Thursday, February 5, 2009

Crown King to Prescott

Yesterday, we took a long ride through the mountains of Central AZ to visit a couple of old mining towns. We started at the Bumble Bee exit from the highway and drove 15 miles on bumpy dirt roads to the first town of Cleator (top). It was a mining town of the early 1900's. Jimmy Cleator was from Isle of Man and went to sea as a 12 year old and ended up in Arizona at 30. I love those stories of people setting out for some place unknown and settling in these ungodly places. He bought into the mine here, then when he and his partner split up, he got the town and named it after himself.

Then more dirt, rocky, dusty roads to Crown King, (bottom photo), another old mining town. On the way we could see the remnants of railroad trestles and drove through cutouts in the mountains where tracks used to be. This town has about 100 year round people, a general store and a saloon. There is a one-room school house from K-8th grade with a total of 6 students. 4 were home with the flu when we stopped by. Guess they don't have flu shots in Crown King. The woman who ran the General Store was from Worcester, MA. She had moved to Phoenix 12 years ago and used to camp nearby, so she moved to Crown King 6 years ago. Pretty isolated place. It took us 2 hours to drive the 26 miles from highway to get there.

After that we headed to the town of Prescott through the Bradshaw mountains. Lots of rocks and fallen limbs in the dirt road. When they say "Watch out for falling rocks"( which they don't)they are not kidding. We had to drive over/around lots of them. Then the "trail" goes into a pretty wooded area where we ran into lots of snow and ice on the road. It was fun blasting through the snow/ice/mud. We drove through Crooke's Canyon. Crooke was a famous General who was put in charge of subduing the Apache, Navajo, etc in the southwest after having served in the same capacity in the plains. I'll post some photos of that trail a bit later.
During the day we encountered a lot of altitude changes. At the beginning we were at about 3500 feet above see level (metric people will have to make the conversion) where Saguaro cactus can grow then we went higher where we find prickly pear cactus, aligator junipers and creosote trees then up to 6000+ feet where we encountered the snow and the ponderosa pines. It is very interesting to see the vegetation change with the altitude changes.

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