February 10, 2012
From our visit to Superstition Mountain Museum continued from yesterday, what is an old western movie set without a gallows? There is a real gallows still intact at the Tuolumne County Museum, in Sonora, California. Much wider than this one; had to have room for the dignitaries. Hangings were as much about politics as a press conference is today.
Wherever there were fortune seekers, there were those who sidestepped the hard work. I love museums that have “character stories” and this one has a number of them. The “hacksaw” bandit robbed stage coaches on the Apache Trail. He always robbed them at the a steep place where the horses found it hard going. Never caught, his cache of hold-up equipment, with his white hood with eye holes in it, was found over 50 years after his deeds.
Fortune seekers of all types arrived in Apache Junction. An Opera Singer by the name of Maria, insisted that Weaver’s Needle, (a spire we passed on our hike) was hollow and filled with gold. She filed a claim on Weaver’s Needle and had a rope ladder built to the top of it. No one knows what happened to her and she apparently abandoned her claim, but two families, Piper and Jones, believed it was hollow and a feud of several years, that resulted in the death of one person, quarreled over the Dutchman’s claim and the gold in the “hollow” needle. Years later, in 1956, a very fit wrestling coach climbed Maria’s rope ladder but could not get to the top. “No fat opera singer ever climbed that ladder,” he claimed. There are many stories of the fate of gold seekers in the Superstition Mountains at the site below:
I chuckled at the modern million dollar advertising campaign put up by Canadian Club. They hid a case of Canadian Club in the area and expected to have many seekers looking for it, while being publicized, of course. The problem was, a local found it in six hours the second day of the campaign and ruined their long term publicity stunt. He claimed he was mighty thirsty.
The place is worth a visit. I loved the painting of a stage rumbling over the Apache Trail. The rest of my pictures are outside.
Part of a once working stamp mill.
The assay office.
A barber shop.
And, our good Christian pioneers always had a church. (In this case, with the gallows nearby.)
January 12, 2011
This is Superstition Mountain, a range of sharp pinnacles that rises from the flat desert floor right here in Apache Junction. This is Apache territory, these mountains, and Geronimo ranged over this barely hospitable range that is now partly Tonto National Forest, and Lost Dutchman State Park. The Roosevelt dam, brought a string of lakes to the area and its a much valued recreation area, along with the privately owned town of Tortilla Flat.
We drove up the Apache Trail which is nicely paved, now. Much of the Apache Trail was inundated by the Roosevelt Dam, but we did see portions of the foot and horse paths used by the Indians. Its interesting terrain puts water and cactus in close proximity.
We enjoyed the drive to Tortilla Flat, basically a tourist town now. It was once a valuable stage stop. It served the builders of the dam with supplies and recreation in the 1940′s. It has a colorful history of the many owners who basically went broke here. Each bought the whole town. Part of that history feeds upon the stories of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Stories, plural because there are so many tales one can count on it being a fake. Yet, in the years after the identified Dutchman, a German named Jacob Waltz (an American spelling) supposedly convinced some people there was a rich mine. No one has ever found it, though thousands have searched, some losing their lives in the process, which is how legends are built.
Tortilla Flat has a population of six people and about six buildings. A saloon, gift shop with books and souvenirs, a restaurant and small general store and a small school museum. Probably not the original school. We watched a band set up on the patio of the saloon. The area is subject to flash floods and a man named John Cline, with some people from the Tonto Basin were stranded at this spot when the flood waters cut them off from the roads. With nothing but flour and water, they made tortillas to eat and Cline christened the place Tortilla Flat. That fact is fairly well documented unlike the Dutchman’s mine.
The restaurant and bar has wall after wall of dollar bills as wallpaper, a tradition that started in about 1950 or so. The building burned once with all of its dollars. It was robbed once of its dollars. But, the custom flourishes and it is estimated that approximately 160,000 dollars are stapled to the walls. Some get damaged as you brush by them; many have signatures or are accompanied with a business card.
The place has a number of murals suggestive of its more notorious past.
Plenty of old rusty relics decorate the grounds and buildings.
We drove past the town headed for Fish Camp. We got by this flooded section of road easily, but the road is under repair and closed ahead of this spot and we only ventured a few miles farther.
On the way out, we stopped at the State Camp Grounds and got close to some of the saguaro cactus, not very big ones, but fat and healthy looking.
We drove by forests of Cholla, some in bloom making a white dotted hillside. And, at the end of the day, we stopped by Jim’s home lodge of the VFW for a hamburger and a beer. Good stuff. And, here, they serve the beer COLD!
And, I always thought that indentation in the bottom of the mug was to give you the idea you had more than you actually got, kind of a “packaging” trick.
January 12, 2011
Yesterday Mary and I took the Bronco 20 miles northeast of Apache Junction, Arizona on the Apache Trail into Tonto National Forest in the Superstition Mountain Range to the old stagecoach stop of Tortilla Flat. Real pretty country. Here’s 10 photos that I took…
To see the additional 32 photos I took, click this link…
To find out everything you could want to know about Tortilla Flat, click this Wikipedia link…
Here’s the official Tortilla Flat link…
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
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