Just up the road from our RV park is a dirt trail heading west (14 miles) to the hamlet of Cherry.
Cherry was settled in the late 1800’s as a mining community with the post office opening in 1884 and the first Grammar School opening in 1898. By 1929, the area boasted over 400 residents.
In 1982 the last gold mine closed and today there are still about 75 full-time residents and a dozen or so part timers.
The “town” isn’t much to look at, having never been incorporated and never having a church, there are no commercial businesses left, but the homes along the hillsides are nestled into the trees and look very comfortable.
It’s a long (dirt) road but when we traveled it was graded smooth although a lot of switchbacks and “close to the edge” turns with NO guardrails. We drove slow hoping we’d not meet an oncoming truck (and we were lucky).
The video below gives you a good idea of the view from atop one of the hills on the way to the top.
Yesterday we traveled to Wickenburg to meet Paul and Sue for lunch. They moved here to Arizona about 2-3 years ago from where we lived in Mt. Gilead and we’ve got together a few times over the last few months for sightseeing, fun, and food.
The four of us had dinner a few months back at Nichols West in Congress and enjoyed it so much, so we decided that we would walk around historic Wickenburg a bit and then head up to Congress for lunch. The pictures below show a couple of shops we went into that particularly interested me.
We had stopped in to Ben’s Saddlery when we were here back in April and I wanted to go again. Not that I’m a cowboy in need of a lasso rope, a belt, pair of chaps, or a saddle, but just because I was fascinated at the selection of western leather goods and to know (because I could see the shop in the back) that they were made or repaired to look and feel like new right there on the spot. And that smell of leather in the shop was great!
Then we went around the corner to see what was there … and just off the beaten path the sign for Double H Custom Hat Co. caught my eye so …. down the block we went.
When we got inside, quite a site! We met “Jimmy The Hat Man” and talked a bit with him while he worked on a hat for a new customer.
Jimmy apprenticed under a hat maker years ago and for the last 25 years or so he’s been making custom hats in his own shop, first in Darby, Montana and for the past four years or so he comes down to his new shop in Wickenburg to make and sell his fine wool hats from here.
I asked him about how he sells, figuring he could only sell a custom hat to a customer in person (to get it sized right), but he showed us and explained to us his method for getting a perfect fit even for customers who order from afar. He also attends western shows where he sells from his booth and, most recently he set up his display at a high-end western dude ranch of sorts where folks pay BIG money to attend. I imagine after a few drinks, those that have the money might start spillin’ it and Jimmy can help them out.
ALL of Jimmy’s hats are beautiful and when you realize how much artful labor is involved, only then can you appreciate the price you will pay. Jimmy’s hats start at about $600 and go up from there. The one centered in the picture above (black felt with turquoise hat band) Jimmy tells us will sell at $2500.
Kathy and I have looked over his website and decided which ones we’d like to have. Now we have to start saving …
Hey, check out Jimmy’s website here and tell us in the comments box below which style YOU like best. I’m sure Jimmy would be pleased to see the results!
But alas, now for the “Rest of The Story” as Paul Harvey used to say … we finished up in Wickenburg and then headed up the road to Congress to Nichols West for lunch.
Not much to say, but I wanted to share these pix of the food because not only is it all delicious, but the presentation is beautiful too!
All in all, we had a wonderful day … the weather was warm and sunny, being with friends was fun and we all enjoyed a great meal.
Now for the two hour drive back home. As you can see from the map at the top of this post, there’s no direct shot from Camp Verde to Congress. The mountains around here are beautiful, but they often make trips much longer than they might seem they should be. Nonetheless, we made it home just as night fell.
I apologize – I talked about going down to the Mexican border and then in my last post, I talked about Tombstone and I guess I got distracted and forgot all about our road trip the next day on down to Bisbee and Douglas, AZ (at the border).
Bisbee is really a pretty cool little town, reminds me of Jerome in that it’s what some might call “eclectic” with a “touch of whimsy”. The town is built into the side of the mountain and the streets and sidewalks curve and climb up and down the hillside. The main part of downtown (about 6-8 blocks) is lined with all kinds of “artsy” shops along with cafes and brew pubs.
Large deposits of lead, copper, and silver were discovered in the Mule Mountains in 1877 and the area later became the town of Bisbee, and is now the county seat of Coshise County.
Kathy and I toured the Queen Copper Mine (pictures in the slide show below) and our tour guide Jim was a retired miner who put in 43 years working the mine – a wealth of experience and knowledge.
Here’s a short 7 second video showing Kathy and me on the train heading into the mountain about 1200 feet.
By the early 1900’s, driven by the booming mining industry, Bisbee had become the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. With a population of over 20,000 people by the beginning of the century, Bisbee was one of the most cultured cities in the west. The town is still home to the the nation’s (arguably) oldest ballfield (Warren Ballpark), Arizona’s first golf course (Turquoise Valley), and the state’s first community library (Copper Queen), all dating from this period, and all still currently in operation, and open to the public.
Just down the street, on our way from Bisbee to Douglas, we found the ghost town of Lowell. See my next post for info and pictures on that curious place. We didn’t even know it was there, just stumbled upon it – really cool.
As workampers at Rancho Verde RV Park, Kathy and I have five days each week to ourselves to do and go as we please. This week we decided to take the coach (with car in tow) and make a road trip down to see Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas (at the Mexican border).
We headed out on Sunday morning, stayed Sunday night at Casa Grande (at the Rover’s Roost Escapees RV Park), then on down to spend two add’l nights just south of Benson, AZ at Saguaro Escapees RV Park). As Escapees members, our night at Casa Grande cost $17 and the nightly charge at Benson was $20, both including full hook-up (50 amp electric, water, sewer, wi-fi).
The map below shows our trip from Camp Verde and back again (624 miles). While parked at Benson, we took the car down to Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas but I didn’t log that add’l mileage, (approx 240 miles down and back 2 days).
The attraction to Tombstone was the story of Wyatt Earp and his brothers (Virgil and Morgan) along with Doc Holliday and others in the famous “Gunfight at the OK Corral”. It’s amazing how famous that gunfight is given it only lasted 30 seconds from start to finish!
Tombstone reached its pinnacle of riches and then faded, all within the short span of eight years. The West’s wildest mining town owes its beginning to Ed Schieffelin, who prospected the nearby hills in 1877.
While we were visiting Historic Tombstone we also took a self-guided tour of the Birdcage Theater, the only 100% original (not restored) building in Tombstone. The combination theater/saloon/gambling parlor/brothel operated from 1881-1889. The reason there are not other buildings in 100% original condition is that Tombstone had two devastating fires – one in June of 1881 and the second in May of 1882. I’ve got some pictures in the slide show below.
Many of these pictures reflect how the theater was found by the new owners when they purchased the theater in 1939 after being boarded up since 1889.
After touring the Birdcage and walking both sides of Allen Street and seeing a lot of the typical tourist trap sort of stores, souvenir shops, shows, and more – we went on down the street to take another self-guided tour of the original county courthouse, now an Arizona State Park & Museum.
The gallows stood outside the courthouse and the sheriff would send out personal invitations to the periodic hangings of wild men and even wilder women.
The courthouse was built in 1882 and was used continuously until 1931 when the county seat was changed from Tombstone to Bisbee as a result of the reduced mining activity around Tombstone.
The slide show below shows some of the items of interest in the courthouse that was left empty and unused from 1931 until 1955 when interested local citizens got together and worked to open the Cochise County Historical Museum. Some of the other items have significance to Tombstone history.
We both found these two museums very interesting as they brought the lives of early miners and outlaws to life.
This week we took the opportunity to take the train from Clarkdale, AZ up to Perkinsville, AZ. It was a 2 hour trip up and a 2 hour trip back where we were able to see the beautiful rock walls of the Verde Canyon and learn about early mining history.
Much of the canyon is only accessible by train or by foot, there are no roads up to Perkinsville.
The railway first began making trips in 1912. It was built to support area mines like the copper mines of Jerome. The Sante Fe Railway operated the Verde Canyon line from 1912 to 1989. The line was purchased by the Durbano Family in 1989 who began to offer scenic excursions in 1990. Today, it has become an Arizona treasure that hosts as many as sixty thousand people annually. (more on the history by following this link)
Here’s a short video showing the engines that pulled the train. This was shot while we were standing still at Perkinsville waiting for the engines to switch from one end of the train to the other to pull us back to Clarkdale.