Monday, January 12, 2015

Sasco, Arizona January 10, 2015

                                 A shot up BLM sign

Location: To get to Sasco, Arizona, take Interstate 10 west of Tucson, Arizona, for about 23 miles to the Red Rock Exit. Exit the interstate and turn left. Immediately after exiting the highway immediately look for Sasco Road. The first part of Sasco Road goes through a recently built subdivision for the town of Marana, Arizona. Keep driving and soon the road surface becomes a graded dirt road. The road to Sasco might be passable for passenger vehicles with higher clearance. The problem is that Sasco Road does ford the Santa Cruz River which might present a challenge if it has rained recently.

History: Sasco is an acronym for the Southern Arizona Smelting Company. Founded in 1907 Sasco served as the primary smelting location for the mines at Silverbell and Picacho Peak. The town once had 600 residents a smelter, company buildings, saloons, stores, and the Hotel Rockland. In 1919 mining in the area declined resulting in a decline at Sasco as well. Today, no one lives at Sasco but there are extensive ruins throughout the area including a cemetery with victims from the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic.

Special Consideration: Residents of Arizona use the ruins of Sasco as well as the surrounding desert for target practice and "war games." When I visited on Saturday I heard many shots echoing in the area. Near where I parked there was a group of males firing shotguns as well as automatic weapons. It became apparent that walking around would not be a wise decision. Sadly, I also saw a significant amount of shell cases on the ground and trash related to target shooting. I also saw individuals had spray painted their name on some of the ruins. Nevertheless, I still want to return on a weekday when it is safer to explore the area. (Information from Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by Philip Varney).

                 Impressive ruins

                              Concrete foundations

                   More concrete ruins; you can see the vandalism I talk about.

                      More foundation

Museum of Mini Time Machines Tucson, Arizona January 6, 2015

                                   Miniature birds

Last summer while hiking on Mount Lemmon a visitor made a glowing recommendation for the Museum of Mini Time Machines in Tucson. He told me that surprisingly the museum was delightful for grownups as well as children. After the holiday season I decided it was time to visit. I arrived at the museum at 10 am in the morning. The museum costs about $9 per person while children under three are free (for individuals who want to visit multiple times they do offer various memberships). Miniatures are grouped into three different areas according to theme. These include the History Gallery, Enchanted Room (fantasy-themed) and Exploring the World. All together there are approximately 300 antique and contemporary dollhouses each with very detailed scenes in each one. The Enchanted Room was Quintin's favorite part of the museum because some of the displays were at his level. He became bored with some of the other displays because they were higher up. For me I enjoyed many of the displays in the History Gallery and Exploring the World. There is no food or drink in the galleries which can be an  inconvenience for visitors with young kids because of the constant need to exit the galleries.

The Museum of Mini Time Machines is located east on Fort Lowell Road (toward the Rincon Mountains). After 3 1/4 miles the road becomes Camp Lowell Drivel, The museum is on the left side of the road just passed Columbus Boulevard. It is open Tuesday-Sunday and closed Monday.(Information from

                    Quintin at the holiday display

                            Another good one of Q

                 Display in the Exploring the World section

                                      Industrial Revolution

                            My favorite house in the museum. A french chateau.

                      Miniatures from Thailand

Bisbee, Arizona Historical Stairs Exploration December 30, 2014

Staircases in Bisbee became prevalent for a number of reasons and they evolved over time. First, miners built old-town Bisbee in a valley in the Mule Mountains. The only way to accommodate  the many workers who came to the town to work in the mines was to build onto the surrounding hillsides. Second, workers built houses close together so paths and alleys were necessary.  To reach these houses from the streets at the bottom of the valley residents built dirt paths; however these paths became slippery and they flooded during storms. After a couple years residents replaced  these paths with wooden stairways and concrete sidewalks. During the Great Depression the Works Progress Administration (WPA) paved dirt roads and replaces wooden stairs with concrete. Many of the stairs have the stamp "WPA/ USA" still inscribed.

Today, Bisbee still has its historical structures and newer development has not wiped out its charm. As a result, the best way to see Bisbee is to wonder and explore its alleys and stairs. With over 351 staircases in Bisbee of varying length the possibilities for a wanderer are endless. Time has not been kind to some of these stairs and some of them  are crumbling and in disrepair. The annual Bisbee 1000 or Great Bisbee Stair Climb, raises money to maintain and repair this heritage. This is a 4.5 mile run that includes nine sets of stairs. However, many residents claim the funds raised for preservation have been mis-managed and have not been used to rebuild some of the stairs. This ongoing battle has led to contentious editorials and articles in the local paper. (Information from The Bisbee Stairs by David Ryan). I have included some of my favorite photos from my limited time spent exploring over the holidays.