking for a new woman (been married three times so far) but he told me he's not interested in any of that "bedroom stuff".
I was able to dance three dances. Slow two-steps and not very big steps but I danced three dances!!!!


Found this restaurant in Cave Creek and it is fantastic. It's called Oak's Diner and Flapjacks. It sits back off the main street and is only open until 2:00 p.m. But their breakfast was so good (we ate at 1:30 p.m.) I made Jim take this picture so we can remember how to find it again. Warning: standing room only from 7:30 to about 10:30 every morning.


Welcome to Foundtain Hills, AZ. They call this the "Old Faithful" of Arizona because it is set to go off every hour on the hour.

Due to energy conservation they are only using one pump instead of two so the plume only goes up about 300 feet instead of almost 600 feet. But it is still an impressive sight. And you can see it for miles aroun when it does goes off.

The birds are American Coots which I had never seen before. They have a really strange waddle. Guess that's why they call us "old coots" - because we've picked up a waddle as we've gotten older.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Okay - I'm a legend junky. But this one is so fun. I learned about Hacksaw Tom at the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Hacksaw Tom is a legendary desperado along the Apache Trail. He preyed on travelers of the Mesa-Roosevelt Dam region from his remote hiding place near Fish Creek Canyon. This was a stretch of primitive one-lane bridge and when teamsters were tryin to contol their teams, Tom -took advantage of the situation using his 12-guage double barrel shotgun. He stood about five feet eight inches and weighed about 160 pounds with blue eyes and light blond hair. He never used a horse because he just climbed up and over the boulders up Fish Creek Canyon and was seldom pursued because of the dangers of climbing these boulders.

For almost a decade Hacksaw Tom relieved travelers along the Apache Trail of thier change and bills. Seldom did any of his robberies net him more than $40. Many teamsters felt it was more like paying a toll to cross the bridge. During all his years of robbery, not one person was injured or killed. Not one shot was fired.

The real mystery of Hacksaw Tom is his identity. To this day, no one knows for sure who he was.


NOTE: I walked up this hill and all the steps. No walker, no cane, no wheelchair. Just pure exhaustion by the time I got back to the truck.
Situated atop a small hill between the Superstition Mountains and the Goldfield Mountains, the settlement of Goldfield got its start in 1892 when very rich, high grade gold ore was found in the area. A town soon sprang up and on October 7, 1893 it received its first official post office.

This “official” find, coupled with the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine, which had been circulating for years, led plenty of new miners to the area and in no time, the town boasted three saloons, a boarding house, a general store, brewery, blacksmith shop, butcher shop, and a school. For five years the town boomed until some 1,500 souls were residing in the burgeoning city.
But like other gold camps, Goldfield’s bustling days were quickly dashed when the vein of gold ore started to play out and the grade of the ore dropped even more. Just five years after it began, the town found itself quickly dying. The miners moved on, the post office was discontinued on November 2, 1898, and Goldfield became a ghost town.

However, some prospectors clung on to the area, sure to find the elusive Lost Dutchman Mine or perhaps, a brand new vein. Others tried to reopen the existing mines, but all attempts were unsuccessful until a man named George Young, who was the secretary of Arizona and the acting governor, arrived on the scene in the first decade of the 20th century. Young brought in new mining methods and equipment to recover the ore and the town began slowly come alive once more. Also built was a mill and a cyanide plant. A second post office was established on June 8, 1921 and the “new” town was called Youngsberg. However, the town’s “rebirth” would last only about as long as it did the first – just five years. Finally, the gold was gone, the post office was discontinued on October 30, 1926, and the town died once again.

But Goldfield was obviously not destined to die permanently. In 1966, Robert F. “Bob” Schoose, a long time ghost town, mining, and treasure-hunting enthusiast made his first trip to the Superstition Mountains and instantly fell in love with the area. He moved to Mesa, Arizona in 1970 and soon began to dream of owning his own ghost town. He had heard of the old site of Goldfield, but upon inspection, he found little left other than a few foundations and rambling shacks. He and his wife, Lou Ann, then located another five-acre site that was once the location of the Goldfield Mill and decided with to rebuild the old town. Purchasing the old mill site in 1984, they first reconstructed a mining tunnel, which included a snack bar and opened for business in 1988. Next came a photo shop, the Blue Nugget, a General Store, the Mammoth Saloon and the Goldfield Museum.

Today, Goldfield is filled with authentic looking buildings, includes underground mine tours, and the only narrow gauge railroad in operation in Arizona. Numerous shops and buildings include a brothel, bakery, leather works, a jail, livery, and more. The authentic looking street is filled with people in period costume, horses and wagons, and sometimes authentic gunfighter presentations.


You can't visit the Superstition Mountains without hearing many legends. The most famous of these is the story of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. (I know this is rather long but I was so fascinated with the story I couldn't cut it any shorter.) At the left are some of the treasure maps to the lost mine that are at the Museum.
The first man to discover the gold of the Indians on Superstition Mountain was Don Miguel Peralta. He discovered a vein of rich gold here in 1845 while searching for the treasure described to Coronado.Before he returned to Mexico for men and supplies with which to excavate the gold, he memorized the surrounding territory. He described the mountain’s most outstanding landmark as looking like a “sombrero”; thus he named the mine the “Sombrero Mine”.To others, the peak, or spire, looking more like a finger pointing upwards and it has also been referred to as the “Finger of God”... except to early white explorer Pauline Weaver. He used the rock as a place to etch his name with a knife and subsequent prospectors discovered the etching and dubbed the landmark “Weaver’s Needle”. The name stuck and nearly every reference to the lost mine uses the Needle as a point of origin.Peralta returned to Mexico and gathered men and material to work the mine. Soon, he was shipping millions of pesos in pure gold back to Sonora. It was obvious that this was a gold strike like no other.

Meanwhile, the Apache were angry over the Spanish presence on the mountain and in 1848, raised a large force to drive Peralta and his men from the area. Peralta soon got word of the impending fight and withdrew his men from the mine. They would pack up all of the available burros and wagons with the already mined ore and return home. Because he planned to return someday, Peralta took elaborate precautions to conceal the entrance to the mine and to wipe out any trace that they had ever worked there. Early the next day, he assembled his men and prepared to move out.... but they never had a chance. Taken by surprise, the Apache warriors attacked and massacred the entire company of Spaniards. The pack mules were scattered in all directions, spilling the gold and taking it with them as they plunged over cliffs and into ravines.
For years after, prospectors and soldiers discovered the remains of the burros and the rotted leather packs that were still brimming with raw gold.The area, dubbed “Gold Field” became a favorite place for outlaws and get-rich-quick schemers, who spent days and months searching for the lost gold.
The next discoverer of the Peralta mine was a man named Dr. Abraham Thorne. He was born in East St. Louis, Illinois and all of his life, longed to be a doctor to the Indians in the western states. Early in his life, he was befriended by the frontier legend, Kit Carson, and when Fort McDowell was founded in Arizona in 1865, he arranged for Thorne to become an army doctor with an officer’s rank.At this time, fighting between the whites and the Apache was often fierce. The Indians were being besieged by the Army but it would not be long before cooler heads would prevail and President Abraham Lincoln would create a compromise in the area. He proposed a reservation along the Verde River, near Fort McDowell, which could serve as a sanctuary for the Apache.

It was here, in an area known unofficially as the “Strip”, where Thorne came to live and work amongst the Indians. He soon made many friends and earned respect from the tribal leaders, caring for the sick and injured, delivering babies and teaching hygiene and waste disposal. In 1870, a strange incident would take place in Dr. Thorne’s career. Several of the elders in the tribe came to him with a proposal. Because he was considered a good man and a friend of the Apache, they would take him to a place where he could find gold. The only condition would be that he was to be blindfolded during the journey of roughly 20 miles. Dr. Thorne agreed and the Indians placed a cloth around his head and over his eyes. They led him away on horseback and at the end of the journey, the cloth was removed and he found himself in an unknown canyon. He would later write that he saw a sharp pinnacle of rock about a mile to the south of him. Treasure hunters believe this was most likely Weaver’s Needle. There was no sign of a mine, but piled near the base of the canyon wall (as if placed there for him) was a stack of almost pure gold nuggets. He picked up as much of it as he could carry and returned home. He later sold the ore for $6,000 and became another strange link in the mystery of the mine’s location.
We should clear up one popular misconception about Jacob Walz (or Waltz) and it’s that he was not a “Dutchman”. He was actually from Germany and born there in the early 1800’s. He came to America in 1845 and soon heard about the riches and adventure that were waiting in the frontier beyond New York. His first gold seeking took him to a strike in North Carolina and from there he traveled to Mississippi, California and Nevada... always looking for his elusive fortune. Walz worked the gold field of the Sierra Nevada foothills for more than ten years, never getting rich, but turning up enough gold to get along. By 1868, he was in his fifties and wondering if he was ever going to find his proverbial “mother lode”.
The Indians had nick-named him “Snowbeard” because of his long, white whiskers and it isn’t hard to picture him as one of those grizzled old prospectors who were so common in western films.That same year, Walz began homesteading in the Rio Satillo Valley, which is on the northern side of Superstition Mountain. Soon after he arrived, he began to hear stories from the local Indians about supernatural doings around the mountain, about a fierce god... and about vast deposits of gold.

Most stories about Jacob Walz say that he spent the next 20 years of so prospecting for gold around the Arizona Territory. He often worked for wages in other men’s mines while he searched from his own fortune. It was during one of these jobs that he met Jacob Weiser and the two “Dutchman” struck out on their own and vanished into the land around Superstition Mountain. Not long after, they were seen in Phoenix paying for drinks and supplies with gold nuggets. There have been a number of stories about how the men found the “lost” mine. The most accepted version of the story is that they were given a map to the mine by a Mexican don whose life they saved. The man was said to have been Don Miguel Peralta, the son of a rich landowner in Sonora, Mexico and a descendant of the original discoverer of the mine. The Dutchmen saved Peralta from certain death in a knife fight and as a reward, he gave them a look at the map to the mine. He was later said to have been bought out of the mine by Walz and Weiser.
At some point in the years that followed, Jacob Weiser disappeared without a trace. Some say that the Apaches killed him, while others maintain that Walz actually did him in. (As you can see, there is a lot of speculation to the legend). But Walz was always around, at least part of the time. Long periods would go by when no one would see him and then he would show up in Phoenix again, buying drinks with gold nuggets. It was said that Walz had the richest gold ore that anyone had ever seen and for the rest of his life, he vanished back and forth to his secret mine, always bringing back saddlebags filled with gold.

Whenever anyone tried to get information out of him, he would always give contradictory directions to where the mine was located. On many occasions, men tried to follow him when he left town, but Walz would always shake his pursuers in the rugged region around the mountain. By the winter of 1891, an old Mexican widow named Julia Elena Thomas, who owned a small bakery in Phoenix, befriended the aged miner. Apparently, they became romantically involved and Walz promised to take her to his secret mine “in the spring”.... but she never saw it. The Dutchman died on October 25, 1891 with a sack of rich gold ore beneath his deathbed.
Immediately after word reached town about Jacob Walz’s death, a number of men who had heard the Dutchman speak of the mine over the years rode out for the mountain in search of the mystery. They never found it... and in fact, two of the prospectors, Sims Ely and Jim Bark, spent the next 25 years searching in vain for what they called “The Lost Dutchman Mine”.The search has since fueled more than a century of speculation. Theories as to the mine’s location have filled dozens of books and pamphlets. Literally hundreds of would-be prospectors have searched the Superstition Mountain region and most have come home with little more than sunburns......
But there are also many who have not come home at all.

There is no way to guess just how many people have died in pursuit of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Some who have disappeared may have just quietly slipped away, unwilling to admit that they failed to find the treasure.... while others may have gone in secretly and never came out, their names recorded as a missing persons case somewhere. The death toll of the legendary Peralta Massacre varies between 100 to 400, plus there are the murders attributed to the Dutchman, Jacob Walz himself. He is alleged to have killed at least two men who found his treasure trove and is blamed for the death of his partner, Jacob Weiser, and others. There are also a number of people who were slain by the Apaches after they were found searching the mountain for the mine. .


Also located at the Supersitition Mountain Museum are what is left of Apacheland Movie Ranch which was built in 1958. The rest of Apacheland was destroyed by two different fires. Some of the TV shows filmed at Apacheland included: Zane Grey Theater, Wanted Dead or Alive, Have Gun Will Travel, Death Valley Days and the Gambler II. Some of the movies filmed here included: Purple Hills, Blood on the Arrow, Ariona Raiders, Charro, The Haunted and Blind Justice. (One of our full time friends, Paul, went with us this excursion.)

Charro starred Elvis Presley and during that movie the original steeple was removed from the Chapel and a specially made on was blown off. Arizona Raiders starred Audie Murphy with a gun battle that took place at the barn.


Perhaps nowhere in the U. S. is there an area as full of legend and intrigue as the Supersitition Mountains. So we had to stop in the museum and what a treat it was. The Historical Society has really worked hard to put together a very impressive collection of artifacts, art work and minerals.

This sign tells us that the oldest "arrowhead" in the collection shown below is 9,000 years old (upper left hand corner). And even though it looks like an arrowhead, bows weren't invented at that time so it is probably a spear head. But 9,000 years old!!

Other exhibits include a model stagecoach and this rock which was claimed from the reconstruction of Roosevelt Dam.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Saw this on the way to Saguaro Lake. Suppose it's for pilots?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Went to Casa Grande yesterday for the Gypsy Journal Rally sponsored by Nick Russell. We just drove down for the day. He has a great web site If you want to know about RVing, that's the place to go for anwers.

The Rally was held at the Pinal County Fairgrounds which were a big mud pit after all the rain. And it was really cold. Should have worn my winter coat. Not too many attendees - I think the economy has stopped a lot of people from attending. But they were a friendly group. We didn't get to stay for any of the fun stuff - just attended a couple of seminars.

We went to Nick's seminar on his and Terri's full time adventures. And the seminar became an experience. He was all set up with his power point and just as we were settling down, three transformers blew and we had no power. So Nick just winged his way through the 1 1/2 and it was so interesting we could have stayed another 1 1/2. What a great speaker.

If you are ever anywhere near one of his rally's I would highly recommend you attend. It would be more fun if the weather is nice.


I haven't posted for a few days because we haven't done too much. I didn't realize that the rain could come down so hard in the desert. And the wind just about blew us across the park the other night. Today was a little sunnier but not a lot warmer. I want the 80 degrees back from last week and it's not going to happen for awhile.

I've also been working on tax returns which is time consuming. Besides depressing. Brings back all those memories of that four letter word "WORK!"

Still lovin this retirement thing. Everybody needs to try it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Over the last week we had the opportunity to capture the Superstitions in many different moods. Hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

Warm sunny days.

Angry rain clouds.

Beautiful cloud toppings.
Sun kissed after the rain.


Isn't this a great name? Tortilla Flat is Arizona's smallest official community having a U.S. Post office and voter'sprecinct.The town has a population of 6. And it has a fascinating history.

In the beginning - Tortilla Flat was a small grassy valley in the Superstition Mountains. Because of its location Tortilla Flat was affected by the search for gold in the Superstitons especially by the Spaniards during the late 1600s and early 1700s. During this time the Jesuit Priests had amassed a fortune in gold and didn't want to share it with the King of Spain. So according to legend, the Superstition Mountain region was where they hid their treasures.

Tortilla Flat got it's name from a John Cline. He and some other folks either went to Phoenix for supplies or on a cattle drive (depending on which legend you believe) and partied too much. So they forgot to buy the supplies they needed after selling the cattle. On their way back to the Tonto Basin they ran out of food except for flour, so they mad tortillas to eat and Mr. Cline christened the flat area, Tortilla Flat. (This was probably in about 1886).

Tortilla Flat (the town) got its start because of the road construction to Roosevelt Dam in 1904. It is the last remaining stage coach stop along the Apache Trail.


This lake is so beautiful and Jim took such great pictures that I wanted to share a few more with you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


WOW! Canyon Lake is one of the four lakes created by dams on the Salt River and is reached by following the Apache Trail (Rte 88) out of Apache Junction. The Apache Trail shadows the ancient footpaths of Apache Indians and is American's oldest roadway. The Apache Trail is the only reocgnized Historic and Scenic Highway in Arizona. The road was originally built as a haul and service road for the construction and maintenance of Roosevelt Dam. The trail begins with paved roads that soon turn into narrow dirt roads that meander along a landscape that ranges from rolling desert to high cliffs for 47 miles. The drive is along the backside of the Superstition Mountains where the secrets of the Lost Dutchman's Mine remain hidden. (more about that later)

Sunday, February 1, 2009


We have arrived in Apache Junction where we will be spending the month of February. We're staying at the Desert Holiday RV Resort and we were definitely the entertainment of the evening last night when we were trying to back the RV into our spot. This is a small RV park and they don't allow much room to manuever but thanks to our friendly neighbors, we had six guys helping Jim. (I wanted to take a picure but Jim said he was too busy to give me the camera. I don't think that was the real reason.)

Jim got the fiver backed in but the truck was at such an angle that the hitch wouldn't release. So the guys helped Jim pull the pins and take the hitch apart so we could get the truck out. This only took about 45 minutes and it gave me a good chance to visit with the wives. Everybody is extremely friendly and I think we're going to enjoy our stay here. As you can see we are hooked up and moved in. And did I happen to mention how beautiful the weather is.


History tells us that the first tourist to Las Vegas was Rafael Rivera, who came along in the early 1700s. During the early part of the 18th century, Spanish explorers looked on the journey through this part of the West as the "Jomada de muerte" or journey of death, for the high summer temperatures and dry desert conditions during almost any time of the year. Rafael Rivera was a young scout and is considered the first European to gaze upon the valley. He saw wild grasses and trees and therefore a supply of water, from the natural springs in the valley. However, this wasn't news to the Palutes (or the Anasazis who came before them), who had dwelled in the region for centuries.

Inspired by the green vegetation in the midst of the desert, they named it las vegas, Spanish for "the meadows." The Spanish explorers and missionaries who quickly followed them established the Spanish Trail by about 1829. Parts of this trail eventually became what we know as Interstate 15.

The tradition of the beer in one hand and a bucket of quarters in the other came along later in Vegas history.