Legends of America Photo Prints: Blog https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog en-us (C) www.legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Sat, 10 Apr 2021 15:35:00 GMT Sat, 10 Apr 2021 15:35:00 GMT https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/img/s/v-12/u83229107-o603934654-50.jpg Legends of America Photo Prints: Blog https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog 120 61 Do you know the way to Santa Fe? https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/4/do-you-know-way-to-santa-fe This blog covers our 588-mile journey from the Paiute Reservation in Northern Arizona all the way to our final "primary" destination, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

 

Vermillion Cliffs AZVermillion Cliffs AZComing out of the Kaibab National Forest on Highway 89A to the Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona.

 

Our final leg of our Winter 21 journey took us out of Pipe Spring National Historic Site to Hwy 89A at Fredonia, AZ for some views through the Kaibab National Forest. Pretty.  Lots of trees and windy roads with scenic pullouts. It was what was on the other side of the National Forest that caught most of our attention. 

 

Vermillion CliffsVermillion CliffsVermillion Cliffs

 

The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument preserves a remote and unspoiled 280,000-acre area of diverse landscapes.  While we had no plans on doing any 5-day hikes, we did enjoy taking this scenic highway all the way to Marble Canyon.  See more about Vermilion Cliffs via the BLM website here

 

On the road into Lee's FerryLee's Ferry Area"Balanced Rock" On the road into Lee's Ferry is a favorite of many for "selfies". Photo by Kathy Wieser-Alexander.

 

Speaking of Marble Canyon.  Here are some of our views after turning off the highway to visit Lees Ferry. 
 

Lees Ferry AreaLees Ferry AreaCathedral Wash Trailhead On the road into Lee's Ferry.
 

Colorado River at Lee's FerryColorado River at Lee's FerryColorado River at Lee's Ferry

 

Lees Ferry, located on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona, is a historic site located within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is named for Mormon Leader John D. Lee, who set up ferry service for Mormon settlers heading south to Arizona.
 

Glen Canyon, AZ - Lee's Ferry, 1913Glen Canyon, AZ - Lee's Ferry, 1913Lee's Ferry across the Colorado River, Glen Canyon, Arizona, 1913. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

The Mormon Church provided the lumber and manpower to build the first real ferryboat at Lees Ferry, the Colorado, first launched on January 11, 1873. It was the first of many boats that would ply the treacherous and fluctuating river at this point.

 

Glen Canyon, AZ - Lees Ferry BuildingGlen Canyon, AZ - Lees Ferry BuildingPhoto by the National Park Service.

 

The Lees Ferry Junction and Park Entrance are in Marble Canyon, just west of Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. A paved road leads five miles to the Ferry area, where available services include a National Park Service campground, dump station, and public launch ramp. 

Learn more about the history of this Glen Canyon historic attraction in our article here.

 

Also See: 

Mormons in the American West

John Doyle Lee – Leader of the Mountain Meadows Massacre
 

 

Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon

 

Just a few feet from the turn-off to Lees Ferry is the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. 

 

Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo BridgeNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon

 

The original bridge (on the left in the picture above) was built in 1928, and when it opened on January 12, 1929, it was the only bridge across the Colorado River for some 600 miles, making it a vital link in the first direct highway route between Arizona and Utah.


Navajo Bridge, AZ - Spanning Colorado RiverGlen Canyon, AZ - Navajo BridgeNavajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River in Coconino County Arizona by Brian Grogan, 1993.

 

The historic bridge was constructed as two cantilevered arch halves, each extending 308 feet over the gorge. The flagstaff side of the arch was erected first, taking two months to complete. The Fredonia side was finished two and a half months later, with the arch being closed on September 12, 1928. At the time of its construction, it was the highest steel arch bridge in the world, at 467 feet above the river.  It was only 18 feet wide. The total cost of construction was $390 Thousand. 

 

Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon

 

However, the bridge was never intended to carry the larger, heavier traffic of today. So in the early 1990s, the Arizona Department of Transportation decided to build a second bridge (pictured above) for modern transportation needs "that was sensitive to the environment and compatible with the historic bridge." Construction techniques used on the original in 1928 were also used for the new bridge, which was completed on October 14, 1994. This time, the roadway's width would be 44 feet, and total construction cost would be almost $15 million. Bridge Engineer Jerry A. Cannon is quoted as saying "The major challenges for the second bridge were environmental concerns and coordination with government agencies that didn't exist when the first bridge was built."

 


A Dam Many Don't Want

 

Glen Canyon, AZ - Dam at Page, AZGlen Canyon, AZ - Dam at Page, AZThe Glen Canyon Dam just outside of Page, Az creates Lake Powell. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2021.

 

Arizona Highway 89A meets up with 89 at Bitter Springs, where we headed back north to Page, AZ, which is home to Glen Canyon Dam. Constructed from 1956 to 1966, the dam forms Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S. It's named for Glen Canyon, which is mostly filled with its capacity of 27 million acre-feet of Colorado River water. 

 

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellGlen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellLake Powell on the other side of Glen Canyon Dam. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2021.

 

Lake Powell, named for explorer John Wesley Powell, was created to help serve the rapid population growth in the Colorado River Basin. However, the creation of the Dam and Lake Powell have been questioned by some who criticize the large evaporation losses and their impact on the ecology of the Grand Canyon, which lies downstream. The lake became a catalyst for the modern environmental movement, with groups continuing to advocate for the removal of Glen Canyon Dam to this day. Water managers and utilities argue the fact that the dam is a major source of renewable energy and vital defense against severe drought in the Lower Colorado Basin. Glen Canyon Dam was one of the last of its size to be built in the U.S. 

 

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellGlen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellLake Powell on the other side of Glen Canyon Dam just outside of Page, AZ. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

Speaking of drought, we found Lake Powell to be very similar to the current climate at Lake Mead, with levels way down at the moment. However, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, including Lake Powell, continues to draw millions of tourists each year. It encompasses over 1.25 million acres that include Lees Ferry, Horseshoe Bend, Rainbow Bridge, and much more. See the National Park Service's website here for more information

 

A Spectacular Drive

 

Monument Valley AreaOwl RockOwl Rock in the Monument Valley area.

 

Although we were just passing through along Hwy 163,  Monument Valley provided some incredible views of a spectacular landscape. 

 

Monument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UT

 

Monument Valley, spanning the border of Utah and Arizona, is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park. While the park was closed due to the pandemic, we still had plenty of sights to see along the highway. Some of the most photographed and majestic points on earth can be found here, with sandstone towers up to 1,000 feet tall. 
 

Monument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UT

 

It's a rugged beauty that we hope is on your bucket list. See this 2005 article from Melody Moser for a feeling of waking up to this incredible beauty

Also, See our Article "The Navajo Nation."

For more information and the current visitor status of Monument Valley Tribal Park, see their website here

 

 

Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT

 

Continuing on Hwy 163, then US 191, we came to Bluff, UT, home of the recreated Bluff Fort. 

 

Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT
This was a pleasant stop, one great for the family or those interested in Pioneer life for Mormons who established the original Fort back in 1881. 

 

Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT

 

The Fort didn't last long and was abandoned in 1883, however, Bluff Fort Historic Site preserves the history of an interesting time along the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, an arduous journey for pioneers that extended 260 miles. See Bluff Utah's website for more information and include this as a stop if you are journeying to or from Monument Valley. 

 

Welcome to New Mexico (via Utah, Arizona, & Colorado all at once)

 

Aztec Ruins National Monument, NMAztec Ruins National Monument, NMAztec Ruins National Monument, NM

 

Traveling out of Bluff on UT Hwy 162, crossing into Colorado on Hwy 41, then down Highway 160 back into Arizona, and Highway 64 into New Mexico, you pass right by Four Corners Monument, another Navajo Nation Monument.  We wanted to go stand in all 4 states at the same time, but again, the Navajo sites are closed to the public due to the pandemic.  For information about the one place in the US where you can stand in four states at once, see the Navajo Nation Parks website here

That's alright though, as we pushed on past Farmington, taking NM Hwy 516 to Aztec, the site of the Aztec Ruins National Monument. 

 
Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - 4Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - 4Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico by Dave Alexander.

 

Don't be misled by the name, the Aztecs didn't live here, instead, it was the Anasazi (Puebloans) who constructed the large planned community over 1,000 years ago. The ruins were named when 19th-century American settlers misattributed their construction to the Aztecs of Mexico. This extensive community likely served as a trade, ceremonial, and administrative center for many of the scattered communities associated with Chaco Canyon

 

Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - Great Kiva InteriorAztec Ruins National Monument, NM - Great Kiva InteriorAztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

Part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park World Heritage Site, the Aztec Ruins National Monument is the largest ancestral Pueblo in the Animas River Valley. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1966.

Learn more in our Article "Aztec Ruins National Monument."

 

Also See: 

Chaco Canyon - Home of Ancestral Puebloans

Ancient Puebloans of the Southwest

Ancient Cities and Places of the Native Americans

 

 

Do you know the way to Santa Fe?

 

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteA view of Santa Fe from the site of Fort Marcy. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2021.

 

I know, I know... the song is about a California town with another name, but I've planted the earworm for ya. I shouldn't be the only one with Dionne Warwick stuck in my head. 

While we have been to Santa Fe before, we've never 'stayed' in Santa Fe, so on this journey, we wanted to have a more leisurely experience in exploring "The City Different". 
 

Santa Fe, NM - Oldest HouseSanta Fe, NM - Oldest HouseThis 800-year old Adobe house in Santa Fe, New Mexico is considered to be the oldest house in the United States. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

Established in 1610, Santa Fe, New Mexico is the third oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States. Only St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565, and Jamestown, Virginia are older. It is also the oldest capital city in the U.S, serving under five different governments; Spain, Tewa Puebloans, Mexico,  Confederate States of America, and the United States.

 

Santa Fe, NM - PlazaSanta Fe, NM - PlazaThe Santa Fe, New Mexico Palace on the Plaza by Henry Brown, 1885 Santa Fe, NM - Palace of GovernorsSanta Fe, NM - Palace of GovernorsSanta Fe, NM - Palace of Governors
Built upon the ruins of an abandoned Tanoan Indian village, Santa Fe was the capital of the “Kingdom of New Mexico,” which was claimed for Spain by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Its first governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, gave the city its full name, “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís,” or “The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”.
 

The Palace of the Governors (in the two photos above) was built between 1610 and 1612 and is the country's oldest government building.

 

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Chapel 1873Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Chapel 1873The San Miguel Mission, also known as San Miguel Chapel, is a Spanish colonial mission church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Built between about 1610 and 1626, it is claimed to be the oldest church in the United States. Vintage photo taken in 1888. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Mission, 1888Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Mission, 1888The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, New Mexico was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 but was rebuilt in 1710 following the Spanish reconquest and served for a time as a chapel for the Spanish soldiers. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel ChurchSanta Fe, NM - San Miguel ChurchSanta Fe, NM - San Miguel Church

 

San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe (in the three photos above) is the oldest church in the continental United States, constructed around 1610. 

 

Santa Fe, NM - Downtown Santa Fe TrailSanta Fe, NM - Downtown Santa Fe TrailAlong the Old Santa Fe Trail in Downtown Santa Fe. Photo by Dave Alexander.

 

Santa Fe remained Spain’s provincial seat until 1821 when Mexico won its independence from Spain and Santa Fe became the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. At this time, the Spanish policy of closed empire ended, and American trappers and traders moved into the region. William Becknell soon opened the l,000-mile-long Santa Fe Trail, leaving from FranklinMissouri, with 21 men and a pack train of goods. Before long, Santa Fe would become the primary destination of hundreds of travelers seeking to trade with the city or move further west.

Begin your journey on the Santa Fe Trail, which is celebrating its 200th Anniversary, by visiting our extensive section of articles starting HERE



Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy, 1868Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy, 1868Fort Marcy in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1868. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteFort Marcy Site today (2021)

 

On August 18, 1846, during the early period of the Mexican-American War, an American army general, Stephen Watts Kearny, took Santa Fe and raised the American flag over the Plaza. There, he built Fort Marcy to prevent an uprising by Santa Fe citizens, though it was never needed. Although the Fort is gone today, the site is Fort Marcy Ruins at Historic Fort Marcy Park, which is part of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, the “Royal Road of the Interior." It was the earliest Euro-American trade route in the United States.
 

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy - Cross of the MartyrsSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy - Cross of the MartyrsThe Cross of the Martyrs, next too Fort Marcy Ruins, is a memorial to 21 Franciscan priests and friars killed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2021.

Also here, you will find the Cross of the Martyrs, a memorial to 21 Franciscan priests and friars killed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. On August 10, 1680, an attack by the Taos, Picuri, and Tewa Indians in their respective pueblos, killed 21 of the province’s 40 Franciscans, and another 380 Spaniards, including men, women, and children. The Spaniards who were able to escape fled to Santa Fe and to the Isleta Pueblo, one of the few pueblos that did not participate in the rebellion.

Learn More, see our Related Articles:

Fort Marcy

Mexican-American War

Pueblo Revolt – Rising Up Against the Spaniards

 

Did you know America's Mother Road used to go through Santa Fe? 

 

Santa Fe, NM - LaFonda HotelSanta Fe, NM - LaFonda HotelThe La Fonda Hotel in downtown Santa Fe sits on a pre-1937 alignment of Route 66.

 

From 1926 when it was created, to 1937, Route 66 entered the state capital along College Street (now Old Santa Fe Trail), then turned west on Water Street at the rear of the La Fonda Hotel. It exited downtown Santa Fe along Galisteo Street and turned south upon connecting with Cerrillos Street. The primary significance of the pre-1937 alignment of Route 66 in New Mexico lies in how it reflects the early federal highway system’s use of already existing patterns of movement across the land. Historically, New Mexico’s primary orientation had been north and south with patterns determined by routes that followed the Rio Grande and Pecos Valleys, and that relied upon infrequent mountain passes for latitudinal movement. 

 

Santa Fe, NM - El Rey Inn SunsetSanta Fe, NM - El Rey Inn SunsetAt sunset the historic El Rey Inn on the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 in Santa Fe, New Mexico is bathed in an inviting golden glow that soothes the soul. Photo by Jim Hinckley.

 

Due to political maneuverings of the New Mexico Governor in 1937, Route 66 was rerouted, bypassing Santa Fe and the Pecos River Valley. Having lost his re-election, Governor Hannett blamed the Santa Fe politicians for losing, and vowing to get even, he rerouted the highway in his last few months as governor.  So hastily was the road built, that it barreled through both public and private lands without the benefit of official right-of-ways.

 

Santa Fe, NM - StreetSanta Fe, NM - StreetPre-1937 Route 66 through downtown Santa Fe.

 

By the time the new governor was in place, a new highway connected Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque, bypassing the capital city and its many businesses. The new route was more direct and reduced some of the more treacherous road conditions.

 

Much more in and Around Santa Fe

 

Chimayo, NM - El Santuario ShrineChimayo, NM - El Santuario ShrineChimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine

 

While I've shown only a few things here about Santa Fe, there is much much more beyond Downtown.  In fact, day trips from Santa Fe will take you to many historic sites and places. One of those is the El Santuario de Chimayó, in Chimayo north of Santa Fe. 

 

Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church InteriorChimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church InteriorEl Santuario Shrine Church Interior
A National Historic Landmark, the church was built in 1816, replacing a small chapel that had been there since 1810.  The site is noted for its history as a contemporary pilgrimage site and sees around 300,000 visitors a year.  It has been called by some "the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the U.S.

 

Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church Interior - 3Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church Interior - 3El Santuario Shrine

 

In 1929, members of the newly formed Spanish Colonial Arts Society bought the property and donated it to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.


 

Chimayo, NM - Gallery-CafeChimayo, NM - Gallery-CafeShops around the El Santuario de Chimayó

 

The Church lies in the Potrero plaza of Chimayó, which offers visitors shopping and dining.  Well worth our visit as there is a lot more here to see and learn, including legends of healing powers related to the shrine.  

There are also several Native American Pueblo's around Santa Fe that during 'normal times' would be worth your visit, although most of them were closed off during the pandemic. We would have loved to spend even more time in Santa Fe, in fact, I would suggest spending at least 5 days in the State Capital to explore everything the area has to offer.  I think the Official Santa Fe Travel Site says it best:

"Santa Fe, New Mexico is a city unlike any other, truly living up to its tagline, The City Different, at every turn. With legendary history and culture around every corner, an art scene that spans from traditional to contemporary, accommodations with a local feel yet world-class status, award-winning cuisine that’s as eclectic as it is sumptuous, and countless experiences to encounter, you’re sure to uncover something different about yourself when you visit."
 

Learn more about Santa Fe via our numerous related articles: 

Santa Fe, New Mexico – The City Different

The Santa Fe Trade, By Helen Haines, 1891

Mary Donoho – First Lady of the Santa Fe Trail

Doña Gertrudis Barceló – Gambling Queen of Santa Fe

Haunted Santa Fe

Haunted La Fonda Hotel

 

New Mexico History is Rich!  Start your exploration via our New Mexico Main Page HERE

Explore our New Mexico Photo Print Galleries HERE

 

Mora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo MountainsMora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo MountainsMora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The Land of Enchantment sent us off with a bit of snow in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as we traveled through Mora and eventually out to Clayton New Mexico on the way home.  Since leaving Warsaw on February 4, we traveled 5,300 miles...each mile an adventure to remember.  If you are just reaching this blog, I suggest starting with Talimena Scenic Views, Day one of our Winter 21 journey.  


We're already planning our next trip for late summer, somewhere in the Eastern U.S. 

Cya on the road!

 

HearHere_logo_whiteOnBlueHearHere_logo_whiteOnBlue We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for your phone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America. Legends of America is proud to partner with HearHere, with many of our stories being narrated and loaded up now. Go to their website here for more information

 

 

For RV'ers 

During this segment of our journey, we stayed at the following: 

Page Lake Powell Campground (Page, AZ)

Page RV ParkPage RV ParkNot so level spot at the Page & Lake Powell RV Park. This park is clean, well-kept, and close to many amenities. The staff was very friendly. However, like many other campgrounds, they list one of their amenities as wifi, of which we had NONE, even at 3 am. Worse, was the spot that they put us in was sloped and uneven.  There were plenty of other sites available that were level and closer to the office, where wifi is usually better. The noise on the neighboring highway is very loud, and making things worse, was a motorcycle and an ATV periodically zooming loudly through the campground. If we were to do it again, we would stay at Lake Powell, Lees Ferry, or even another town before we would stay here. Unfortunately, for travelers, this is the only campground in Page.


 

Moore's RV Park and Campground (Bloomfield, NM)

 

Really wish I could find the pictures from our visit here.  We only stayed a night, however, this was an "excellent" campground. Level spots, full hookups, a dual dog run (with grass), and very friendly staff. Would stay here again!

 

Trailer Ranch RV Resort (Santa Fe, NM)

 

TrailerRanch SantaFeTrailerRanch SantaFe

This is an adult-only RV Park, and 55+ community.  Excellent location within the Santa Fe area.  Off a major road, however, the noise wasn't bad, and it's surrounded by adobe walls. Very friendly staff and good wifi most of the time. Full hookups, laundry, etc.  A little pricy, but would stay here again. 


 

 

 

 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Aztec Ruins Bluff Fort Glen Canyon Dam Lake Powell Lees Ferry Monument Valley Navajo Bridge Santa Fe Vermilion Cliffs https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/4/do-you-know-way-to-santa-fe Wed, 07 Apr 2021 18:57:08 GMT
Caliente to Pipe Spring with Iron Town In-between https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/caliente-to-pipe-spring This blog is dedicated to Mr. Riley. See ya on the rainbow bridge, little man. 

Caliente

Caliente, NV - AreaCaliente, NV - AreaNear Caliente, Nevada.

 

That's Nevada Highway 93 coming into Caliente.  Caliente, a historic railroad town, is located in east-central Lincoln County at U.S. Route 93 and Nevada Highway 317. The quiet town mountain town, shaded by beautiful cottonwood trees, is the only incorporated community in Lincoln County.

 

Caliente, NV - Business District early 1900sCaliente, NV - Business District early 1900sEarly 1900s in Caliente, NV

 

Located in a meadow tucked among rugged canyons and sweeping mountain ranges, the earliest settlers were ranchers and farmers who took advantage of Clover Creek and the area’s natural hot springs.

 

Caliente, NV - Boxcar MuseumCaliente, NV - Boxcar MuseumBoxcar Museum in Caliente. Photo by Dave Alexander.

 

 

Caliente, NV - DepotCaliente, NV - DepotThe old train depot in Caliente now serves as city offices. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

In 1889, there was a need for a north-south railroad line between Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. There were soon two railroad lines competing for the opportunity, including the Union Pacific Railroad and Oregon Short Line, but only one could fit through the canyon, and Union Pacific took control of the project.

 

Caliente, NV - Hot Springs MotelCaliente, NV - Hot Springs MotelHot Springs Motel was leased out for the year while we were there in Caliente, NV.


Charles Culverwell owned the hot springs, and by 1901 he had opened the Culverwell Hotel that featured hot mineral baths. The business also featured a blacksmith shop and a livery stable. Soon everyone began calling him the “City Mayor.” Though the hotel no longer stands, hot mineral baths can normally be enjoyed at the Caliente Hot Springs Motel and Spa Hotel. However, when we visited in 2021, it was closed to the public and was leased long-term.
 

Caliente, NV - Front Street Building RowCaliente, NV - Front Street Building Row

 

In 1901 an official town was founded on land owned by the Culverwell brothers. It was first named “Calientes,” meaning “hot,” for the hot springs in the area. When a post office was established on August 3, 1901, the “s” was dropped from the name, and the community was simply called “Caliente.” That year, the first train arrived in the new town.

 

Caliente, NV - Smith-Cornelius HotelCaliente, NV - Smith-Cornelius HotelSmith-Cornelius Hotel in Caliente, NV

 

In about 1918, the historic Smith-Cornelius Hotel was built at the corner of Front and Spring Streets (U.S. Hwy 93.) First called the Smith Hotel, the three-story stucco building was built by Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Smith in a simple vernacular architectural style reflecting the time’s design tastes. The first floor featured three retail spaces, one of which was always a café. One of the oldest surviving buildings in Caliente, it is listed on the National Historic Register today.

 

Caliente, NV - Underhill Building RowCaliente, NV - Underhill Building RowUnderhill Building Row in Caliente, NV

 

The Richards Railroad Hotel was built between 1910 to 1915 by Harry Underhill used primarily as living quarters for railroad workers. This historic building, vacant today, still stands in Caliente toward the east end of Clover Street, where several other historic Underhill buildings stand.

Read more about the interesting history of Caliente in our article here

Also in this area, Delamar - The Widowmaker
 

 

Pioche

Pioche, NV - Main StreetPioche, NV - Main StreetHighway 93 (Main Street) through Pioche, NV.

 

Caliente may be the only incorporated community in Lincoln County, but higher up, Pioche retains the County Seat. Pioche was first settled by Joseph Grange and E. M. Chubard, who erected a small furnace in 1868. However, the project was a failure and they soon abandoned the location.

In the spring of 1868, Francois Pioche, a San Francisco financier, sent Charles E. Hoffman to the area to purchase property and mining claims. A smelter was then built and the Meadow Valley Mining Company was incorporated.

 

Pioche, NV - FirehousePioche, NV - FirehouseOn the way through Pioche on Hwy 93.

 

A town sprang up around the claims on the “panacker ledge.” In 1869 P. McCannon, L. Lacour, and A. M. Bush plotted out a townsite, and the town was named Pioche City for Francois Pioche, the San Francisco businessman.

By the early 1870s, Pioche had become the largest and most important silver mining towns in southeastern Nevada with an estimated population of 10,000 people by 1871. That year, the county seat was moved from Hiko to Pioche in February. It remains there today.

 

Pioche, NV - Godbe's MillPioche, NV - Godbe's MillGodbe's Mill near Pioche, NV

 

The Pioche Consolidated Mill, also known as the Godbe Mill, was built in 1891 at the site of the original Raymond & Ely No. 1 shaft just to the east of Pioche, at a place called West Point. The smelter processed ore not only for Pioche but also for Jackrabbit and other nearby camps. The same year, the Pioche Consolidated bought the remaining assets of the abandoned Pioche & Bullionville Railroad in the immediate area and in 1891 started construction of the Pioche Pacific Railroad which would serve the Pioche, Jackrabbit, and Bristol mines. The mill burned in 1893 but was quickly rebuilt.

 

Pioche, NV - Gem TheaterPioche, NV - Gem TheaterGem Theatre in Pioche, Nv

 

Pioche, NV - Thompson's Opera HousePioche, NV - Thompson's Opera HouseThompson's Opera House in Pioche, NV

 

In March 1873 the Brown Opera House was built by Aleck Brown. It was constructed of wood in a classic revival style combined with an early pioneer board construction. Almost two decades later, it was renamed the Thompson Opera House in April 1892. Years later it was used as a movie house. However, when the Gem Theater was built right next door, the Opera House was used for weekly dances for many years. Today the Brown/Thompson Opera House continues to stand on Main Street.

 

Pioche, NV - Mountain View HotelPioche, NV - Mountain View HotelMountain View Hotel in Pioche, NV

 

In 1895, the Mountain View Hotel was built by the Ely Valley Mines to house their guests. It is a combination of styles including “Shingle” and early 1900s “Classic Box” styles. This old hotel served the lodging needs of dignitaries visiting Pioche on court business. President Herbert Hoover is said to have stayed in 1930.

 

Pioche, NV - First County CourthousePioche, NV - First County CourthousePioche, NV - First County Courthouse

 

The courthouse was completed in 1872 at a cost of $88,000, far exceeding the initial estimates and budget. The original loan was then refinanced over and over again with bonds totaling nearly $1 million. The loan wasn’t paid off until 1937, four years after the building had been condemned. The old courthouse still stands as well as the original town jail, with its 16-inch walls and tiny windows. The jail was so secure that not a single inmate ever escaped.

Learn more about the once-thriving, wild west, now near ghost town of Pioche via our article here
 

 

Wait, didn't she say "No more unknown roads?"

Do Not Enter gate at Bristol Wells, NVBristol Wells, NV - Do Not EnterIt was a bust trying to see the ghost mining camp of Bristol Wells, NV.

 

Outside of Pioche, we attempted to find the ghost town of Bristol Wells.  After another dirt and rock journey up a mountain, we were greeted with a closed gate right at the entrance to the remains of the mining camp. 

 

Bristol Wells, NV - Road up to gateBristol Wells, NV - Road up to gateThe path left behind. Taken from the closed gate at Bristol Wells, NV

 

This was the view behind us at the gate, with our journey beginning in the valley below off highway 93. You win some/lose some I guess. One thing for sure, my mountain driving skills are honed after this trip. 

Begin your Journey through Nevada via our Nevada main page here

 

Pushing East -  Arizona via Utah. 

Old Iron Town, UT - RuinsOld Iron Town, UT - RuinsRuins at the Old Iron Town, UT.

 

We left the Caliente and Pioche area, turning off Hwy 93 at Panaca, and headed toward Utah on NV 319, UT 56 where our next stop was Old Iron Town.  Founded in the late 1860s, it was established to mine iron from Iron Mountain. Iron was needed as an important part of the Mormon economy. 

 

Old Iron Town, UT - Beehive Charcoal FurnaceOld Iron Town, UT - Beehive Charcoal FurnaceThe Old Iron Town ruins feature a preserved beehive style charcoal oven and a furnace known as an "Arastra", which prepared sands for molds.

 

A Furnace was built and by 1874 about 400 pounds of Pig Iron was produced. Operations also ceased about that time, with the Panic of 1873 forcing its closure. At its peak, the settlement included a schoolhouse, blacksmith, charcoal furnaces, and a foundry. The city was abandoned in 1876.

 

Old Iron Town, UT - ViewOld Iron Town, UT - ViewView from Old Iron Town, UT

 

The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and still features the beehive style charcoal oven and furnace. You'll also find remains of the original foundry. 

For more information about Old Iron Town, including learning opportunities in Cedar City,  see the website "Discover the City - Visit Cedar City."

 

If you are into old Iron towns, you might also like this one from our Michigan Adventure.  Fayette, Michigan Historic Town Site. 

 

Utah, you had me at Hurricane. 

Hurricane, UTHurricane, UTPhoto of Hurricane, UT from an overlook on Hwy 59.

 

One thing in this country I think everyone can agree on.  The views in Utah are spectacular.  We headed out of Cedar City, down Interstate 15 to Anderson Junction, then off on Highway 17 toward Hurricane, Utah. It appears to be pretty solid development as you go from one town to the next without realizing it.  We turned onto UT Hwy 59 East in Hurricane and stopped for a view of the valley below.  The pic above probably doesn't do justice to the incredible view. Hope you have a chance to experience this drive. 

We've done this area before in 2008, including Zion National Park nearby.  You can read about our adventures via various articles listed on our Utah Main Page. 

 

 

Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation and Pipe Spring National Monument

Pipe Springs National Monument, UtahPipe Springs National Monument, UtahPipe Springs National Monument, Utah

 

Utah Highway 59 turns into Arizona Highway 389, and not too far you will reach the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation and Pipe Spring. The natural spring has been a draw for Native American's for at least a thousand years. 

 

Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - WagonPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - WagonPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Wagon

 

In the 1860s, Mormons from St. George brought cattle to the area, establishing a large ranch and setting up a conflict with the local Paiute Native American tribe. The natives raided Pipe Spring, which led to a stone fort being built over the spring in 1872. 

 

Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert TelegraphPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert TelegraphPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert Telegraph

 

The First Telegraph in Arizona was sent from Pipe Spring. In 1873 the fort and ranch were purchased by Mormon leader Brigham Young. The Bishop of nearby Grafton, Utah, Anson Perry Winsor, was hired to operate the ranch and maintain the fort and it was known as Winsor Castle.

 

Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph QuartersPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph QuartersPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph Quarters

 

In addition to serving as a refuge for polygamists, the isolated Pipe Spring was a way station for those traveling what is called the "Arizona Strip", or the section of Arizona separated by the Grand Canyon

 

Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - LonghornPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - LonghornPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Longhorn

 

The Church lost ownership of the property through penalties involved in the federal Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, which made non-publicly recorded marriages a felony. As a federal offense, authorities were authorized to seize personal and church assets and entire families went “underground” to avoid imprisonment. 


The Paiute tribe was greatly affected by the settlement but continued to live in the area when the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was established in 1907.  Pipe Spring ranch, surrounded by the reservation, was purchased by the government in 1923 and set aside as a National Monument to western pioneer life. 

 

Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah

 

During your visit, tour the Museum that gives a good overview of the human history in the area, take a tour of the buildings, see "living history" demonstrations, or hike the half mail trail offering a glimpse of life in the Old West. 

For more information about Pipe Spring, see the National Park Service website here

Read more about the Paiute Tribe in our article here. 

Read about the Mormons in the American West in our articles beginning here. 

 

Not far from this area:

Grafton - Virgin River Ghost Town

Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

Zion National Park

 

Next Up.. Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, the Navajo Bridge, and much more as we push to our final 'primary' destination, Santa Fe New Mexico. 

Cya on the road!

Dave

 

HearHere_logo_whiteOnBlueHearHere_logo_whiteOnBlue

We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for your phone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America. Legends of America is proud to partner with HearHere, with many of our stories being narrated and loaded up now. Go to their website here for more information

 

For RV'ers

Caliente, NV - Young's RV ParkCaliente, NV - Young's RV ParkSnow found us again in Caliente at Young's RV Park.

 

During our visit to Caliente and Pioche, we stayed at Young's RV Park in Caliente. Nice, clean RV park with friendly management, wifi, and small clean laundry facility. Would stay again if ever in the area. 

 

Kaibab Paiute RV Campground Kaibab-Paiute-RV-Campground-Pipe-SpringKaibab Paiute RV Campground with Pipe Spring National Monument visible in the background.

While in the Pipe Spring area, we stayed at Kaibab Paiute RV Campground.  Be forewarned, cell service (at least ATT) was nonexistent here. Good Wifi during off-peak hours, clean, mostly level parking, a little convenience store just up the road, and conveniently located next to Pipe Spring National Monument.  They had a large grass area for our furry kids. 

 


 

Speaking of which...

On A Personal Note - We said goodbye to Mr. Riley on the Paiute Reservation
 

Mr. RileyMr. RileyLegends' Mascot Mr. Riley.

 

From Kathy: 

Riley Alexander

c.2007-March 17, 2021

Beautiful Riley was a full-blooded Silky Terrier (Yorkie type.) We adopted him in 2012, at which time the vet said he was about four years old. He had been found wandering the streets in Sedalia in the middle of winter, and when picked up was starving, mangy, and very thin. When we got him, he was much better, but was very afraid of males, was skittish, and never barked, or made any other noise for that matter.

 

Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach. Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach. Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach.

 

It took our other dog, Kaydee, a little bit of time to warm up to him, but they soon became fast friends.

 

Mr. Riley Mr. Riley He loved his belly rubs.

 

Riley ended up loving Dave and very much liked most other men if they were nice to him, barked his fool head off -- especially if any kind of big dog was around, and would "purr" when petted and loved on.

 

Dave and Riley at Pipe SpringsDave and Riley at Pipe SpringsComforting Mr. Riley in his final days.

 

He had been suffering from a collapsed trachea for about a year and was given meds to keep him comfortable, but there was little else that could be done. In the past couple of weeks, his body started to shut down and he died at about 4:00 am on St. Patrick's Day, at an RV Park on the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation in Arizona.

 

Mr. Riley and Miss Kaydee, Legends' furry mascots. Legends' Furry MascotsMr. Riley and Miss Kaydee, Legends' furry mascots in Michigan.

There are no words for “goodbye” in Paiute because they did not want to imply they weren't going to see a friend again when they parted.

So we said, Pe-sha uh, which means Thank you - for bringing so much joy to our lives.

"May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there. May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder." -- Cherokee Blessing

Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Caliente history Hurricane Iron Town mining Nevada Pioche Pipe Spring National Monument railroad Utah views https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/caliente-to-pipe-spring Wed, 24 Mar 2021 21:10:24 GMT
Giant Rabbits and an Off Road Nail Biter in Nevada https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/giant-rabbits-and-an-off-road-nail-biter-in-nevada Welcome to Nevada, Laughlin style. 

 

Laughlin, NV - Pioneer CowboyLaughlin, NV - Pioneer CowboyWelcome to Laughlin (Pioneer Cowboy)

 

We spent some time in Bullhead City, AZ before crossing over into Laughlin. The town of Bullhead City is relatively new, established in the mid-1900s, however, it is built on the site that once was a town called Hardy in the mid to late 1800s. 

 

Laughlin, NV - ViewLaughlin, NV - ViewA view of Laughlin Nevada from the Arizona side.

 

Many of Bullhead City's residents are employed across the Colorado River in Laughlin, a gambling mecca in Nevada. Laughlin got its start by Vegas Club owner Don Laughlin, who purchased South Point, the name given to the southern tip of Nevada, in 1964. Laughlin opened the Riverside Resort and the small town expanded its gambling operations from there. 

 

Laughlin, NV - Colorado Belle ClosedLaughlin, NV - Colorado Belle ClosedThe Colorado Belle was a victim of the COVID Pandemic.

 

However, it looked pretty bleak for the gaming industry during our visit.  We saw more than one of what appeared to be closed casinos, including the Colorado Belle.  Like many others, the Belle was ordered closed by the State during the early part of the 2020 Pandemic, and shortly after announced that they would remain closed for good. 

 

Laughlin, NV - Riverside CasinoLaughlin, NV - Riverside CasinoDon Laughlin's Riverside Casino.

 

We did see some active gambling, including Laughlin's original Riverside Hotel & Casino, but not the crowds we would have expected during a normal year. 

 

Also along our Path:

Searchlight

Eldorado Canyon

 

 

The town that built Boulder Dam

 

Boulder City, AZ - Flying Saucer Store AlienBoulder City, AZ - Flying Saucer Store AlienGreetings Earthling, welcome to Boulder City.

 

Greetings Earthlings. We aren't big gamblers anymore, so on to more fun history in Nevada.  Our next stop was Boulder City, the town that built Boulder Dam...or, was it the dam that built the town? 

 

HooverDambronze sculptureHighsmith2018Hoover Dam, NV - Bronze SculptureSteven Liguoria's 1995 bronze sculpture, at Hoover Dam, of Joe Kine, one of the last surviving high scalers who worked on the dam project in the early 1930s. The massive Hoover Dam straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Photo by Carol Highsmith.
The idea to build a dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River dates back to 1900, however it wasn't approved by Congress until 1928, with construction starting in 1931. The massive structure, about 30 miles from Las Vegas, brought in a huge influx of unemployed workers, which numbered over 5,000 by 1934.  Over 100 of them would die during the dam's construction. 
 

HooverDamCarolHighsmithHoover Dam, NV - ViewAbove Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nevada. Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover. Photo by Carol Highsmith.
The Government ordered the construction companies to build a town to house all the workers, which became Boulder City.  Much to the town's chagrin, politics came into play in 1947 and the dam was renamed Hoover Dam, after President Herbert Hoover. 

Interesting side note; Hoover was in office during the construction, and his Secretary of the Interior had named it Hoover Dam then, but that hadn't been done for a sitting president before, so when Roosevelt took office in 1933 his administration renamed it back to what was originally considered, Boulder Dam. The renaming of the Dam back to Hoover in 1947 is still controversial, depending on your political lens. 

 

Boulder City, AZ - Souvenir StoreBoulder City, AZ - Souvenir StoreDead Cows for Sale in Boulder City.

 

Ahh, quirky and fun Boulder City. Dead Cows on sale here at this corner joint toward one end of Nevada Way. We assume that's leather, but who knows. Many enjoy strolling down Nevada Way for a touch of nostalgia and fun shopping. 

 

Boulder City, NV - House of AntiquesBoulder City, NV - House of AntiquesSherman's House of Antiques, Boulder City Nevada.

 

We got a kick out of the quirkiness. While you are in this area, be sure to visit the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, just off Nevada Way on Arizona St in the historic Boulder Dam Hotel. 

 

Boulder City, NV - Hotel MuseumBoulder City, NV - Hotel MuseumThe Historic Boulder Dam Hotel and Museum

 

The hotel, built in 1933, preserves the classic style of the era and still offers 21 rooms for accommodations. Today it is listed on the National Register of Historic places, as well as much of downtown Boulder City. 

 

Walk with me for a moment in Bootleg Canyon. 

 

Boulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Big RabbitBoulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Big RabbitWelcome to Bootleg Canyon Park, Boulder City, Nevada.

 

On the outskirts of Boulder City, you'll find some fun outdoor recreation at Boulder City's Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden

 

Boulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Road RunnerBoulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Road Runner

 

The trail is part of Boulder City's Municipal Park in Bootleg Canyon. It's a fun, paved, and educational 1800 feet path with interesting factoids about the creatures exhibited. 

 

Boulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park -ScorpionBoulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park -ScorpionScorpion in Bootleg Canyon.

 

Bootleg Canyon is also great for Biking enthusiasts, and we saw many while we were there on provided bike trails. 

 

 

Dry Camping at Boulder Beach


Lake Meade, NV - Boulder Beach DogLake Meade, NV - Boulder Beach DogTime for a swim at Boulder Beach


Just outside of Boulder City, and only minutes away from Las Vegas, Boulder Beach stretches for a mile in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Of course, our Miss Kaydee immediately had to test the water. 

 

Boulder Beach CampBoulder Beach CampDry camping at Boulder Beach

 

Boulder Beach has an RV Park with hookups, but we opted for the Campground next door. This area has been frequented since Lake Mead was created, and over time the campground was improved.  Just within the past decade or so, level pads were poured, and other improvements made, to attract RV'ers like us. There is potable water available throughout the campground, and if you are lucky enough, you might get a spot within your hose length.  

 

Lake Meade, NV - Boulder Beach SurfingLake Meade, NV - Boulder Beach Surfing

Take note this is a first come first serve Campground. We got there around 10 am on a weekday and found several open.  


Echo Bay, Lake Meade, NVEcho Bay, Lake Meade, NVOld Hotel and Restaurant now closed at Echo Bay.
Not everything around Lake Mead is fairing well though.  Take Echo Bay for example. This hotel and restaurant were open within the past decade or so, but the water has receded so far, that what was once a popular destination for houseboats is now sitting empty. There's still great fishing and camping here, including RVs.  However, the overall level of Lake Mead dropped dramatically during drought years.  Although since 2016 it is back on the rise, it is still only 44%, which as of 2020 was its highest level in six years.  One local told us she doubts Echo Bay will ever be what it used to be. 


St. Thomas, Lake Meade, NVSt. Thomas, Lake Meade, NVSt. Thomas used to be underwater, but now the ghost town has reappeared at Lake Meade.

 

What used to be the town of St. Thomas found itself at the bottom of Lake Mead after Boulder Dam was built.  A former Mormon settlement established in 1865, the town thrived as a stopping point between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Funny thing though, the Mormon settlers thought they were still in Utah/Arizona Territories, and several years later Nevada state authorities demanded they pay 5 years of back taxes. The Mormons refused and instead abandoned the town, burning down their houses, with the exception of one family.

Then in the 1880s, new settlers began farming the rich soil, and St. Thomas came back to life. Its peak population was around 500, and despite no indoor plumbing or electricity, life was happy in the little town. That was until the building of Boulder Dam, at which point the Government bought them out and told them to relocate. After Lake Mead reached its high water mark, St. Thomas lay 60 feet below the surface.  Today you can take a trail hike to the site which is accessible due to the low water level. 

There is so much more we didn't see around Lake Mead, but we highly recommend a visit if you are into relaxation and water fun. Visit the National Parks Lake Mead web pages for more information on various campgrounds and lake activities. 

Read more about the history of this area in our article "The Ghosts of Lake Mead"

 

Las Vegas, NV - ArchLas Vegas, NV - ArchRoad Construction on Las Vegas BLVD, 2021.


We've done Vegas.  I used to fly into Vegas every April for the annual National Association of Broadcasters Show. This was back when I was still in the corporate world, so while I worked the show, Kathy would fly out to meet me and explore the area.  
 

 

Las Vegas, NV - Elvis WeddingsLas Vegas, NV - Elvis WeddingsHunka Hunka burning love.

 

On our way through this time, we continued down Las Vegas Boulevard toward parts we haven't ventured before.  

 

Las Vegas, NV - Fremont HotelLas Vegas, NV - Fremont HotelPandemic Times in Las Vegas

 

You can tell the Pandemic has had a major impact on Vegas, but there were still areas with plenty of willing tourists with money to burn. 

 

 

Las Vegas, NV - Quirky SemisLas Vegas, NV - Quirky SemisWTF

 

We found this quirky statue near Freemont St.

 

Freemont, Las Vegas, Eat FreeLas Vegas Eat MoreOverweight? You get a bonus in Vegas.

 

Speaking of which, we drove by the Freemont Experience and see that if you weigh over 350 pounds, you can eat for free.  Ahh, Vegas.  See our article here about Sin City. 

 

Back to nature in the Valley of Fire!

 

LOA at the Valley of FireLOA at the Valley of FireValley of Fire, Nevada

 

On our way out of Boulder Beach, we journeyed through Lake Mead National Recreation Area and found the Valley of Fire State Park. 

 

 

Valley of Fire, NVValley of Fire, NVValley of Fire

  
Known for its bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops, petrified trees, petroglyphs dating back over 2000 years, and hiking trails, Valley of Fire is an excellent way to spend an afternoon away from the city or a weekend of camping.  Open year-round, there are numerous campsites, an RV Park, and plenty to see.

 

 

Valley of Fire, AZValley of Fire, AZA road through the Valley of Fire, AZ

 

Valley of Fire, Vegas Side EntryValley of Fire, Vegas Side EntryValley of Fire, Vegas Side Entry

 

Fortunately for us, we entered from the Lake Meade side.  This is what we saw coming out on the Vegas Side that Sunday Afternoon.  Needless to say, Valley of Fire State Park is a popular destination.  Plan ahead and visit their website for more information

 

They take their Aliens seriously in Nevada. 

 

ET Highway Crystal Springs, NVET Highway Crystal Springs, NVET Highway Crystal Springs, NV

 

We found our way back over to Highway 93, and took a northerly route for a few days parked in Alamo, Nevada.  We found more quirkiness not far north from there at the ghost town of Crystal Springs. That's where the Extraterrestial Highway (375) splits off and takes you to Area 51 Basecamp. 

 

Earth Station Crystal SpringsEarth Station Crystal SpringsEarth Station Crystal Springs

 

Actually, it's the Alien Research Center, a gift shop with all things Alien and more. We understand this was used as a base camp for "Storm Area 51", a 2019 ill-advised plan for hundreds to rush the gates of Area 51, an off-limits military area known for its legends of otherworldly craft. Although an associated festival drew over 1,000, only about 150 took part in the planned raid, and luckily only 7 were arrested.  Even luckier, no one was shot.  Read more about the Extraterrestrial Highway in our article here

Crystal Springs, now just a highway intersection and a few homes, was used as a watering place and campsite on an alternate route for the Mormon Trail back in the mid-1800s.  It was the provisional County Seat for Lincoln County in 1866, but when Governor Henry Blasdel along with 20 people decided to venture from Carson City with the intention of organizing Lincoln County, they found there were not enough voters for an official county. A year later the Lincoln County government was organized in nearby Hiko. 

During Blasdel's trip to the area, they made their way through Death Valley and ended up without supplies and food. One man died and others survived on lizards and other desert animals. So the Governor and another man raced to Logan City for supplies to get them to Crystal Springs. 

 

This brings us to our own journey to the Ghost Town of Logan City. 

 

Petroglyphs on the Way to Logan CityPetroglyphs on the Way to Logan CityPetroglyphs on the Way to Logan City

 

If you take Highway 318 out of Crystal Springs, and up to Nesbitt Lake, there is a dirt road through BLM land called Logan Canyon Road. You really should map it first, as you might not see it from the highway.  A gate is at the entrance that asks you to close it on your way through.  Hope you are in a high clearance vehicle with four-wheel drive for this adventure. 

As you near the Mt. Irish Wilderness, you'll find areas of Petroglyphs like the ones pictured above.  There are some BLM markers nearby to help you find them, so be on the lookout. 

 

View from Logan City Ghost TownView from Logan City Ghost TownView from Logan City Ghost Town

 

After a jaunt of about 9 miles (that takes over 20 minutes), up into the mountains, we finally reached Logan City, which has quite the view. 

 

Logan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish Wilderness

 

The mining town was established in 1865 with the discovery of silver on the eastern slope of Mount Irish. 

 

Logan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish Wilderness

 

Within a few months of setting up, the mining camp had a population of over 100, and by 1867 it grew to 300 when a mill was built in Hiko in the valley below. That year it also gained a post office. The mining town declined in 1869 due to the silver veins lacking depth, and new discoveries in Pioche.  Today, Logan City and Mount Irish Wilderness are frequented by off-road vehicles and hikers. 

 

High in the Mt. Irish WildernessMtIrishWildernessPassHigh in the Mt. Irish Wilderness

 

We're neither OHV (off-highway vehicle), or hikers, but our Ford F-150 was getting the job done. Instead of going back the way we came, we decided to try to find another ghost town on the other side of the mountain, so up we continued, on some pretty questionable road.  The picture above is about the time Kathy was saying "No More Unknown Roads!"  I was trying not to look, and keep my eye on the narrow path with nothing but a steep drop next to me.  That red X marks the spot where we left Highway 318 onto the BLM Road.  It took us what seemed like hours to go all the way back down and to ET Highway 375. 

Note to self, don't worry Kathy with little tidbits like "I hope we have enough gas", or "sure don't want to change a flat on this mountain." Stress can lead to an awfully quiet ride back to the RV. 

Also See:

Early Mining Discoveries in Nevada

See many of these images and more in our Southern Nevada Photo Print Gallery. 

 

Next, we mosey up to Caliente and explore Pioche. 

Cya on the road! - Dave

 

HearHereHearHereVisit HearHere for more about this revolutionizing Travel App.

We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for your phone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America. Legends of America is proud to partner with HearHere. Stay tuned for some of our stories to appear on the app soon. 

For RVers

While in Alamo, Nevada, we stayed at Picketts RV Park, in the heart of the Pahranagat Valley. An enjoyable stay with a grocery store and gas station next door.  Management was very accommodating. It's a small RV Park but seemed to be busy with many OHV travelers using it as a base for off-road adventures.  They offer large pull-through sites capable of serving rigs up to 90 feet, full hook-ups 30/50 amp, cable TV, Great WiFi, modern bathrooms with tub and shower, a small laundry facility in the office, Propane sales, and a dump station. 
 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Area 51 Boulder Beach Boulder City Crystal Springs Echo Bay Hoover Dam Lake Mead Las Vegas Laughlin Logan City Ghost Town Mount Irish St. Thomas Valley of Fire https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/giant-rabbits-and-an-off-road-nail-biter-in-nevada Wed, 17 Mar 2021 01:31:45 GMT
Across Arizona from a Mission to a Bridge https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/across-arizona-from-a-mission-to-a-bridge  

We didn't move far from the Tombstone area before finding more great history in the Grand Canyon State. 

 

San Xavier del bac, ArizonaSan Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bac, 2021. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

Just south of Tucson, a National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Spanish Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit Explorer, in 1692. The mission was established in the center of a centuries-old Indian settlement of the Sobaipuri O’odham Indians located along the banks of the Santa Cruz River.

 

San Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bac

 

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Catholic missions were an integral part of Spanish colonization. Missions, usually run by Jesuit or Franciscan friars, created European settlements that allowed colonization to expand the boundaries of Spanish culture and influence. Construction on the mission that still stands began in 1783 under the residency of Father Juan Bautista Velderrain. It wasn't completed until 1797.

 

 

San Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bac

 

The beautiful Spanish mission was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The church continues to serve the residents of the San Xavier Reservation. The church is open to visitors daily, except during special services, and the public is welcome to join the San Xavier community for regular masses. 

Learn more about San Xavier del Bac Mission and its legacy here 

Begin your journey of Spanish Exploration here


 

Fort Lowell & The Indian Wars

 

Fort Lowell Museum, Tucson ArizonaFort Lowell MuseumFort Lowell Museum, Tucson Arizona

 

Fort Lowell National Historic Place is part of Fort Lowell Park on the outskirts of Tucson.   A military post in Tucson was initially established by the U.S. Army in 1856. This post however wasn't permanent, and the Confederate Army took it over for a brief time in 1862 when they took control of Tucson.  After the war, the US Military re-established the post and named it Camp Lowell, in honor of General Charles R. Lowell who was killed in the Civil War.


Hospital Ruins at Fort Lowell, Tucson.Hospital Ruins, Fort LowellHospital Ruins at Fort Lowell, Tucson.

 

The Camp was moved six miles northeast of town in 1873 where it sat at the confluence of the Pantano and Tanque Verdes washes, becoming the Rillito River.  The reservation, selected for its abundant water, grass, and wood, extended over 10 miles east and was about 80 square miles. 
 

The Chief Trumpeter, Fort Lowell National Historic Place, Tucson. The Chief Trumpeter, Fort Lowell National Historic Place, Tucson. The Chief Trumpeter - Honoring the enlisted men who served in the Southwest during the Apache Indian Wars in the 1870s and 1880s. At Fort Lowell (1873-1891) National Historic Place.

 

Today, close to the entry of the Park, visitors are greeted by "The Chief Trumpeter" - Honoring the enlisted men who served in the Southwest during the Apache Indian Wars in the 1870s and 1880s.  The camp was renamed Fort Lowell in 1879, and over its lifetime until 1891, housed over 200 men and 13 officers.  The military reservation went back to the public domain in 1894, opening up the area to homesteaders.  Today, Fort Lowell Park preserves some of the remaining ruins, including the old Hospital, and features a Museum (check ahead for hours due to the Pandemic, it was not open during our visit).  The Park and Museum, part of the Arizona Historical Society, are located at 2900 N. Craycroft Rd in Tucson. 


 

A portion of the Quartermaster Depot, Fort Lowell. A portion of the Quartermaster Depot, Fort Lowell. A portion of the Quartermaster Depot, Fort Lowell.

 

Across the road, Fort Lowell National Historic District, a primarily residential area, still has some of the old Fort Ruins, but most appeared behind fences, like this photo of the old Quartermasters Depot.  See more about the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood via their website here
 

 

San Pedro Chapel, Fort Lowell Historic District, Tucson.San Pedro Chapel, Fort Lowell Historic District, Tucson.San Pedro Chapel, Fort Lowell Historic District, Tucson.

 

We found this church in the Historic District.  The San Pedro Chapel sits on a hillside overlooking the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood. Built by residents in 1932, the Chapel no longer has regular services, but the beautiful building is the site of many weddings and other events, such as neighborhood gatherings, historic lectures, art exhibits, parties, and memorials. (See their website here).

 

Read more about Fort Lowell via our article here

Learn more about the Arizona Indian Wars via our story HERE. 

 

Tucson
,

Skyline of Tucson ArizonaTucson ArizonaSkyline of Tucson Arizona

 

We had a good time social distancing in Tucson, driving around and taking in the downtown area. 

 

Tucson MuralTucson MuralTucson Mural

 

Hugo O'Conor, the Spanish military Governor of Northern Mexico, founded the city in 1775, authorizing the construction of the Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón, which was the founding structure of what would become Tucson. 

 

Presidio San Augustin, TucsonPresidio San Augustin, TucsonPresidio San Augustin, Tucson

 

Although Tucson flourished under Spanish rule, it wouldn't be until American Possession of the territory before the population gained more than around 500.  When Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish garrison continued as the Aristocracy supported Mexico's independence and continued to rule the northern part of the Mexican State of Sonora. 

 

Presidio San Augustin Del TucsonPresidio San Augustin Del Tucson Mural_fbPresidio San Augustin Del Tucson

 

Tucson came under United States Control with the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, although the Mexican garrison at the Presidio didn't leave until 1856. Then a part of New Mexico Territory, the US Army, just like their predecessors, had to deal with attacks from Apache Warriors.  But as the area was already known to contain sought-after minerals, mining camps and towns sprang up all around Tucscon and continued to be the primary economy until the early 1900s.  Today, Tucson is the second-largest city of Arizona, sporting a metro population of almost One Million. 

 

Presidio San Augustin Del TucsonPresidio San Augustin Del TucsonPresidio San Augustin Del Tucson

 

By 1910, only a few ruins of the original Presidio remained, however, work to uncover the Northeastern sections of the Presidio walls in the early 2000s led to their recreation and establishment of a park and museum.  Today visitors can tour this section of the recreated Presidio and learn about its long history at the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, 196 N. Court Ave in downtown Tucson. 

For more information about the museum, visit their website here

Also see our article "Presidio of Tucson" here. 

 

Barrio Viejo Neighborhood, Tucson, ArizonaBarrio Viejo Neighborhood, Tucson, ArizonaBarrio Viejo Neighborhood, Tucson, Arizona

 

Nearby, Tucson's Old Neighborhood, or Barrio Viejo, still features some of the 19th-century homes and businesses, although most were bulldozed in the 1960s to make way for a Convention Center. We saw many taking walking tours of the neighborhood.  For more information about Barrio Viejo see the Southern Arizona Guide article here

 

Landscape North of Tucson, Arizona.Landscape North of Tucson, Arizona.Landscape North of Tucson, Arizona.

 

On our way out of Tucson, we decided it was time for some more "ghost town" exploration.  We found it just outside of Florence.   

 

Pinal County Court House, Florence, AZPinal County Court House, Florence, AZPinal County Court House, Florence, AZ

 

Florence, the county seat of Pinal County, is historic in itself, with 25 buildings on the National Historic Register.  However, if you travel a couple of miles out of town, things didn't fare well for another small town. 


Adamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, ArizonaAdamsville Ghost TownAdamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, Arizona

 

Adamsville was one of the first two towns in this area, founded by Fred Adams in 1866.  When a post office was established in 1871, a political enemy of Adams named the town Sanford, however local residents continued to use Adamsville until 1876 when the post office was shut down. 

 

Adamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, ArizonaAdamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, ArizonaAdamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, Arizona

 

A marker for Adamsville reads "In the 1870s, a flour mill and a few stores formed the hub of life in Adamsville, where shootings and knifings were commonplace, and life was one of the cheapest commodities. Most of the adobe houses have been washed away by the flooding Gila River." 

It became a ghost town in the early 1920s and today only a couple of structures remain of this once-thriving farming community.  You can find Adamsville 2 miles west of Florence on Adamsville road. Don't blink or you'll miss it. 

 

Family, Friends, and Downtime in the Phoenix Area

 

Parakeets in our tree at the RV Park in Apache Junction, Arizona.Apache Junction ParakeetsParakeets in our tree at the RV Park in Apache Junction, Arizona.

 

That's a Palm Tree in the driveway of our RV resort in Apache Junction. And yes, those are Parakeets. Apparently, a couple of large bird releases in the 1980s, one a monsoon stricken aviary in Apache Junction, resulted in the Phoenix Area becoming home to colonies of the tropical birds.  Authorities say this region of Arizona, with its many Palm Trees, closely resembles their native habitat.  

We decided to take our own website's advice in our article "Working While you RV", which says to make sure you set time aside for your life and vacation. So we did, spending time with some family that lives nearby, and visiting some neighbors from back home who now live here half of the year. Although there are still a lot of people who flock to the Phoenix area during the Winter, this year we heard figures of up to 600,000 missing due to the Pandemic and Canadian regulations making it hard to come to the U.S.  

There is a lot to see and do here in this area, but we did it already in 2015 on our journey home from our Death Valley adventure.

See our 2015 blog about the area from Yuma, east to Fort Bowie here

See our story on Goldfield Arizona here. 

And check out our story on the Lost Dutchman Mine here. 


 

Pushing East toward a bridge...

 

Buckskin Mountain State Park, AZ - Colorado RiverBuckskin Mountain State Park, AZ - Colorado RiverColorado River at Buckskin Mountain State Park, looking at California on the other side.

 

That's the shoreline of the Colorado River, and California on the other side. We landed at a wonderful RV Park in Buckskin Mountain State Park, between Parker and Lake Havasu City. 

 

Buckskin Mountain State Park RV CampgroundBuckskin Mountain State Park RV CampgroundBuckskin Mountain State Park RV Campground

 

This is a popular area for hikers, campers, and more, and we thoroughly enjoyed the park's view of the river and mountains surrounding it.  If in the area, we recommend visiting Buckskin Mountain State Park. Here's a link to their website.

 

Flag over Buckskin Mountain State ParkFlag over Buckskin Mountain State ParkFlag over Buckskin Mountain State Park

 

One thing we noticed was the patriotic touch to mountain tops, with the Flag flying high on several of them around the State Park. 

 

Parker DamParker DamParker Dam

 

Just down the road, we drove over Parker Dam, the deepest Dam in the World. The dam, built in the 1930s, is 320 feet high with 235 feet of that below the river bed down to the bedrock foundation.  The dam, straddling the state line, forms the reservoir for Lake Havasu.  Read about the interesting history of the dam, and the fight over the Colorado River here in this National Park Service Article


 

Lake Havasu Lake Havasu Lake Havasu

 

This brings us to Lake Havasu and Lake Havasu City. The city itself doesn't have a lot of history.  It was founded as a planned community in the 1960s primarily for recreation and retirement. However, its claim to fame comes from across the Atlantic.  

 

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, ArizonaLondon Bridge, Lake Havasu City, ArizonaLondon Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

 

The "Old" London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was a stone bridge built by Peter of Colechurch, an architect and priest, between 1176 and 1209. By the end of the 18th century, the bridge needed to be replaced. It had fallen into severe disrepair and was blocking river traffic. Designed in 1799 by Scottish engineer John Rennie, the "New" London Bridge was completed in 1831. However, motor traffic in the early 20th century took its toll on the stone bridge, sinking it further into the River Thames. 

In 1967, the city of London, England decided to rid themselves of the problem, and sell the bridge. Lake Havasu City founder Robert P. McCulloch Sr took advantage of the opportunity to attract visitors and residents to his new town and bought the historic bridge for $2.4 Million in 1968. The purchase included ornate lampposts made from the melted-down cannons captured by the British from Napoleon's army, after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. 

 

Lake Havasu City English VillageLake Havasu City English VillageLake Havasu City English Village

 

The bridge was dismantled brick by brick, each numbered and brought to the United States. It was then reconstructed on dry land. After completion, the land under the bridge was dredged, creating Bridgewater Channel and "The Island" across the bridge. McCulloch also created "English Village", an open-air mall beside the bridge.

 

Burgers by the Bridge, English Village, Lake Havasu City, AZ.Burgers by the Bridge, English Village, Lake Havasu City, AZ.Burgers by the Bridge, English Village, Lake Havasu City, AZ.

 

 On October 10, 1971, the completed bridge was formally dedicated in a ceremony attended by over 50,000 American and British spectators and dignitaries. During our visit, we stopped at the English Village for some great grub (takeout for us) at Burgers by the Bridge.  We highly recommend the onion rings and the Ortega Burger. 

Learn more about Lake Havasu via their website here

 

Moon rises over the Colorado River, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona looking into California. Moon rises over the Colorado River, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona looking into California. Moon rises over the Colorado River, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona looking into California. Photo by Dave Alexander.

 

That's it for now. We're still working around data availability and our own desire to take this trip a little slower than most.  Coming up, we pass through the Bullhead City and Laughlin area to Boulder City Nevada, home of Hoover Dam.  

Cya on the road! 

 

We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for iPhone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America.
 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Buckskin Mountain State Park Fort Lake Havasu City London Bridge Lowell parakeets in apache junction Parker Dam Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón San Xavier Mission travel Tucson https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/across-arizona-from-a-mission-to-a-bridge Sun, 07 Mar 2021 01:50:04 GMT
Cochise, Dinosaurs in Dragoon, and Texas Canyon https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/cochise-dinosaurs-in-dragoon-and-texas-canyon Cochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel in Cochise Arizona

 

 

The ghost town of Cochise, just off Arizona Highway 191, has a bit of history, but after peaking at 3,000 residents, it's home to only a few dozen now. History lovers still come here though for the historic Cochise Hotel.

 

 

Cochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel, AZ

 

 

It was in the mid-1890s that Cochise got its start as a depot for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  John Rath, a telegraph operator at Fort Bowie, established the town with a well, and built the Rath Hotel, now the Cochise Hotel.  Listed as a Historic Landmark, the hotel once marked the shipping hub for cattle and ore. It also served as a telegraph office, justice of the peace, and postoffice. One of the oldest hotels associated with the Southern Pacific Railroad, Big Nose Kate, the famed sidekick of Doc Holliday, worked here in 1899. Today, Phillip Gessert,  a western historian, and author, operates the historic building as a Bed & Breakfast, event, and private parties venue, and offers "museum tours" by appointment only.  

 

 

Abandoned Store, Cochise, ArizonaAbandoned Store, Cochise, ArizonaAbandoned Store, Cochise, Arizona

 

This General store next door to the hotel dates back to 1913. Today it sits abandoned.  There's more history here of interest, including a daring train robbery that netted a large loot. But that's better told by James Harvey McClintock in this article from 1913, the Cochise Train Robbery

And click here for the story of Cochise, Strong Apache Leader

 

Roadrunner in Cochise, AZRoadrunner in Cochise, AZRoadrunner in Cochise, AZ

 

 

Meep Meep... time to move on. We cut over on Cochise Stronghold Road to Dragoon Rd in hopes of finding an old stage station. 

 

 

Jesus Mural in Dragoon, AZJesus Mural in Dragoon, AZDragoon Jesus

 

 

The town of Dragoon has always been a small affair, with about 200 residents spread out. 

 

 

Dragoon, AZ abandoned storeDragoon, AZAbandoned in Dragoon

 

In 1915, J.H. Smith built a large grocery store and filling station at the main intersection in town. Today the building is the only structure remaining from the early days of Dragoon. The old train depot, hotel, and post office have either collapsed or have been dismantled and hauled away. As the old building represents the last commercial remains of old Dragoon, Arizona, a small overland stage stop and train stop in rural Arizona, and played an important role as a  social gathering place for the community during the early years of Arizona Statehood, it was listed on the National Register of historic places in 2004

Old Ranch Rd, in front of the store, supposedly would have lead us to the historic Dragoon Springs Stage Station, however, our way was blocked by a ranchers gate, so apparently, you can't get there from here. 


 

Rattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZRattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZWelcome to Rattlesnake Ranch

 

Continuing north on Dragoon Rd, just a short jaunt from the old store, we stumbled upon... DINOSAURS!

 

 

Rattle Snake Ranch T-RexRattle Snake Ranch T-RexRattle Snake Ranch T-Rex

 

 

Rattlesnake Ranch is a great quirky stop to enjoy some art and stretch the legs.  And there's quite a bit of property to stretch on, just stay in the "welcome" areas.  

 

 

Rattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZRattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZRattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZ

 

 

Rattlesnake Ranch used to be John & Sandy’s Rattlesnake Crafts & Rocks, a souvenir shop that attracted motorists with its metal statues of Indians, snakes, and Dinosaurs.  

 

 

Snake art at Rattlesnake Ranch, AZSnake art at Rattlesnake Ranch, AZSnake art at Rattlesnake Ranch, AZ

 

 

John and Sandy Weber retired, but you can still venture in to take in the art. Area's that you are not welcome are clearly marked, and a donation box remains at the front gate. 

 

 

Rattlesnake Ranch WarriorRattlesnake Ranch WarriorRattlesnake Ranch Warrior

 

 

We enjoyed this stop for its photo opportunities and will be adding more to our Southeast Arizona Photo Print Gallery soon. 

 

 

Texas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon Arizona

 

 

As you approach I-10 you're now in Texas Canyon.  A valley of giant boulders between the Little Dragoon Mountains to the north and the Dragoon Mountains to the south. The Butterfield Overland Mail passed through the canyon in the late 1850s.  It's named for an early pioneer to Cochise County, David Adams, who moved here from Texas in the 1880s, and whose ranch is still in the family. 

 

 

Texas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon Arizona

 

 

There are some great views of the unique landscape at a rest area along I-10, however get off on Dragoon Rd at exit 318 to see even more. Also around that exit is The Amerind Foundation, a privately funded archaeological and ethnographic research facility, library, museum, and art gallery founded by William Shirley Fulton in the 1930s. 

 

 

Courtland, AZ - RuinsCourtland, AZ - RuinsRuins in the ghost town of Courtland, AZ.

 

 

During our stay in this area we did have a chance to revisit the Ghost Town Trail, which leads out of Tombstone through the Ghost Towns of Gleeson, Courtland and Pearce. 

 

 

Pearce, AZ - General StorePearce, AZ - General StorePearce, AZ - General Store

 

 

We did this trail back in 2007, and with rainy weather the day of our visit this year, we didn't get very many good updated photos. So the ones you are seeing here are over a decade old. 

 

 

Gleeson, AZ - SchoolGleeson, AZ - SchoolRemains of the old Gleeson School

 

 

The day trip is a good one though if you are staying in the area, just for something a little different, or if you are a ghost town lover like us. Read more about the Ghost Town Trail HERE. 

That's it for now, but more coming soon as we continued our journey west toward Spanish Missions and lots of history in the Tucson Area.  Cya on the road!

 

We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for iPhone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America.
 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Cochise Cochise Hotel Dinosaurs Dragoon Metal Art Mural Rattlesnake Ranch Warriors https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/cochise-dinosaurs-in-dragoon-and-texas-canyon Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:43:04 GMT
Bisbee, Lowell and Some Naco Please https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/bisbee-lowell-and-some-naco-please
 

Bisbee, AZ - 1909Bisbee, AZ - 1909Bisbee, Arizona by the West Coast Art Co., 1909. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

While we were in Tombstone we ventured out on a day trip to the home of the Copper Queen Mine, where one of the world’s richest mineral sites resulted in what was once the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco, Bisbee, Arizona. 

 

BisbeeBisbee ArizonaDowntown Bisbee

 

Bisbee got its start as a mining camp after army scouts and cavalrymen found a good-looking rock in the Mule Mountains’ Tombstone Canyon in the fall of 1877. By 1880, the mining camp known as Mule Gulch became a town and was named after Judge Dewitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the area’s Copper Queen Mine, the largest claim at the time.

 

Cochise County Courthouse BisbeeCochise County Courthouse BisbeeActive Cochise County Courthouse, Bisbee AZ

 

In 1929, Bisbee became the seat of Cochise County, taking that honor away from nearby Tombstone, where the old historic courthouse still stands. 

 

Bisbee_MiningLavender Pit Mine, Bisbee/LowellLavender Pit Mine, Bisbee/Lowell AZ
The mining boom ended in the 1950s, and the population dropped to less than 6,000, however during that same time, the manager of the Copper Queen, Harrison Lavender, introduced open-pit mining, which would result in the huge Lavender Pit mine, which covers 300 acres and is a thousand feet deep, replacing what was once Sacramento Hill. It remains today as a popular tourist attraction. The Lavender Pit is also known for producing some of the finest turquoise in the world, known as Bisbee Blue.

 

The Inn at Castle Rock, Bisbee AZThe Inn at Castle Rock, Bisbee AZThe Inn at Castle Rock, Bisbee AZ

 

Today, Bisbee is known as an artist’s community and thrives on tourism thanks to its citizens’ efforts to restore the historic district. Mining also saw a small resurgence around 2007 when Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold bought out Phelps Dodge. The population of Bisbee in 2010 was about 5,500, a fraction of the former boom days.

Read more about Bisbee

Read about John Heath and the Bisbee Massacre

 

 

 

The Lowell Life

Lowell LifeLowell ArizonaThe Lowell Life

 

On the southern end of the Lavender Pit, Lowell used to be a fairly large mining town, with the pit swallowing most of the original townsite. 

 

LowellWelcome to Lowell, AZDon't know the dog's name, so we'll call him/her Bandit. Sorry, didn't get close enough to know how Bandit identified.

 

I don't know what his name is, so I'll just call him Bandit.  Good boy Bandit, thanks for the welcome. 

 

Lowell ArizonaLowell TruckThe door of an old truck in Lowell, AZ.

 

On the side of the old truck below the welcome... The famous Broken Spoke Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota was sold to Bisbee resident Jay Allen who continues to use the "brand."

 

Classic Car in Lowell, AZLowell, AZLots of classic cars in Lowell, AZ.

 

We parked and walked along Historic Erie Street, really enjoying the nostalgia. About the only thing left of the original town, Erie St. is a living snapshot of another time, restored by residents and volunteers who want to preserve another period in American life.

 

Lowell ArizonaLowell, AZDriving through Lowell, Arizona

 

Discover Bisbee describes it best, "...what remains of Lowell today is a strikingly intact, historical mid-century street – often utilized as a backdrop for film and video shoots, and well worth a visit to walk back in time.

See our story "The Rise and Fall of Lowell" HERE.
 

 

Camp Naco, Border Fort. 

 

Camp Naco, Naco ArizonaCamp Naco, Naco ArizonaBuildings of the old Camp Naco in Naco Arizona.

 

Camp Naco, aka Fort Naco or Fort Newell, sits on the southern US border about 12 miles south of Bisbee. Surrounded by chainlink fence, the few remaining buildings document the only remaining border fort constructed during the Mexican Revolution.  Today it is owned by the City of Bisbee. 

 

Naco ArizonaNaco ArizonaOld business in Naco, Arizona

 

The small town of Naco needed the Fort to protect from fighting across the border.  It suffered the Battle of Naco in 1913 and the later Siege of Naco in 1915 in the sister city of Sonora, Mexico. It also has the honor of being the first and only U.S. mainland city to be aerial bombed by a foreign force, happening by accident in 1929.  Today, Naco has around 1,000 residents. 

 

Old Border Station in Naco, AZOld Border Station in Naco, AZOld Border Station in Naco, AZ

 

A border crossing since 1902, the Naco Port of Entry operates 24 hours a day.  Read more about Camp Naco HERE.

That's it for now. The data gods are smiling, as well as Mother Nature, so we are catching up. Next up, Cochise, dinosaurs in Dragoon, and Texas Canyon. 

We'll be adding up these and more images soon to our Arizona Photo Print Galleries here

Cya on the Road!

We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for iPhone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America.
 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Bisbee camp Fort fort ruins Historic Eric Street history Lavender Pit Lowell Naco https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/bisbee-lowell-and-some-naco-please Tue, 23 Feb 2021 11:58:00 GMT
Pancho Villa, Geronimo, and Old West Gunfights https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/pancho-villa-geronimo-and-old-west-gunfights  

New Mexico Highway 9 into ColumbusNew Mexico Highway 9 into ColumbusNew Mexico Highway 9 into Columbus

 

On February 13th, we booked it out of El Paso as the mother of all Winter Storms was still on our heels. Running along the southern US border on New Mexico Highway 9, our first stop was a quick revisit of Columbus, the site of the Battle of Columbus in 1916.  

 

Columbus NMColumbus, NMBorderland Cafe in Columbus, NM

 

This small community just three miles north of the Mexican Border is known most for Pancho Villa's raid on March 9, 1916, which resulted in US forces mobilizing and sending troops across the border. A fascinating tale related to us by author Jesse L. “Wolf” Hardin back in 2006 which you can read here

There's a museum on the highway, along with Pancho Villa State Park that is worth a visit. 

We missed this while we were there, but just outside of Columbus going north is the City of the Sun Foundation. Established in 1972 this quirky "utopian" place is one of the oldest New Age intentional communities in the state.

 

Ghost town of Hachita, NM Hachita, NMGhost town of Hachita, NM

 

As we continued on Highway 9, we also made a stop to refresh our photos of the ghost town of Hachita. At the entrance to the bootheel of southwestern New Mexico, the original town of Hachita was settled around 1875 as a mining camp. In 1902, when tracks were laid for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad nine miles east of Hachita, another competing settlement sprang up, drawing away from the original town and dividing residents between “Old Hachita” and the new Hachita. 

 

Hachita New MexicoHachita New MexicoHachita New Mexico

 

Mining continued in Old Hachita until around 1920, but it was eventually abandoned.  At its peak, the new Hachita had about 700 residents, today it is less than 50. Read about the town's connection with old west outlaws and the Mexican Revolution here.

 

Chiricahua Mountains AZChiricahua Mountains AZChiricahua Mountains AZ

 

Pushing on into Arizona we can see the Chiricahua Mountains ahead. Lots of great history in this region, dominated by Apache Warrior Geronimo. The Chiricahua Apache fought hard in Mexico and the southern US territories against the incursion of settlers on their lands, with Geronimo being one of the last holdouts. 

 

Geronimo Monument, Apache, AZGeronimo Monument, Apache, AZGeronimo Monument, Apache, AZ

 

A monument can be found off Historic Arizona highway 80 at Apache, AZ.  This stop commemorates the surrender of Geronimo nearby, but the region is full of tales of the Apache's fight against the invasion of their homelands. Read about Geronimo here. You may also be interested in our article about the Apache Wars here.

 

Tombstone 

Tombstone, AZ - Sixgun MillerTombstone, AZ - Sixgun MillerSixgun Miller asks "Are you looking for a gunfight?"

 

One of our primary destinations this trip was to revisit Tombstone, with our last visit back in 2007.  Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Sixgun Miller.  Joe has deep ties to Arkansas and Fort Smith, where he learned about our website in its early days and has been a reader since. The actor and gunfighter is also the founder of Gunslinger's Mall, Arkansas Largest Frontier Classics Clothing Dealer with over 25 product lines for Film, Reenactors, Sass shooters and CMSA folks. It was great to see you Sixgun. 

Here he was inviting us to a gunfight... or at least to watch one at The Gunfight Palace.

 

Gunfight Palace, Tombstone, AZGunfight Palace, Tombstone, AZShow at the Gunfight Palace on Allen Street, Tombstone.

 

It was a good show worth the admission and touted to be based on historical facts, instead of Hollywood stories.  

 

Tombsone, AZ - Doc HollidaysTombsone, AZ - Doc HollidaysPhoto by Dave Alexander.

 

Doc says to use the hand sanitizer on your way in. We did our part in wearing masks when we should and socially distanced as much as possible.  

 

Allen Street, Tombstone ArizonaAllen Street, Tombstone ArizonaAllen Street, Tombstone Arizona

 

Allen street must be one of the most well-known blocks for Old West history in the U.S. With names like Doc Holliday, the Earp brothers Wyatt, James, Virgil and Morgan, Johnny Ringo, Big Nose Kate, and many more once prominently figured here. 

 

Tombstone, AZ - Ladies GunfightTombstone, AZ - Ladies GunfightPhoto by Dave Alexander.

 

We were there in time to catch the annual Tombstone Vigilante Days, which include gunfight reenactments, street entertainment, gunfight competitions, hangings, and more.  Despite Kathy's best effort, she could not get a pic of me with a noose around my neck. 

 

Cochise County Court House, TombstoneCochise County Court House, TombstoneOld Cochise County Court House, Tombstone.

 

Of course, there is more to Tombstone than just Allen Street.  Check out the historic Cochise County Court House, Boot Hill Museum on the edge of town off historic hwy 80, or take a tour of more via Stage Coach. 

 

Tombstone, AZ - Stagecoach - 2Tombstone, AZ - Stagecoach - 2Stagecoach on Allen Street, Tombstone.

 

The family would also enjoy a visit to Old Tombstone Western Theme Park a block off Allen St. 

 

Tombstone, AZ - Western TownTombstone, AZ - Western TownAttraction in Tombstone

 

There's a lot to do in Tombstone, and a lot to read about and see on our website.  Start with our article on Tombstone and visit the many links to historic text, characters, gunfights, saloons, and more included. 

Also see our Tombstone Photo Gallery, which we will be adding to very soon. 

 

TombstoneSunsetTombstoneSunset

 

There is more to do close by, but as the Sun Sets in the West, we must saddle up for now. Next up Bisbee, Lowell, ghost towns, and a bit of Naco. 

See you on the road!

While here, we stayed at the Tombstone RV Park and Campground.  A good place for the family to be close to Tombstone, yet away from the hubbub.  Clean park, community center, laundry, showers, and bathrooms, with pull-throughs and full hookups. 

A couple of items of note though for our readers.  This park charges a little extra if you have a dog.  Our furry kids did not like the fine sharp rock they used for the streets and RV slots. The Dog Run behind the office is the same "rock." Signs around most grass areas instruct you to keep pets off. So, we're not sure what we got for the extra charge. 

They also advertise Wifi, however during our stay we never could get it to work well, or at all most of the time. We were warned coming in that it was a busy weekend, however, we tried at 3 am in the morning, and again after many of the RV's had cleared out on Tuesday morning, and still couldn't get it to work.  A fix might have been as simple as rebooting their wifi system but be forewarned in case this is the norm.  We had a weak ATT data signal here inside our Travel Trailer.

We're traveling in a 30' Cheyenne Grey Wolf travel trailer. 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) attractions Columbus Geronimo ghost town Hachita history information New Mexico Pancho Villa Tombstone travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/pancho-villa-geronimo-and-old-west-gunfights Thu, 18 Feb 2021 15:48:01 GMT
Butterfield, Salt Flats and Warm El Paso https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/butterfield-salt-flats-elpaso  

leavingandrewsLeaving Andrews, TxCold day in West Texas

 

So far our journey to warmer weather has us running from Mother Nature still, even in West Texas. We are thankful for the Andrews Chamber of Commerce and their free paved RV parking lot with hookups. 

 

Guadalupe MountainsGuadalupe MountainsClouds breaking over the Guadalupe Mountains.

 

As we moved west toward El Paso, we could see the blue sky behind the Guadalupe Mountains. Our next stop would be the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. 

 

Butterfield Pinery StationButterfield Pinery StationRemains of the Butterfield Pinery Station, next to the visitors center for the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

 

Built in 1858 as part of the Butterfield Overland Mail Route, the Pinery, or Pine Springs Stage Stand only made it a year before being abandoned when the line moved to the Davis Mountain Route. The ruins of the old Pinery are found next to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Visitors Center on Highway 62 about 2 hours outside of El Paso, Texas. Read about Butterfield's Overland Mail HERE.  

 

Salt Flats of West TexasSalt Flats of West TexasSalt Flats of West Texas

 

The El Paso Salt War, also known as the Salinero Revolt and the San Elizario Salt War, began in the late 1860s and was a struggle between El Paso, Texas businessmen to acquire title to the salt deposits near the base of the Guadalupe Mountains. The political and legal struggle extended to an armed conflict waged with the Mexican and Tejano residents living in the communities on both sides of the Rio Grande. See more about it here
 

 

Salt Flat, TxSalt Flat, TxThe ghost town of Salt Flat, Texas.

 

Salt Flat, Texas, a ghost town located in Hudspeth County in west Texas, got its start in the 1920s. Locals provide “a word to the wise” to travelers thinking about taking a fun drive through shining white Salt Flats of the area. Though they look solid and flat, many a traveler has gotten stuck in these sands, facing large expenses for tow trucks to come from as far away as El Paso. Read about Salt Flat.


 

El Paso MuralsEl Paso MuralsOne of Many El Paso Murals

 

When we came into El Paso it was a gorgeous 68 degrees. Spent a couple of nights there so we could unhitch and explore.

 

El Paso Concordia CemeteryEl Paso Concordia CemeteryThe 1840s Concordia Cemetery is well known for being the burial place of several gunslingers and old west lawmen including John Wesley Hardin and John Selman.

 

The 1840s Concordia Cemetery is well known for being the burial place of several gunslingers and old west lawmen including John Wesley Hardin and John Selman.

 

Downtown El PasoDowntown El PasoLooking north from the historic Market Square toward downtown El Paso.

 

Downtown El Paso is something Kathy has done before. In 2016, Kathy flew out to appear in the AHC Series “American Lawmen” in the episode "Dallas Stoudenmire: The Hero of El Paso." A gunfighter and lawman, Dallas Stoudenmire was involved in more gunfights than most of his better-known counterparts and is credited with successfully taming one of the most violent towns in the Old West. Read about him...

 

Mercado, El Paso Market SquareEl Paso Market SquareEl Paso Market Square

 

Kathy made sure that she had the chance to 're-visit' El Centro, just off downtown. Open-air market-style shops line the streets, with historic El Paso Street as 'the face' of the district.

 

Colon Theatre - El Paso, TexasColon Theatre - El Paso, TexasColon Theatre - El Paso, Texas

 

It was fun to drive and look at, but we would need another day to walk the street. 

 

Ciudad Juárez, MexicoCiudad Juárez, Mexico Ciudad Juárez, Mexico from across the border in El Paso.

 

This is right on the border shared with Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, commonly called simply Juárez. It started as El Paso del Norte (The Pass of the North) until it was renamed in 1888. This is the most populous city in the Mexican State of Chihuahua.  We didn't get a chance to see it but were told a scenic excursion is the Trans Mountain Road which leads to a view of both cities. 

 

El Paso Union DepotEl Paso Union DepotBuilt in 1905, the El Paso Union Depot is still an active Train Station.

 

Built in 1905, the El Paso Union Depot is still an active Train Station. 

Oops, sorry, that's it for now. See those clouds? Time to push on to Arizona. See you on the road!

While in El Paso we stayed at the El Paso Roadrunner RV Park.  This was a great stop. The staff was incredibly helpful, the pull-throughs were well kept, full hookups, and access to RV repair.  We also got some takeout from Tacos Chinampa. GREAT tacos.

We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for iPhone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America.
 

Dave Alexander

Kaydee Dog says "where's the damn grass?"

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Butterfield Overland Mail El Paso Pine Springs Stage Stand Pinery Salt Flat Texas Salt Flat War Station https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/butterfield-salt-flats-elpaso Sun, 14 Feb 2021 14:55:31 GMT
Just passing through https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/just-passing-through Stanton, TX - Texas SignStanton, TX - Texas Sign"Texas" sign on an old building in Stanton, Martin County, Texas. Photo by Carol Highsmith.

 

We stopped for some family time with Kathy's sister Deb in the Dallas area over the weekend, then Tuesday we rushed to the southwest in an attempt to outrun Mother Nature. Yes, occasionally Winter does arrive in this part of the state, and it was hot on our heels. In fact, as we left, they were already starting to salt the highways and interstates. Thought we would get some great photo ops on our long trek across Texas, but the drizzle and fog hid the rugged beauty well. 

 

Fort Chadbourne, TX - Parade GroundFort Chadbourne, TX - Parade GroundPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

We've done this part of Texas before, and it's well worth your time to drive the Texas Fort's Trail. Though it can’t possibly cover the more than four dozen old forts and presidios across the vast Lone Star State, this 650-mile Scenic Byway certainly provides a glimpse into many of these lonely outposts that were once situated on the dangerous hills and dales of central Texas.

 

Andrews, TXWinter ChaseWinter chased us all the way through Central and most of West Texas.

 

We made it from Dallas deep into West Texas without really seeing the scenery around us until the last hour of our journey. We have plenty of photos from our previous trips to Southwest Texas though, so be sure to check out our Texas Galleries

 

Abilene, TX - Abilene, TX - Frontier Texas Museum BuffaloAbilene, TX - Abilene, TX - Frontier Texas Museum BuffaloFrontier Texas Museum in Abilene, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

 

If you are in Abeline, a must-stop is Frontier Texas, a world-class interactive museum and official visitors center for Abeline and the Texas Forts Trail.  For more information see their website here

 

Fort Stockton, TX - Paisano PeteFort Stockton, TX - Paisano Pete

 

Also, not too much farther south from our current location is the northern part of the Pecos Heritage Trail. At some 1,356 miles in length, it encompasses 22 counties, seven state parks, dozens of towns, and hundreds of historical, cultural, natural, and recreational destinations. See more about that fantastic Texas journey here.

 

El Paso, TX - Street SceneEl Paso, TX - Street Scene

We'll be pushing on to El Paso, then ultimately our first primary destination, Tombstone Arizona, in time for Valentine's Day. Looking forward to the warmer weather we thought we'd have in Texas. 

We may not have seen much due to the weather, but we still got our feel of the area using our HearHere iPhone app. Check 'em out and we'll see you on the road!
 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) destinations Forts Frontier Heritage Pecos Texas Trail travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/just-passing-through Wed, 10 Feb 2021 17:30:57 GMT
Talimena Scenic Views https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/destination-talimena-scenic-views BostonMountainsARSky-1000Clouds BreakClouds breaking away in Arkansas Day One of our journey took us south through Arkansas as an arctic blast chased us out of Missouri. Catching quite a bit of cold rain and windy conditions, we finally found bluer sky in Arkansas.

VanBurenARArkansasRiver-1000Arkansas RiverArkansas River at Van Buren

Across the Arkansas River into Fort Smith, we've made this trek before and didn't need to re-cover anything. But if you are in the area on your own journey, a must-see is Fort Smith National Historic Site. Read about it here

Fort Smith, AR - Commissary Store HouseFort Smith, AR - Commissary Store HouseFort Smith, Arkansas was founded in 1817 as a military post, but the Army abandoned the first Fort Smith in 1824. In 1838 the Army moved back into the old military post and expanded the base as part of the Indian Removal Policy. Today, it is a National Historic Site. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Entering Oklahoma, we start our trek through the Ouachita Mountains. Eastern Oklahoma is beautiful, especially in the Choctaw Nation. 

ChoctawNationChoctaw NationChoctaw Nation, Oklahoma (courtesy Google Maps An important tribe of the Muscogean family, the Choctaw formerly occupied the middle and south Mississippi River with their territory extending as far east as Florida in their most flourishing days. They trace their roots to a mound-building, maize-based society that flourished in the Mississippi River Valley for more than a thousand years before European contact. 

Today, they number nearly 200,000 strong. They operate business ventures, both in Mississippi and Oklahoma, in Gaming, Electronics, and Hospitality industries, while continuing to practice their language and cultural traditions. Read more about the Choctaw here

TalimenaScenicBywayOuachita National ForestOK-1000TalimenaScenicBywayOuachita National ForestOK-1000Scenic views through the Ouachita Mountains. We enjoyed the Scenic Byway as we made our way to Talimena State Park, which has a great little 10 spot RV park (must make reservations online), with concrete pads, water, and electric. Great for our first night on the road. Talimena State Park is 20 acres at the Oklahoma entrance to Talimena Scenic Drive, with opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, and wildlife watching. Beautiful here, but be aware this is a go-to destination for ATV's and Motorcycles, so it may be noisy depending on when you're here. Also, it is just off 271 at the top of a hill, so truck noise may be a factor.

TalimenaStPark-Camper1-1000TalimenaStPark-Camper1-1000Legends of America at Talimena State Park. Not traveling far today, as we move closer to Paris Texas. Don't forget to checkout HearHere on your iPhone. A great companion to tell you about the places you are passing by as you travel, and more. 

See you on the road!
 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arkansas Fort Oklahoma Park River scenic Smith State Talemina views https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/destination-talimena-scenic-views Fri, 05 Feb 2021 16:51:43 GMT
Winter 2021 Escape https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/winter-2021-escape Travel mapOn the road...Winter 2021All hitched up for a bit of sights and history on a 4,000+ mile road trip. We have our HearHere app to give us a bit of history of what's around us, and we're excited to share our journey. Stay tuned. All hitched up for a bit of sights and history on a 4,000+ mile road trip. We have our HearHere app to give us a bit of history of what's around us, and we're excited to share our journey. Stay tuned.

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) history photos travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/winter-2021-escape Thu, 04 Feb 2021 10:10:00 GMT
A Bit of the Rockies (August 2018) https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2019/8/a-bit-of-the-rockies-august-2018 In August 2018 we took a trip out to the Rocky Mountains to take in some ghost towns and history of Colorado.  

It's been a while since we've explored the Centennial State, and as usual, it didn't disappoint.

Rockies Sunset - Near HartselHartsel, CO - Rocky Mountain SunsetWe caught this sunset from a friends house between Hartsel and Buena Vista Colorado. What a view! Photo by Dave Alexander, August 2018.

We started the journey through parts of the Texas Panhandle to update our history along Route 66, including Conway Texas, a spot in the road that began as a small sheep and ranching community back in the 1800s.  Read more about Conway - Home of the Bug Ranch HERE

Conway, TX - Old CarConway, TX - Old CarPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2018. See all our stories of Texas Route 66 HERE.

As we made our way through Northeast New Mexico, Folsom provided some opportunity for history and picturesque views. 

Folsom, NM - Hotel SignFolsom, NM - Hotel SignPhoto by Dave Alexander. Be sure to see our updated Northeast New Mexico Photo Galleries

On to Colorado, we stopped at the ghost town of Ludlow and the Ludlow Massacre Monument, a tribute to those who lost their lives during the Colorado Coalfield War. 

Ludlow, CO - TownsiteLudlow, CO - TownsiteLudlow, Colorado Townsite by Dave Alexander, 2018.

Read about Ludlow HERE

See our Ludlow area gallery HERE

We made our way to a friends private cabin between Hartsel and Buena Vista Colorado, about 70 miles west of Colorado Springs where we would spend the next few days exploring. 

Clear Creek Canyon, north of Hartsel around Clear Creek Reservoir is home to several "ghost towns" from the regions mining heydays.  

Beaver City

Beaver, CO - 1880 CabinBeaver, CO - 1880 CabinOne of only two structures that remain in the ghost town of Beaver, Colorado in Clear Creek Canyon. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Vicksburg

Vicksburg CO - Fragile WagonVicksburg CO - Fragile Wagon"Please just look, I'm old and Fragile" at the Vicksburg Museum. Photo by Dave Alexander.

Rockdale-Silverdale

Rockdale, CO - Crescent Mining CampRockdale, CO - Crescent Mining CampNear the ghost town of Rockdale, the Crescent Mining Camp features restored cabins, some from the 1880's, in Clear Creek Canyon. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Winfield

Winfield, CO - School MuseumWinfield, CO - School MuseumThe Winfield School is now a Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read more about the Ghosts of Clear Creek Canyon HERE

See our Clearcreek Canyon Ghosts Gallery HERE

In southern Park County Colorado, about 33 miles north of Canon City, just off Highway 9, Guffey is a ghost town with a twist of quirkiness, making for a fun visit.

Guffey, CO - Skeleton StagecoachGuffey, CO - Skeleton StagecoachSkeleton stagecoach in Guffey, Colorado. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read Guffey Colorado - Quirky Mining Town

See our Guffey Gallery

Sitting on the side of Battle Mountain about 12 miles southeast of Avon, Colorado is the old company town of Gilman. The now-abandoned town was originally founded in 1886 by miners searching for silver, but later became a center of lead and zinc mining.
 

Gilman, CO - Company HousingGilman, CO - Company HousingGilman, Colorado company houses by Dave Alexander, 2018.

Read about Gilman HERE

See our Gilman-Red Cliff gallery HERE

It wasn't all ghost town adventures though. We made our way to Canon City to experience Skyline Drive

Canon City, CO - Skyline DriveCanon City, CO - Skyline DriveSkyline Drive in Canon City, Colorado. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read about this thrilling 2.6mile road that provides unparalleled views of the area and a bit of adventure dating back to 1905 in our article Canon City Skyline Drive

There's much more about this area that we've written about before. 

See additional articles 

Cripple Creek - World's Greatest Gold Camp

Victor - City of Mines

Buckskin Joe - Gone but not Forgotten

St Elmo - Best Preserved Ghost Town

Leadville - Cloud City USA

 

On our way home, we stopped at the oddity that is the Genoa Wonder Tower

Genoa, CO - Wonder Tower Property TodayGenoa, CO - Wonder Tower Property 2018 Read about Genoa, Colorado and the roadside attraction Genoa Wonder Tower

 

Also see:

Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Colorado

Colorado - The Centennial State

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Beaver City Canon City Skyline Drive Clear Creek Canyon Colorado Conway Folsom Ghost Towns Guffey History Ludlow New Mexico Rockdale Rocky Mountains Texas Route 66 Vicksburg Winfield https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2019/8/a-bit-of-the-rockies-august-2018 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 13:29:39 GMT
Texas Panhandle https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/8/texas-panhandle Texas Panhandle Plains - 2Texas Panhandle Plains - 2The Texas Panhandle Plains region is mostly flat, grassy land that are part of the Great Plains of the Central United States. Sometimes this land in the Texas Panhandle is also called the Llano Estacado or “Staked Plains.” Well, we're off on a family trip and it just so happens that both sides of the family live in the Texas Panhandle. So.......... from Missouri, we crossed Oklahoma, where we did just a little bit of Route 66 before making our way to our first family stop in Pampa, Texas. From there, we traveled to Amarillo, made a stop at the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, and spent more time with family. Next morning we made our way to Palo Duro Canyon.

On the way back, we journeyed to Canadian, Texas -- beautiful scenery and a stop at the old wagon bridge over the Canadian River.  We then crossed northern Oklahoma making a stop at Pawnee Bill's Ranch in Pawnee, Oklahoma. A few more photo ops on Route 66 in eastern Oklahoma before we hit Missouri and anticipated Home Sweet Home.

The first photo opportunity we took advantage of was in Eastern Oklahoma with a small slice of Route 66.

Though all of the eight states along historic Route 66 display pride in ownership of their piece of the pavement, Oklahoma seems to do it the best. Perhaps that is as it should be, given that the Mother Road was born in Oklahoma when Cyrus Avery of Tulsa conceived of the idea to link Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. Moreover, Oklahoma has more miles of the original highway than any other state, they were the first to install historic markers along the old route, the first to have a state-sponsored Route 66 museum, and ironically, the first to lose part of the original road when I-44 barreled through, dealing a deathblow to many service businesses between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Old Mobeetie, TX - BuildingsOld Mobeetie, TX - BuildingsBuildings in Old Mobeetie, Texas by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Afterwards, we made our way to Old Mobeetie, Texas which has a great history as an frontier town with such characters as Bat Masterson, buffalo hunters, and soldiers. This ghost town of today started as a buffalo camp in about 1874 and was called Hidetown. The next year, a fort was built nearby which brought in numerous people to the area and the settlement was renamed Sweetwater. By 1886, the town was in its heyday and included several merchandise stores, blacksmith shops, livery stables, law and real estate offices, nine saloons, a substantial rock school building and several church organizations.

That same year, a gunfight occurred at the Lady Gay Saloon, when a soldier from Fort Elliot was disgruntled with Bat Masterson. A black-haired beauty by the name of Mollie Brennan who jumped in front of Masterson was killed, saving Bat's life. But Masterson was still wounded in the leg, leading him to utilize his famous cane for the rest of his life. The soldier was left dead.

Mobeetie, TX - Cemetery Jack Rabbits - 2Mobeetie, TX - Cemetery Jack Rabbits - 2Large jack rabbits at the Mobeetie, Texas Cemetery by Dave Alexander. After visiting Old Mobeetie, we hunted down the cemetery where Mollie Brennan was one of the first to be buried. It is the oldest known grave yard in the Texas Panhandle with the oldest gravestone remaining dated 1882. Other burials include outlaws, accused horse thieves, those killed by an 1898 tornado, ladies of the evening, and famed Texas Ranger, Captain G.W. Arrington.

While we were there, we met two new friends - a couple of very large fearless jack rabbits. We could approach within just about 8 feet before they would hop away to another spot. Pictured here, Dave caught them resting in the little bit of shade cast by two tombstones.

Canyon, TX - Panhandle Plains Museum ChuckwagonCanyon, TX - Panhandle Plains Museum ChuckwagonDisplay at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The next day we visited the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas. All in all, it was a decent museum, featuring a bunches of oil, a few cars, and a lot of frontier. But, for us, it was a little pricey at $10.00 per person, for which we would expect something like Frontier Texas at Abilene, or the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. They also don't allow any photography in the galleries, so we didn't see them. So, we give them a B-.

Our next historic stop was Palo Duro Canyon located less than a half hour drive south of Amarillo, Texas. Here is the mysterious terra cotta badlands, dubbed the "Grand Canyon of Texas". Coming off the staked plains of the Texas Panhandle, this 60-mile-long and 800-foot-deep canyon is a surprise among these treeless plains. Surrounded by miles of open land and endless skies, visitors are amazed at the towering cliffs, banded by a myriad of colors, and the amazing rock formations carved over millions of years by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.

Palo Duro Canyon, TX - Landscape - 3Palo Duro Canyon, TX - Landscape - 3Palo Duro Canyon, Texas Panhandle. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The second largest canyon in the United States, the term "Palo Duro” means "hard wood” in Spanish, and was named by those first explorers for the canyon's abundant mesquite and juniper trees from which the Indians made their "hardwood" bows.

The canyon was first surveyed by a military team under the guidance of Captain Randolph B. Marcy in 1852. Though white settlers were beginning to migrate to the area, the canyon remained the lands of the Indians until a military expedition led by Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie was sent in 1874 to remove them to reservations in Oklahoma. This resulted in the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, the major skirmish of the Red River War. On September 28, 1874, Mackenzie led his Fourth United States Cavalry on an attack of the of Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne encamped in the canyon. Though the tribes had forewarning of the attack, their camps were scattered over a large area on the canyon floor and they were unable to assemble a united defense. The remaining Indians continued to fight in smaller skirmishes that autumn and winter, but in the end, the Indians were defeated and forced onto reservations in Indian Territory in 1875.

Canadian River 1916 Wagon BridgeCanadian, TX - Wagon Bridge - 2Canadian River 1916 Wagon Bridge On our way home we made a stop at the old wagon bridge in Canadian, Texas. This bridge, completed in 1916 was originally 2,635 feet long and was said to be the largest steel structure west of the Mississippi River at the time. In 1923 it fell victim to the raging waters of the Canadian River which cut a new channel around the north end of the bridge necessitating an extension on the north end, making it 3,255 feet in length. Many years later, it was closed and abandoned. However, it was renovated by interested citizens and reopened in 2,000. Today it is part of a new scenic hiking and biking trail over the Canadian River Valley. 

After staying the night at one of the worst campgrounds ever in central Oklahoma, we rose early to make our last stop at Pawnee Bill's Ranch in Pawnee, Oklahoma. The Pawnee Bill Ranch was once the showplace of the world-renowned Wild West Show entertainer Gordon W. "Pawnee Bill" Lillie. Visitors can tour Pawnee Bill and his wife May's fourteen-room mansion, fully furnished with their original belongings. Their dream home, completed in 1910, is filled with Lillie family memorabilia, photographs, original art work, and much more.

Pawnee, OK - Pawnee Bill Ranch Bison -2Pawnee, OK - Pawnee Bill Ranch Bison -2 The Ranch property also houses a museum with exhibits related to Pawnee Bill, the Wild West Shows, and the Pawnee tribe. The 500-acre grounds include the original Ranch blacksmith shop, a 1903 log cabin, a large barn built in 1926, and an Indian Flower Shrine—all available for the public to tour. A herd of bison, longhorn, and several draft horses call the Pawnee Bill Ranch home and can often be found grazing in the drive through exhibit pasture. 

And then, our whirl wind trip to Texas has come to an end and we are Home Sweet Home.

 

Kathy Weiser-Alexander

 

 

 

 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) canadian canyon mobeetie museum oklahoma old palo duro canyon panhandle panhandle-plains pawnee pawnee bill texas wagon bridge https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/8/texas-panhandle Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:26:45 GMT
That Time When...Walking the Streets of Tombstone https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/2/that-time-when-walking-the-streets-of-tombstone As part of our series "That Time When...", we take a look back at our 2007 journey to Tombstone, AZ, where we found more than just an Old West tourist destination. We found the Ghost Town Trail. 

We had stayed in Sierra Vista and decided to day-trip it out for adventure. Coming up Highway 90, then east on 82, first on our list was the ghost town of Fairbank. 

Fairbank, AZ - Adobe BuildingFairbank, AZ - Adobe BuildingOld commercial buildings in the ghost town of Fairbank, Arizona. They once held a post office, saloon and general store. Settled in the late 1870's, this town was first called Junction City, and at the time was a simple stage stop on the way to Tombstone. Later it would be renamed Kendall, before finally becoming Fairbank when it gained its post office in 1883.  We found the old adobe commercial building that once housed the post office, a saloon and general store. 

1920 Fairbank SchoolThis old school house now serves as a visitor's center and museum. The 1920 Fairbank School now serves as a visitors center and museum. The school served children through 1944, and the post office didn't close until the late 1970's. In 1987 the Bureau of Land Management took over the property and it became part of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in November of 1988. The NCA has since stabilized, preserved and in some cases restored the old remaining buildings. 

Fairbank, AZ - HouseFairbank, AZ - House Read about the mining and railroad history of this neat little stop in our article Fairbank - Dead in the Desert

On to Tombstone, the Town too Tough to Die!

Tombstone, AZ - Allen Street TodayTombstone, AZ - Allen Street TodayThe famous silver-mining town of Tombstone, Arizona once had some 10,000 people and was the county seat. It was called "Tombstone" because it was feared that the Apache would kill anyone encroaching on the area. Today it is referred to as "The Town Too Tough to Die". Ed Schieffelin, a prospector, looked out on the mountains from where he stood at Camp Huachuca, commenting that the rich colors of the mountains looked like a promising place. A nearby soldier was quick to warn him that the area was controlled by Apache indians and said "All you'll find in those hills is your tombstone." Luckily for us, Schieffelin was a stubborn man. 

Tombstone, AZ - StreetTombstone, AZ - StreetTombstone, Arizona Street by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Tombstone was officially established in March of 1879 and quickly became a boom town with the promise of Silver Mining. Tombstone, AZ - StagecoachTombstone, AZ - StagecoachTombstone, Arizona Stagecoach by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

In fact, by the time Wyatt Earp arrived in December that year in hopes of establishing a stage line, he discovered the town already had two. So off to the gaming tables he went, as did many of the towns rowdy residents.  

Tombstone, AZ - Crystal PalaceTombstone, AZ - Crystal PalaceBuilt to attract the "finer" elements of Tombstone, the Crystal Palace Saloon provided shining crystal tableware, elegant deacor, the finest wines and spirits, and as many as five bartenders standing on duty to quickly serve their patrons around the clock. From the start, owner Wehrfritz also insisted on strictly honest games of chance. Though it was just one of 110 establishments licensed to sell liquor in the booming city, the new establishment soon attracted the most prominent businessmen. Open 24 hours a day, the Crystal Palace attracted everyone from the doctors, to lawyers to mining officials, as well as other hangers on wishing to rub elbows with the prominent, but would brook no funny business within its walls, protecting itself from the many bullet holes found in other lesser establishments in the community. The rich Old West history runs deep in this now tourist town. The post office, established shortly before the town was laid out, continues to operate to this day. The local Newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph, is the oldest continually published paper in Arizona, and the infamous Allen Street has been restored to attract thousands of visitors from around the world each year. 

Tombstone, AZ - Big Nose KatesTombstone, AZ - Big Nose Kates We had a blast visiting Big Nose Kate's Saloon, a large and colorful cowboy bar that began life as the Grand Hotel in 1881. 

Tombstone, AZ - Birdcage TheatreTombstone, AZ - Birdcage TheatreThe famous Birdcage Theatre opened its doors on December 25, 1881 and for the next eight years would never close, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Also called the Bird Cage Opera House Saloon, the establishment featured a saloon, gambling parlour, theatre, and a brothel. In no time, the theatre gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in Tombstone, so bad that the few self-respecting women in town refused to even walk near the place. The New York Times reported in 1882, that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast". During the years that the theatre was open the wicked little place witnessed a number of gun and knife fights that took some 26 lives, and left 140 bullet holes in the ceilings, walls, and floors, many of which can still be seen today. The Bird Cage Theatre, an 1881 dance hall, gambling house, saloon, brothel and theatre provided a peak at history as it now serves as museum. The scene of twentysix deaths during its eight years in business, you can actually see the faro table that Doc Holliday once dealt cards among the many items that never left the building from the early days. 

Tombstone, AZ - Ok CorralTombstone, AZ - Ok Corral Although the O.K. Corral and Historama is not the actual site of the famous gun fight, you will enjoy the recreation of the past during a 30 minute tour, complete with films, animated figures and more. Next door is the 'corral', where you can enjoy the "gunfight". 

Tombstone, AZ - Boot Hill GraveyardTombstone, AZ - Boot Hill GraveyardOne of the most famous cemeteries in the country, Boot Hill Graveyard was originally platted on a slight hill just northwest of Tombstone in 1878 and called the "Tombstone Cemetery." It was used for all burials until 1884, when a new Cemetery was built at the end of Allen Street, when it then took on the name, the Old Cemetery. And of course no trip to Tombstone would be complete without a visit to Boot Hill Graveyard, the final resting place of such notables as the Clanton Gang, John Heath and others. 

For old west lovers, this is a must stop, and well worth the time spent walking the streets and soaking up the history. Re-enactments, characters and more abound to please audiences of all ages.  

Read about the incredible story of the Earps, Holliday, Big Nose Kate, the Clantons and more in our article "Tombstone - The Town Too Tough to Die."

Here's a slideshow of our visit, along with some other historical photographs. Continue reading below for information on the Ghost Town Trail. 

 

Ghost Towns: America's Lost World DVDA 5-Part Journey into Abandoned History, including appearances by Legends' own Kathy Weiser and Dave Alexander.

The Ghost Town Trail - Gleeson, Courtland & Pearce

On a dusty road winding out of Tombstone, we began an adventure on the Ghost Town Trail. 

Gleeson, AZ - HospitalGleeson, AZ - Hospital About 16 miles on the trail you run into Gleeson. The first mining camp here was called Turquoise when the post office opened in 1890, however the camp was short lived and the post office closed.  

Gleeson, AZ - JailGleeson, AZ - Jail However in 1900, John Gleeson arrived to begin mining again, and after finding copper, a new camp sprung up in his name and yet another post office was established, this time as Gleeson. 

Gleeson, AZ - RuinsGleeson, AZ - Ruins After the mining was done, the town was done as well, with the post office closing by 1939. Today the old settlement has numerous ruins, including an old hospital, saloon, dry good store, jail and mining remnants. 

After Gleeson, just about three and a half miles, you'll come to Courtland.

Courtland, AZ - RuinsCourtland, AZ - Ruins Although it got its start after Gleeson, it grew four times the size, although it has far fewer remains. Another mining town, Courtland was established around 1909. 

Courtland, AZ - JailCourtland, AZ - JailPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The town once boasted a movie theatre, ice cream parlor, pool hall and swimming pool. Though it hung on through the Great Depression, its post office closed in 1942. Today most of what remains are ruins. 

Another 10 miles or so down the road found us in Pearce. 

Pearce, AZ - General StorePearce, AZ - General Store Founded by the discovery of Gold by Jimmie Pearce, the town was established in 1896.  Pearce, AZ - Post OfficePearce, AZ - Post Office The post office, closed in the late 1960's, is now a private residence, but the area has seen some rejuvenation. 

There's some rich old west history to be found in all three of these Arizona Ghost Towns.  Learn more in our article "The Ghost Town Trail - Gleeson, Courtland & Pearce."

Here's a slideshow of our trek on the Ghost Town Trail

See more about our time in Tombstone via our old travel blog HERE

 

Ghost Town Photo Prints for SalePrint's, canvas wraps and more from our Ghost Town galleries.

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Courtland Fairbank Ghost Towns Gleeson Pearce Tombstone history information photos prints travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/2/that-time-when-walking-the-streets-of-tombstone Sat, 25 Feb 2017 13:56:50 GMT
A Walk Through Our Nations Oldest City - St. Augustine https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/a-walk-through-our-nations-oldest-city-st-augustine Our primary destination for our 2017 Winter trip was St. Augustine, Florida, and I must say we were not disappointed. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos SkylineSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos SkylinePhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Looking at the skyline from the Castillo de San Marco, the oldest existing permanent seacoast fortification in the continental United States, over 400 years of history lay before our camera's lens.

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Interior WallSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Interior WallPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Castillo de San Marco's existing walls have stood since the late 1690's, but even that is over a hundred years after the original fort was built, and the community of St. Augustine grew beside it. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos AerialSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos AerialThe Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. By the Historic American Buildings Survey. Made of coquina, a kind of stone that had been found near the coast on Anastasia Island, it replaced earlier wood forts as a formidable fortress to withstand the heaviest of attacks. It's walls are 12 feet thick around the inland portions, and 19 feet thick facing the harbor.  St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Bastion BirdsSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Bastion BirdsPhoto by Dave Alexander.

The fortress has switched hands several times over its long history, and for a long time, after Florida was sold to the U.S., was named Fort Marion. In 1924 it was designated a National Historic Monument, and was renamed back to Castillo de San Marco in 1942. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Soldier QuartersSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Soldier QuartersPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. You'll enjoy the exhibits, walk through the living quarters, interact with the period re-enactors, and learn from National Park presentations during your visit. 

Read about the long history of the nation's oldest seacoast fortification, the Castillo de San Marcos HERE.

St. Augustine, FL - Large CrossSt. Augustine, FL - The Great CrossErected in 1965 to commemorate 400 years since the landing of Pedro Menendez de Aviles September 8, 1565, and the establishment of the Mission Nombres de Dios and city of St. Augustine.

The "Great Cross", built in 1965, stands over the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios to commemorate 400 years since Spanish Captain Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived on September 8, 1565 to establish the Mission and city. 

St. Augustine, FL - City GatesSt. Augustine, FL - City GatesPhoto by Dave Alexander.

We strolled through the city gates, the pillars of which were erected by residents in 1808. This is some of the last remaining wall that surrounded the community. In earlier days, it was the only way in and out of St. Augustine. 

St. Augustine, FL - St. George StreetSt. Augustine, FL - St. George StreetPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The streets are narrow and laid out in such a way as to bring in the ocean breeze to cool the city, as well as provide advantage during attack. 

St. Augustine, FL - St. George Street ShopsSt. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Shops A walk down St. George street is a tourist delight. Boutiques, bistros, galleries and gift shops line the narrow path, some of them in original buildings.

St. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Bistro'sSt. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Bistro's While we're not real estate experts, we would guess the rent is high in this heavily trafficked area of St. Augustine, so it's no surprise we found some of the best eateries of our entire journey on St. George Street. Being the frugal type, we passed up some real fancy dining, including restaurants established in the early 1900's, but SHOUT OUT to Pizza Time!  Ranked 2nd Best Pizza in the U.S. by Trip Advisor and absolutely delicious. Burrito Works Taco Shop nearby wasn't bad either. Don't worry, we ate at each on separate days :)

Time to walk off the food with more history nearby...

St. Augustine, FL - Cathedral BasilicaSt. Augustine, FL - Cathedral BasilicaThe Cathedral Basilica is the oldest church in Florida, constructed between 1793 and 1797. The church was established in 1565 with the founding of St. Augustine. After the shops on St. George Street, and walking past the Cathedral Basilica, constructed in the late 1700's, you will enter the Plaza de la Constitucion.

St. Augustine, FL - Plaza de la ConstitucionSt. Augustine, FL - Plaza de la ConstitucionThe oldest public square in America, the Plaza de la Constitucion was laid out by Spanish Royal Ordinance in 1573. It features the Constitution Monument, which may the the only remaining Monument in the Western Hemisphere celebrating the Spanish Constitution of 1812. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The oldest public square in America, the Plaza was laid out by Spanish Royal Ordinance in 1573. It features the Constitution Monument, which may the the only remaining Monument in the Western Hemisphere celebrating the Spanish Constitution of 1812.

St. Augustine, FL - Flagler CollegeSt. Augustine, FL - Flagler CollegeNamed for Henry Flagler, Flagler college use to be the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Flagler in 1888.

Not far from the Plaza you'll find the old Ponce de Leon Hotel, now Flagler College. Built by oil tycoon Henry Flagler in 1888, the Ponce de Leon was one of several hotels that Flagler owned, as part of his goal to make St. Augustine a Winter Haven. 

St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian Church - 3St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian Church - 3Henry Flagler had the Presbyterian church built in memorial to his daughter and granddaughter. Flagler had workers build around the clock to finish the church in a year. Flagler's mark on St. Augustine wasn't limited to Hotels.  He's also responsible for funding of several churches, including the Presbyterian Church, built in memorial to his Daughter and Granddaughter, who both died of illness shortly after birth. 

St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian ChurchSt. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian ChurchPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. We learned on our tour of the city that Flagler made an arrangement with all the other town churches that the Presbyterian Church would be the only one to ring a bell. Considering his sizeable impact on the city they obliged. 

Learn more about the impact the Spanish, and later Henry Flagler made on this historic city.. Read St. Augustine - Oldest U.S. City Here.

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Match Stick Space StationSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Match Stick Space Station In addition to the city's great history, you'll find more fun and entertainment for the entire family at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditiorium. Visitors will marvel at exhibits like this space station model made entirely of matchsticks. 

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Shrunken HeadSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Shrunken Head This actual shrunken head was part of Robert Ripley's original collection of oddities that made him famous worldwide. This isn't just any "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" museum -- this is the first permanent Odditorium started by the Ripley family just a year after Robert Ripley died. 

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Believe it or Not MuseumSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum Even the building has an interesting history, starting as the winter "Castle" of William G. Warden in 1887, then a decade as the Castle Warden Hotel, before becoming the museum. 

Read more about the history of the Warden Winter Home and Robert L. Ripley in our article Ripley's Original Odditorium Here.

St. Augustine, FL - Colonial Quarter GudeSt. Augustine, FL - Colonial Quarter Gude We also took an excellent guided tour of Colonial Quarter, a living history outdoor museum depicting life in St. Augustine over three centuries. 

St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 2St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 2 Next door we toured St. Augustine's Pirate and Treasure Museum, which includes items used in several movies, like Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean.  

St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 4St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 4 This isn't just any Pirate Museum either -- it houses the largest authentic collection of pirate artifacts in the world. 

See more about Colonial Quarter on their website here

See more about the Pirate and Treasure Museum via their website here

St. Augustine, FL - Red Train TrolleySt. Augustine, FL - Red Train TrolleyRipley's Red Train Tour is a 90 minute ride through St. Augustine's more notable historic and entertaining attractions. The trolley stops at many places, allowing you to hop on and off as another one comes to each stop every 20 minutes. Worth your time and money is the Red Train Tour offered by Ripley's. This trolley stops at many locations around the city as the driver gives interesting tidbits on the history of St. Augustine. The entire ride is about 90 minutes, however it stops at several places along the way, allowing riders to hop on and off, with another trolley coming by every 20 minutes. 

Find out more about the Red Train Tours via their website here

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm SignSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm SignAlligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Finally, before we left we had to catch the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park on Anastasia Island.

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator FarmSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator FarmAlligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The Park, established in 1893, began as a small collection of Florida Reptiles, and now serves as a modern zoo, providing important research and conservation efforts, in addition to just being a fun and informative stop. 

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm TurtleSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm TurtleAlligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Dave Alexander. No visit to St. Augustine is complete without a visit to this fun place.  Read our article on the long history of St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park Here.

 

We also produced a video from our time here in St. Augustine that includes more about the history and a few other extra's. 

In addition, here's our St. Augustine Slideshow

There are many sites we didn't get to during our visit, so make sure to plan some quality time in St. Augustine. We would suggest the winter months if possible, not only to avoid the major crowds during tourist season, but also the Florida heat during the summer months. 

We want to thank Ripley's Believe It or Not!, Colonial Quarter, Pirate & Treasure Museum, Ripley's Red Train Tours, the Alligator Farm Zoological Park, and the Lightner Museum (sorry we didn't make it). Each helped out tremendously during our tours and gave a warm Florida welcome. 

During our time in this portion of our journey, we stayed about 40 miles away from St. Augustine next to the town of Crescent City in Sned Acres RV Park. We'll give this park a 4 out of 5 on RV Park Reviews. Good location for the price (New monthly rate of $350 plus electric, which was very reasonable) Good facilities and close to store. Wifi had issues while we were there, but we understand things will likely change in that department this year. Friendly staff. Would stay there again. Ps. Since we were there in January, didn't have a chance to use the pool, but we can imagine it being packed in the summer months. 

Our travel and website are supported through this Photo Print Shop, as well as our General Store. We appreciate greatly each and every reader and customer. For information on support beyond our merchandise, see our Tip Jar Here

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Castillo De San Marcos Florida Pirate Museum Red Train Tours Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium Slide Show St. Augustine St. Augustine Video St. George Street history photos prints travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/a-walk-through-our-nations-oldest-city-st-augustine Tue, 24 Jan 2017 21:02:38 GMT
From Mardi Gras to Seaside Defense - Our Journey along the Gulf Coast https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/from-mardi-gras-to-seaside-defense---our-journey-along-the-gulf-coast After a drenching in Texas, we had a brief reprieve in Lake Charles, Louisiana as we continued our journey along the Gulf Coast. Time enough to make a short trip south of the city and stretch our legs on Holly Beach to enjoy a little sun. Sun we hadn't seen since Goliad

Holly Beach, LA - Play TimeHolly Beach, LA - Play Time"No leashes?! No Rain?! Beach!!? We're Free, We're Free!!!!"

We also discovered that Lake Charles has the second largest Mardi Gras Celebration in the United States. So we paid a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu to find out more. Here's our video of the visit. 

We had a great time at the Museum and want to give a big thanks to David Faulk for the tour. If you would like to find out more about the museum, you can see their website HERE

Read about the fascinating history of Mardi Gras in the U.S., and see our Mardi Gras Slide Show in our article HERE

After time with our friend Ann (thanks for the use of your driveway), we pushed out of Lake Charles to begin our exploration of historic forts along the coast. 

Fort Morgan

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan EntryGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan EntryAbove the entry tunnel into the sea fortress of Fort Morgan.

First established as Fort Bowyer during the War of 1812, the strategic location on the coast of Alabama, some 20 miles west of Gulf Shores, proved advantageous for America as the British suffered a humiliating defeat here. Construction on a new fortress began in 1819, and years later, in 1833, it was named Fort Morgan before being completed the next year. 

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan TunnelsGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan TunnelsInside the walls of Fort Morgan. Standing guard where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, the fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August, 1864 during the Civil War.  Falling into Union Hands, it was used it as a base for reconnaissance raids, and then as a staging area for the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely, which occurred days before General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan - CannonGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan - CannonPhoto by Dave Alexander. Read about the history of the Fort Morgan National Historic Site Here

This is worth a stop and price of admission, but our relationship with Mother Nature was still on the rocks as the Alabama coast was experiencing an unusual bitter cold blast with enough wind to numb your nose while we were there. If it had been a nice day, there's a ferry just outside the fort grounds that we could have taken over to historic Fort Gaines, but not this day. We also missed historic Fort Conde in Mobile due to rain. Still, we captured the moment at Fort Morgan.

 

Fort Barrancas 

Pensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Spanish Water BatteryPensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Spanish Water Battery

Fort Barrancas was built on the site of numerous previous forts, including Fort San Carlos de Austria, which was constructed by the Spanish in 1698. The British used this site as a harbor fortification, building the Royal Navy Redoubt in 1763.

Pensacola, Fl - Fort Barrancas EntrywayPensacola, Fl - Fort Barrancas Entryway During the War of 1812 between the United States and the England, the fort was the scene of the American victory at the Battle of Pensacola in 1814. When the United States purchased Florida from Spain in 1821 the U.S. Navy selected Pensacola Bay as the site for a United States Navy Yard.

Pensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas CannonPensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Cannon Fort Barrancas was deactivated in 1947. The U.S. Navy then incorporated the site into Naval Air Station Pensacola. In 1971, Congress authorized the establishment of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which included Fort Barrancas National Historic Site. After a $1.2 million restoration, Fort Barrancas was opened to the public in 1980.

Fort Barrancas is located on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola but they are both managed as historic properties by the National Park Service. Access to Naval Air Station Pensacola by non-Department of Defense affiliated personnel may be subject to homeland security and military force protection concerns. Oh, and make sure you go to the right entrance.  We got a little lost trying to find our way in.... you want the West Entrance to the base. Take my word, don't go to the East entrance..unless you belong there of course. 

On the way in to see the historic Fort, stop in at the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, established in 1859.  

The Lighthouse overlooks three historic forts and the historic Naval Yard, and provides some spectacular views. Just across the street you'll find the National Naval Aviation Museum, the largest Naval Aviation Museum in the world and the most visited in Florida. Historic Fort Barrancas is right around the corner from the museum. 

For more about Fort Barrancas and the area, read about it HERE. 

Also read more about Florida's Maritime History HERE

During our travels we were spending quite a bit of time in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Fort Massachusetts, MSFort Massachusetts, MSFort Massachusetts by the National Park Service Stretching for miles along the southern coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and the northwestern corner of Florida, this National Seashore helps tell the story of the development of the United States as an independent nation.  

Read more about the Gulf Islands National Seashore HERE.

There was plenty we didn't see and do, and at some point we'll need to come back to this area and explore more. Additional heavy rains changed a few of our plans again, however, by the time we got further into Florida, we made peace with Mother Nature.  On our last stop before our primary destination of Crescent City, we sighed a bit of relief and enjoyed the Sunset of this leg of our journey. 

Keaton Beach. FL - SunsetKeaton Beach, FL - SunsetPhoto by Dave Alexander. During this portion of our Journey, we stayed at: 

Pass Christian RV Park (Pass Christian, MS) - We gave this overnight stay 4 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews, primarily for friendliness. No wifi here, and a bit off the beaten track, but a pleasant overnighter.  (P.S. Don't believe your Tom Tom for directions here, unless of course you want a scenic tour of a neighborhood before coming back out only to turn just a few hundred feet into the park). 

Foley Sunchase RV Park (Foley, AL) - We stayed 3 nights at this one while exploring history and gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews. To be fair, the manager we dealt with indicated he wasn't there much longer, and I would say that's a good thing as he was a bit odd (roaming around the outside of the trailer when he thought we weren't there, having his dog piss on our truck, etc).  Great new Community building and lots of planned activities, and overall great people, including who I believe was the incoming new manager ready to take creepazoid's place.  Wifi had issues due to a recent storm, but otherwise would be adequate, with the typical exception of peak traffic times. 

Old Pavilion RV Park (Keaton Beach, FL) - We stayed overnight before pushing on to our month long stay in Crescent City.  Gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews.  Mostly sandy sites right by the beach, although the beach seemed a little unkept. Also noticed standing water smells and a tinge of sewer, however it did look like they were working on something while we were there. Location is the key on this park (Sunset photo above taken from a campsite we weren't on). Hard to find the office, but the owners were really nice. Couldn't attach to their wifi during our brief stay. 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Barrancas Fort Morgan Lake Charles Mardi Gras Museum Pensacola Lighthouse historic gulf coast forts photo video https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/from-mardi-gras-to-seaside-defense---our-journey-along-the-gulf-coast Sat, 14 Jan 2017 16:12:21 GMT
Black Gold of Beaumont https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/black-gold-of-beaumont After moving on from our adventure in Goliad County, we went in search of Black Gold, Texas Tea...Oil that is.  First though, we decided to take a side trip down to the lost city of Indianola.

Indanola, TX - StreetIndanola, TX - StreetOnce one of the most important settlements on the Texas Coast, Indianola suffered severe Hurricanes and tropical storms before becoming a ghost town in the late 1800's. Now only a few call the settlement home. Once one of the most important Texas ports along the Gulf of Mexico, the settlement was established in 1846 as Indian Point. Stage coach service began in 1848 as it became firmly established as a deep-water port. Soon, it was the chief port through which European and American immigrants flowed into western Texas.

Indanola, TX - OceanIndanola, TX - OceanOcean in Indianola, Texas.

Indianola Texas in the 1800's As Indian Point began to grow and merge with the nearby settlement of Karlshaven, the two towns became one and changed its name to Indianola in February, 1849. With its rapid growth, the town soon expanded three miles down the beach to Powderhorn Bayou when Indianola was chosen as the terminus to Charles Morgan’s New York-based steamship line.

In 1852 Indianola was made the Calhoun County seat, and at its peak had around 2,000 residents, but in 1875 it was practically wiped off the coast in a Hurricane. Another storm in 1886 would be the death knell of the city and the county seat was moved.

Today there is a chunk of granite from the original courthouse along the coastline

Calhoun County Courthouse GraniteOne of the few remaining remnants of the original Indianola is this chunk of granite put here as a monument from the original Calhoun County Courthouse. . It's inscription reads: 

Calhoun County Courthouse
Edward Beaumont Architect 1859
During the Storms of 1875 and 1886
precious lives were saved within its walls
of shell, concrete and lime.
Abandoned 1886

You can read more about Indianola HERE.

After a windy time in Indianola, we pushed our way to Galveston Island for a quick pass through on our way to find Oil.

Galveston, TX - Pleasure PierGalveston, TX - Pleasure PierAmusement on the Pier on Galveston Island Galveston, TX - Pleasure Pier - 3Galveston, TX - Pleasure Pier - 3 Sorry folks, no time to stop and explore in Galveston Island, but you can check out our little Galveston Photo Collection HERE.

Our primary destination for this portion of our journey was Beaumont, a city built by fortunes in Oil. Unfortunately, our timing for staying here on New Years weekend wasn't ideal as Mother Nature provided her own "gusher" and washed out many of our plans. However that didn't stop us from paying a visit to some pretty cool museums, including the Texas Energy Museum in downtown Beaumont. 

Beaumont, TX - Energy MuseumBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum The Texas Energy Museum opened in 1990 in the downtown district, and explores the history, various equipment used, and companies associated with the Texas Oil Boom of the early 1900's.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Western Co. Miss 101Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Western Co. Miss 101"Miss 101", the symbol of the Western Company, serviced areas of Texas from 1939 to 1948. Exhibits and videos walk you through the timeline of Texas Oil, and explain how the various products are gathered from the area's many Oil Refineries.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - NeonSignBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum - NeonSign

Captain Anthony F. Lucas You'll really enjoy the animated exhibits with talking characters, including Patillo Higgins and Captain Anthony F. Lucas, and their roles in the nation's first big oil gusher at Spindletop, the Lucas Gusher. The characters tell the tale of how Higgins was mocked for insisting large amounts of Oil were just waiting to be found here, and how Lucas prevailed in finding it.

The Lucas Gusher began the boom for Beaumont, which grew from around 8,500 residents to 30,000 in just three months. 

The boom would also leave a lasting impact on the U.S., bringing in the nation's industrial age and spawning some of the most successful oil companies.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Texaco TruckBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Texaco Truck

You can read more about the Texas Energy Museum HERE

Once the rain stopped, we ventured on to Gladys City Boomtown Museum

Beaumont, TX - Boomtown MuseumBeaumont, TX - Gladys City Boomtown Museum A continuation of our education on the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop, this is a replica of what the old town of Gladys City might have been. The museum complex was built in in 1976 through the combined efforts of the Lucas Gusher Monument Association, the Heritage Committee, the Southeast Texas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Lamar University. 

Beaumont, TX - Boomtown Museum BoardwalkBeaumont, TX - Boomtown Museum Boardwalk It's a fascinating look at the beginnings of the Texas Oil Boom in 1901 and how Gladys City and Beaumont were ground zero for building America into a true Super Power.

Read the incredible tale of fortune of Gladys City and the Spindletop Gusher HERE

We missed a lot in Beaumont due to the holiday weekend and pouring rain, but there is plenty to see and do here. From historic homes to wonderful family entertainment, learn about the attractions that make this historic city a must see in South Texas. Visit the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau's Things To Do. They were most excellent hosts and welcomed us Texas Style. 

Here's a peek at more of Beaumont including the museums we visited

On our way to Beaumont, we stayed at a really nice RV Park in Bay City, Texas. 60 North RV Park is a great stop for RV'ers passing through or spending time in the area and we would put this one above all others in Bay City.  We gave them 4.5 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews.

In Beaumont we stayed at Gulf Coast RV Resort, another excellent choice for spending time exploring the rich history around the city.  They even served up a continental breakfast, had private showers and a fitness room (not that we used it LOL). We gave them 4.5 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews, however I would note that this place practically turned into a marshland after about 2 inches of rain. Thankful for concrete pads! 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Beaumont Galveston Island Gladys City Boomtown Indianola Texas Energy Museum ghost town https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/black-gold-of-beaumont Fri, 06 Jan 2017 14:12:44 GMT
Exploring Deep Texas History in Goliad https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/exploring-deep-texas-history-in-goliad We're starting the new year doing what we like most, exploring history. And here in South Texas there's plenty of it. Our primary destination for this part of our trip took us to Goliad County, but of course we found a gem or two along the way, like the old town of Dime Box. 

Dime Box, TX - ChattingDime Box, TX - ChattingA lazy afternoon finds locals outside the barber shop chatting it up in Dime Box, Tx. The town started a few miles away as a sawmill built by settler Joseph Brown sometime in the early 1870's. Known as Brown's Mill, local residents would put their outgoing mail in a box in Brown's office, along with a dime, for weekly delivery to Giddings, twelve miles to the southwest. An official post office was opened in 1877, but was closed for a short while in December of 1883.  After it reopened that next spring, confusion between the towns name of Brown's Mill and another Texas city, Brownsville, led the small community to rename itself Dime Box. 

Dime Box, TX - Dusty CarDime Box, TX - Dusty CarA dusty old classic sits under a false promise of ice cream in the hot Texas Hill Country. The town moved three miles to it's location on what is now farm road 141 after the Southern Pacific Railroad built a line in 1913. The original location, on State Highway 21, is now called Old Dime Box.  At its peak, Dime Box had about 500 residents and today continues to be a laid back, unincorporated, small Texas town full of charm and memories with a population of around 300.

See more of Texas Hill Country in our galleries here.

After passing through Giddings, burial place of vicious gunslinger Bill Longley, we pressed on to our destination of Goliad. Our first stop was between Victoria and Goliad, just off U.S. 59 (future I-69 at the time of this writing) at the site of the Battle of Coleto.

Fannin, TX - Battlefield SignFannin, TX - Battlefield SignEntry to the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site, commemorating the Battle of Coleto in March of 1836 which led to the Goliad Massacre. After the fall of the Alamo in March of 1836 during Texas bid for independence from Mexico, General Sam Houston ordered Colonel James Walker Fannin and his 400 men to retreat from the Presidio La Bahia at Goliad to Victoria.  On March 19, during their retreat, Fannin and his men were overtaken by a large Mexican force near Coleto Creek.  

Fannin, TX - BattlefieldFannin, TX - Battlefield After making a valiant stand, the remaining Texan's surrendered, believing they would be treated as prisoners of war of a civilized nation. Instead, they were taken back to the Presidio La Bahia, and on Palm Sunday, March 27, most were slaughtered in what is now known as the Goliad Massacre.  Some escaped and a few were spared after a Mexican woman known as the "Angel of Goliad" convinced a Mexican Colonel not to kill approximately 20 captives, including two doctors, along with orderlies and interpreters. In the end, between the battle and the massacre, almost 350 Texan's perished. With the defeat at the Alamo fresh on their minds, and the atrocity of Goliad, Texan resistance against Mexico was hardened and led to the battle cry "Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad" (also "Remember La Bahia").

Goliad, TX - Fannin GraveGoliad, TX - Fannin Grave In May, the Texan army would return to Goliad, and under the direction of General Thomas Rusk, would gather the bones of the men slaughtered by the Mexican Army.  On June 3, 1836, the bones were carried in procession from the Presidio La Bahia and given a military funeral. Today the grave is marked with the Fannin Monument close to the Presidio.  

Read more about the Battle of Coleto and the Goliad Massacre Here.

The Presidio La Bahia is the military fortress built by the Spanish to protect Missions in South Texas, including Mission Espirtu Santo just across the San Antonio River.  

Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto ChapelGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto ChapelInside the grounds of the Presidio La Bahia looking toward the chapel. There is a rich history here dating back to the 1700's, and several flags have flown over the Presidio as the land changed hands during various conflicts, including its crucial role during the Texas Revolution.

Goliad, TX - MissionEspirtuSanto-flagsGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia FlagsSeveral flags have flown over the Presidio La Bahia since it was established in 1749.

As both a State and national landmark, Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía and its chapel are now a popular attraction. The Chapel of Our Lady of Loreto is one of the oldest extant churches in the United States and has been continually operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas since 1853. 

Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto Chapel InteriorGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto Chapel Interior The Presidio de la Bahia also houses a history museum within the old officers' quarters. The museum offers exhibits, artifacts, and an award-winning documentary movie. Another favorite is the annual living history program, a series of reenactments that takes place each March to mark the tragic events of 1836. 

Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Roof - 2Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Roof - 2Photo by Dave Alexander. Today the military compound, including the chapel, have been carefully restored to their 1836 appearance, and is an important reminder of the influence of Spanish and Mexican culture on the United States. 

Right beside the Presidio you'll find the birthplace of General Ignacio Zaragoza. General Zaragoza assumed command of the rag-tag Mexican Army and welded it into a staunch fighting force, which met and defeated the French on May 5, 1862, in the Battle of Puebla, against Napoleon III's invading army (now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo in both the U.S. and Mexico).

Read more about the Presidio de la Bahia, also known as Fort Goliad, Here.

Coming out of Goliad, just before crossing the river and reaching the Presidio, be sure to stop in at Goliad State Park, home to the reconstructed Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, also known as Aranama Mission or Mission La Bahia. 

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu SantoGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo The Mission, established by the Spanish in 1722 on Matagorda Bay, moved here in 1749. Educating and serving the tribes of the Aranama, Piguique, Manos de Perro, Tamique, Tawakoni, and Tonkawa to great success proved destructive for the tribes' traditional way of life. In return for food, shelter and protection from more aggressive tribes, they agreed to live in the mission and follow its discipline and religion, which resulted in the gradual erosion and eventual destruction of their traditional tribal culture.

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse Interior - 2Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse Interior - 2Photo by Dave Alexander. By the 1830's most of the Christianized Indians had left and the mission which was facing opposition from raiding Apache and Comanche. These conditions coupled with a lack of money and political turmoil in Texas, forced the mission to close in 1830.

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo RooflineGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo Roofline The mission itself became part of the City of Goliad and the old mission's stones were allowed to be removed and used for local construction. 

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Wall DetailGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Wall DetailFound over one of the side doors into the Mission. The skull and crossbones are common at old Spanish Missions, indicating the grounds act as a cemetery, in which many of the markers of wood crosses have been lost in time. The mission ruins became part of the newly created Goliad State Park in 1931. In 1933, the Civil Works Administration with funds provided by the Works Progress Administration, began reconstruction of the stone chapel and granary, which were completed in 1941. Additional construction in the 1960s and 1980s brought the mission back its 1749 appearance. During the 1970s, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rehabilitated the chapel and built exhibits in the restored granary.

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - WarehouseGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse

Read more about Mission Espiritu Santo HERE. 

The community that grew around the Presidio and Mission was originally known as La Bahia.  In 1829 the name was changed to Goliad, believed to be an anagram of Hidalgo, minus the the "H".  

Goliad, TX - DowntownGoliad, TX - Downtown

The history beyond Spanish and Mexico control includes the fact that Texas gunfighter John King Fisher once lived here. In fact he was arrested for breaking into a house before moving on. 

The existing Goliad County Courthouse, erected in 1894 and later expanded, is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Goliad, TX - County Courthouse Clock TowerGoliad, TX - County Courthouse Clock TowerPhoto by Dave Alexander. You'll also find the Hanging Tree on the Courthouse grounds, where court sessions between 1846 and 1870 were held.  Death penalties were carried out immediately back then. 

Goliad, TX - Coffins & CasketsGoliad, TX - Coffins & CasketsPhoto by Dave Alexander. Beside its troubled times during wars, the city of Goliad suffered greatly in 1902 when a devastating tornado killed 114, including then sheriff Robert Shaw. It's tied as the deadliest twister in Texas History, and is currently the nation's 10th deadliest on record. 

We greatly enjoyed our stay in one of the oldest Counties in Texas, and encourage everyone with a love of early American History to visit Goliad.  

During our time in Goliad we stayed at the Angels of Goliad RV Park. We gave it 4.5 stars on RV Park Reviews and would recommend it to any traveler coming to see the rich history. 

Here's some more images from our adventure in Goliad. All are available for prints and downloads HERE

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fannin Battle Field Goliad Goliad State Park Presidio La Bahia history massacre missions photos texas travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/exploring-deep-texas-history-in-goliad Mon, 02 Jan 2017 14:59:34 GMT
That time when... Our Visit to Sego Canyon Utah https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/11/that-time-when-our-visit-to-sego-canyon-utah [A look back at our 2008 visit to Utah, and Sego Canyon, including the ghost town of Sego, in the fourth of our series "That time when.." a revisit to some of our favorites over the past]

In April of 2008 we drove up from Nevada into Utah for a swing through the southeastern portions of the state, going through what seemed to be endless changing landscapes and one National Park after another.  After making it up to I-70, and stumbling upon the ghost town of Thompson Springs, we made a small jaunt north on State Highway 94/BLM159, along Thompson Wash to Sego Canyon Rd (BLM160).  Here we found ancient rock art by the side of the road that dates back hundreds of years to the Fremont culture.  

Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 2Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 2Petroglyphs dating back hundreds of years still visible near the ghost town of Sego, UT.

The Fremont culture, a contemporary of the Anasazi, thrived from 600 A.D. to 1250.  There is also rock art from around 1300 A.D from the Ute tribe

Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 3Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 3Petroglyphs near Sego, UT

Unfortunately, although preservation efforts are made, there is quite a bit of graffiti and damage to the art done over the past couple of centuries. However there's plenty to see and a great reminder of just how long this continent has been inhabited.  Some of the art found in Utah dates back to the Archaic period from around 7000 B.C.

Heading north on Sego Canyon Road, we came upon Sego's Old cemetery, with the ghost town another mile or so up the canyon.

Sego, UT - Town View, 1920Sego, UT - Town View, 1920Town view in 1920 Sego started as a community in the 1890's when Harry Ballard discovered coal on land next to his ranch. Mining operations soon started and a town sprang up, originally called Ballard. As news spread of the high quality coal there, Salt Lake City businessman B.F. Bauer bought out Ballards property and formed the American Fuel Company. 

One of the more prominent structures you'll find here is the old Company Store dating back to 1911. 

Sego, UT - Company StoreSego, UT - Company StoreSego Company store built in 1911.

Around the same time the company store was built, the settlement was renamed to Neslin after the company's general manager Richard Neslin. In 1914 rail lines were brought to the coal camp, which brought its own issues as railroad spur trains were often off their tracks. 

Sego, UT - Railroad BridgeSego, UT - Railroad Bridge Not happy with profits, Bauer fired Neslin in 1916, changed the name of the company to Chesterfield, and renamed the town again, this time after the state flower, Sego. During our visit here in 2008, the old American Boarding House, built in the early 1900's, appeared to be on it's way to complete ruin. 

Sego, UT - Boarding House - 3Sego, UT - Boarding House - 3American Boarding House as seen in 2008, is now just a pile of kindling. We were told by a reader in 2011 that this building is now just a pile of kindling.  In addition to crumbling houses, we also found the old Powder House nearby.

Sego, UT - Powder HouseSego, UT - Powder HouseThanks to Legends' reader Gwen Korfus who confirmed this was the powder house in Sego. Gwen's mother lived as a child in the boarding house nearby. Sego became an official ghost town in the mid 1950's, and in 1973 most of it burned to the ground. You can read more about the interesting history of Sego Canyon and the ghost town of Sego HERE.

We recommend high clearance vehicles to visit the ruins and take extra caution during and after heavy rains as flash floods are common here. 

Here are more of the sights we found around Sego in 2008. 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) American Fuel Company Ballard Chesterfield Company Fremont Neslin Photos Sego Ute about ancient rock art camp coal mining ghost town history petroglyphs ruins https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/11/that-time-when-our-visit-to-sego-canyon-utah Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:10:50 GMT
That time when... Our Visit to Shakespeare https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/8/that-time-when-our-visit-to-shakespeare [This is the third in our series "That time when..." a look back at our favorite travels through history since 2003.]

In March of 2008 we took a trip to southern New Mexico to visit some history. Shakespeare alone was worth the trip. 

Shakespeare, NM - Town ViewShakespeare, NM - Town ViewOriginally called Ralston, the town was established somewhere around 1870. Today tourists can relive some of the old west in this privately owned ghost town of Shakespeare. This mining settlement got its start as Ralston around 1870, with glowing accounts given of the richness of the silver mines. 

Shakespeare, NM - Chuck Wagon - 2Shakespeare, NM - Chuck WagonA chuck wagon on display in Shakespeare brings back its Old West days.

During the early years, Ralston boomed big, with some reports of up to 3,000 here looking to strike it rich. However, the towns namesake, William Ralston, would lose credibility with his involvement in the Great Diamond Hoax of 1871, and by 1873 there were only a few people left. By the late 1870's Ralston was a ghost town for the first time. 

Shakespeare, NM - WindowShakespeare, NM - WindowView of the landscape from within a building at Shakespeare. Then in 1879, Colonel Boyle of St. Louis staked a number of claims under the name of the Shakespeare Mining Company and renamed the settlement. Mining was once again in full force, but the town never settled so much as to gain a school, church or newspaper. 

Shakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers HomeShakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers Home As for the law, it would primarily be handled by the citizens, with some offenders hanged by the timbers of the Grant House Dining Room. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomShakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomInside the Grant House Dining room, hanging ropes dangle from the ceiling testifying to a more violent past. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. When the railroad bypassed Shakespeare in the 1880's, favoring Lordsburg instead, the town once again began to decline. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House InteriorShakespeare, NM - Grant House Interior Although there was a brief resurgence in mining in the early 1900's, it was not enough to save Shakespeare, and it became a ghost town for the second time. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonShakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonThe Grant House on the right and saloon on the left. The back portion of the Grant House once held the stage station. The front dining room sometimes served as the hanging room. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Taken over as part of a working ranch by the Hill family in 1935, Janaloo Hill did a lot of work to keep the history alive in the 1970's, with the town being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. In 1984 she married Manny Hough, who helped her maintain the site. She passed away in 2005, but to this day Manny continues her work in Shakespeare.  

Today the town can be toured on the weekends, but be sure to check their website for exact information HERE

Read more about the interesting history, some of which conflicts with the legends told about Shakespeare, in our full article HERE

In the meantime, enjoy the views of Ralston/Shakespeare from our 2008 visit

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Ralston Shakespeare about blog ghost town information new mexico old west photos https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/8/that-time-when-our-visit-to-shakespeare Mon, 08 Aug 2016 15:03:56 GMT
Split Rock - More than Just a Lighthouse https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/split-rock-more-than-just-a-lighthouse It's been the subject of a stamp, featured in film, notable photography and postcards. It's also one of Minnesota's best known landmarks.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthouseLake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Yet Split Rock Lighthouse, southwest of Silver Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior, is best recognized for it's service saving ships on Lake Superior. In the early 1900's, Iron Ore shipments on the lake were increasing dramatically.

Two Harbors, MN - Ore DockTwo Harbors, MN - Ore DockOre Dock in Two Harbors, down the road from Split Rock Lighthouse U.S. Steel Corporation dominated the business with 112 steel freighters. On November 28, 1905 a strong gale, known as the Mataafa Storm, damaged 29 ships, of which a third owned by U.S. Steel were uninsured.  Two of the ships hit the rocks here, one of which still lies on the bottom of the lake just north of Split Rock. 

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock ViewLake Superior, MN - Split Rock ViewView from Split Rock Lighthouse along the shoreline of Lake Superior. With lobby from company officials, Congress appropriated $75,000 to build the lighthouse, other buildings and land. Construction was was completed in 1910 by the United States Lighthouse Service.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers HomesLake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers Homes Run by the U.S. Lighthouse Service until 1939 when the Coast Guard took over, Split Rock was decommissioned in 1969 when modern navigational equipment made it obsolete. 

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse - 3Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Minnesota had it named an historic and scenic landmark in 1971, and in 1976 the Minnesota Historical Society took over operation. The site includes the original tower and lens, the fog signal building, the oil house, and the three keepers' houses. It is restored to appear as it did in the late 1920s. 

In 2011 it was designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the United States.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthouseLake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthousePhoto by the late David Fisk. Make plans to visit this beautiful historic site, complete with museum at the visitors center and guided tours.  Or just take a self guided tour around the 25 acre site, with several views of the lighthouse that are sure to make a great photo.  Walk up the spiral staircase to the light itself and see more displays in the fog signal building.  Costumed guides in the keepers home and Lighthouse show what life was like in the early 1920's.  

In addition, the adjacent Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers many recreational activities and scenic trails along the shoreline. 

Find out more via the Minnesota Historical Society's website HERE.

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Minnesota Split Rock about history information lighthouse photos https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/split-rock-more-than-just-a-lighthouse Wed, 27 Jul 2016 01:56:09 GMT
A Frivolous Post on Lanesboro https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/a-frivolous-post-on-lanesboro I don't have a lot to write about Lanesboro, Minnesota, at the moment. But Kathy and I had the opportunity to stop there not long after entering Minnesota last week, and it was just too hard to resist not sharing this sleepy little town, population 754.   Lanesboro, MN - Main StreetLanesboro, MN - Main Street

Platted in 1868 along the Root River, the town is named after one of its founders, F.A. Lane. 

Lanesboro, MN - Hank's Diner - 2Lanesboro, MN - Hank's Diner - 2Photo by Dave Alexander It has a nice waterfall on the edge of town that the ducks love. 

Lanesboro, MN - Root River WaterfallLanesboro, MN - Root River WaterfallPhoto by Dave Alexander It's dubbed the Bed & Breakfast capital of Minnesota

Lanesboro, MN - Outfitters and InnLanesboro, MN - Outfitters and Inn And it's full of quaint little shops along 'main street' that just scream...take a picture!

Lanesboro, MN - SignsLanesboro, MN - SignsWith a history that dates back to 1868, quaint shops and eatery's, against the backdrop of the Root River, Lanesboro promotes itself as the Bed & Breakfast capital of Minnesota. Photo by Dave Alexander. We even found a working phone booth in this town!  I know, I know, that's not that old, but still, I just had to. 

Lanesboro, MN - Phone BoothLanesboro, MN - Phone Booth Much of the downtown in Lanesboro is on the National Register of Historic Places. With lots of art, culture and cutsy shopping, I can see why it was named by Author John Villani as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns of America.  

So, I didn't want this trip to pass by without sharing what caught our eye in Lanesboro.  Enjoy :)

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Lanesboro Minnesota amish diner photos root river shops waterfall https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/a-frivolous-post-on-lanesboro Sun, 24 Jul 2016 20:46:00 GMT
North West Company Fur Post - A Trip to the early 1800's on Snake River https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/north-west-company-fur-post---a-trip-to-the-early-1800s-on-snake-river Just a few miles outside of Pine City, Minnesota sits an historic site found by chance. The 1804 fur post of the North West Company.  

North West Co. Trading PostNorth West Co. Trading PostRecreation of the 1804 fur trading post, created from evidence found in excavation of the site in the 1960's. Evidence of the post was found in the early 1930's, when a boy brought home some interesting looking "rocks". His father recognized them as flints for rifles, and decades later, in the 1960's, excavation of the site led the Minnesota Historical Society in their accurate reconstruction of the post. The journal of John Sayer, the posts manager, helped further recreate life there as they traded with the Ojibwe tribe along the Snake River. 

North West Co. Trading Post - FursNorth West Co. Trading Post - FursFurs were brought by the Ojibwe to trade with the Northwest Company for other goods. Anything from cooking utensils to cloth. Furs were brought by the Ojibwe to trade with the North West Company for other goods. Anything from cooking utensils to cloth. Each of the furs had different values, with Beaver having the most. For each fur, the Native would be given a credit for other goods. 

North West Co. Trading Post - Beaver PeltsNorth West Co. Trading Post - Beaver PeltsBeaver Pelts were worth more than others because they were used to make expensive hats and clothing. Here at the post the company would spend the winter trading with the tribe for wild rice, maple sugar and meat in addition to the furs. John Sayer married the Chief's daughter earlier, and established close bonds with the Ojibwe tribe, who viewed the transactions as gifts between friends. 

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Trade Room - 2North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Trade Room - 2Trade room at the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Minnesota. There's a lot to learn about here at this most excellent historic site, with very knowledgeable re-enactors who give guided tours that really take you back to the early 1800's.  Our tour guide portrayed a French Canadian company man complete with the french language if you wanted him too. 

North West Co. Trading Post - GuideNorth West Co. Trading Post - GuideThis historical site gives excellent tours with re-enactors who really take you back to the 1800's.

We learned about the Ojibwe and how the women of the tribe were essential and valorized members of their community, and how in marriage the couple would take on complementary roles.

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Ojibwe Living Quarters - 2North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Ojibwe Living Quarters - 2Ojibwe living quarters at the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Minnesota. We also learned how the tribe named the river Kanabec or Snake, for their enemy, the Dakota.

North West Co. Trading Post - Snake verNorth West Co. Trading Post - Snake River

While here you'll be taken through a tribes camp on your way to the fur post.  Then at the post, you'll learn about each room and the roles of the company employee's, the way they lived and played. 

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Bunk RoomNorth West Co. Trading Post, MN - Bunk RoomBunk room at the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Minnesota.

You can read more about North West Company Fur Trading Post in our Article Here.

Read more about the Ojibwe Native Tribe Here.

Learn more about this excellent site on the National Historical Register via the Minnesota Historical Society's website HERE. Be sure to check out some of their signature events to enhance your visit even more.  Kathy and I want to thank everyone at the Historical Society and Museum for a wonderful experience!

Here are some of the views that caught our eye while there. 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) British Canadians French Fur Traders Native Americans North West Company Ojibwe Scottish early 1800's photo slide show https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/north-west-company-fur-post---a-trip-to-the-early-1800s-on-snake-river Sun, 24 Jul 2016 00:58:42 GMT
Mill City Museum - Exploring Flour Power in Minneapolis https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/mill-city-museum---exploring-flour-power-in-minneapolis Another excellent site from the Minnesota Historical Society is Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis.  Housed in the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the museum chronicles the storied past of what once made Minneapolis the Flour Milling Capital of the World. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum ExteriorMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum ExteriorHoused in the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the museum tells the story of Minneapolis' rein as flour capital of the world. Nicknamed "Mill City", Minneapolis growth from a small 13,000 residents in 1870, to over 165,000 in 1890, is attributed to the construction and innovation of the Mills on the Mississippi River. Grain came from all over the Northern Plains by rail to be processed here. 

Minneapolis, MN -Gold Medal Flour Sign - 2Minneapolis, MN -Gold Medal Flour Sign - 2At the Mill City Museum. Photo by Dave Alexander. The power behind the boom in industry came from Saint Anthony Falls, the highest waterfall on the Mississippi River, which led to saw mills, woolen mills, cotton and paper mills, and our focus of the day, flour. 

Minneapolis, MN - Saint Anthony FallsMinneapolis, MN - Saint Anthony FallsPhoto by Dave Alexander. We started our tour with an excellent movie on the history of Minneapolis called "Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat". 

Local humorist, playwright and radio personality Kevin Kling takes a light hearted look at the city every half hour, and it's included in your admission price. There's a lot we didn't know about Minneapolis before watching this film and we think you'll find it very entertaining. 

After the film we took the self guided tour of exhibits, checked out the Baking Lab and soaked in the power of flour. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum BisquickMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Bisquick The museum also includes ruins of original brickwork and limestone walls that are all that's left from a devastating 1991 blaze.  It just so happened that the Minnesota Historical Society was working to build the museum at the time of the fire, and simply incorporated it into the overall theme. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Ruins - 2Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Ruins - 2Photo by Dave Alexander. We wrapped up our tour of Mill City Museum with another excellent journey through history, this of the Mill itself on the Flour Tower.

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum -Flour TowerMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum -Flour Tower We were impressed with the 8 story freight elevator ride through exhibits, complete with stories told by workers of the Mill, ending up on the 9th story observation deck overlooking St Anthony Falls and the Mississippi. 

Minneapolis, MN - River View - 2Minneapolis, MN - River View - 2View from the 9th story observation deck at Mill City Museum.

The Flour Tower and Movie alone are worth the price of admission to this most wonderful museum.  For more information, see the Mill City Museum official website HERE.

After, or before, your visit to the museum, be sure to check out Mill Ruins Park just beyond down by the river. On the National Register of Historic Places, walk around ruins of the Mill industry and over the historic Stone Arch Bridge. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill Ruins ParkMinneapolis, MN - Mill Ruins ParkPhoto by Dave Alexander Minneapolis, MN -Mill Ruins Park Stone Arch BridgeMinneapolis, MN -Mill Ruins Park Stone Arch BridgePhoto by Dave Alexander. It's a fun way to spend the day with family and friends, and an entertaining way to learn about the history of Minneapolis. We recommend you set aside a couple of hours at the Mill City Museum, and check ahead for special events and concerts

In the meantime, here's a view from our eye while at the Museum and Mill Ruins Park. 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Mill City Museum Mill Ruins Park Minneapolis history museum photos travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/mill-city-museum---exploring-flour-power-in-minneapolis Fri, 22 Jul 2016 01:00:56 GMT
Sibley Historic Site and Fort Snelling https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/Sibley-Historic-Site-and-Fort-Snelling We couldn't come to Minnesota without touring and learning about Mendota.  This area is rich in history with the Dakota tribe long before fur traders arrived here in the 1760's.  The Dakota called this place bdota, which in english translates to where two waters come together.  The town of Mendota sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Ann Essling writes in her book for the Minnesota Historical Society "Historic Mendota Before 1863", that the english speaking  fur traders, while trying to spell and pronounce bdota, spelled it Mendota. The Dakota's name for the river was Mnisota or sky-tinted waters. 

Active in fur trading with the Native Americans, just outside of Fort Snelling the area was known as St. Peter's,  then as a settlement formed it was renamed Mendota in 1837. The village would be the first city in what would eventually be Minnesota. At the Sibley Historic Site, we toured three homes, some of the oldest in the state, that were not only witness, but had active roles in the events that would shape Minnesota. 

You'll enter the Dupuis Home to purchase tickets for the tours of the homes.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Site Visitor CenterMendota, MN - Sibley Site Visitor CenterHome of Hypolite Dupuis built in 1853-54.

Built in the early 1850's, it was home to Hypolite Dupuis, a fur trade clerk and manager of the American Fur Company store.  Dupuis, as best history can tell, was an assistant to Henry Sibley during his time in the fur trade here. He built the home after the fur trade had died out. 

Down the hill the next stop was the Cold Store for the American Fur Company.  Here things could be refrigerated by carving out large chunks of ice and putting them under the building.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading - 2Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading - 2

The Cold Store and warehouse held many goods for the American Fur Company during the fur trading years here.

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur TradingMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading

Read more about the Great Fur Trading Companies HERE

 

The Sibley Home, and the Cold Store, were built in 1836.  Henry Hastings Sibley, regional manager for the American Fur Company's "Sioux Outfit", built it not only for a private residence, but business office and hotel for travelers. 

Mendota, MN - Sibley HouseMendota, MN - Sibley HouseBuilt in 1836

After he married Sarah Jane Steel in 1843, Sibley converted everything to a family home and added an addition, a privy and ice house. The fur trade went bust around that same time, but Sibley stayed, making a living as a land speculator and later influential politician, including the state's first Governor. 

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House Dining RoomMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House Dining Room Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House LivingRoomMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House LivingRoom Sibley's role in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 remains the most controversial aspect of his career. While working for the release of hostages, he made promises to the Dakota that he failed to keep. He had been told by Major General Pope to treat the Indians "like wild beasts" and bowed to public demands for a mass execution.  Many natives were tried and convicted with little due process,  with 38 hung en masse in the largest public execution in American History. 

Read more about Henry Hastings Sibley Here

Read more about the Dakota War of 1862 HERE.

Next stop on our tour was the Faribault House. Jean-Baptiste Faribault had been a trader with the natives for many years and was lured to the area from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin in 1819 by Lt. Colonel Henry Leavenworth, on his way to build Fort Snelling.  Leavenworth was impressed at Faribaults knowledge of the Dakota language and thought he could be a key player in the fur trade at St. Peter's.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Site Faribault HouseMendota, MN - Sibley Site Faribault House

Faribault would eventually move next door to Sibley and had the home built in the same style around 1839 at a cost of $5,000. He would leave Mendota in 1847, after which the home was converted to a hotel in 1853 and later a warehouse. 

The Sibley Historic Site provides tours during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays, and on Holiday Mondays.  Plan on about 45 minutes for the tour, but take some time to mosey around this historic location.  For more information about the Sibley Historic Site, see their website HERE.

Update from comments below: Peter Clark wrote - "At the Sibley site, we usually in April and May get many school groups, some of whom return every year. This is all before Minnesota became a territory and state. There are over twenty different sites around the state to visit, but this gem is tucked away at the Minnesota river and across from Fort Snelling. In the fall, one can stand on Sibley's front porch and see the Fort through the bare trees.

Make this a weekend outing for you and family/fiends. This is where Minnesota began and where Sibley set site in 1836 and built his limestone house, which has stood for over 150 years and is the first historic site in the state. The grounds are public property and you can enjoy a picnic here in the midst of the Sibley site. Come see us!
"

Fort Snelling

Across the Minnesota River, and sitting on the Mississippi is Fort Snelling.  Founded in 1819 as Fort Saint Anthony, the fort sits on the bluff above the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers to control the exploration, trade, and settlement on these waterways. 

Fort Snelling, MN - View From AboveFort Snelling, MN - View From AboveA view standing on the Round House looking over Fort Snelling, as a re-enactor walks the grounds below. Led by Colonel Josiah Snelling, commanding the 5th Infantry Regiment, the fort was constructed between 1820 to 1824. During construction, most soldiers lived at Camp Coldwater, which provided drinking water to the fort throughout the 19th century. Upon its completion in 1825, the Army renamed the fort as Fort Snelling in honor of its commander and architect.

Fort Snelling, MN - Parade GroundFort Snelling, MN - Parade Ground

The Round House at Fort Snelling is the oldest structure known still standing in Minnesota. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Round HouseFort Snelling, MN - Round HouseThe Round House is the oldest structure known still standing in Minnesota. Photo by Dave Alexander. Life for the soldiers at the fort was pretty routine and structured, and most every need taken care of by the government. However their families and others at the fort relied on the sutler's store for their goods. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store InteriorFort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior Prices were negotiated and set with the U.S. Government so the sutler couldn't gouge the residents, but pricing took into consideration transportation costs up the Mississippi River from St. Louis.  

Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior - 2Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior - 2

You can learn more about the store just by talking to the very knowledgeable and friendly re-enactors here, who also give scheduled presentations on everything from the Surgeon to how the soldiers performed drills. 

Fort Snelling, MN - DrummerFort Snelling, MN - DrummerPhoto by Dave Alexander. Fort Snelling, MN - Infantry DrillFort Snelling, MN - Infantry DrillPhoto by Dave Alexander. One of those presentations taught about Fort Snelling's slaves, despite the fact this was free territory.  Records show at least 30 slaves were at one point in time here. The most famous of which were the Scott's. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Dred Scott MarkerFort Snelling, MN - Dred Scott MarkerDred Scott met his wife Harriet at Fort Snelling as a slave owned by Dr. John Emerson, despite the fort being in free territory.

Dred Scott lived here from around 1836 to 1840.  Owned as a slave by Dr.  John Emerson, Scott met his wife Harriet at Fort Snelling.  Arguably the most influential people to live here, the Scott's left the fort in 1840, and while living in St. Louis, Missouri, sued the government for their freedom, arguing that since they had lived in free territory while at Fort Snelling, they and their children should be freed.  They would spend the next eleven years fighting their case before the Supreme Court decision of 1857 rejected their claim on the basis that they were property, not citizens, and therefore could not sue. Although freed that same year despite the decision, the Scott's case further inflamed the growing tensions in America leading up to the Civil War, and was a major catalyst to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

There is a lot to see, learn and do at Fort Snelling. To experience it in full, be sure to plan ahead and count on a few hours exploring, watching demonstrations and interactive presentations, and enjoying this crucial piece of Minnesota history. 

For more information see the Historic Fort Snelling's official website HERE

Read more about Fort Snelling in our article HERE

Plan a full day at both these great Minnesota Historic Sites.  Until you do, here's a taste of the sights we saw in our Fort Snelling Slide Show: 

 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) American Fur Company Dred Scott Fort Snelling Henry Sibley Minneapolis St. Paul area attractions Minnesota Sibley House enactments historical tours https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/Sibley-Historic-Site-and-Fort-Snelling Thu, 21 Jul 2016 01:42:25 GMT
On the Road - Fort Dodge...The Other One https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/on-the-road-fort-dodge-the-other-one We're on the road again, this time heading north through Iowa with our farthest destination being the head waters of the Mississippi River. Along the way we're finding interesting history, and in Iowa it was Fort Dodge. Yes, the first Fort Dodge, before the more famous one in Kansas that was established a couple of decades later.  

Fort Museum & Frontier VillageThe Fort Museum & Frontier Village in Fort Dodge, Iowa is a recreation of the original, however some liberties were taken. The original Fort did not have a stockade like the one seen here surrounding it.

The Fort Museum & Frontier Village provides a peak at the past with wonderful displays and thousands of items in the many buildings, most of which have been donated throughout the years.  Run by the Fort Dodge Historical Foundation, the museum explores how around 1850, Brevet Major Samuel Woods lead a couple of military Companies along with a group of U.S. Dragoons from Fort Snelling, Minnesota with the goal of returning the Sac & Fox tribes back to the reservations in Kansas.  Afterwards, they built a post near what is now Fort Dodge city square and Company C, along with the Dragoons, remained to serve the Fort. 

Fort Dodge Barracks

Fort Dodge Blockhouse

The site was chosen from reports of the area 15 years earlier. Overlooking the Des Moines River, the location provided good water, timber and stone for building and possible coal.  A stream sawmill was brought in to speed up the construction of the Fort, and groundwork was laid out for a city to grow along side the fort. By November of 1850 twelve buildings were ready to live in and they named it Fort Clarke, in honor of the commanding officer of the 6th Infantry.  

The next spring, nine more buildings were constructed and the fort was renamed Fort Dodge, in honor of Col. Henry Dodge, U.S. Senator of the Wisconsin Territory and founder of the Dragoons.  At this time, the fort consisted of 3 commissioned officers, 10 non-commissioned officers, up to 80 enlisted men and 40 civilians, most of which were family members of the soldiers.  Scouting the area between the Cedar and Missouri River, they found that instead of dealing with fighting the Native Americans, they instead were getting trespassers of the Sioux lands. In addition they were finding bootleggers and pursuing deserters from the military. Life at the Fort was routine, with Garrison duties consisting of drill, tending post fields and gardens, guard duty, building maintenance and more drill. 

Meanwhile frontier life was basic and mostly boring.  As a private in the military, the pay was only $7 a month, but food was plentiful. Hunting, drinking and gambling were the main entertainment at the fort. Single women were rare, as well as news from the outside world. 

In 1853 Fort Dodge was abandoned and troops moved to Minnesota to establish Fort Ridgeley.  William Williams, the post sutler (store keeper), bought the store building and military post and a year later platted the City of Fort Dodge.  

Fort Dodge  -Sutlers StoreFort Dodge -Sutlers Store

The Fort Dodge Historical Foundation has done a good job in recreating 'main street' next to a replica Fort.  The actual Fort, when built, did not have a stockade around it like you see today.  We were told during our tour that when the museum was created back in the 1960's, most people associated Forts with a wall around it, mainly due to television westerns, which is why it was re-created this way. 

You'll find everything from the local newspaper office to the general store, each staged with interesting items of the times.  Each of the main street buildings have its own unique history, some brought in from other locations, to help create the look and feel of the young city back in the 1800's. 

In addition to touring the buildings of the frontier town and fort, be sure to see the Cardiff Giant. The story of the Giant is a tale as big as he is; a colossal 19th century hoax that was billed as a petrified man.  Actually it was a block of gypsum that was purchased by a Fort Dodge resident, who had it hauled to Chicago, carved into a man, then buried to be discovered in New York 2 years later.  All part of the plan of course, and even after it was discovered to be a hoax, P.T. Barnum continued to display it for the masses.  It was described as "an immensely lucrative practical joke whose author was a near genius at evoking the gullible in man."  While the original is in Cooperstown, New York, a slightly smaller replica can be seen at the Fort Museum. 

FortDodge, IA - Cardiff GiantFortDodge, IA - Cardiff GiantThis hoax of gypsum suckered many into believing it was actually a petrified giant.

Read more about the Cardiff Giant HERE.

Here are just a few of the scenes from the Fort Museum and Frontier village that we enjoyed.  The Fort Museum and Frontier Village are located off of Business 169 at 1 Museum Road, Fort Dodge, Iowa. See their website for more information HERE.

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Dodge Fort Museum & Frontier Village Iowa Museum cardiff giant historic history recreation town travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/on-the-road-fort-dodge-the-other-one Sat, 16 Jul 2016 19:05:27 GMT
That time when... A journey to our beginnings https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-a-journey-to-our-beginnings Editor's Note:  This is the second in our series "That time when...", looking back at some of our favorite travels since 2003. 

Thirteen years ago, on June 27, 2003, Kathy registered the domain name "LegendsOfAmerica.com" as a continuation of a hobby website she had created, which focused on the Moreno Valley of northeast New Mexico.  Kathy's own history in this area dates back to her childhood, when she would spend summers with her Grandma Foster at the family cabin in Idlewild, a small home association between Eagle Nest and Angel Fire. 

The gold rush brought many to the area, but even after the rush faded, some were convinced there was still gold to be found in the early 1900's.  One of those being Fred Montague, who along with other investors, purchased property and dug three tunnels in 1920.  One of those would become the Klondyke Mine

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineUnfortunately the Klondyke Mine has been torn down since this photo was taken. In the beginning, assay reports from the mine showed that the tunnel had large amounts of gold, silver and copper. An engineer from Denver advised the investors to build a mill. Before the mill was built, the owners first built several buildings on the property, including a mining office, a cook house, a general store and cabins for the miners.

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild CabinEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild CabinPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Only after the mill was built did the investors find, in 1926, that the grade of ore found needed to be smelted, and the nearest facility was in Pueblo, Colorado. Trucking the ore to Pueblo was too expensive to justify continuing the endeavor. 

The Klondyke Mine was never very productive and the mining company was constantly in search of additional working capital, though they continued to hold board meetings until the 1940's. Finally, the mine was abandoned as a business venture, but the Montague family still retains the ten acres surrounding the mine.  The remaining buildings of the mine were torn down in January of 2011. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentThe Klondike Mine and Mill in Idlewild, near Eagle Nest, New Mexico was established in the 1920s. However, it was never very productive and all operations had ceased by 1940. The old mill continued to stand until 2011, when it was razed. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2004. Idlewild developed adjacent to the Klondyke Mine in the 1930's. Originally, the land was owned by Charles Gallagher, who married Mae Lowery, the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Moore Lowery, for whom Elizabethtown was named. Forced to sell some of his land due to a bad cattle deal, Gallagher sold off 160 acres to Thomas cook in 1929, who developed the Idlewild 'retreat.  

Most of the properties in Idlewild were sold to visitors from Texas and many are passed from generation to generation, including Legends of America founder and editor, Kathy Weiser's family's cabin, one of the oldest in Idlewild. It was here that Kathy spent summers with her Grandparents, Ben & Irene Foster, and developed her love of history.  Kathy says Irene was and still is the inspiration for Legends of America. 

 

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Foster Cabin - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Foster Cabin - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. This small community means a lot to both of us, as Kathy and I (Dave) were married at the outdoor church here in June of 2006. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild ChurchEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild ChurchLegends of America owners Kathy Weiser and Dave Alexander said their vows to each other here on June 19, 2006.

Read more about Idlewild & the Klondyke mine HERE.

 

Often on the list of places to see and explore, Kathy spent many a day at the ghost town of Elizabethtown

Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Main Street in Elizabethtown New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. E-Town, as it was known to residents, is nothing but ruins and a museum now, but once was a thriving mining community of over 7,000 residents. Drawn by a gold find in 1866, miners rushed to the area. In June of 1867, Captain William Moore and his brother John opened a General Store nearby, and by the end of the month it was clear that the store would become the center of a town.  The next year, Moore along with other businessmen, platted Elizabethtown, named after the Captain's daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore.  She would grow up to become the town's first school teacher. 

A fire in 1903 wiped out most of the original buildings. One of the only businesses to survive the blaze was the Froelick Store. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Froelick Store & Mutz HotelElizabethtown, NM - Froelick Store & Mutz HotelTragedy struck Elizabethtown in 1903 when fire caught in the second story of one of the largest retail establishments, the Remsberg Store. In the dry mountain conditions the flames quickly engulfed the mostly wood buildings, flames spreading throughout the town. One of the only businesses to survive was Herman Froelick's Store. One of several hotels, the Mutz Hotel was built by Herman Mutz, a rancher and cattleman of the area. Today the ruins of the hotel are some of the more striking features of this ghost town. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel, 1943Mutz Hotel in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. In 1870, Elizabethtown had seven saloons, three dance halls, five stores, a school, two churches and several hotels.  The Mutz Hotel was one of the first buildings to catch fire in 1903, but it was rebuilt of stone. The town never fully recovered from the fire, and since the 1943 photo above, the hotel has continued to fall into ruins. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz HotelElizabethtown, NM - Mutz HotelRuins of the Mutz Hotel in Elizabethtown Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel - 3Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel - 3Mutz Hotel - Photo by Dave Alexander, 2004.

Read more fascinating history of Elizabethtown HERE.

 

Just a few miles away is Eagle Nest, another historic community that continues today. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Vintage Street SceneEagle Nest, NM - Vintage Street Scene One of the earlier buildings in Eagle Nest, originally known as Therma, is the Laguna Vista Saloon, which started as the El Monte Hotel. Allegedly it was built in 1898 with stolen railroad ties from Elizabethtown.  

Eagle Nest, NM - El Monte Hotel Eagle Nest, NM - El Monte Hotel The El Monte was one of the busiest saloons in the 1920's and 30's when the politicians stopped over on their way to the horse races in Raton, New Mexico to partake of the many roulette, gaming tables and slot machines offered in the saloons, inns, and businesses of Eagle Nest. 
 
It was sometime during this period that the El Monte's name was changed to the Laguna Vista Lodge. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Laguna VistaEagle Nest, NM - Laguna Vista Eagle Nest is located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the state's two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38. High above sea level, at 8,300 feet, the village rests on the western slope of Baldy Mountain.  The town sits by Eagle Nest lake, created by a dam in 1918, the largest privately constructed dam in the U.S. The story goes that Eagles built a nest on the side of the new dam, which is how the lake got its name. 

Eagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyEagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyThe town of Eagle Nest and Eagle Nest Lake are located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the states two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38.

In 1927, Oklahoma oilman Walter Grant built the Eagle Nest Lodge, which featured 12 rooms, a lounge and restaurant in a luxurious building. The lodge was considered one of the finest for miles, and soon expanded to include five studio units.  The Lodge also offered horseback riding, fishing and hunting expeditions to the many travelers who stopped to enjoy Eagle Nest Lake. It's been long abandoned, and the last word we had in 2008 was that several of the buildings still stand. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Lodge Front - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Lodge Front - 2

Today, the Village of Eagle Nest is lined with arts and crafts shops, lodging, restaurants, and saloons. Known as a laid-back mountain town, unbothered by the traffic and noise of city life, the village has seen a renaissance in recent years with the addition of sidewalks, old-fashioned streetlights, park benches and flowerboxes, making the stroll through the town a pleasure. The less than mile long Main street features numerous specialty shops carrying locally-made crafts and fine arts, sculpture, sterling silver jewelry, Indian jewelry, antiques, pottery, candies, fudge, clothing, souvenirs, and much more.

Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read more about Eagle Nest HERE.

Kathy talks more about this area in our latest Newsletter as she reminisces about how our website began 13 years ago.  If you are not a subscriber you can see the online version HERE.

As always, all our images here in our photo print shop are available not only for prints in many sizes, but also on merchandise and as downloads.  Just go to a photo, click "buy" then browse our products.  In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of the Eagle Nest Area, and thank you for your support during the past 13 years.

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Eagle Nest Elizabethtown Idlewild Klondyke Mine Laguna Vista Saloon Legends of America Anniversary Moreno Valley New Mexico https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-a-journey-to-our-beginnings Sat, 25 Jun 2016 14:56:32 GMT
That time when... Our Trip to Virginia City Nevada in 2009 https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-our-trip-to-virginia-city-nevada-in-2009 Editor's Note:  This is the first in our series "That time when...", looking back at some of our favorite travels since 2003. 

In July of 2009, during a trip out west to California, we ventured to Lake Tahoe, then over into Nevada to check out Virginia City, once heralded as the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco.  Along the way there we ran into a couple of 'bonuses', Silver City and Gold Hill; mining camps along State Road 342 not far from our destination. 

Silver City - EnteringSilver City - EnteringAs you enter Silver City, Nevada south of town on Highway 341. We first reached Silver City, turning off Highway 50 onto State Road 341 east of Carson City, Nevada. Silver City history dates back to June of 1850, when John Orr and Nicholas Kelly discovered the first gold nugget in what would become Gold Canyon.  The town would be officially settled in 1859. 

By 1861, Silver City had several boarding houses, a number of saloons, four hotels and a population of about 1,200.  The town thrived for several years, though its mines and mills were never as productive as Virginia City and Gold Hill just up the road.

Silver City - MineSilver City - MineOld Mining operations still stand in Silver City, Nevada

Today, this Nevada 'ghost town' is home to less than 200 residents, and during our visit, still displayed a number of historic structures, including old mining equipment scattered in the hillside. 

Silver City - Fire DeptSilver City - Fire DeptThe old Fire Department building in Silver City, Nevada looks like it could crumble any moment during our visit here in 2009.

After you pass through Devil's Gate just north of Silver City on State Highway 342, it's not long before you reach the ghost town of Gold Hill.

Gold Hill, NV - 1867Gold Hill, NV - 1867Gold Hill, Nevada by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1867 Gold Hill got its start about the same time as Virginia City in the late 1850's. Initially a little more than a few miners living in tents and crude shacks, it grew quickly and by 1862 incorporated as an official town to avoid being annexed.  During its peak the city boasted some 8,000 residents. 

Gold Hill, NV - Bank buildingGold Hill, NV - Bank buildingThe old bank building in Gold Hill appears to still be in use during our visit in 2009.

Today Gold Hill is home to less than 200 residents, but still features the historic Gold Hill Hotel. Gold Hill, NV - HotelGold Hill, NV - HotelBuilt around 1860, the Gold Hill Hotel continues to welcome visitors to the Virginia City area with rooms, dining and a saloon. Built around 1860, the Gold Hill Hotel has been through quite a bit of changes, with the wooden part of the structure added in 1987. Although it's been sold to the current owners since our visit here in 2009, the Gold Hill Hotel continues to serve travelers visiting Virginia City with rooms, dining and a saloon. 

 

Read more about Silver City and Gold Hill Here

 

See our Silver City and Gold Hill Photo Gallery Here

 

But our primary destination of the day was the historic Virginia City, one of the oldest settlements in Nevada.  And although the town's earliest beginnings revolved around the finding of Gold, it would be Silver that would bring the fortunes, with what is known as the Comstock Lode. 

Virginia City - Territorial Enterprise MuseumVirginia City - Territorial Enterprise MuseumA once bustling mining town in the late 1800s, Virginia City Nevada was heralded as the most important settlement between Denver, Colorado and San Francisco California in the time of its heydays. It is a popular tourist destination today. The Silver was so rich in this area that California Gold Miners did a reverse migration back over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to take part in the find. The story goes that one of those miners, James Finney, who was more often called "Old Virginny", dropped a bottle of whisky on the ground and christened a newly founded tent-and-dugout town "Old Virginny Town".  Later changed to Virginia City, the population exploded to 4,000 by 1862, with some of the more rich and famous businessmen getting in on the action, like William Ralston, George Hearst and William Flood to name a few. 

Virginia City, NV - 1866Virginia City, NV - 1866Vintage view of Virginia City, Nevada, 1866. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

In 1861, all that new wealth caught the eye of President Abraham Lincoln, and needing to find wealth to pay for the Civil War, Nevada was made a Territory.  Statehood came just three years later, despite the fact Nevada didn't have enough residents to constitutionally authorize statehood.  At its peak, Virginia City supported some 30,000 residents (1870's), including 150 saloons, at least five police precincts, a thriving red-light district, three churches, hotels, restaurants, ten fire stations, etc. 

Virginia City, NV - Pioneer Stage leaving Wells  FargoVirginia City, NV - Pioneer Stage leaving Wells FargoVirginia City, Nevada - Pioneer Stage leaving Wells Fargo, by Lawrence and Houseworth. 1866.

There's a lot to see and do here in Virginia City, and the entire community is a National Historic Landmark, designated in 1961. Although the towns population of 1,000 is a fraction of what it once was, it draws more than 2 Million visitors a year to its many attractions.   Virginia City - Way it was MuseumVirginia City - Way it was Museum

Numerous historic buildings continue to stand including Piper’s Opera House, which still entertains customers today and the Fourth Ward School, built in 1876 which today is utilized as a museum. Numerous mansions also continue to stand which provide visitors of the sophisticated and lush lifestyle of these long ago residents and the Virginia & Truckee Railroad runs again from Virginia City to Gold Hill. The landmark is the largest federally designated Historical District in America is maintained in its original condition. "C" Street, the main business street, is lined with 1860's and 1870's buildings housing specialty shops, restaurants, bed and breakfast inns, and casinos.

Virginia City, NV - McKay MansionVirginia City, NV - McKay MansionA once bustling mining town in the late 1800s, Virginia City, Nevada was heralded as the most important settlement between Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California in the time of its heydays. It is a popular tourist destination today. We didn't spend near enough time during our visit, and would recommend at least 2 days to see and do everything here. 

Here's a slideshow of our Virginia City gallery 

As a federally designated National Historic District, it is illegal to dig for artifacts, remove any found items from the community, or mistreat any property.

Virginia City is located about 23 miles south of Reno, Nevada.

 

Read More about Virginia City, Nevada Here

 

Go to our Virginia City Photo Gallery Here

 

Dave Alexander/Kathy Weiser-Alexander - Legends Of America

Virginia City & the Comstock Lode - Yesterday and Today (DVD)New for 2016, this DVD is the most extensive produced on Virginia City and perfect for your own "tour by DVD". Available now in Legends' General Store.

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Comstock Lode Gold Hill Silver City Virginia City history information photos https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-our-trip-to-virginia-city-nevada-in-2009 Fri, 03 Jun 2016 20:18:16 GMT
Kansas Rail Towns and Little House on the Prairie https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/kansas-rail-towns-and-little-house-on-the-prairie Augusta, KS - SunriseAugusta, KS - SunriseA beautiful way to start the day in Kansas Our journey home to Missouri, from Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, was planned with an eye on Kansas ghost towns, near ghost towns, and a quick stop at the Little House on the Prairie Museum.  What we found were a lot of towns established with the anticipation of the railroad in the 1880's. There were a lot of photo opportunities as well, and between the two of us, Kathy wound up with over 2,500 to choose from. So she's spent the last week going through and loading up additions to our Kansas galleries. This blog will cover only a portion of the trip home, but you'll get the idea of what you see in this part of the Land of Ahh's. 

After a gorgeous Kansas sunrise, we left our campsite at Santa Fe Lake, and headed East. Along the way, just outside of Augusta, we made a quick stop at Henry's Sculpture Hill.

Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art, made out of old farm machinery.  He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer." Indeed, Jensen does have a different beat than most, and it was a great stop (although we didn't catch them open, and were only able to get some shots from outside the fence).  [Note: click on a photo to go to its gallery. Click on links in the content to go to more information about that subject]

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - HouseAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - HouseCast Iron art from old farm machinery sits in front of artist Frank Jensen's place just outside of Augusta.
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986 as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - BuffaloAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - BuffaloArtist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, Kansas as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Going to Town on SaturdayAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Going to Town on SaturdayGoing to Town on Saturday (2004)
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Operating a Dump RakeAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Operating a Dump RakeOperating a Dump Rake. Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, Kansas as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - RedboneAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - RedboneRedbone - The Running Bison
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."
Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Riding to the MeadowAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Riding to the MeadowArtist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, Kansas as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer." After gandering at the iron through the barbwire fence, we pushed on with travel trailer in tow for some photo ops of towns that have seen their better days. We turned off the main highway (US-400) at Leon and headed south on a county road toward US 160, running through the small town of Atlanta Kansas along the way.  Population less than 200 today, this town got its first post office in 1885. 

AtlantaKSPostOfficeAtlanta, KS- Post OfficeThe post office here was established in 1885. This building of the 1921 High School in Atlanta continues to stand

Atlanta, KS - 1921 High SchoolAtlanta, KS - 1921 High SchoolThe 1921 High School (Gym?) still stands in Atlanta, Kansas. Surely this is the gathering spot for the small number of residence here.

AtlantaKSCafeAtlanta, KS Cafe

South of Atlanta and almost to Burden, we caught this Flag with our lens, seemingly in need of some care but still standing tall. This was one of those "hard to miss" flags, as it really stuck out on the landscape. 

Burden, KS - Large Flag North Of TownBurden, KS - Large Flag North Of TownA large flag, on a hill in Kansas, is definitely hard to miss. This one looks like it could use some care. We were seeing a theme with most of the towns in this area.  All seemed to start in the late 1870's, early 1880's. First called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Burden, KS - Main StreetBurden, KS - Main StreetFirst called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Burden, KS - Old City HallBurden, KS - Old City HallFirst called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Burden, KS - BankBurden, KS - BankFirst called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Yet another railroad town just East on US 160 is Cambridge, named after the the University in England.  Cambridge was established as a railroad town in 1880. It suffered through some major fires in the 1920's and early 1930's which destroyed most of the original buildings.  The Stockman's Cafe was established in the 1980's, but we read one description that says it's the longest continually operating Cafe under one name of its kind in Kansas. Obviously the building is much older.

Cambridge, KS - Stockman's CafeCambridge, KS - Stockman's CafeCambridge was established as a railroad town in 1880. It suffered through some major fires in the 1920's and early 1930's which destroyed most of the original buildings.
The Stockman's Cafe was established in the 1980's, but we read one description that says it's the longest continually operating Cafe under one name of its kind in Kansas. Obviously the building is much older.

After quick passes through Grenola and Moline, both rail towns established in the late 1870's, early 1880's, we pushed on to Elk Falls, once touted as the world's largest living ghost town. 

The first settler to locate upon the town site was a man by the name of R. H. Nichols in February, 1870.  Soon after, the enterprise of establishing a town site was conceived, and Nichols, with six other businessmen, formed a town site company laying out lots and making plans for the new settlement. Nichols built a small house, which also served as a loan and real estate office, a general store was built, a drug store and blacksmith shop opened, the post office was established and school was taught to 25 pupils by Miss Dora Simmons at her father’s residence.

By 1871, the site was named Elk Falls, deriving its name from a nearby waterfall on the Elk River. In order to create a water supply for severe droughts that often plagued the area, several dams were built along the Elk River, from logs, lumber, and timbers, but one after another they were destroyed by high waters during floods. Finally, a man by the name of Jo Johansen, a Swede from Minnesota, built the present dam, made of sandstone rocks cemented together, which has withstood the floods more than a century.

Elk Falls, KS - Elk River FallsElk Falls, KS - Elk River FallsPhoto by Dave Alexander.

The same year, a school building was erected in a small one-story frame house, where services for the Methodist Episcopal Church were also held.

Elk Falls, KS - One Room SchoolElk Falls, KS - One Room School

In 1879 a Baptist Church was built and in the following year a Methodist Episcopal Church was built.

Elk Falls, KS - Calvary ChapelElk Falls, KS - Calvary Chapel Elk Falls, KS - Methodist ChurchElk Falls, KS - Methodist ChurchThe Methodist Church in Elk Falls, Kansas was built in 1880 and still serves a congregation today.

Elk Falls' population peaked in 1880 at 513 people. By 1883 the new and rising town had attracted many prospects and numerous improvements had been made, with much of the population being children, as the school included more than 200 students.
 
On November 15, 1892, the board of Elk County Commissioners, voted to build an iron truss bridge over Elk River, connecting the dirt roads into the main thoroughfare leading into Elk Falls from the northeast. Built at a cost of $2,000, it was completed in 1893. Pratt Truss Bridge, as it is called, was unique for its type since expansion joints were made from rollers, rather than wheels. The bridge still stands today and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Elk Falls, KS - Iron Truss BridgeElk Falls, KS - Iron Truss Bridge

It also touts itself as the "Outhouse Capital of the World", and even has an annual Outhouse Tour held on the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. In addition to some creative outhouses, visitors enjoy live music, handcrafts, food, and more.. Though we didn't get to take the tour, we got the gist. 

Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 6Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 6 Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 2Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 2

Elk Falls, KS - OuthouseElk Falls, KS - Outhouse Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 5Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 5

Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 8Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 8 Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 9Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 9

This town really got our Goat

Elk Falls, KS - GoatsElk Falls, KS - GoatsPhoto by Dave Alexander. You can read more about Elk Falls here

Continuing east on US 160, we tootled through Longton, established in 1870, and considered a sister city to Elk Falls. The town has seen its glory days pass, but still holds on as a sleepy farming community.  We read that some residents are alarmed by the rate of decline here, pointing out old buildings that are being demolished instead of repaired, the decline of businesses, and lack of interest in historical preservation in general.  Here's some of what we saw coming through Longton.

Longton, KS - Business BuildingsLongton, KS - Business Buildings

Longton, KS - Post OfficeLongton, KS - Post Office Longton, KS - Building - 2Longton, KS - Building - 2 Longton, KS - Building - 3Longton, KS - Building - 3 You can see more of our Elk County photos here.

Elk City is in Montgomery County, one we've been too before, and includes historic Cherryvale and Coffeyville.  Not needing to revisit those, we concentrated on Elk City, which itself is historic. 

Elk City, KS - Old TruckElk City, KS - Old TruckPhoto by Dave Alexander. Elk City began as a trading post established by John Kappell in early 1868 when the area was still part of the Diminished Reserve of the Osage Indians. It's population peaked at just shy of 800 in 1890.  By 1910, the town boasted a brick and tile manufacturing works, a flour mill, a weekly newspaper, two banks, express and telegraph offices, a post office with six rural routes, and a population of 659 people.

Elk City, KS - Old Building - 2Elk City, KS - Old Building - 2 Elk City, KS - Building Ruins - 2Elk City, KS - Building Ruins - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. After 1940, Elk City's population began to drop each decade. As more and more people continued to leave, businesses began to close one by one. The high school continued to serve students until 1970 when it graduated its last class. Sometime along the way, the grade school also closed. Elk City's High School remained standing and silent for more than four decades until it was engulfed by fire and today only the rubble remains.

Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 2Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 2 Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 3Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 3Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2015. Today, Elk City is called home to just a little over 300 people. Students attend school in Independence, about 15 miles to the southeast. The town still boasts a post office, a bank, and a tavern amongst its many vacant business buildings. Unfortunately, Elk City lost another historic building in May, 2015 when the 1900 historic 1st Christian Church was destroyed by fire. You can read more about its history on our Legends of Kansas website here.  Also see more photos from Montgomery County here.

Our final stop before heading off to our next RV Park was the Little House on the Prairie Museum about 15 miles outside of Independence, Kansas, not far off Highway 75.  This is the location of the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, famed author of the Little House on the Prairie book series. The only structure originally located here is the hand dug well made by her father Charles Ingalls, but the site now exhibits a replica of the Kansas Homestead of the Ingalls family (1869-1871), where Carrie Ingalls was born, along with historic buildings which have been moved here, including Sunny Side School, which operated from 1872-1948, and the Wayside Post Office (1885-1977).  

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - SignIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - SignThe original hand dug well built by Charles Ingalls, and the location of the childhood home of famed author Laura Ingalls from 1869-1871 is located around 15 miles outside of Independence, Kansas. The museum features a recreation of the Ingalls cabin, as well as other historic buildings from the 1800's that have been relocated to the museum grounds. The well was crucial to finding the actual location of the Ingalls family homestead, which was discovered by Margaret Clements in 1969, on the Horton Farm. 

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - WellIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - WellThis is the actual hand dug well created by Charles Ingalls for his family. Famed author Laura Ingalls lived here as a child from 1869-71, with her younger sister Carrie being born here. The Ingalls family home was built by Charles as a stopgap until he could make enough to build Caroline the home of her dreams. This recreated cabin, based on Laura's own descriptions, is open certain hours for tours and gives you an idea of the tiny quarters the family lived in at the time. 

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Cabin and WagonIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Cabin and WagonThe childhood home (1869-71) for famed author Laura Ingalls was a one room cabin as depicted here in this recreation at the cabins original location. Added to the museum grounds is this donated Hitching Post from the home of Captain J.E. Stone in Caney, KS. Stone was the first Sheriff of Montgomery County, after the Ingalls left, and was a witness at Appomattox during the famous surrender ending the Civil War in 1865.

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Hitching PostIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Hitching PostAdded to the museum grounds is this donated Hitching Post from the home of Captain J.E. Stone in Caney, KS. Stone was the first Sheriff of Montgomery County, after the Ingalls left, and was a witness at Appomattox during the famous surrender ending the Civil War in 1865. Next to the Ingalls Homestead, the Museum also features a couple of other historic structures from the region that were moved here in 1977 to preserve them for future generations, including the historic 1885 Wayside Post Office, and 1871 Sunnyside one room schoolhouse, which was originally four and half miles from the Ingalls home, though the Ingalls sisters were too young to attend school during their time in Kansas. 

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Wayside Post OfficeIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Wayside Post OfficeThe historic 1885 Wayside Post Office served residents until the US Postal Service consolidated services. It was moved to the Little House on the Prairie Museum site in 1977 to save it from destruction and preserve it for future generations. Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Sunnyside SchoolhouseIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Sunnyside SchoolhouseBuilt in 1871, about four and a half miles from the Ingall's homestead, the Sunnyside one room schoolhouse was moved to the museum grounds when it opened in 1977. The Ingall sisters were too young to go to school during their time in Kansas. We were there on a weekday and didn't get a chance to tour the but they do offer tours. Find out more by visiting the Little House on the Prairie Museum website here.  

It was a great way to wrap up our adventure in this part of Kansas, although Kathy did have me going on back roads all the way to the RV Park in Oswego, and we had to turn around more than once when running into dead ends.  Kathy's famous for saying "This road is going the direction we need to go, just keep going."  That's part of finding the bonuses though, and I'm sure there are a few that will get added up to our Kansas galleries, including the Montgomery County Gallery here.

 

About the RV Park we stayed at during this portion of our journey: 

Hillside RV Park, Oswego, KS - This RV park is part of a larger area of Trailer homes, but was very nice.  Management was laid back and Kansas friendly. We had our choice of pull throughs with full hookups and sewer.  Only stayed one night, but would stay longer. I will say they may need some better signage to the office, as we pulled up to another building at first, not realizing the office was just up the road a few feet. Well worth the price for this Passport America holder. We camped here in a 22 foot KZ Sportsman Classic. 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Atlanta Burden Cambridge Elk City Elk Falls Henry's Sculpture Hill Little House on the Prairie Museum history kansas photos https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/kansas-rail-towns-and-little-house-on-the-prairie Sat, 31 Oct 2015 19:16:34 GMT
A Kansas Roadtrip to Old Cowtown Museum https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/a-kansas-roadtrip-to-old-cowtown-museum We hadn't been on the road since last Spring, so Kathy and I were aching for a least a little roadtrip. Our last adventure of two months in the Southwest wound up doing in our 2005 Toyota Highlander, so this was a our first trip with our 2013 Ford F-150XLT, which we have dubbed "Big Red". After getting past the usual "Oh, you want to go on a trip? Gotta fix this first" routine, we loaded up the trailer and headed out for a quick four day excursion in Kansas, with our primary destination being Wichita's Old Cowtown Museum. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown MuseumWichita, KS - Old Cowtown Museum

This accredited open-air history museum is one of the oldest in the Midwest, established in 1952.  One of the workers there told us about a third of the 54 historic buildings are original, with another third rebuilt, and the rest brought in from other locations. It was a great experience, and something we didn't expect in the middle of the bustling city of Wichita.  Situated along the Arkansas River (while in Kansas you must pronounce this "Ar - Kansas River"), the museum tells the story of Wichita's transformation from a frontier settlement to a cattle town, then to an Ag and Manufacturing area. 

Just looking at the "modern" visitors center from the parking lot, one would have no idea that the 23 acres just off the Chisholm Trail behind it would be so educational and entertaining. After paying the admission, which was well worth the price, you enter the Old West Kansas style with one of the newer additions to the museum, the Heller Cabin, which was introduced in 2009.  Originally located in Elmo, Kansas, the cabin is considered as one of the top 10 intact structures in the United States from the settlement period.  It was heavily documented and all parts numbered before being dismantled and brought to Old Cowtown.  

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller CabinWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin

The cabin was built in the 1870's by Civil War veteran Leonhard Hoffman, and was donated by the estate of Wichita resident Donna B. Heller.  As part of the restoration, some logs were replaced and the interior was restored with historically accurate features.  It was a great way to start our tour. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin Interior - 2 Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin InteriorPhoto by Dave Alexander.

After the Heller Cabin, and past an old broken down wagon, the the Buffalo Hunter's camp with Chuckwagon, we made a pit stop at the Orientation building for a bit of history and a well produced video on the beginnings of Wichita.  The 49th largest city in the U.S. got its start as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860's, before becoming incorporated in 1870. 

Wichita, KS - 1870Wichita, KS - 1870

Its position on the trail, and by the Arkansas River, made it a destination for cattle drives coming from Texas, on their way to the railroad towns already established to the north.  However, it would only be a couple of years before the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached the town in 1872. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Depot Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Depot Interior - 2 You really get a great feel of how it used to be as soon as you enter town after the Orientation building. Many movies have had scenes filmed here, and we could immediately see why. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main StreetWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main StreetPhoto by Dave Alexander. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main Street - 3Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main Street - 3Photo by Dave Alexander. We made it just in time for a "Dime Novel" play in the middle of town.  It was a fun and quirky skit with gun fight that is performed through most of the season at least a couple times a day.  

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Shoot Out Cowboy ShotWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Shoot Out Cowboy Shot There is a lot to see here in Old Cowtown.  We could have stayed longer, but as it was we spent 4 hours roaming the town, exploring the insides of businesses, and enjoying the historical actors in period dress who occupied several of the buildings. Including a Sheriff, Dress Maker, Blacksmith and more. Here are a few more of the scenes from our visit. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - School InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - School Interior Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City Eagle Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City Eagle Interior - 2 Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Carpenter Shop InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Carpenter Shop Interior

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Ohara's Barber ShopWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Ohara's Barber ShopPhoto by Dave Alexander. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Meat Market Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Meat Market Interior - 2
Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Drug Store Products - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Drug Store Products - 2 Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City EagleWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City Eagle

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 5Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 5Photo by Dave Alexander. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 3Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 3

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Grain ElevatorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Grain ElevatorPhoto by Dave Alexander. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Southern HotelWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Southern Hotel
Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Jail PadlockWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Jail PadlockPhoto by Dave Alexander. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - LaundryWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Laundry

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm GoatWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm Goat Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm KitchenWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm Kitchen Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Bank InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Bank Interior It was a great way to spend a lovely October Afternoon, and we would highly recommend paying a visit to the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas. Its collection of artifacts is now over 12,000, and is good way to experience what it was like to live in the city's early years. Be sure to see all our images in the growing Wichita Gallery Here

For more information, pricing, directions, events and more, visit the Old Cowtown Museum Official Website Here.

We'll share some of our favorite Kansas ghost town images from our trip in the next blog, along with a visit to the childhood home of Laura Ingalls just outside Independence Kansas. 

About the RV Park we stayed at during this portion of our Journey: 

Santa Fe Lake - While visiting Cowtown, we stayed about 20 miles away just outside Augusta, Kansas. Within 10 minutes driving distance to Wichita, this was an ideal location, and a great time of year to stay, as we had our pick of campsites right by this small lake.  The area includes picnic tables, electric hookups, and plenty of outdoor recreation.  It appears to be privately owned, and during our stay we did note that the electric box for the campsite next to us was out of service, and our own electric hookup (30amp) was damaged where we had to hold our tongue just right to get the plug to stay in. No water hookup on site, but a convenient and long hose for fill up is provided as you come in, which is right by the dump station on the way out. 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) downloads history kansas old cowtown museum outdoor museum photos prints purchase travel wichita https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/a-kansas-roadtrip-to-old-cowtown-museum Mon, 26 Oct 2015 16:32:51 GMT
The Passing of David Fisk https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/the-passing-of-david-fisk


We are saddened by the loss of Legends' Photo contributor David Fisk on October 9, 2015.  Our heartfelt condolences go out to his girlfriend and partner Charlie Wolfe and all the Fisk family. We were fortunate to have David agree to let us share some of his wonderful work with our readers. 

A native Texan and longtime Oklahoman, David Fisk was a retired newspaper editor, writer and photographer, living in Edmond, Oklahoma since 1986. 

Fisk worked for newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma since he first picked up a camera about 1970, and had a knack for finding interesting perspectives in his photography.

He and his trusty girlfriend/companion/co-driver Charlie Wolfe spent much of their time traveling the back roads and byways of America with David's camera and unique eye. His many passions included baseball, great Barbecue, spicy foods, Rock N' Roll and Blues music, and discovering new places. He lived just a few miles from historic Rt. 66 and spent many hours discovering it's nooks and crannies.

In Feb 2014 his book "Legendary Locals of Edmond" was published by Arcadia Publishing Company as a part of their series of historical books.

Rest in peace Sir.  It has been an honor. 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) David Fisk photos route 66 travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/the-passing-of-david-fisk Sat, 10 Oct 2015 12:28:33 GMT
Journey Home Via Arizona, New Mexico and Texas https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/home-via-arizona-newmexico-and-texas After being on the road for a while we finally started making our final push home, leaving Yuma for some time in the Phoenix Area, then on to some boondocking near Fort Bowie before catching some great Mexican/American history in New Mexico.  Despite the fact that winter caught up with us in Texas, overall it was a good way to end a glorious two months in the southwest. 

Click on images to go to their respective galleries. Links in text will take you to more information about that subject. 

On our way out of Yuma, we made a quick stop for the ghost town of Aztec about 70 miles to the east, just off I-8. There's really nothing left of this town but a few run down structures and foundations.

Aztec, AZ - BuildingAztec, AZ - BuildingEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Aztec, AZ - Remains of an Old Gas StationAztec, AZ - Remains of an Old Gas StationEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.

 Established in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix.

Aztec, AZ - Can on a PostAztec, AZ - Can on a PostEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Aztec, AZ - Water TankAztec, AZ - Water TankEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

On down Interstate 8, we decided to take a side trip about 12 miles north of Sentinel to the ghost town of Agua Caliente.  Here, local Native Americans used the nearby hot springs long before the American West was settled.  About six miles from the hot springs, the Flap-Jack Ranch was established in 1858 as a stagecoach station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. The ranch changed it's name to Grinnel's Ranch in 1862. This same area was also noted by the Union Army as Stanwix Station, which was the site of the westernmost skirmish of the Civil War.

The Agua Caliente Ranch at the site of the hot springs, owned by King S. Woolsey, became a well known spot by the early 1870's, and in 1897 a resort was built, complete with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring.   Agua Caliente, AZ - Ruins 2Agua Caliente, AZ - Ruins 2About 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Agua Caliente, AZ - Pioneer CemeteryAgua Caliente, AZ - Pioneer CemeteryAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Government agent, artist, writer and American traveler, J. Ross Brown passed through here in 1864 and wrote: 

"While the Company were encamped at Grinnell's, Poston, White, and myself crossed the Gila, and rode about six miles to the ranch of Martin and Woolsey, situated near the Aqua Calliente. Mr. Woolsey had left, a few days before, with a large quantity of stock for the gold placers. We were hospitably entertained by his partner, Mr. Martin, who is trying the experiment of establishing a farm here by means of irrigation. The soil is excellent, and the prospect is highly encouraging. An abundant supply of water flows from the Aqua Calliente. We had a glorious bath in the springs next morning, which completely set us up after the dust and grit of the journey. They lie near the point of the hill, about a mile and a half from Martin's. I consider them equal to the baths of Damascus, or any other in the world. The water is of an exquisite temperature, and possesses some very remarkable qualities in softening the skin and soothing the nervous system."
 
"A Mr. Belcher lived at this place for four years, surrounded by Apaches. Indeed it was not quite safe now; and I could not but think, as Poston, White, and myself sat bobbing about in the water, what an excellent mark we made for any prowling Tontos that might be in the vicinity. It was here that the Indians who had in captivity the Oatman girls made their first halt after the massacre of the family. The barren mountains in the rear, and the wild and desert appearance of the surrounding country, accorded well with the impressive narrative of that disaster."

The hotel still stands today, though long closed. There are also some stone ruins standing testament to better times.    Agua Caliente, AZ - ResortAgua Caliente, AZ - ResortAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Agua Caliente, AZ - Resort 2Agua Caliente, AZ - Resort 2About 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Agua Caliente, AZ - Resort PoolAgua Caliente, AZ - Resort PoolAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Agua Caliente, AZ - RuinsAgua Caliente, AZ - RuinsAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

We stayed for a few days in Queen Creek, Arizona with family, boondocking out of their back yard.  While there, we had the chance to explore some places we last visited on a quick trip in 2007, including the ever popular ghost town attraction of Goldfield

Goldfield, AZ - Railroad Water TowerGoldfield, AZ - Railroad Water TowerAn old railroad water tower welcomes visitors to Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - Main StreetGoldfield, AZ - Main StreetMain Street at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Situated atop a small hill between the Superstition Mountains and the Goldfield Mounts, the settlement of Goldfield got its start in 1892 when low grade gold ore was found in the area. Low-grade or not, 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. 
Goldfield, AZ - Superstition MountainGoldfield, AZ - Superstition MountainSuperstition Mountain from Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Dave Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - WagonGoldfield, AZ - WagonAn old wagon at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Goldfield, AZ - BordelloGoldfield, AZ - BordelloBordello at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - HeadframeGoldfield, AZ - HeadframeAn old head frame at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
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 to 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.
 
Goldfield, AZ - Mining ToolsGoldfield, AZ - Mining ToolsOld mining equipment hangs on a wall at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - JunkGoldfield, AZ - JunkLots of interesting old equipment at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Robert F. "Bob" Schoose, a long time ghost town, mining, and treasure-hunting enthusiast moved to the area in the 1960's, and wanting to own his own ghost town, started looking at Goldfield. After seeing little left, he and his wife Lou Ann bought the 5 acre site of the old Goldfield Mill in 1984 and decided to rebuild the town.
 
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.
Nearby the tourist attraction of Goldfield there is more history to be explored, including the Lost Dutchman State Park and Superstition Mountains.  Of course, we would discourage most from trying to find the treasure of the Lost Dutchman, as many have and perished in doing so. 
 
One of the best treasure tales in the history of the American West is the Lost Dutchman Mine. Shrouded in mystery, the mine is not only allegedly rich in gold, but is also said to have a curse upon it, leading to a number of strange deaths, as well as people who mysteriously go "missing” when they attempt to locate the old mine.

The Superstitions are now a federal wilderness area and Arizona State Park, so even if the gold were found it would have to be surrendered to the government. This does not deter the many seekers – the search, itself, is simply to intriguing. The lost mine is thought to be located somewhere near Weaver’s Needle, the main landmark of the Superstition Mountains, even though the area has been diligently search by hundreds of people. The Superstition range covers approximately 160,000 acres of desolate, rugged terrain, so arid that only a bit of desert vegetation and a few sparse strands of Ponderosa Pine are all that grows. 

We made a quick stop at the Superstition Mountain Museum just down the road from the State Park and Goldfield.  Formed in 1979, the museum was organized to collect and preserve the history and legends of the Superstition Mountains, as well as support research and education involving the region.  It's worth your time to visit this 12.5 acre museum with plenty of photo opportunities, nature walks, and reproductions of 19th Century life. 

Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Saloon ExhibitApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Saloon ExhibitSaloon exhibit at Superstition Mountain Museum in Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum ExhibitApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Exhibit19th Century life on display at the Superstition Mountain Museum in Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Exhibit - 2 2Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Exhibit - 2 219th Century life on display at the Superstition Mountain Museum in Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Drug Store ExhibitApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Drug Store ExhibitExhibit at the Superstition Mountain Museum shows items from a 19th Century Drug Store. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The Elvis Memorial Chapel at Superstition Mountain Museum is actually movie memorabilia showing the movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires, one in 1969 and another in 2004, which destroyed Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was then donated to the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum  Elvis ChapelApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Elvis ChapelThe Elvis Memorial Chapel at Superstition Mountain Museum is actually movie memorabilia showing the movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires, one in 1969 and another in 2004, which destroyed Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was then donated to the Superstition Mountain Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Elvis Chapel InteriorApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Elvis Chapel InteriorThe Elvis Memorial Chapel at Superstition Mountain Museum is actually movie memorabilia showing the movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires, one in 1969 and another in 2004, which destroyed Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was then donated to the Superstition Mountain Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

After our days of visiting family and enjoying a little down time, we started our big push toward home, which would take us through parts of southern New Mexico and west Texas.  Along the way we boon docked again at the Bureau of Land Managements' Indian Bread Rocks Picnic Area.  This was a popular spot, as we counted at least 4 other campers nearby.  This is the access point to the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness. 

Indian Bread Rocks, AZ - CampgroundIndian Bread Rocks, AZ - CampgroundThe Bureau of Land Management's Indian Bread Rocks Campground is the access point to the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness near the town of Bowie. Photo by Dave Alexander. Indian Bread Rocks, AZ - LandscapeIndian Bread Rocks, AZ - LandscapeThe Bureau of Land Management's Indian Bread Rocks Campground is the access point to the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness near the town of Bowie. Photo by Dave Alexander.

It is also nearby our next destination, Fort Bowie Historic Site.  Located in the southeast corner of Arizona, the site commemorates the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the United States military. It also stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier.

Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 2Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 2Fort Bowie, Arizona. In 1868, a second, more substantial Fort Bowie was built which included adobe barracks, houses, corrals, a trading post, and a hospital. The new fort became the focal point of military operations for more than 30 years. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Parade GroundFort Bowie, AZ - Parade GroundLocated in the southeast corner of Arizona, Fort Bowie National Historic Site commemorates the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the United States military. It also stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

To get to the historic site, you hike a mile and a half in, and along the way you'll pass more than one historic place that was nearby the fort, including ruins of the Butterfield Station, the cemetery, an Apache Camp, The Chiricahua Apache Indian Agency, and the original fort, which was built in 1862.  

Fort Bowie, AZ - Stage Station RuinsFort Bowie, AZ - Stage Station RuinsFort Bowie, Arizona. The Apache Pass Stage Station was built of stone in July, 1858. Within its 6-8 foot-high walls were a kitchen-dining room, sleeping rooms, a storage room for feed and weapons, and mule corral with portholes in ever stall. The stage stopped here for a change of mules, a moment of rest, and what passed for a meal -- bread, coffee, meat, and beans -- for 50 cents. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Post CemeteryFort Bowie, AZ - Post CemeteryFort Bowie, Arizona. The Post Cemetery predeated the establishment of Fort Bowie, when soldiers of the California Column were interred here in 1862 after the Battle of Apache Pass. Also interred here are military dependents, civilian employees, emigrants, mail carriers and three Apache children, one of which was Geronimo's two-year-old son. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Fort Bowie, AZ - Apache CampFort Bowie, AZ - Apache CampApache Pass and the surrounding area was home to the Chiricahua Apache for hundreds of years. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, when this region belonged first to Spain and then to Mexico, the pass was an identified landmark. Fort Bowie, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Chiricahua ApacheIndian AgencyFort Bowie, AZ - Chiricahua ApacheIndian AgencyRuins of the Chiricaua Apache Indian agency at Fort Bowie, Arizona. U.S. Indian Agent Thomas Jeffords governed some 900 Chiricahua Apache here in 1875-76, under the vigilance of the U.S. Army at Fort Bowie. Cochise, Chiricahua chieftain and friend of Jeffords, died in 1874, leaving the band divided in leadership and conduct. Some Apache lingered on the reservation, while others slipped away to plunder Mexican settlements. In June 1876, the government removed Jeffords and moved 325 Apache northward to the San Carols Reservation. However, many escaped and fled to distant sanctuaries to renew hostilities for another decade.

The agency building was made of adobe and featured wooden flooring and fireplaces in each of its three rooms. A rock shelf in front of the building suggests it had a porch. It most likely had a flat roof, covered with brush and earth and small windows with deep sills. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Fort Bowie, AZ - RuinsFort Bowie, AZ - RuinsRuins of the first Fort Bowie, Arizona. The fort was named in honor of Colonel George Washington Bowie commander of the 5th Regiment California Volunteer Infantry who first established the fort. Initially, the post resembled more of a temporary military camp than a fort. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Immediately after the first forts ruins you come to the second, more substantial fort complex built in 1868 and in operation for more than 30 years. 

Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 4Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 4Fort Bowie, Arizona. In 1964, the site was authorized as a National Historic site. Today, the remains of Fort Bowie are carefully preserved, as are the adobe walls of various post buildings and the ruins of a Butterfield Stage Station. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - BellFort Bowie, AZ - BellLoved this old iron bell at Fort Bowie, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Located in the southeast corner of Arizona, Fort Bowie National Historic Site commemorates the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the United States military. It also stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier. Fort Bowie, AZ - Visitor CenterFort Bowie, AZ - Visitor CenterFort Bowie, Arizona Visitor's Center. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Powder MagazineFort Bowie, AZ - Powder MagazineFort Bowie, Arizona. The Battle of Apache Pass was fought near here on July 15 and 16, 1862, when a regiment under the command of General James Henry Carleton was ambushed by a band of Chiricahua Apache while en route from California to New Mexico, where they were to confront troops. This battle led to the establishment of Fort Bowie later that year in order to protect Apache Pass as an important source of water. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

There's lots of history here, including The Bascom Affair of 1861, which would ultimately result in the building of the fort, as well as the abandonment of the southern Butterfield Overland Mail route.  You can read all about the fascinating history with Cochise and Geronimo and how the fort played its role in our Fort Bowie story HERE.  It was well worth the hike in to see this part of American and Native American history. 

After Fort Bowie we pushed on into New Mexico, parking ourselves for a couple of days at an RV Park in Vado, New Mexico, between Las Cruces and El Paso Texas.  There is some rich Mexican and American history just outside of Las Cruces at Mesilla, home of the signing of the Gadsden Purchase, which resulted in the current boundaries between Mexico and the US.  

Mesilla, NM - PlazaMesilla, NM - PlazaThe historic Mesilla Plaza is the site of the signing of the Gadsden Purchase, which resulted in the current boundaries of Mexico and the United States. Mesilla, NM - WallMesilla, NM - WallArchitecture of historic Mesilla Plaza.

Mesilla, also called Old Mesilla and La Mesilla, was incorporated in 1848 after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  Citizens, unhappy with being part of the United States, moved south across the new border and established the colony.  However, threats of attack by Apache Indian's led the United States to build Fort Filmore and declare the Mesilla Valley region part of the U.S.  The resulting boundary dispute with Mexico led to the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. 

Mesilla would see its share of excitement, including being the capital of the Confederate Territory of Arizona in 1861 and 62, then after its capture, headquarters of the Military District of Arizona until 1864. Later in the 1880's the town would attract such characters as Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and Pancho Villa.  

Mesilla, NM - Basilica of San Albino ChurchMesilla, NM - Basilica of San Albino ChurchEstablished in 1852, and rebuilt in 1906, the San Albino Church of Mesilla was given minor Basilica status by the Roman Catholic Church in 2008. It is one of the oldest churches in the region. Mesilla, NM - Plaza DisplayMesilla, NM - Plaza DisplayPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Today, in Mesilla Plaza, a National Historic Landmark, visitors can see the building where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang. It is also the same building that once housed the Capitol of Arizona and New Mexico.  Today it's a gift shop.  Immediately across the street you'll find La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant, Cantina and Chile Shop. This used to be the historic Corn Exchange Hotel, and has been a dining establishment since 1939. Travelers on Butterfield's Overland Stage would "lay over" here after getting off at the Stage Station a block away at what is now the El Patio Restaurant [corrected 11/8/15].  Over the years this building sheltered such famous characters as Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa and in more recent history, General Douglas MacArthur. 

Mesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaMesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaLa Posta de Mesilla Restaurant, Cantina and Chile Shop used to be the historic Corn Exchange Hotel, and has been a dining establishment since 1939. Over the years this building sheltered such famous characters as Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa, and was a "lay over" place for those getting off the Overland Stage a block away at what is now the El Patio Restaurant. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Mesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaMesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaLa Posta de Mesilla Restaurant, Cantina and Chile Shop used to be the historic Corn Exchange Hotel, and has been a dining establishment since 1939. Over the years this building sheltered such famous characters as Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa, and was a "lay over" place for those getting off the Overland Stage a block away at what is now the El Patio Restaurant. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

There are other historic buildings in this plaza, including Thunderbird de la Mesilla, the oldest documented brick building in New Mexico built in 1860 , and more.  Well worth your time to visit, shop the various stores and enjoy the local cuisine. 

Mesilla, NM - Thunderbird de la MesillaMesilla, NM - Thunderbird de la MesillaIn the Historic Mesilla Plaza, this building, now a gift shop, is the oldest documented brick building in New Mexico, built in 1860. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Mesilla, NM - WineMesilla, NM - WineA shop in historic Mesilla Plaza welcomes visitors to sample their wine.

We were pretty much wrapping up our two month journey of the Southwest at this point, pushing on past El Paso and running into a bit of Winter that had us hunkering in for an extra day at Van Horn Texas.  Along the way we passed through Sierra Blanca, which has most definitely seen it's better days. 

Sierra Blanca, TX - Best CafeSierra Blanca, TX - Best Cafe Sierra Blanca, TX - General Store - 2Sierra Blanca, TX - General Store - 2

Sierra Blanca, TX - Truck StopSierra Blanca, TX - Truck Stop Sierra Blanca, TX - TheaterSierra Blanca, TX - Theater

Sierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads.  It would go on to become the county seat of Hudspeth County, which was carved out of El Paso County in 1917. 

Sierra Blanca, TX - DepotSierra Blanca, TX - DepotSierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads. Sierra Blanca, TX - Railroad HotelSierra Blanca, TX - Railroad HotelSierra Blanca, Texas was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads.

Sierra Blanca, TX - Southern Pacific Railroad CarSierra Blanca, TX - Southern Pacific Railroad CarSierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads. Sierra Blanca, TX - Closed LodgeSierra Blanca, TX - Closed Lodge

Don't come through here with drugs.  Among those that have enjoyed a stay at the jail here are singer Fiona Apple, a member of the entourage of singer Nelly, singers Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and actor Armie Hammer. 

During our stay in Van Horn, Old Man Winter decided to make sure we knew where we were headed and gave us a 'cool' shot of the historic Hotel El Capitan, complete with frozen fountain. 

Van Horn, TX - Hotel El CapitanVan Horn, TX - Hotel El CapitanWinter leaves its mark on the fountain at the historic Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Hotel El Capitan FountainVan Horn, TX - Hotel El Capitan FountainThe water fountain at the historic Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn, Texas is frozen solid. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The hotel was built in 1930 and just recently went through a 2.5 Million Dollar renovation.  Van Horn began as a settlement in the late 1850 in support of the San Antonio-El Paso Overland Mail route.  The town got a boost with the construction of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881. 

Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 2Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 2An old auto court in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 4Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 4An old auto court in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Van Horn, TX - BarVan Horn, TX - BarAn old bar in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Sands Motel SignVan Horn, TX - Sands Motel SignColorful Sands Motel Sign in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Van Horn, TX - Antique StoreVan Horn, TX - Antique StoreAntique Store in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Antique Store - 2Van Horn, TX - Antique Store - 2Antique Store in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

As we left Van Horn for our final push toward Missouri, we were dazzled with a bit of Texas frozen fog to welcome us back to Winter. These images were taken in the ghost town of Kent, Texas. 

Kent, TX - FrostKent, TX - FrostMorning fog brings a Texas sized frost to the area around to the town of Kent Texas one late February day. Kent, founded before 1892, was originally known as Antelope due to the large number of the animal in the area. In 1914 the town had four cattle operations, a general store and a population of about 25. That doubled by 1924, however the Post Office was closed in 1960, followed by the school in 1961. In the late 1960's Kent had four businesses and 65 residents, and as late as 2000, Kent still had six businesses.
Although it could be the fog, we didn't see much life left in Kent while passing through in 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Kent, TX - Texas Frost, Ghost SignKent, TX - Texas Frost, Ghost SignMorning fog brings a Texas sized frost to the area around to the town of Kent Texas one late February day. Kent, founded before 1892, was originally known as Antelope due to the large number of the animal in the area. In 1914 the town had four cattle operations, a general store and a population of about 25. That doubled by 1924, however the Post Office was closed in 1960, followed by the school in 1961. In the late 1960's Kent had four businesses and 65 residents, and as late as 2000, Kent still had six businesses.
Although it could be the fog, we didn't see much life left in Kent while passing through in 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.

It was a fantastic journey through the southwest, but we sure were glad to make it back to our home in Warsaw Missouri.  We'll be updating plenty of stories with new photos from our travels, as well as writing up a few more, so be watching our What's New page.  In the meantime, thanks for following along and don't forget to click on the images to go to their respective galleries.  

About the RV Parks we stayed at during this portion of our journey:

In addition to the great boondocking experience at Indian Bread Rocks in Arizona, we stayed at the following RV Parks. 

Western Sky's RV Park, Vado New Mexico - We probably wouldn't stay here again. Although the Wifi was alright, they promoted having cable.  After hooking everything up though we found they only had 3 channels.  The laundry room was a bit run down, with warnings of not overloading the drain by turning on washers at the same time (told to stagger them out).  

Desert Willow RV Park, Van Horn, Texas - We would definitely stay here again if passing through.  Great management, very clean, wonderful showers, and even though the laundry room was smallish, it was very adequate and updated.  We found our stay here very pleasant. 

Sweetwater RV Park, Sweetwater, Texas - This place was for sale during our stay.  If the same ownership continues, would not stay here again. Run down RV Park that's going to need quite a bit of updating under new ownership. 

Five Star RV Park, Tyler, Texas - Good location outside Tyler, friendly management and was a nice stay. 

Meadow Brooks RV Park, Muskogee, Oklahoma - Good location inside town.  Friendly management, level spots (concrete slabs). Great way to end our overnights on this journey. 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Bowie Indian Bread Rocks Mesilla New Mexico Sierra Blanca Texas Van Horn Texas agua caliente arizona aztec arizona goldfield arizona superstition mountain museum https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/home-via-arizona-newmexico-and-texas Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:20:18 GMT
Death Valley to Yuma via the Salton Sea https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/death-valley-to-yuma-via-the-salton-sea After repositioning ourselves closer to the southern parts of Death Valley National Park, we took some time to explore a bit more of this rugged and beautiful valley, along with some of it's interesting mining history.  While we did not do "all" of Death Valley, we did enough to see why this would be a harsh environment to make a living. 

Click on images to go to their respective galleries.  Links in text will take you to more information about that subject. 

Our first destination was Furnace Creek Inn and Furnace Creek Ranch.  Along the way we made a quick side trip to go along part of the original 20-Mule Team Road. The famous Twenty Mule Teams first pulled massive wagons hauling borax from William T. Coleman's Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek to the railhead near Mojave, California, a grueling 165 mile, ten day trip across primitive roads. Although the teams only ran for six years from 1883 to 1889, they made an enduring impression of the Old West and Death Valley. 

Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team RoadDeath Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team RoadFor many people, nothing symbolizes Death Valley more than the famous Twenty Mule Teams. These "big teams" first pulled massive wagons hauling borax from William T. Coleman's Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek to the railhead near Mojave, California, a grueling 165 mile, ten day trip across primitive roads. Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road 2Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road 220-Mule Team Road in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.

Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road - 2Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road - 2Twenty Mule Team Raod in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Dave Alexander

In the 1920s, as it became apparent to the Pacific Coast Borax Company that the emphasis of borax mining was swinging away from Death Valley, it was decided that it might be a good time to start encouraging tourist travel to the area in order to make some money. 

The primary concern of the company centered around providing adequate and comfortable accommodations. It was first thought that the natural and easiest solution would be to house people at Furnace Creek Ranch, and plans were accordingly made to add 10-12 bedrooms plus dining facilities. On further thought, however, this locale seemed too remote from Ryan, and thus impractical as a tourist headquarters. After lengthy consideration of alternative locations at Ryan and Shoshone, it was finally decided that the small mound and former Indian ceremonial area at the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash would be an ideal site.
Furnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek InnFurnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek InnBuilt in 1926 and opening the next year, the Furnace Creek Inn came about after it was apparent that the emphasis of Borax Mining was shifting away from Death Valley. It was decided to be a good time to start encouraging tourism in the area instead. It was decided that the small mound and former Indian ceremonial area at the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash would be an ideal site. Not only was a good fresh water supply available 6,000 feet up the wash at Travertine Springs, but, the view up and down the valley and of the surrounding mountains was breathtaking. Today the Furnace Creek Inn continues to please guests with those beautiful views. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Construction of the hotel started in September 1926, and its official opening was held on February 1, 1927. In the fall of 1927, five more terrace rooms on either side of the parking area were added and more construction would continue over the next decade.
 
The Pacific Coast Borax Company extensively promoted use of its own standard-gauge Tonopah & Tidewater and narrow-gauge Death Valley railroads to transport tourists to the site. At that time, tourists could purchase a package that included transportation, hotel accommodations for one night at Furnace Creek Inn, meals for two days, and bus tours to nearby attractions for $42.
 
With the proclamation of Death Valley as a national monument in February, 1933, highways in Death Valley were constructed by the federal government and taken over by the California State Highway Commission. 
 
In 1956 Fred Harvey, Inc., took over management of the Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch for the borax company and in 1969 purchased the properties outright. Today, the property is owned by the Xanterra Corporation and part of the Furnace Creek Resort.  A massive fire destroyed the historic laundry facilities across the highway in December of 2014. 
 
 
Nearby, you'll find the Furnace Creek Ranch. After establishing a location for the Harmony Borax Works about 1.5  miles north of the mouth of Furnace Creek, William T. Coleman next addressed the need for a supply point to provide essential provisions for his mules and workmen at this plant and at his Amargosa Borax Works.
 
 
A logical place for this operation was the spot near the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash that had been homesteaded in the 1870’s by a man named Bellerin Teck. The ranch consisted of a large adobe house with a wide northern veranda, and was first referred to as "Greenland" and occasionally as "Coleman." It was given its present name by the Pacific Coast Borax Company sometime after 1889.
 
The presence of water, shade trees, and grass in the area led to temperatures that usually ranged from eight to ten degrees cooler than elsewhere in the valley, and by 1885 the farmstead was rich in alfalfa and hay, while cattle, hogs, and sheep were supplying fresh meat for the tables of the Harmony Borax workers.
 
The promotional possibilities offered by this cool oasis greatly appealed to Coleman, who at one point envisioned eventually establishing a resort here. However, Coleman's fortunes waned and the property wound up with Francis "Borax" Smith by 1890.  It would finally become a resort around 1933 and today, like the Furnace Creek Inn, is part of the Furnace Creek Resort, complete with golf course, RV Park and more.  
 
Just one of the interesting things to do here is visit the Borax Works Museum at the Ranch.    Furnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax MuseumFurnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax MuseumBorax Museum at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley National Park, California. This building was constructed in 1883 by Francis "Borax" Smith, founder of the Pacific Coast Borax Company. The oldest house in Death Valley, it originally stood in 20-Mule Team Canyon where it served as an office, bunk house and ore-checking station for miners at the Monte Blanco deposits. In 1954 the building was moved to Furnace Creek Ranch to serve as a museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Furnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax Museum RailroadFurnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax Museum RailroadDeath Valley Railroad on display at Borax Museum at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Right next to the ranch is the Harmony Borax Works. The discovery of borax north of the mouth of Furnace Creek was made in 1881 by Aaron and Rose Winters, whose holdings were immediately bought by William T. Coleman and Company for $20,000. He subsequently formed the Greenland Salt and Borax Mining Company (later the Harmony Borax Mining Company), which in 1882 began operating the Harmony Borax Works, a small settlement of adobe and stone buildings plus a refinery. The homestead, later known as the Furnace Creek Ranch, immediately to the south was intended as the supply point for his men and stock.
A land of extremes, Death Valley is one of the hottest, driest and lowest places on earth. With summer temperatures averaging well over 100 degrees and a long history of human suffering in the vast desert, the valley is aptly named. However, this place of eroded badlands, sand dunes, and golden hills also has a haunting sense of beauty. Just down the road a piece from Furnace Creek Inn, Artist's Palette is a prime example of the rugged beauty here. The Palette drive rises from the desert floor to the edge of the Black Mountains where the rock has been colored by oxidation of various metals. This is the area of the valley's most explosive volcanic periods. Death Valley, CA - Artist RoadDeath Valley, CA - Artist RoadA road in Death Valley National Park, California near Artist's Palette.Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Death Valley, CA - Artist Palette RoadDeath Valley, CA - Artist Palette RoadRoad into Artist Palette in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Death Valley, CA - Artist PaletteDeath Valley, CA - Artist PaletteArtist's Palette in Death Valley National Park, California is noted for having various colors caused by the oxidation of different metals. Sitting on the face of the Black Mountains, this area is the result of Death Valley's most explosive volcanic periods. Known as the Artists Drive Formation, chemical weathering and hydrothermal alteration are also responsible for the variety of colors. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
From there you continue to go down into the valley's lowest point, Badwater Basin. As you stand looking at the desert, be sure to turn around to see the cliff behind you and the "Sea Level" marker 282 feet above you. 
There's more evidence of mining in Death Valley, including the small ruins of Ashford Mill. In January, 1907 a man named Harold Ashford wandered into the Death Valley region, and attracted by the gold strikes at the Desert Hound Mine, prospected in that vicinity. Within a few months, he discovered that the Keys Gold Mining Company had failed to do the required assessment work on several of its claims, and Ashford relocated them and started to work on his own. It took the Keys Gold Mining Company almost two years to discover that someone else was working their former claims, and when Ashford refused to vacate, the company took him to court In January, 1910; however, the judge found in favor of Ashford and he retained title to his claims.
 
The mine continued to be worked for years, and a mill was established on the floor of Death Valley, five miles and 3,500 feet below the mine, where the ore from the mine was trucked for preliminary treating. The mill included a jaw-crusher, a ten-foot Lane mill, a Wilfley table and a Diester slime table. The ruins of Ashford Mill stand on the floor of Death Valley. Structures here consist of the crumbling walls of a concrete office building, and the ruins of the mill itself. Not much is left of the mill, with the exception of the large concrete foundations and a very limited amount of debris.
There's plenty more to see and do in Death Valley National Park.  We suggest spending several days of exploring in the Spring or Fall for the best enjoyment. 
 
After Death Valley we headed through the Mojave National Preserve to boondock our travel trailer at Amboy Crater.  Along the way we stopped in Kelso for a quick peek at the past at the Kelso Railroad Depot Depot Museum and the remains of this once important stop.  Around the turn of the 20th Century, construction began on what would become the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. Union Pacific made a deal to purchase half of the railroad, and the Salt Lake route spread across the Mojave Desert by 1905.  Siding #16 became Kelso, with the first depot opening in 1905, followed by a post office, engineer house, eating house, and eventually a small town.  By the 1940's, Kelso had a population of around 2,000. But with the closing of a nearby mine, and diesel engines replacing steam engines on the railroad, Union Pacific began moving employee's and jobs away.  It wasn't until 1985 that the railroad completely closed the depot.  In 1994 the California Desert Protection Act created the Mojave National Preserve, putting the depot into the hands of the National Park Service.  Renovations to the historic structure began in 2002 and opened as a new visitor's center to the preserve in 2005. 
Ludlow, CA - Motel SignLudlow, CA - Motel Sign
After making our way out of the Mojave National Preserve we decided to do a small bit more of Route 66, this time back tracking from Ludlow to Amboy.  During our visit, parts of the Mother Road were still closed due to flooding in the fall of 2014, but the path from Ludlow to Amboy was enough to wrap up this day's adventure. 
 
Though Ludlow is a virtual ghost town, you will see a few open businesses due to its proximity to I-40. Founded in 1882 as a water stop for the Central Pacific Railroad, the water was hauled from Newberry Springs in tank cars. Before long, gold was discovered in the area and Ludlow began to grow until the mining petered out in the early 1900s. Declining for the first time, Ludlow saw a revival when Route 66 came through, becoming a busy rest stop along the new highway. Ludlow died a second death when I-40 replaced the Mother Road. Though there are still a few people living in the area, supporting the service businesses along the interstate, the town is mostly littered with the decaying buildings of its former past.
 
On the other side of the railroad tracks behind the old settlement of Ludlow is an interesting cemetery surrounded by a rusty wire fence. Here, nameless graves are marked by a couple of dozen wooden crosses, leaving no testament to those who died here many years before.
 
Ludlow, CA - Route 66 Closed West Of Ludlow-daLudlow, CA - Route 66 Closed West Of Ludlow-daDuring our visit in February 2015, parts of Route 66 in California were still closed from flooding in the fall of 2014. Photo by Dave Alexander. Ludlow, CA - Route 66 ShieldLudlow, CA - Route 66 ShieldRoute 66 shield beckons visitors east toward Amboy just outside of Ludlow, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Ludlow, CA - Fire TruckLudlow, CA - Fire TruckPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Ludlow, CA - Ludlow CafeLudlow, CA - Ludlow CafeClosed cafe in Ludlow, California on Route 66 sits wasting away. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Ludlow, CA - Fire Truck2Ludlow, CA - Fire Truck - 2 Ludlow, CA - Ludlow Cafe DoorLudlow, CA - Ludlow Cafe Door
To end the day we paid a visit to Amboy. The town was originally owned by Roy and Velma Crowl in the 1930s and the cafe, motel, and service station were built somewhere around 1938. The Crowl's had two children who helped them with the business - Lloyd Irwin and Betty.
 
Over the years the station, motel and cafe served thousands of customers who would rave about Roy's burgers and the service that they received along that desolate stretch of Route 66. In those days, Amboy was an oasis in the desert where hot and tired travelers could stop for food, a cool drink, mechanical services, and gas, while a big smile and a kind voice awaited them at Roy's Cafe and Motel.
 
Today, Roy's Cafe and Motel are under new ownership, and while they  aren't serving food yet, during our visit they were working on the Motel and we were told that despite water issues, they are still trying to re-open it.
Amboy, CA - Roy's Sign & CafeAmboy, CA - Roy's Sign & CafeRoy's Sign and Cafe on Route 66 in Amboy, California. Photo by Dave Alexander. Amboy, CA - Roy's MotelAmboy, CA - Roy's MotelThey were working to bring Roy's Motel on Route 66 in Amboy, California back to life during Legends of America's visit in February, 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Amboy, CA - Roy's SignAmboy, CA - Roy's SignRoy's Motel & Cafe Sign on Route 66 in Amboy, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Amboy, CA - Roy's Motel WindowAmboy, CA - Roy's Motel WindowLove windows. This one at Roy's Motel on Route 66 in Amboy, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
We boondocked our RV at Amboy Crater nearby.  Estimated to be around 79,000 years old, the crater was a popular spot for those traveling Route 66 before I-40 came along, and is one of the few extinct volcanoes along the route.  It has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years as people re-discover the Mother road. 
Amboy Crater, CA - SunriseAmboy Crater, CA - SunriseSunrise at Amboy Crater along Route 66 near Amboy, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.
After Amboy we decided to make a quick jaunt over to the Salton Sea on our round about way to Yuma, Arizona.  Situated in the Sonoran Desert in southeastern California is the Salton Sea, the largest lake in the state. The Salton Basin has held various waters over the last three million years as the Colorado River changed its course and spilled over, filling up the basin with fresh water lakes that would eventually evaporate. Then, the process would start all over again. By the time European explorers came to the area in the 16th century, the Salton Basin was completely dry, though just a half a century before it had been some 26 times larger than the size of the current Salton Sea.
 
In the late 19th century the California Development Company and its ambitious president, Charles R. Rockwood, determined to make the Imperial Valley into an agricultural oasis in the desert. A series of canals were constructed in 1900 to allow for irrigation and for a few years the river flowed peacefully, regulated by a wooden head gate, and watering the fields of fruits and vegetables. However, the flowing waters contained large amounts of silt, which soon blocked the head gate. To correct this problem, the California Development Company then cut a new channel a few miles south of the Mexican border. Unregulated by U.S. authorities, the new channel crossed an unstable river delta and when the Colorado River waters began to peak from heavy rainfalls and snowmelt in the summer of 1905, the dike broke and the Salton Basin began to fill at an alarming rate.
 
For two years, the Colorado River flooded the Salton Sink, destroying the town of Salton and the Southern Pacific Railroad siding. The railroad, having substantial business interests in the region, spent some three million dollars to stop the river's flow into the Salton Sink, finally succeeding in 1907. However, a "new" lake body had been created, which was called the Salton Sea.
 
The large sea, surrounded by desert terrain, was a natural site for fishermen, but without an outlet, the sea became more and more saline as fresh water was pumped out of the lake for irrigation and when the water returned through run-off it included dissolved salts from the soil, pesticides and fertilizer residue. As the saline levels increased, the fresh water fish died and over the years, officials began to experiment with bringing in various species of salt water fish, including salmon, halibut, bonefish, clams, oysters, and more. Unfortunately, these fish also died due to the high saline level.
 
However, in the early 1950s, certain species survived including gulf croaker, sargo, orange corvine and tilapia. As the fish began to thrive, it fueled a recreation boom in the 1950s and the inland desert sea became an inviting sport-fishing and vacation destination. In no time, its coastline developed numerous resorts and marinas catering to water skiers, boaters, and fishermen. Billed as "Palm Springs-by-the-Sea,” restaurants, shops, and nightclubs also sprang up along the shores. The lake enjoyed immense popularity, especially among the rich and famous as movie stars and recording artists flocked to the area. From Dean Martin, to Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and the Beach Boys, the lake became a speedboat playground.
 
However, Salton Sea’s bright lights would quickly fade in the 1970s when the sea’s water level began rising from several years of heavy rains and increasing agricultural drainage. Shorefront homes, businesses, resorts, and marinas flooded several times until the water stabilized in 1980 after a series of conservation measures to reduce field run-off. However, for the many resort areas, it was too late. The salt and fertilizers of the run-off had accumulated to such a degree that they had reached toxic levels, which began a cycle of decay. As algae fed on the toxins, it created massive amounts of rotten smelling matter floating upon the surface of the lake and suffocated many of the fish.
 
Within just a few years, the resorts had closed, the marinas were abandoned, and those who could afford to, had moved, leaving in their wake, abandoned businesses and homes, and scattered junk. 
Salton Sea, CA - Desert Shores MarketSalton Sea, CA - Desert Shores Market Salton Sea, CA - Bombay Beach Ski InnSalton Sea, CA - Bombay Beach Ski InnPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Salton Sea Beach, CA - SignSalton Sea Beach, CA - Sign Salton Sea, CA - Desert Shores Sans SouciSalton Sea, CA - Desert Shores Sans Souci Salton Sea, CA - EastsideSalton Sea, CA - Eastside Salton Sea, CA - State Recreation AreaSalton Sea, CA - State Recreation Area Salton Sea, CA - West SideSalton Sea, CA - West Side Salton Sea, CA - West Side - 2Salton Sea, CA - West Side - 2 Salton Sea, CA - West Side - 3Salton Sea, CA - West Side - 3 Salton Sea, CA - West Side - 4Salton Sea, CA - West Side - 4 Salton Sea, CA  - West Side  - 6Salton Sea, CA - West Side - 6
After a brief visit to the Salton Sea State Park, we moved on down the road toward the border, then over to Yuma, Arizona. Along the way we passed Imperial Sand Dunes, which looked like quite a bit of fun for off roading.
Imperial Sand Dunes, CAImperial Sand Dunes, CAPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Just past the sand dunes, Yuma is home of the famed Yuma Territorial Prison.  From 1876 to 1909, this prison held criminals from all over Arizona Territory, including famous outlaws like Pearl Hart. Over 3,000 prisoners, including 29 women, stayed here during its 33 year history.  Due to severe overcrowding, the prison was closed in September 1909 and today is an Arizona State Park. 
Yuma, AZ - Territorial PrisonYuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Yuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Guard TowerYuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Guard TowerPhoto by Dave Alexander. Yuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Main Cell BlockYuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Main Cell BlockPhoto by Dave Alexander.
We also paid a visit to old Fort Yuma. Fort Yuma was established near the Gila River in Arizona to defend the newly settled community of Yuma, Arizona and immigrants taking the southern route to California. However, shortly after it was established, it was moved across the Colorado river to protect the ferry crossing in March, 1851. However, the fort was virtually abandoned just a few months later due to the high costs incurred in maintaining it and by the end of the year, the troops were entirely gone. It was reoccupied by Captain Heintzelman on February 29, 1852. From 1858 until 1861, the fort was situated along the Butterfield Overland Mail route. In 1864 the quartermaster Corps erected a depot on the left bank of the Colorado River, below the mouth of the Gila River, which continued to provide supplies until the railroad made the supply depot obsolete. The fort was abandoned for the last time in May, 1883 and the land transferred to the Department of Interior the following year.
 
Today, the site of the military reservation is occupied by the Fort Yuma Indian School and a mission, which features the Quechan Indian Museum housed in the old officers' mess quarters. 
Fort Yuma, CA - BarracksFort Yuma, CA - BarracksPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Yuma, CA - Building - 2Fort Yuma, CA - Building - 2
Fort Yuma, CA - Commander QuartersFort Yuma, CA - Commander Quarters Fort Yuma, CA - Inspection StationFort Yuma, CA - Inspection StationPhoto by Dave Alexander.
Fort Yuma, CA - St Thomas ChurchFort Yuma, CA - St Thomas Church Fort Yuma, CA - St Thomas Church StatueFort Yuma, CA - St Thomas Church Statue
We did get to know the local Native American Authorities after someone reported that we may be hauling a body on top of our SUV.  No folks, that's just a carry bag with chairs and a table :)
Fort Yuma, CA -Dave copFort Yuma, CA -Dave copNo, that isn't a body on top of our SUV, just a table and chairs. But thanks for checking on us :) Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
 
After Yuma, we wrapped up our tour of the Southwest with a visit to Goldfield, Fort Bowie, and more...before finding winter again in Texas :( We'll show you some of that journey on our next Photo Blog. 
 
About the RV Parks we stayed at during this portion of our journey: 
 
In addition to our great boon docking experience at Amboy Crater, we stayed at Westwind RV and Golf Resort.  Fantastic stay, with a community that has lots of activities, bar, restaurant and more!  We definitely recommend this park, especially if you are thinking about having a second "home" for winter. 
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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Amboy Amboy Crater Ashford Mill Death Valley Furnace Creek Kelso Ludlow Mojave National Preserve Route 66 Yuma https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/death-valley-to-yuma-via-the-salton-sea Sun, 08 Mar 2015 17:44:25 GMT
Our Journey to Death Valley https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/2/our-journey-to-death-valley Pahrump, NV - Moon RisingPahrump, NV - Moon RisingAs the sun sets and the moon rises, the landscape East of Pahrump is cast in a red glow one February evening.
Photo by Dave Alexander
Our journey from Arizona into Nevada and California brought us to the area of Death Valley, where we found ghost towns, quirky stories and absolutely gorgeous views.  Glad we went in February, as I'm pretty sure we wouldn't want to be here in the Summer months. 

Click on the photos below to go to the appropriate gallery. Links in the text will take you to related stories about that subject. 

One of our first big stops on the path to the National Park was Death Valley Junction, California.  We had stayed in Pahrump for a couple of nights to catch up on work, then headed out for a stay in Amargosa Valley to do some northern area's of Death Valley.

Pahrump was an interesting place, with a few casinos scattered around, sprinkled with Brothels on the outer edges for additional color.  We paid a visit to the Pahrump Valley Museum, which includes both indoor and outdoor exhibits.  If you're in the area, it's free, though they ask for donation, and worth the stop. 

Pahrump, NV - Museum 1940s KitchenPahrump, NV - Museum 1940s KitchenA 1940s kitchen display in the Pahrump, Nevada Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Pahrump, NV - Museum Mining DisplayPahrump, NV - Museum Mining DisplayAn old mine car and display at the Pahrump, Nevad Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Pahrump, NV - Museum HatsPahrump, NV - Museum HatsAt hat rack in one of the buildings at the Pahrump, Nevada Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Pahrump, NV - Museum Last Chance JohnniePahrump, NV - Museum Last Chance JohnnieLast Chance Johnnie in the Pahrump, Nevada Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

They have some wonderful bronze sculptures out in front of their tan tin building.  Kathy took our photos of the sculptures and combined them with other photos we took from the museum of the landscape, which I thought was a pretty crafty idea. 

Pahrump, NV - Children StatuePahrump, NV - Children StatueThe photo of the children statue was taken at the Pahrump, Nevada Museum and merged with another photo taken of area scenery. Both photos by Dave Alexander. Digital composition by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Pahrump, NV - Eagle Statue and Charleston MountainPahrump, NV - Eagle Statue and Charleston MountainThe photo of the eagle statue was taken at the Pahrump, Nevada Museum and merged with another photo taken of Charleston Mountain. Both photos by Dave Alexander. Digital composition by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Traveling out of Pahrump it's pretty much desert, hills and more desert.  Then in the distance, amidst nothing, you start to see a clump of trees and the outline of an historic building (Amargosa Opera House).

First called Amargosa, meaning "bitter water" in the Paiute language, Death Valley Junction is home to less than a half dozen people today. Getting its start as a borax mining community, several historic buildings continue to stand including the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House, which still cater to visitors.

Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa HotelDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa HotelAmargosa Hotel in Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel InteriorDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel InteriorFirst called Amargosa, meaning "bitter water" in the Paiute language, this tiny town situated in the Mojave Desert, is today home to less than a half dozen people. Getting its start as a borax mining community, several historic buildings continue to stand today including the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House, which still cater to visitors. Amargosa Hotel in Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel Interior-2Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel Interior-2First called Amargosa, meaning "bitter water" in the Paiute language, this tiny town situated in the Mojave Desert, is today home to less than a half dozen people. Getting its start as a borax mining community, several historic buildings continue to stand today including the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House, which still cater to visitors. Amargosa Hotel in Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel Dining RoomDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel Dining RoomDining Room in the Amargosa Hotel in Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel Interior - 4Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel Interior - 4Amargosa Hotel Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Long used by area Indians, in the 19th century, this site began to be utilized by prospectors and area settlers. In 1907, when a post office was established, the name was changed to Death Valley Junction. However, there was very little here until 1914 when the Pacific Coast Borax Company built the Death Valley Railroad, a narrow-gauge line which operated from Ryan, California to Death Valley Junction, carrying borax. After a small boom in population, the town became a shell of its former self, but still shines in the desert sun due to one colorful character. 
 
From an early age, Marta Becket showed amazing creative talents, including dancing, playing the piano, and artistic qualities. As a young woman, she danced at Radio City Music Hall, and on Broadway in New York City, appearing in Showboat, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and A Wonderful Town. In 1962, she was married and soon began to tour the country.
 
Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera HouseDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera HouseFrom an early age, Marta Becket showed amazing creative talents, including dancing, playing the piano, and artistic qualities. As a young woman, she danced at Radio City Music Hall, and on Broadway in New York City, appearing in Showboat, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and A Wonderful Town. In 1962, she was married and soon began to tour the country.

In 1967, after months of touring, she and her husband decided to take a vacation camping in Death Valley. However, one morning, they awoke to find a flat tire on their trailer. Directed to Death Valley Junction by a park ranger to have the tire repaired, Marta was fascinated with the old buildings, and discovered the old theater. Peering through a small hole in the door at the back of the building, she immediately knew this place was meant for her.

Having always wanted to design her own costumes, choreograph her own dances, and create her own show, she and her husband located the town manager. The very next day, they agreed to rent the abandoned theater for $45.00 a month and assume responsibility for repairs. Originally called Corkhill Hall, she renamed the theater the Amargosa Opera House and almost a year later, on February 10th, 1968; she gave her first performance to an audience of just 12 adults.
Soon began to paint an audience on the wall. From 1968 to 1972, characters from the past including kings and queens, Native Americans, bullfighters, gypsies, and more took shape. After four years of painstaking work, she then began painting the ceiling with cherubs, billowing clouds and ladies playing antique musical instruments. It was completed in 1974.

With help and legal advice from friends, and through the Trust for Public Land based in San Francisco, the Amargosa Opera House, Inc. bought the town of Death Valley Junction. On December 10th, 1981, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1983, the Opera House bought 120 theater seats from the Boulder City Theater in Boulder City, Nevada to replace the charming but old garden chairs needing retirement. That same year, Marta’s husband left for other interests, but, before long, in walked Thomas J. Willett, a comedian who stepped in as stage manager and M.C. He also co-starred with Marta playing other parts in the production.
Unfortunately, Willett died in 2005. Marta still lives behind the Opera House, and guests are entertained with shows that continue to this day.
Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
In 1967, after months of touring, she and her husband decided to take a vacation camping in Death Valley. However, one morning, they awoke to find a flat tire on their trailer. Directed to Death Valley Junction by a park ranger to have the tire repaired, Marta began to explore the old adobe buildings while it was being fixed. Fascinated with the old buildings, she discovered the old theater and was enthralled. Peering through a small hole in the door at the back of the building, she immediately knew this place was meant for her. Later she would say, "Peering through the tiny hole, I had the distinct feeling that I was looking at the other half of myself. The building seemed to be saying.....Take me.....do something with me...I offer you life." And, that’s exactly what she did.
 
Having always wanted to design her own costumes, choreograph her own dances, and create her own show, she and her husband located the town manager. The very next day, they agreed to rent the abandoned theater for $45.00 a month and assume responsibility for repairs. Originally called Corkhill Hall, she renamed the theater the Amargosa Opera House and almost a year later, on February 10th, 1968; she gave her first performance to an audience of just 12 adults.
 
In the early years of the theater, there were few visitors, sometimes, none at all so she soon began to paint an audience on the wall. From 1968 to 1972, characters from the past including kings and queens, Native Americans, bullfighters, gypsies, and more took shape. After four years of painstaking work, she then began painting the ceiling with cherubs, billowing clouds and ladies playing antique musical instruments. It was completed in 1974.
Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House CeilingDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House CeilingFrom an early age, Marta Becket showed amazing creative talents, including dancing, playing the piano, and artistic qualities. As a young woman, she danced at Radio City Music Hall, and on Broadway in New York City, appearing in Showboat, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and A Wonderful Town. In 1962, she was married and soon began to tour the country.

In 1967, after months of touring, she and her husband decided to take a vacation camping in Death Valley. However, one morning, they awoke to find a flat tire on their trailer. Directed to Death Valley Junction by a park ranger to have the tire repaired, Marta was fascinated with the old buildings, and discovered the old theater. Peering through a small hole in the door at the back of the building, she immediately knew this place was meant for her.

Having always wanted to design her own costumes, choreograph her own dances, and create her own show, she and her husband located the town manager. The very next day, they agreed to rent the abandoned theater for $45.00 a month and assume responsibility for repairs. Originally called Corkhill Hall, she renamed the theater the Amargosa Opera House and almost a year later, on February 10th, 1968; she gave her first performance to an audience of just 12 adults.

Soon began to paint an audience on the wall. From 1968 to 1972, characters from the past including kings and queens, Native Americans, bullfighters, gypsies, and more took shape. After four years of painstaking work, she then began painting the ceiling with cherubs, billowing clouds and ladies playing antique musical instruments. It was completed in 1974.

With help and legal advice from friends, and through the Trust for Public Land based in San Francisco, the Amargosa Opera House, Inc. bought the town of Death Valley Junction. On December 10th, 1981, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


In 1983, the Opera House bought 120 theater seats from the Boulder City Theater in Boulder City, Nevada to replace the charming but old garden chairs needing retirement. That same year, Marta’s husband left for other interests, but, before long, in walked Thomas J. Willett, a comedian who stepped in as stage manager and M.C. He also co-starred with Marta playing other parts in the production.
Unfortunately, Willett died in 2005. Marta still lives behind the Opera House, and guests are entertained with shows that continue to this day.
Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera StageDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera StageMural in the Amargosa Opera House Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Dave Alexander. Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House Mural - 3Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House Mural - 3Mural in the Amargosa Opera House Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Dave Alexander. Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House Mural-daDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House Mural-daMural in the Amargosa Opera House Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.
 
Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House TheatreDeath Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Opera House TheatreAmargosa Opera House Death Valley Junction, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
With help and legal advice from friends, and through the Trust for Public Land based in San Francisco, the Amargosa Opera House, Inc. bought the town of Death Valley Junction. On December 10th, 1981, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
 
In 1983, the Opera House bought 120 theater seats from the Boulder City Theater in Boulder City, Nevada to replace the charming but old garden chairs needing retirement. That same year, Marta’s husband left for other interests, but, before long, in walked Thomas J. Willett, a comedian who stepped in as stage manager and M.C. He also co-starred with Marta playing other parts in the production. Unfortunately, Willett died in 2005. Marta still lives behind the Opera House, and guests are entertained with shows that continue to this day. 
 
We pushed out of Death Valley Junction for a brief RV Park stay at Amargosa Valley. This is a spot in the road, complete with the RV Park and across the highway, a fireworks stand, convenience store/burger joint/brothel.  It was fine for us though as we planned a couple of trips just up the road to do the northern parts of Death Valley. 

Our next adventure was Rhyolite, Nevada.  This true ghost town, just outside of Beatty on your way into Death Valley, is a must stop for folks like us.  Kathy was here back in 2005 or so, but we really needed to do it again, and it was worth it. 

Rhyolite, NV - Goldwell Museum Shorty HarrisRhyolite, NV - Goldwell Museum Shorty Harris"Short Harris" sculpture at the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, Nevada. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Photo by Dave Alexander. Rhyolite began when Frank "Shorty" Harris and Ernest L. Cross discovered gold on August 4, 1904. Calling their claim the Bullfrog, it was located few miles south of where Rhyolite would soon sprout up. 
 
Soon, several men by the names of A.G. Cushman, Percy Stanley, C.H. Elliot, and Frank J. Busch began promoting the town site of Rhyolite, named for the silica-rich ore that most of the gold was being found in. By November, the town was staked and lots were offered for sale for $50 each in February, 1905. One of the first buildings constructed was the two-story Southern Hotel. Water was a rare commodity in the area and was carted in at a cost of $2 to $5 a barrel.
 
Just months later in April, H.D. and L.D. Porter crossed Death Valley bringing along supplies from their store at Randsburg. By that time the rush to Rhyolite was so great that the Porters had to pay $1,200 for their lot. Constructing a story and a half stone building, they quickly became the district’s leading merchants.
Rhyolite, NV - Porter StoreRhyolite, NV - Porter StoreH.D. and L.D. Porter crossed Death Valley bringing along supplies from their store at Randsburg. By that time the rush to Rhyolite was so great that the Porters had to pay $1,200 for their lot. Constructing a story and a half stone building, they quickly became the district’s leading merchants.
 
In no time at all, there were over 2000 claims covering a 30 mile area surrounding the Bullfrog Mining District. The most promising was the Montgomery-Shoshone mine, which prompted everyone to move to the Rhyolite town site. The town immediately boomed with buildings springing up everywhere, including saloons, restaurants and boarding houses.
 
In January, 1908 the John S. Cook Bank building was completed, the ruins of which are today the most photographed site of all Nevada ghost towns. Also a large mercantile store was built and an impressive train station. The post office soon outgrew the tent and was reestablished in a frame building on Broadway. In July 1908, it moved to the 30 x 70 basement of the Cook Bank Building. But all of this was a little too late for Rhyolite.
 
Rhyolite, NV - Cook Bank Building RuinsRhyolite, NV - Cook Bank Building RuinsIn January, 1908 the John S. Cook Bank building was completed, the ruins of which are today the most photographed site of all Nevada ghost towns. Photo by Dave Alexander.
After the 1907 Panic, more and more mines began to close and banks started to fail. At about the same time the gold started to pan out in the area mines. Soon, the trains were mostly filled with people leaving town.
 
When gold was discovered at the Pioneer Mine in 1909, several miles away, half of the population moved to Pioneer. It was at this time that the new two-story brick schoolhouse was completed which included both classrooms and an auditorium; however, it was used only briefly and was never filled. By the end of 1909, the population was well below 1,000, as the town continued to struggle to stay alive hoping for a new boom that never came.
 
By 1915, the town had only 20 people and the next year the power and lights were turned off. By 1920, Rhyolite's population was just 14 and its last resident died in 1924.
 
Today you can find several remnants of Rhyolite's glory days. Some of the walls of the three story bank building are still standing, as is part of the old jail. The train depot, which is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, is one of the few complete buildings left in the town, as is the Bottle House, and a small stone cabin, which have been rehabilitated.
Rhyolite, NV - DepotRhyolite, NV - DepotThe old depot in the ghost townof Rhyolite, Nevada. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Rhyolite, NV - Bottle HouseRhyolite, NV - Bottle HouseBottle House in the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Rhyolite, NV - Mercantile TruckRhyolite, NV - Mercantile TruckAn old truck sits behind the burned ruins of the old Mercantile, struck by lightening in the fall of 2014. Photo by Dave Alexander. Rhyolite, NV - MercantileRhyolite, NV - MercantileThe Rhyolite Mercantile building was hit by lightening on September 20, 2014 and burned to the ground. Photo by Kathy Weiser, 2005.
The Rhyolite Mercantile building was hit by lightning on September 20, 2014 and burned to the ground.  The photo (above right) shows the old Mercantile when Kathy visited Rhyolite in 2005. 
Rhyolite, NV - MineRhyolite, NV - MineAn old mine in the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. Photo by Dave Alexander.
In addition to the ruins at Rhyolite, you will find the Goldwell Outdoor Museum.  Created by a group of Belgian Artists, lead by the late Albert Szukalski, this stop features several large outdoor sculptures.  The museum's website says "Goldwell exists because artists from afar chose the Mojave Desert as a place to make work freely, in contrast with their practice in Europe. Those experiences led several of them to create the large scale, on-site sculptures that define Goldwell as a destination. There are few other places where such art-making activities could have taken place; the desert is integral to their work.
 
Still active after several decades, artists from around the world continue work here, with an artist residency and workspace programs available in the nearby Red Barn Art Center. 
Rhyolite, NV - Goldwell Museum Last SupperRhyolite, NV - Goldwell Museum Last SupperThe Goldwell Outdoor Museum began in 1984 with the creation and installation of this sculpture by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski. Titled "The Last Supper", it is a ghostly interpretation of Christ and his disciples sited against the backdrop of the expansive Amargosa Valley. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Rhyolite, NV - Goldwell Museum CouchRhyolite, NV - Goldwell Museum CouchA mosaic couch at the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, Nevada. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
As you enter Rhyolite, you will come across the failed ghost town of Bullfrog, which competed and lost against it's more prosperous neighbor. Some ruins are still there, and you will also find the road to the Rhyolite cemetery in the same area. 
Rhyolite, NV - Grave - 2Rhyolite, NV - Grave - 2A grave sits on the edge of the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. Photo by Dave Alexander. Rhyolite, NV - GraveRhyolite, NV - GraveA grave in the old Ryolite-Bullfrog Cemetery outside the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Our visit to the Beatty Museum was nice, and they had old maps that really give you an idea of where things were, including all the old mines and ghost towns in the area. Between that and Rhyolite, it was pretty much a full day for us, so after another night at Amargosa Valley, across from the Brothel/Convenience Store/Burger Joint, we headed back through Beatty, this time on our way into one of Death Valley's big attractions, Scotty's Castle. 
 
Along the way, and not too far before entering the National Park, you will run into the ghost town of Bonnie Claire.  Also known by several other names including Clare, Clair, Thorp's Wells, Thorp, Montana Station, Summerville and Gold Mountain, mining began in the area in the 1880's and a small stamp mill was built at a site then known as Thorp's Wells. Serving several mines located near Gold Mountain some six miles to the northwest. It operated into the early 1900's when the Bonnie Claire Bullfrog Mining Company purchased it. A small camp formed and a stage line from Bullfrog to Goldfield ran through the camp, which was then called Thorp. Another small camp called Summerville also developed about a mile northwest, but it was short lived. In 1904, the company built a larger mill called the Bonnie Claire, which treated ore from all over the district. A post office called Thorp was established in June, 1905.
Bonnie Claire, NV - MillBonnie Claire, NV - MillAlso known by several other names including Clare, Clair, Thorp's Wells, Thorp, Montana Station, Summerville and Gold Mountain, mining began in the area in the 1880's and a small stamp mill was built at a site then known as Thorp's Wells. Serving several mines located near Gold Mountain some six miles to the northwest. It operated into the early 1900's when the Bonnie Claire Bullfrog Mining Company purchased it. A small camp formed and a stage line from Bullfrog to Goldfield ran through the camp, which was then called Thorp. Another small camp called Summerville also developed about a mile northwest, but it was short lived. In 1904, the company built a larger mill called the Bonnie Claire, which treated ore from all over the district. A post office called Thorp was established in June, 1905.


The camp grew slowly until September, 1906 when the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad reached the settlement. The new station was called Montana Station, but, when a townsite was platted the following month, it was called Bonnie Claire. However, the post office wouldn't be renamed from thorp to Bonnie Claire until 1909, due to issues with the government. The old mill operation now sits on private property. Photo by
Dave Alexander.
Bonnie Clare, NV - Mill, 1908Bonnie Clare, NV - Mill, 1908Bonnie Clare Mill, Nevada by the California Panorama Co, 1908. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
The camp grew slowly until September, 1906 when the Bullfrog-Goldfield Railroad reached the settlement. The new station was called Montana Station, but, when a townsite was platted the following month, it was called Bonnie Claire. However, the post office wouldn't be renamed from thorp to Bonnie Claire until 1909, due to issues with the government. The vintage photo (above right) is of Bonnie Claire in 1908 with a 20 mule team on the road toward Death Valley. 
 
A number of properties began to produce on Gold Mountain and the Bonnie Claire Bullfrog Mining company built a 20-stamp mill at about which time the community peaked with a population of about 100 people. However, the Panic of 1907 scared investors, which caused a suspension in mining operations and dashed the dreams to town promoters. The town limped along with a few residents, but continued only because the railroad passed through the small community.   
 
In 1925, the town was boosted by the building of Scotty's Castle, a fantasy house in the green oasis of Grapevine Canyon some 20 miles to the southwest. For the next three years, nearly all the items required in the difficult construction of the elaborate castle arrived at the Bonnie Claire station over the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad. From there, the supplies were hauled by mule-drawn wagons and four-wheel drive trucks to the site. More on Scotty's castle in a moment. 
 
In 1928, when the railroad pulled out of Bonnie Claire, the town quickly died. Its post office closed and the railroad tracks removed in 1931. Later, the area was revived by the Lippincott Smelter which processed lead ore from the Lippincott Mine from 1935-1953.  The last known operations at Bonnie Claire were in 1952. The primary mining operation is now on private property, however across the highway to the east, where more of the town would have been, there are a few, what appear to be later, wood structures, including a small mining building, that caught our lens. 
Bonnie Claire, NV - Old Mining StructureBonnie Claire, NV - Old Mining StructureAcross the highway from the primary mining operation at Bonnie Claire, there remains a single home and mining buildings falling in ruin. The wood structure looks like it won't last much longer. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Bonnie Claire, NV - Shack & MineBonnie Claire, NV - Shack & MineRemains of what appears to be a small mine and shack to the east of the primary mining operation at Bonnie Claire ghost town. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Bonnie Claire, NV - ShackBonnie Claire, NV - ShackAn old wooden shack/home still stands in parts of what would have been Bonnie Claire, Nevada, east and across the highway from the primary mining operation. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Bonnie Claire, NV - Shack WindowBonnie Claire, NV - Shack WindowPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Bonnie Claire, NV - GraveBonnie Claire, NV - GraveTwo graves found east of what would have been Bonnie Claire, Nevada. Dora C. Bla?? (grave marker has bullet hole over last name and death year), 1898-?, and Dorothy Patnoc 1907-1911. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Bonnie Claire, NV - Shack HatBonnie Claire, NV - Shack HatKathy's eye catches a hat, wasting away on the wooden shack around Bonnie Claire. It appeared to be there a day or two. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
The grave markers found a little further east where interesting, if nothing more than to make us wonder about the women buried there.  Two graves,  one Dora C. Bla?? (grave marker has bullet hole over last name and death year), 1898-?, and Dorothy Patnoc 1907-1911. Dorothy was born just as the mining boom in Bonnie Claire was starting to dwindle. 
 
After Bonnie Claire we went on into Death Valley National Park, and quickly into a beautiful drive in the mountains toward the famous, and quirky, Scotty's Castle.  
Scotty's Castle, CA - Walter Scott Grave MarkerScotty's Castle, CA - Walter Scott Grave MarkerUp a hill in the back of Scotty's castle is the resting place for Walter Scott, complete with dedicated marker and quote from the man himself. "I got four things to live by. Don't say nothing that will hurt anybody. Don't give advise--Nobody will take it anyway. Don't complain. Don't explain." The marker was dedicated shortly after Scott's death in 1954 by the Death Valley '49er's Inc. Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Scotty's Castle, CA - Main House - 2Scotty's Castle, CA - Main House - 2Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park, California. An open courtyard with randomly laid tile, defined by round-arched gates to the east and west, runs between the Main House (on the left) and the Annex (on the right), establishing the main axis for this and for much of the complex. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. There's an interesting story behind why it's "Scotty's Castle", and not known for it's original owners name. Located in Grapevine Canyon, Death Valley Ranch (the Castle),  was the desert hideaway mansion of Chicago insurance magnate Albert Johnson. Serious construction started in 1925, and continued into the early 1930's. However, Johnson's insurance company went into receivership in 1933, a victim of the Depression, and work on the 8,000 square foot house was never completed.
 
While Johnson financed the mansion, the site is more closely associated with Walter Scott, who was locally known as "Death Valley Scotty." Scott was a bit of a con-man, convincing area folks that he had found Gold, and getting them to buy into his operation.  That's how Johnson met Scott, and even though Johnson would later find out about the con, they actually became close friends.  We'll be expanding our information on Death Valley Scotty and will link it here when done. Scott often stayed at the ranch and after the Johnsons died, he lived there for the rest of his life. Today, it is administered by Death Valley National Park and the mansion and various out buildings can be toured.  Plan on a couple of hours or more at Scotty's Castle. The tour runs about an hour, and there is a lot of things to see around the complex, which includes picnic tables on the front grounds to enjoy the views. 
Scotty's Castle, CA - Mountain ViewScotty's Castle, CA - Mountain ViewMountain view of Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park,California. .Photo by Dave Alexander. Scotty's Castle, CA - HaciendaScotty's Castle, CA - HaciendaThe Hacienda or Guest House at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park,California. Construction started on the Guest House in 1927. The top floor was used for guest housing, and was decorated as lavishly as the Main House and Annex of Scotty’s Castle. Albert Johnson planned to put a lounge in the basement, but this was never finished. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Scotty's Castle, CA - Main HouseScotty's Castle, CA - Main HouseHidden in the green oasis of Grapevine Canyon in far northern Death Valley, California, the Death Valley Ranch, or Scotty's Castle, as it is more commonly known, is a window into the life and times of the Roaring '20s and Depression '30s. It was and is an engineer's dream home, a wealthy matron's vacation home and a man-of-mystery's hideout and getaway. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Scotty's Castle, CA - Main House Courtyard ClockScotty's Castle, CA - Main House Courtyard ClockUpper story of the Annex from the courtyard at at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park, California. The courtyard or enclosed patio, once filled with lavish patio furniture, served as an additional room. Grapevines grew from large planters on the ground to overhead lattice-work supported by hollowed out logs on the left side, and holes in the walls on the right. A tile and ironwork sundial mounted on the wall still tells the time today. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Scotty's Castle, CA - Chimes & Clock TowerScotty's Castle, CA - Chimes & Clock TowerChimes & Clock Tower at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park,California. The Chimes Tower is the most prominent structure within the Death Valley Ranch complex for a variety of reasons. Its height and hilltop location, large clock, lavish use of brightly colored tile and its twenty-five tone carillon all served to make it the architectural and cultural centerpiece of the Ranch. Unfortunately, the chimes have been out of order since 1984. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Scotty's Castle, CA - Tower - 3Scotty's Castle, CA - Tower - 3Tower at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park,California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Scotty's Castle, CA - Balcony Over CourtyardScotty's Castle, CA - Balcony Over CourtyardUpper balcony of the Annex at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park,California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Scotty's Castle, CA - Main House DoorwayScotty's Castle, CA - Main House DoorwayAn arched doorway in Scotty's Castle, Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Scotty's Castle, CA - Main House Courtyard DoorScotty's Castle, CA - Main House Courtyard DoorEntry door to Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park,California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Scotty's Castle, CA - Great Hall FireplaceScotty's Castle, CA - Great Hall FireplaceFireplace in the Great Hall in Scotty's Castle, Death Valley National Park, California. Above the fireplace is a copper relief. According to Bessie Johnson, this depicted an Indian story of how people got fire by stealing it from a volcano. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Scotty's Castle, CA - Great Hall From AboveScotty's Castle, CA - Great Hall From AboveThe Great Hall in Scotty's Castle, Death Valley National Park, California. The upper half of the living hall is surrounded by a glorious gallery-balcony. It is accessed by stairs located behind the jasper faced, indoor fountain. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Scotty's Castle, CA - Great Hall - 2Scotty's Castle, CA - Great Hall - 2The Great Hall in Scotty's Castle, Death Valley National Park, California. Handsome furniture and artworks were designed and selected to complement the Spanish-style architecture. The matched set of leather chairs and sofas were designed by Martin de Dubovay. Much of the furniture was made by Schiedenberger and Sons in Los Angeles. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Scotty's Castle, CA - Guestroom - 2Scotty's Castle, CA - Guestroom - 2Guestroom in Scotty's Castle, Death Valley National Park, California. West Guest Suite - The suite contains a bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, and small closet. The beds appear identical. However, Bessie Johnson stated that "the one in the corner is over 200 years old and the other is a replica of it" created in the 1920s. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Scotty's Castle, CA - Walter Scott's RoomScotty's Castle, CA - Walter Scott's RoomDeath Valley Scotty's room in Scotty's Castle, Death Valley National Park, California. Death Valley Scotty never lived in Scotty's Castle until his last year. The Lower Vine Ranch was Scotty's real home and he slept there most nights. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
After our visit at Scotty's Castle we took in the views of the desert and made a leisurely drive back toward the Beatty Cut Off.  On the way you begin to see the white sands of Desert Valley. We found a great side road that took us out to Old Stovepipe Wells closer to the dunes. Old Stovepipe Wells was the only water hole in the sand dunes area of Death Valley and was the junction of two Native American trails.  During the mining booms of Rhyolite and Skidoo, it was the only known water source on the cross-valley road. But winds would obscure the spot with sand, so miners placed a length of stovepipe as a marker. 
Death Valley, CA - Sand DunesDeath Valley, CA - Sand DunesSand dunes nearby Old Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Dave Alexander. Death Valley, CA - Old Stove Pipe WellsDeath Valley, CA - Old Stove Pipe WellsOld Stovepipe Wells was the only water hole in the sand dunes area of Death Valley National Park, California and was the junction of two Native American trails. During the mining booms of Rhyolite and Skidoo, it was the only known water source on the cross-valley road. But winds would obscure the spot with sand, so miners placed a length of stovepipe as a marker. Photo by Dave Alexander. Death Valley, CA - Thirst For AdventureDeath Valley, CA - Thirst For AdventureA thirst for adventure in Death Valley National Park, California sometimes runs dry. Bring Water. Photo by Dave Alexander.
With the mountains as a backdrop, the desert provides some spectacular views along the road.  We ended this portion of our journey with a couple of shots of Corkscrew Peak from two different views along two different paths. 
Death Valley, CA - Corkscrew PeakDeath Valley, CA - Corkscrew PeakCorkscrew Peak in Death Valley National Park, California sits in contrast to the valley's multicolored terrain. Photo by Dave Alexander. Death Valley, CA - Corkscrew Peak - 2Death Valley, CA - Corkscrew Peak - 2Another angle of Corkscrew Peak in Death Valley National Park, California provides alternate colors. Photo by Dave Alexander.
After making our way back, we headed back to Pahrump, where we would venture out and explore some of the southern sections of Death Valley National Park. There is plenty more to see and do in the area we wrote about in this blog.  Read more about the park and visit links to related material via our Death Valley story here.  You will also find our material on Death Valley Ghost Towns and Mines useful. 
 
Coming up in the next blog, more Death Valley National Park, including Furnace Creek Ranch and Badwater, then on through the Mojave Preserve, a little bit of Route 66 in California, quick pass through Joshua Tree National Park, the Salton Sea and more.
 
About the RV Parks we stayed at during this portion of our journey: 
 
We stayed a couple of nights at the Preferred RV Resort in Pahrump.  Just behind a Casino (but not associated), this is a very large gated park with over 1,000 spaces.  Includes an "indoor" pool and recreation activities.  We found the park to be more like a home association though, with rules upon rules, including no furry children on the grass. WIFI never worked well for us here as their set up didn't support the amount of RV'ers. 
 
We stayed at Amargosa Valley RV Park for a few nights to explore parts of the Death Valley area.  This is really a spot in the road that I'm sure was better in past years. The onsite store and gas station is closed, so the only gas and food are available across the highway. The same store also has a burger joint toward the back, and a brothel off to the back side. Not a huge park, and the WIFI was alright for our needs. Closest grocery shopping is Pahrump or Beatty, but choose Pahrump. Beatty's lacking in that arena.  In hindsight, we would have stayed at an RV Park closer or in Beatty, but it was adequate. 
 
We stayed at Lakeside Casino and RV Park back in Pahrump for a few days of rest and more exploring of Death Valley.  This was our favorite RV stop during this portion of our journey.  Great staff and beautiful park with plenty of trees, small pond/lake, plenty of facilities, etc.  Grass for our furry children, concrete slabs to park on, and good WIFI during our stay, although you can tell when someone turns on their Netflix. Would stay here again if we were to come back to this area. It's outside of the hustle and bustle of town.  
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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Amargosa Hotel and Opera House Bonnie Claire Death Valley Death Valley Junction Old Stovepipe Wells Pahrump Rhyolite Scotty's Castle https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/2/our-journey-to-death-valley Sat, 21 Feb 2015 15:44:37 GMT
Motherload On the Mother Road https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/2/motherload-on-the-mother-road Kingman, AZ - Water TowerKingman, AZ - Water TowerPainted water tower on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Route 66 in the area of Kingman Arizona provides visitors with a plethora of things to see and do, from the wonderful museums to a feel of the Old West in Oatman.  We've also added quite a few photos to areas east of Oatman not talked about in our Photo Blog in our Arizona Route 66 Gallery. 

These are some of our favorites from the area of Kingman Arizona  and Route 66 journey. While this is by no means all of the sites along your path, these are what caught our lens, and tickled our fancy the most. Click on an image to go to the Arizona Route 66 Gallery.  Links in text will take you to more information and stories on the subject referenced. 

In October, 1857, Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale first explored the present site of Kingman when he and his team surveyed the 35th parallel in anticipation of building the wagon road. In the heat of the desert they used camels for transportation, an idea they were sure would catch on. Alas, it never did.

When the railroad began to reach this part of the west, a man named Lewis Kingman surveyed the route between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Needles, California in 1880.  The new railroad, when it arrived, would closely parallel Beale’s old wagon road. Later when Route 66 came barreling through; it too, would closely follow this historic path.

Kingman, AZ - El Trovator MotelKingman, AZ - El Trovator MotelThe El Trovator Hotel neon sign along Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Dave Alexander. Kingman, AZ - DepotKingman, AZ - DepotOld depot on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

In 1886, Kingman built its first school. The next year would see the organization of the town’s first church and the opening of the Kingman Hotel. But the biggest event of 1887 was when Kingman won the election of county seat for Mohave County from nearby Mineral Park. Despite the conclusiveness of the polls, Mineral Park officials refused to give up the county records. Outraged, Kingman citizens subsequently raided the Mineral Park town hall and made off with the county documents, literally "taking” the county seat.

The premier hotel in Kingman, the Beale first catered to the many passengers of the railroad and later to travelers of Route 66, when it came through. Tom Devine, father of famed Actor Andy Devine, bought the hotel in 1906. Andy often referred to his time growing up in Kingman and considered it his hometown, despite being born in Flagstaff.  Successful for decades, the historic Hotel Beale now sits lonely and abandoned on Andy Devine Avenue, which is part of Route 66 through Kingman. 

Home to Arizona's Route 66 Association, the old Power House in Kingman was converted into the Powerhouse Museum with great exhibits from Kingman's hey days, including it's glory time on Route 66. In 2014, the museum added an electric car exhibit that continues to grow.

Kingman, AZ - Power House MuseumKingman, AZ - Power House MuseumHome to Arizona's Route 66 Association, the old Power House in Kingman was converted into the Powerhouse Museum with great exhibits from Kingman's hey days, including it's glory time on Route 66. In 2014, the museum added an electric car exhibit that continues to grow. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Kingman, AZ - Powerhouse Museum SignKingman, AZ - Powerhouse Museum SignHome to Arizona's Route 66 Association, the old Power House in Kingman was converted into the Powerhouse Museum with great exhibits from Kingman's hey days, including it's glory time on Route 66. In 2014, the museum added an electric car exhibit that continues to grow. Photo by Dave Alexander.

Kingman, AZ - Powerhouse Museum Sign - 2Kingman, AZ - Powerhouse Museum Sign - 2Powerhouse Museum Neon Sign on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Dave Alexander.

The historic Hotel Brunswick, which was originally built in 1909, served customers for almost a century and is closed, but currently under renovation.  The Kingman Club's been doing business for years, and recent owners have updated/repaired its neon for some added flare.

Kingman, AZ - Kingman Club Neon SignKingman, AZ - Kingman Club Neon SignThe Kingman Club neon sign along Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Dave Alexander.

While at the Powerhouse Museum, the aroma from across the street at Mr. D's was "Powerful".  Enough that we scrapped our plans for lunch and drifted on in. This is a great stop for Route 66 enthusiasts, with fun decor from the glory days of yesteryear and some down right tasty treats. Might I suggest the Tex Mex Burger for green chile goodness, along with side of delicious onion rings.  If I had room I would have topped it off with one of their great ice cream treats, but will have to wait for another stop. 

Kingman is also home to author and friend Jim Hinckley and his wife Judy.  We hope you have had a chance to check out some of Jim's photo's in our "Jim Hinckley's America" Gallery. Jim also contributes to our auto industry history on Legends Of America. We had a great time catching up with him during our stay. 

There are two Route 66 alignments from Kingman southwest to the California border. The pre-1952 alignment along the Oatman Highway is by far the most beautiful, providing numerous photographic opportunities, legendary Route 66 icons, and a peek at the wild old west in historic Oatman, Arizona.
 
However, this old route travels through notorious Sitgreaves Pass, the most intimidating portion of Route 66, with its steep grades, narrow road, and sharp hairpin curves. In addition, the highway does not allow vehicles over 40 feet, so, if this is you, think about coming into Oatman from the south through Topock, an easier route.
Sitgreaves Pass,  AZ - National Old Trails Highway, Route 66 - 2Sitgreaves Pass, AZ - National Old Trails Highway, Route 66 - 2Sitgreaves Pass of western Arizona along the course of the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66, and the National Old Trails Highway. Photo by Jim Hinckley. Sitgreaves Pass, AZ - Route 66Sitgreaves Pass, AZ - Route 66Sitgreaves Pass of western Arizona along the course of the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66, and the National Old Trails Highway. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
After traveling through the pass, and going by some re-activated mining, you will finally come into Oatman, which is a real treat, complete with the gratuitous gun fight in the middle of the road, along with real wild Burro's which come into town daily begging for food from the local tourists (Oh, and you can buy burro food to feed them, but be warned, they will come up to you regardless).
Oatman, AZ - BurroOatman, AZ - BurroBurros on Route 66 in Oatman, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Oatman, AZ - CowboyOatman, AZ - CowboyA cowboy on Route 66 in Oatman, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
In its heyday, from the early 1900s to the 1940s, Oatman and the nearby town of Gold Road were the largest producers of gold in Arizona.
 
Prospector Johnny Moss first mined the area for Gold in the 1860's, staking claims to two mines, one named Moss, the other Oatman, after Olive Oatman who was kidnapped by Apaches, sold to Mojave Indians and released after five years near the current town site in 1855.
 
Gold mining would have it's up and downs in the Black Mountains until the early 1900's. An official town began to form around 1904, complete with a Post Office, when the Vi-vian Mining Company began operations. The tent city called Vivian quickly grew as miners flocked to the area. Between 1904 and 1907 the mine yielded over $3,000,000 and a large gold find at the Tom Reed Mine in 1908 brought in $13,000,000. In 1909 the town changed its name in honor of Olive Oatman.
 
Oatman, AZ - Oatman Hotel SignOatman, AZ - Oatman Hotel SignOatman Hotel Sign on Route 66 in Oatman, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
The Drulin Hotel, which was built in 1902, did a brisk business to the area miners. This old hotel, renamed the Oatman Hotel in the 1960's, is the only historic two story adobe building in Mohave County. Though guests no longer stay the night here, there is a museum on the top floor and a bar and restaurant on the bottom floor.
 
In 1915, two miners struck a $14 million gold find, providing yet another boom to the settlement. Soon, the town had its own paper, the Oatman Miner, as well as dozens of other businesses.
 
When Route 66 was first built in the 1920s, several supporters worked to have the road parallel the railroad through Yucca, where its supporters lived. However, Oatman was at its peak as a mining community and had more clout. So, even though it made the drive more difficult on those old Model-T’s, the road took the hazardous journey up Sitgreaves pass and bypassed Yucca.
 
In 1921, a fire burned much of Oatman,, but the town was rebuilt. Just three years later the main mining company, United Eastern Mines, shut down operations for good.  But with the birth of Route 66, and other smaller mining operations, Oatman hanged on, catering to the many travelers along the new highway.
 
Route 66 was changed to make an easier route south of the mountain passes in 1953. By this time, Oatman no longer held the clout that it had earlier when the Mother Road was first implemented. It didn't take long for Oatman to be reduced practically to a ghost town, as mining operations had already ceased by 1941.
 
In the 1970s, nearby Laughlin, Nevada started building up as a popular gambling mecca, and in the late 1980s Route 66 again became a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Oatman started becoming very lively again.
 
 
Kathy's been to Oatman before and you can read more about the history of this great ghost town here. We did more on this stretch, including Needles, Ca, so come back to our Arizona and California Route 66 galleries as we continue to expand our collection as internet allows.  
 
Coming up in our Photo Blogs, 0ur next primary destination was Death Valley, then we headed down to take a quick look at the Salton Sea, with views of Joshua Tree National Park and Box Canyon along the way. 
 
[Blog and story on Oatman updated February 22, 2015]

About the RV Parks we stayed at during this portion of our Journey: 

Golden Valley, AZ - Cactus at SunsetGolden Valley, AZ - Cactus at SunsetThe sun provides wonderment in Golden Valley, Arizona as it sets on a February evening. Photo by Dave Alexander. We stayed in Golden Valley RV Park, in Golden Valley just outside of Kingman for about a week.  It is a very small RV park with not that many spaces, but the price was right ($125 for 7 days during our stay) and the amenities adequate.  You are right by the highway here though, so there was quite a bit of traffic noise. Gorgeous sunrises and sunsets added to the stay, along with lots of cacti to navigate our furry friends through. 

 

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(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Kingman Oatman Route 66 https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/2/motherload-on-the-mother-road Sat, 14 Feb 2015 16:13:03 GMT
Eclectic Path to Kingman https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/2/eclectic-path-to-kingman Two Guns, AZ - WelcomeTwo Guns, AZ - WelcomeWelcome to Two Guns, Arizona, a ghost town on Route 66. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. As you head West along Route 66, past the original Meteor City Trading Post, you'll find yourself in an eclectic mix of active and abandoned historic sites, along with some famous Mother Road Icons that are more impressive, and alive in person.  

These are some of our favorites from the western half of our Arizona Route 66 journey. While this is by no means all of the small towns and sites along your path, these are what caught our lens, and tickled our fancy the most. Click on an image to go to the Arizona Route 66 Gallery.  Links in text will take you to more information and stories on the subject referenced. 

Two Guns became one of many tourist stops along Route 66 with a gas station, overnight accommodations, a cafe, and a souvenir shop for the many travelers of the Mother Road. Later a "zoo" was added to the popular tourist stop which included mountain lions, panthers, and bobcats. 

After I-40 bypassed Two Guns, it, like so many other popular Route 66 stops, died a quick death. Although numerous resuscitations have been attempted for Two Guns, it still sits lonely and abandoned today. 
Two Guns, AZ - Water Tower - 2Two Guns, AZ - Water TowerOld water tower at Two Guns, Arizona, a ghost town on Route 66. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Two Guns, AZ - Kamp - 2Two Guns, AZ - Kamp - 2Kamp at Two Guns, Arizona, a ghost town on Route 66. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
The area has a much richer history though, just beside Two Guns, where you will find Canyon Diablo.  Now just ghost town ruins of rock and buildings a shell of their former self, Canyon Diablo originated as a railroad town in 1880 when construction was halted until a bridge could be built over the canyon.
 
The canyon had earlier been given its name by a soldier named Lieutenant Whipple in 1853 when it presented such an obstacle to his thirty-fifth parallel survey party. Having to go miles out of their way to get across, he appropriately named it Devil’s Canyon. When the town was born, it took the canyon's name, which ended up being extremely appropriate for the reputation that the town would soon earn. 
Two Guns, AZ - RuinsTwo Guns, AZ - RuinsBuilding ruins at Two Guns, a ghost town along Route 66 in Arizona. Photo by Dave Alexander. Two Guns, AZ - Ruins - 3Two Guns, AZ - Ruins - 3Building ruins at Two Guns, a
a ghost town along Route 66 in Arizona. Photo by Dave Alexander.
There being no law enforcement in the settlement, it quickly became a wild and lawless place as drifters, gamblers, and outlaws made their way to town.The saloons, gambling dens and brothels never closed, running 24 hours a day. The town comprised mostly of shacks with two lines of buildings facing each other across the rocky road on the north side of the railroad right-of-way. The "street," aptly referred to as Hell Street, included fourteen saloons, ten gambling houses, four brothels and two dance halls. Wedged between these businesses were a couple of eating counters, a grocery and a dry goods store. Canyon Diablo was said to be meaner than Tombstone and Dodge City combined. 
Two Guns, AZ - Mountain LionsTwo Guns, AZ - Zoo EnclosuresOld mountain lion enclosures at Two Guns, Arizona, a ghost town on Route 66. By Dave Alexander. Canyon Diablo, AZ - Ruins - 3Two Guns, AZ - Ruins - 5Building ruins at Two Guns, a
a ghost town along Route 66 in Arizona. Photo by Dave Alexander.
The old Twin Arrows Trading Post at exit 219 off I-40 is a long lasting Route 66 icon that was in business not to long ago. Sadly, for years, its prominent red and yellow arrows were deteriorating against the desert winds and the Arizona sun. However, in August, 2009, they were restored and look better than they have in years. State officials have put up concrete barriers around the property now, and there is really no great way to park and photo, so be careful.
Twin Arrows Trading Post, AZTwin Arrows Trading Post, AZPhoto by Kathy Weiser Alexander. Twin Arrows Trading Post, AZ - DinerTwin Arrows Trading Post, AZ - Diner
Literally surrounded by seven natural wonders, Flagstaff, Arizona is often called the "The City of Seven Wonders" because it sits in the midst of the Coconino National Forest and is surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater National Monument, and the San Francisco Peaks. First settled by white men around 1871, how Flagstaff obtained its name has several versions, all having to do with stripping a lone pine tree and making it into a flagpole.
Flagstaff, AZ - Motel DubeauFlagstaff, AZ - Motel DubeauPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Flagstaff, AZ - Downtowner Motel - 2Flagstaff, AZ - Downtowner Motel - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
When Route 66 plowed through the burgeoning city of Flagstaff, a number of motor courts, auto services and diners sprouted up along the new highway. Today, the city still sports a number of vintage cafes and motor courts along its historic downtown district. 
Flagstaff, AZ - Monte Vista HotelFlagstaff, AZ - Hotel Monte Vista - 2Located along old Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona is the Hotel Monte Vista. Opening on New Year’s Day, 1927, this historic hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been fully restored to its former glory and continues to serve the traveling public today. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Flagstaff, AZ - Museum Club SignFlagstaff, AZ - Museum Club SignPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
A "must see" along the old route is the Museum Club at 3404 E. Route 66. The building was first built by Dean Eldredge, a taxidermist, in 1931. Originally, the building housed Dean’s large collection of stuffed animals, rifles and Indian artifacts. Some five years later, the building was sold to Doc Williams in 1936, a Flagstaff saddle maker, who turned the museum into a nightclub. Continuing to operate as one of Arizona’s premiere nightclubs, this structure that once sat on the outskirts of town is now surrounded by the bustling city. It is also said to be haunted
Flagstaff, AZ - Museum ClubFlagstaff, AZ - Museum ClubPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Williams, known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, has a rich history in the Old West. In the early nineteenth century, mountain men began to push west in search of the plentiful game, when the fur trade was at an all time high. One of these men was William Sherley Williams. "Old Bill,” which he was most often called, wandered all over the western states as a trapper and a scout on the Santa Fe Trail. Soon, other men in search of gold began to roam the area. 
Attracting sheep and cattle ranchers, the settlement was founded in 1876, taking the name of the famous mountain man, Bill Williams. In 1881 the first post office was established and on September 1, 1882 the railroad finally arrived. In no time at all, Williams became the shipping center for the nearby ranching and lumber industries.
In the beginning, Williams, like so many other towns of the Old West, gained a reputation as a rough and rowdy settlement filled with saloons, brothels, gambling houses and opium dens. Restricted by a town ordinance to Railroad Avenue’s "Saloon Row," it didn't stop the numerous cowboys, railroad men and lumberjacks from frequenting these many businesses.
 
In 1926, Route 66 was completed through Williams, which spurred several new businesses along the highway. Ironically, the entire town would suffer the consequences of Americans need for speed when Williams became the very last Route 66 town to be bypassed by I-40 on October 13, 1984. Williams, like other Route 66 towns suffered, but because of its proximity to the Grand Canyon, not nearly to the degree of many other small towns along the Mother Road.  It was in the same year, that Williams' entire downtown business district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We skipped the Grand Canyon this trip, but we've been there before, and have a gallery dedicated to this incredible Natural Wonder you can see HERE, which includes photos from our photo friend David Fisk and more.
Ash Fork got its start when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, later known as the Santa Fe Railroad, pushed through in October, 1882. Originally established as only a railroad siding, it was named by F.W. Smith, General Superintendent of the railroad, for the many ash trees growing on the town site.