Friday, January 2, 2015

Bisbee, Arizona Shrines Hike December 29, 2014

When I visited Bisbee as a teenager I remember being enamored with its beauty. As a result, I explored its many streets and staircases. What stayed with me after the visit were the shrines off of OK Street on a ridge top in the Mule Mountains. I got the chance to revisit the shrines of Bisbee when Tara and I visited the town in late December. The hike is short but steep in parts. To get to the shrines walk up Brewery Gulch to the end of Ok Street/ An unsigned trail takes hikers to the top of an unnamed ridge, From there follow the steep trail to the large wooden cross. The main shrine, near the wooden cross, was built and maintained by Adolfo and Maria Vazquez in 1980. (Information from www,  Since then many different families have created their own memorials for loved ones. Near the wooden cross I observed a fire pit and garbage can so this area is undoubtedly popular during the summer. What was distressing is I also saw some vandalized memorials and trash in area. I departed the shrines then walked to a higher location for a better view south as well as the open pits. Enjoy my photographs.

                             A small memorial

                                        The main shrine on the hill

                       View south from higher vantage point. If you look closely you can see the extensive mining ruins.

Millvile, Arizona and Petroglyphs December 26, 2014

                     Stone foundation possibly a house

Directions: These directions are from Sierra Vista, Arizona. Take Highway 90 east from Sierra Vista to Charleston Road. Turn left onto Charleston Road. A couple miles after crossing the San Pedro River the parking lot for Millvile will be on the left.

Information: The visitor parking lot is open from dawn till dusk and all facilities are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. A three mile loop trail will take visitors by the mill ruins of  Millvile, Arizona, as well as Hohokam rock art. There are two rock art sites and the second one is off-trail and not accessible to visitors. Remember this is desert country and rattlesnakes do inhabit the area so pay attention. Also please respect the ruins as well as the rock art by not defacing the rock art or taking artifacts.

History: After Ed Schieffelin's silver strike in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1872, prospectors came from throughout the United States and world to strike it rich in Arizona. What prospectors were mining was silver ore which needed to be processed at a mill in order to extract the valuable minerals from the rock. The process needed water to be successful however, Tombstone did not have water available. The solution was to transport the ore by mule nine miles to sites on the San Pedro River. Millvile was a major milling site. At its climax Millvile had two mills one of which was a ten stamp mill called Gird's Mill.                                                                                                                                          The milling process was dangerous for a number of reasons. First, many workers were injured because of the large stamps used to crush the rock as well. Second, the milling process required the use of toxic metals such as mercury and copper sulfate to separate the precious metals from rock. Working with mercury is dangerous and even today there is no cure for mercury poisoning. The most deadly part involved working in the retort where heat vaporized mercury for recovery and reuse. The workers working in the retort suffered from mercury poisoning by breathing vaporized mercury.
          The milling communities would not survive. After the mines in Tombstone flooded pumps were installed to extract the water. This solved the problem of no water to mill the silver ore. As a result, there was no need to transport the ore to the San Pedro for processing. Soon workers dismantled the Gird Mill and moved it to Tombstone. Eventually all mill-towns along the San Pedro were abandoned. Today, the only remnants of Millvile are stone foundations. (Information from Bureau of Land Management signs).

       Gird's Mill

     Part of the Gird's Mill ruins

              Hohokam rock art


              Ruins for Gird's House

                                  Looking South along the San Pedro riparian area. The remains of the abandoned Southern Pacific line are on the right.