Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A President's day drive

*Caution: Long and drawn out post ahead. There will be many pictures. I will also try to provide or link to as much info about the attractions we drove through as possible.*

Both of us were a touch sore from the hike on Sunday, so we opted to go for a scenic drive. After a few stops for food and whatnot, we left the house at noon on Monday with the intention of taking Williamson Valley Rd all the way up to Seligman.


We started out, and passed through all the luxury subdivisions near town. Granite Oaks, American Ranch, Inscription Canyon, Crossroads Ranch, Talking Rock, and the ten other just like them all passed by in a blur, with the only entertainment being Hootenanny Holler. Technically a holler is a small valley between mountains, but in this case it is just a bunch of trailers with a goofy ass name that makes you smile as you drive by.


We had decided that this day would be a picture day, and that we would make however many stops our hearts desired. The first pictures stop was along the Santa Fe railway that crosses Williamson Valley Rd early on. This railway  was built in 1895 and extends all the way from Ashfork to Phoenix, and has four auxiliary lines that connect with it.

Williamson Valley Road passes over this old track:


A small distance past the railway the road turns to a 'primitive road', and is now marked as County Road 5. It was designated as a county highway in 1940, shortly after the construction of a stable bridge over a creek that crosses the road's path:


One thing that you notice as you are driving down this road is that there are constantly high-voltage power lines either crossing the road, or in the not-far-off distance.


After you get away from the pavement for a while you start hitting the REAL ranch properties. This means that you get to see livestock lounging about next to (or sometimes right on) the road. which of course makes for good live-stock pictures:


At around mile marker thirty you come upon one of the highlights! The San Carlos Bridge over Walnut Creek. This bridge was built in 1936, replacing an old concrete bridge that the forest service had up. It was then secured and renovated in 1990. This is one of the few steel truss bridges in Yavapai County. Granny J has a great post about some of the other truss bridges in the county.


Walnut Creek itself is very important in the history of the area, as it not only carved out walnut canyon, but also supplied water for the people who resided here throughout time, as well as the ranchers who raise their animals in the area today:


After another 20 or so miles you come upon a small mine. I couldn't find a lot of information on the mine, but it is either named the Iron Chancellor Mine, or the Cowden Mine. The mineral they found was Ferric Oxide, a.k.a. Hematite, which is black or dark blue in color, and has a red colored dust (due to the oxidation of the iron element, causing rust). This also explains why the roads in the area are all red.


Of course there are two different ways to see any mine. The legal way:


And the perhaps slightly less-than-legal way:

Yes, this entails scaling a fence that technically states that there is no trespassing allowed, but I can always use the excuse that I don't read engrish right?

Besides if we had stayed a 'safe' distance away we never would have seen this wonderful testament to miner's equipment (which would have been a shame):

We didn't go into the mine itself (though there was a hole just big enough through the protective grating). Alas, maybe next time.


After the mine you head back down into grassland and more ranches. The remaining 15 or so miles passed by without much to note, with the exception of the bit of pure evil we found on the side of the road:

At first we naively believed that it was a water tower. You know, something that makes sense to humans. But we were wrong.... oh so wrong. We should have known from the smell when we exited the vehicle. It smelled like a mix of the backside of a McDonalds restaurant, and a Jiffy Lube gone wrong.


Rounding the tank we found the source of the smell. A spigot (a.k.a. portal to hell) was dripping forth a black gooey mess that appeared to be have been rejected by Satan as entirely too nasty for his domain:


I don't know what it was. I don't want to know what it was. I wish I could forget that it ever happened, but the smell has attached itself to my memory, and won't let go of my recollection of this otherwise fine day. The worst part? I got some of this ghoulishness on my hand as I was taking pictures. No amount of soap could wash away the taint.


So after about 3 1/2 hours of driving down Scenic County Road 5, we came to the end of the dirt, and resumed our asphalt shenanigans:


This put us right outside of Seligman, and it being almost dinner time, we decided to stop and get something to eat. Since we had already eaten at the 'RoadKill Cafe' on our last trip through Seligman and had found the food to be uninspiring, we opted to go across the street to Westside Lilo's Cafe:

Man what a treat!! I had the Jagershnitzle, which was absolutely killer! Perfectly cooked, great gravy, great pork. DaNece had the Chicken Fried Steak, which she said was the best she has ever had (and she is a bit of a expert so I believe her). If you are ever in Seligman, give this place a shot. The service is great, the atmosphere is quaint, and the food is awesome!!


From here we packed our now-full butts back into the truck and took the I-40 back home to Chino Valley. All told it was 6 hours from start to finish, and about 150 miles. I get the funny feeling we will be making this trip again in the future. :)




Chickenbells said...

Ohhhh...fun drive!! Love all the pictures as well. The smell though? I would have wanted to skip that as well...it's a good thing you still had an appetite after getting that all over your hands, as the food sounds divine!

I think this was the perfect patriotic trip to take on that the holiday of presidents...

TomboCheck said...

Yep, it was a pretty idyllic trip for a holiday, though I don't know that I would go so far as to call it patriotic. :)

We should have left when we smelled the nasty, but I just had to take pictures, so everybody suffered for it.

Catalyst said...

I-40 all the way back to Chino Valley? I don't think so.

Granny J said...

Picky, picky, Cat-A! That sounds like my kind of a day, tombo! I will shortly do a less detailed road trip on the Wagoner Road. BTW, I think that the iron mine (a rarity in Arizona) was a World War II thing.

coyoteradiotheater said...

I wrote a series of articles on this rail network years ago for the Big Bug News. Good to see some of it still standing!

TomboCheck said...

Catalyst - Why not? Don't get me wrong; I'm no fan of interstates, but it was a much faster drive that getting to seligman.

Granny - It was a great day! I cant wait to see your post on wagoner road. Also - it was a pretty tiny mine from the looks of it, so I can't imagine that it was the most profitable one in the area.

Coyoteradiotheater - cool, is there an online version available? I'd be interested in the info.

Anonymous said...

Tombo.. The fence and keepout signs are there for a reason. Do you think the mine owner won't care in your case because of your need to photograph, Ha. Respect private property.

TomboCheck said...

Wow anonymous, never thought of that... I will of course respect all private property signs in the future.

Granny J said...

Was it private property -- or a Forest Service keep out sign? Many of the mines hereabouts are on federal land, not patented claims. If it were a patented claim, there'd probably be a upscale cabin on the property. The FS just wants to protect you from yourself.

Granny J said...

BTW, has nobody come up with info about that big, smelly tank? I'll start the speculation with an historic collection of restaurant grease & oil by the back country owner of a diesel.

TomboCheck said...

Just a simple no-trespassing sign, My guess would bee forest service as well (thought out there it might be BLM). Personally, I'm of the opinion that it's okay to disregard those signs so long as you aren't destroying anything, and you realize that if you hurt yourself it's all on you, not the landowner. Of course I'm not going to scale a fence to get into somebody's backyard, but an abandoned mine? Yeah, I doing it.

As far as the tank: I'm still trying to forget it. It seems like the type of thing that would be on CSI with a bunch of dead bodies rotting inside.. but maybe that is just my over-active imagination. :)