Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hike in the Northern part of Toano Mountains, Nevada April 20, 2013

                            Looking west toward the Pequop Mountains

Location: For this hike I am not going to give precise location information. What I am willing to say is that it is to the north of the Shafter exit on Interstate 80 in eastern Nevada. The exit is approximately 30 minutes west of West Wendover, Nevada. To explore this country you will need a vehicle with high clearance.

The hike: I hiked approximately 4-5 miles off trail through Pinyon pine with my dog Nevada. The hike required scrambling over rocks, and crawling along the ground. I found this hike fun and challenging because it required route finding skills. To do off-trail hiking it is necessary to have common sense and not climb any rock you cannot get down. Most parts of Nevada are remote and if you get hurt help is far away. On this blog I have included some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

                                   Looking north in the Toano Mountains

                          Impressive country; looking south.

            Nevada hiking 

                                  Pilot Peak and rock formations

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Vanishing Communities #2 Taylor, Nevada April 2013

                                  One of the unreadable graves at Taylor

The second community I am going to highlight for this series is Taylor, Nevada, in eastern Nevada. It is located 18 miles south of Ely in the Schell Creek Range.

History: Silver mining occured in the Taylor District for 10 years from 1880 to 18889. Silver ore was descovered at the Monitor and Argus mines in 1880. The town would not become a boomtown until Cherry Creek and Ward, Nevada, declined in 1883. From 1883 to 1890 Taylor had saloons, butcher shops, restaurants, boarding house, Wells Fargo Office, drug store and school. Unlike Pioche to the south, Taylor was quiet with very little violence. Daily stage coach service transported people north and south.
                Similar to other mining communities mining declined because of lower metal prices. By 1889 most businesses at moved to Ely, Nevada. Today there are no remnants left of the original town except for a small cemetery. In the cemetery only one headstone is actually readable. The other headstones were made out of wood and they have long since decayed or have become unreadable. I have included in this blog a page from one of the directories at the cemetery with records of people who might be buried in the cemetery. Today the location of some of the graves is a mystery. Presently, there is mining going on near the cemetery so watch for trucks on the dirt road to the cemetery. (Information from Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps By Stanley Paher) 

                                          The only readable grave in the cemetery
                                    The cemetery which is slowly succumbing to the elements

                                   A page from the directory at the cemetery. What is interesting is Amos Horn who was killed by a Grizzly Bear in 1888.

Vanishing Communities #1 Bullionville, Nevada

                                               A headstone in the Bullionville Cemetery

Throughout Nevada are mining camps and communities which were important at some point in Nevada's history. The discovery of ore caused many of these communities to spring up over night as prospectors came rushing in to strike it rich. For many of these towns the boom would not last. Today, these communities are vanishing; succumbing to the desert landscape. My first post in this series is about the milling town of Bullionville, Nevada, 10 miles south of Pioche on US 93.

History: Pioche, Nevada, became the center of mining for all of Lincoln County. The town prospered because of the discovery of gold and silver ore; however, Pioche had a lack of water which made milling impossible. Because of plentiful water, Bullionville became the center of milling for Pioche mines. In 1873 Bullionville had five 110 stamp mills as well as a population of 500.  The creation of a waterworks in 1875, which supplied Pioche with water, hastened Bullionville's decline.
             Bullionville grew rapidly for a number of reasons. First, the completion of the Pioche and Bullionville Railroad facilitated the transport of ore from the mines to the mills. Second, from 1872-1875 workers build four more mills. As a result of the railroad and the mills the town had hotels, saloons, hay yards, blacksmith shop and school.
           As stated above the town declined when Pioche was finally supplied with water. Soon after the railroad ceased operations and residents left. Bullionville had small revivals throughout the years but nothing has been sustainable. Today all that is left is a small graveyard with many unmarked graves. (Information from Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by Stanley Paher)

                 Another pic of the cemetery. Notice some of the graves have no identification

                                     Mill at Bullionville

Another picture of Bullionville in its heyday


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bear Canyon Seven Falls Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Tucson, Arizona April 4, 2013

                                     Sabino Canyon trailmap (From Google)

Location and General Information: From the University of Arizona take Speedway Blvd. to N. Campbell. Turn left and follow until you reach Skyline Drive (it will be awhile). Turn right onto Skyline Drive which becomes Sunrise Drive. Sunrise Drive actually ends at the Visitor's Center. It costs $5 for a day pass and $10 for a week. This area gets very busy during the weekend so I suggest hiking here during the week.From the visitors center shuttles take visitors to the Bear Canyon Overlook and into Sabino Canyon.

The hike: Today I am hiking from the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center into Bear Canyon to Seven Falls. If you do not ride the shuttle the hike is approximately 9 miles round trip with minimal elevation change. The shuttle takes off about 4 miles from the hike. It advisable to carry lots of water in the canyon even during the spring. When hiking in the desert if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated so continually drink water on the trail. This trail is hotter than the Powerline Trail because it is at the bottom of Bear Canyon. The trail is easy to follow. Be careful crossing the creek. At the falls be careful if you climb to the upper falls. Rescue is not cheap if you get hurt. Vegetation in the canyon is a classic Bajada mixture including Mesquite, Saguaros, Prickly Pear, and Ocotillo.Flowers seen on the hike include Mariposa Lilly, Ocotillo, and Prickly Pear. (Information from the Sabino Canyon Visitor's Center and the Sierra Club).

                            Pool in Bear Canyon

                         Mariposa lilly

                             Gambel's Quail

                                   One of the Seven Falls

                                    The falls with a beautiful pool at the base.

                             Saguaros in the canyon

                       Another beautiful pool

                            Blooming Ocotillo                                  

                                        Saguaro with surrounding vegetation

                          Looking into Bear Canyon

                    Blooming Prickly Pear cactus

Brown Canyon and Ramsey Canyon Huachuca Mountains of Arizona April 2, 2013

                   Upper part of Brown Canyon looking toward Ramsey Canyon

General Information and location: The trailhead for the Brown Canyon and Ramsey Canyon is located at the lower part of  Ramsey Canyon Road. if you are coming from Sierra Vista take Highway 92 south until you see Ramsey Canyon Road on the right. The loop is about 8 miles with approximately 2,000 feet in elevation gain. If you park here you do not have to pay but the Nature Conservancy does charge you to park at the Preserve. These mountains do have Mountain lions as well as the possibility of meeting drug runners. I talked to a Forest Service employee who told me the chances of seeing a smuggler is close to zero. It does pay to practice caution and hike during the daylight hours.. During the summer temperatures are hot and there is no water in the canyons. Bring plenty of water and wear a hat during the day.

The hike: The first part of the is parallel to the canyons until you reach Brown canyon Trail #115. This is approximately 0.7 miles long. At this point you enter Brown Canyon where you hike under Manzanita and Oaks. The trail is well grated and easy to follow. In the upper part of Brown Canyon  trail #116 to Ponoma Mine branches off. Keep following the trail into the wilderness to trail #122 in Ramsey Canyon. Follow the road back to the trail head. (Some information from and

         Map from the US Forest Service showing Brown Canyon, Ramsey Canyon and Carr Canyon in         the Hachuca Mountains of southern Arizona.

                        Trail in Brown Canyon

                           Miller Peak Wilderness

Bisbee, Arizona Lavender Pit April 1, 2013

                             Looking across the Lavender Pit

Location: The Lavender Pit is located on your right as you leave Old Bisbee going toward Lowell, Arizona. There is a pulloff with information a couple of miles from Old Bisbee. This post is a history post as well as a warning to the scars that mining leaves behind once operations have ended. This pit looks huge but it is small compared with the Bingham Canyon Pit owned by Kennecot Copper outside of Salt Lake City.

History: Prior to 1951, the Copper Queen Company mined copper in underground tunnels and shafts. (Before 1879 the Copper Queen was its own company after 1879 Phelps Dodge Corporation ran mining operations in the Bisbee area).  With an increase in copper prices, Harrison Lavender (manager of Western Operations for Phelps Dodge), determined an open pit mine would be economical and it would produce copper ore at a faster rate. Everyday at 3:30 pm 1200 pounds of powder charge broke up approximately 75,000 tons of rock. The ore was then transported out of the pit to a crusher next to the pit. The ore was then transported to Douglas, Arizona. Mining in the pit ceased in 1974 because of a decline in copper prices. Mining ceased with the Copper Queen Company in 1975. There is speculation that mining will begin again in the area if copper prices remain high. The pit is 4,000 feet wide, 5,000 feet long and 850 feet deep. (Information from  The center for Land Use Interpretation and roadside kiosk)

 Looking toward Lowell, Arizona. On the left hand side you can see the circular concrete remains of the crusher.

                          Mining head frame

                     Picture showing the permanent scars left over from mining

Bisbee, Arizona Evergreen Cemetery April 1, 2013

                                        Memorial to a Veteran of the forgotten Korean War

Location: Evergreen cemetery is located in Lowell, Arizona, (a couple of miles from old Bisbee), off of Douglas Road. The small town became seperated from Bisbee when miners excavated the Lavender Pit. The cemetery is located across from the high school. It is a big cemetery and easy to find when you turn onto Douglas Road.

Wondering among the graves I was surprised at what I found. Bisbee had many immigrants from England and Wales as well as Eastern Europe who came to work in the copper mines. I did not find many of these gravesites. I did find dozens of war veteran graves. I found graves of veterans from the Spanish American War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam War and Korean War.  I always enjoy visiting cemeteries because they augment local and national history. Included in this post are some of my favorite pictures from the visit.

                             Veteran of the Vietnam War

                          Veteran of the Civil War

                              Memorial to those who died off Guadalcanal in 1942

                                 Immigrant from Ireland. As noted above immigrants were instrumental in working mines throughout the west

                           Grave for Clarence Warner

                     Memorial to James H. Brew who was shot in his home in Bisbee, Arizona, after he shot one of four guys who came to force him back to work during the labor unrest of 1917.

                               Immigrant of Aberdeen, Scotland

                                     Veteran of the Spanish American war

                               Headstone written in a Slavic language