Friday, January 27, 2017

Goldfield, Arizona: replica of an old ghost town

Goldfield GhostTown
For about five years, Goldfield, Arizona, was a booming town with 4,000 residents. Then the gold played out and it became a ghost town.

Gold was discovered around 1892. It wasn’t a high grade of ore, but the mines were considered some of the richest in the world at that time. In 1890s dollars, around $3 million was taken out of the mines. That was a lot of money for that time. That figure translates to $80 million in today’s dollars.

By 1898, the gold had been mined out, and people left. The post office closed that year, too.

Located a few miles northeast of Apache Junction, Goldfield Ghost Town is a thriving tourist attraction. It’s not on the original town site, but nearby on the Goldfield Mill hill.

Old shovels artistically displayed
Reconstructed buildings include a saloon, a couple of eateries, church, sheriff’s office/jail and small shops. It’s free to wander through the dirt-street town, but the museums charge admission, and there’s a charge to ride the only narrow gauge railroad in Arizona.

Rusty mining equipment can be found throughout the town. This equipment is perhaps more interesting to see than the buildings, some of which appear to be very old.

Gunfights take place hourly on the town’s only street on weekend.  The gunfights aren’t as believable as those staged in Tombstone or Old Tucson, but kids will enjoy them.

The Superstition Mountain Museum and Apacheland buildings are just a mile away, so a visit to them and Goldfield could easily make a good day outing.

Goldfield Ghost Town

Gunfight at Goldfield

Old mining equipment

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lake Roosvelt, Arizona, offers outdoor fun

Lake Roosevelt from Tonto National Monument
Roosevelt Lake is a welcome patch of blue amidst the dusty greens and browns that is a central Arizona.
It’s a man-made lake, at one time the largest in the world, that’s named for President Teddy Roosevelt. It was created in 1911 when the Salt River was damned. It’s since been eclipsed by Lake Powell and Lake Mead on the Colorado River. Still, it is the third largest lake in Arizona. When it was constructed, Roosevelt Dam was the highest masonry dam in the world.
The lake is 22 miles long, though not all of it is visible from Highway 188. It’s more than 300 feet deep at its deepest. It’s the first and largest of the lakes created on the Salt River.
If you want to see stunning views of the lake, head up to Tonto National Monument, just up the hill from the lake.
Lake Roosevelt is popular with outdoors recreationalists. Fishermen like it for the trophy largemouth bass as well as smallmouth bass, crappie and channel catfish. It’s also got some nice beaches for camping. Water sports enthusiasts enjoy waterskiing, jet skiing, swimming and general boating.
Roosevelt Lake is about 30 miles from Globe on Highway 188. Visitors coming from Phoenix can take Apache Trail, a scenic route that takes you through the Superstition Mountains; there’s a lengthy section of dirt road on this section of Highway 188.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Living in the cliffs at Tonto National Monument

Cliff dwellings -- National Park Service photo
If you dig archaeological ruins, then you’ll want to visit Tonto National Monument in central Arizona where the Salado peoples lived in cliff dwellings.

For 10,000 years, the Tonto Basin of the northern Sonoran Desert has provided a home to ancient peoples.  The most recent were the Salados, who blended the best of other Native Americans living in the region into their own unique culture.  While the Tonto Salados carved their homes out of the cliffs, the Salados built stone houses above ground just 25 miles away at Besh Ba Gowah in Globe.

There are two cliff dwelling settlements at Tonto National Monument. The lower dwelling is open all year round, while the upper dwelling can only be visited from November to April.

The Salads lived at Tonto for about 250 years from the 13th to 15 centuries. Then, like their counterparts at Besh Ba Gowah and the Hohokam at Casa Grande NationalMonument, they disappeared. They left behind their colorful pottery and high-quality weavings, which can be seen at the monument’s visitor center/museum. You can see an informative video about the Salados and Tonto on the upper deck of the visitor center.

Tonto National Monument, operated by the National Park Service, is open daily, only closing on Christmas Day.  Do note that if you’re visiting in the hot summer months, your footwear will be checked – flip flops are not allowed because they’ll melt on the hot asphalt walk up to the cliff dwellings.

The trail up is paved, making it handicapped accessible. It’s rather steep, so wheelchair users should make sure they have good brakes for the trip down.

It takes about a half-hour to get to Tonto from Globe. Take Highway 188 out of Globe.

The way up may be steep, but the views are great!