Southern Historic Trail

January 27, 2012

We’re still parked in the campground at the Painted Rocks Historic Park, northwest of Gila bend, AZ. It’s a unique and pretty place, so we decided to stay over an additional day so that we could do some exploring. See my Blog entry of yesterday by clicking this link… http://wp.me/pDCku-3pW

A portion of a sign here identifies it as the Southern Historic Trail…but it is also known by several different names such as the de Anza, Butterfield Overland Mail Route, the Mormon Battalion Trail and the California 1849 Emigrant Trail because all of these people in addition to many others used this very trail going westward. The trail leads westward to Yuma, Arizona where it was the only place to cross the then mighty Colorado River for 1,200 miles. Many etched their information upon these two piles of rocks as they passed through the area. See yesterday’s blog entry.

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…

Our campsite is about a mere 250 feet from the trail. As all of these folks were heading west…which means they had to come through Painted Pocks Pass about 2.5 miles to the east. The following photo is a pre-sunrise looking right at Painted Rocks Pass…

The below Google Earth image shows the path that Mary and I took yesterday. “X” marks the petroglyphs and our camp site. We were gone 2.5 hours and I guess-timate the distance as 2.5 miles one way…

In three different areas we were sure we could detect wagon trail wheel indentations…remembering that it has been a long time singe a wagon passed this way. But we know for certain that they came over the pass and on a direct sight-line from the petroglyph rocks to the pass…the wheel indentations were right where they should be. The following three photos show these indentations…

We saw evidence of several encampments…broken glass bottles and tin cans…

To see all the other photos I took during our walk, click this link…
https://picasaweb.google.com/110455945462646142273/SouthernHistoricTrailDay1

To read about the de Anza Trail, click this link…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Bautista_de_Anza_National_Historic_Trail

To read about the Butterfield Overland Mail route, click this link…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfield_Overland_Mail

To read about the Mormon Battalion Trail, click this link…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_Battalion

Mary and I both thoroughly enjoyed our walk over this very famous trail.

Shortly before sunset, out of the corner of her eye, Mary noticed some movement across the road from our camp site less than 50 feet away. A young fox had crawled out of its hole and was sunning itself. A little later, two more emerged and all three ran off into the bushes in search of supper. Here’s the photo…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

Yesterday we drove to about 80 miles from Wellton, AZ to Painted Rocks Historic Park.

Along to way instead of being out on Interstate Highway 8, whenever possible I chose to drive on Old U.S. Highway 80…aka the Ocean To Ocean Highway. In this area of Arizona the old highway parallels the Gila River which in the old days was the major highway for pioneers moving westward to California. Modern man has changed that and it is now just a dribble. You can read about the Gila River by clicking this Wikipedia link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gila_River

You can read all about the Painted Rocks Petroglyphs by click this BLM link…

http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/camping/dev_camps/painted_rock.html

and this Wikipedia link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painted_Rocks_%28Arizona%29

Here’s what the petroglyph site looks like on Google Earth…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…

From a higher elevation you can see Interstate Highway 8 about 12 miles to the south. You can also see the Gila Riverbed flowing towards the lower left…

This is my second time here. I was first here in January 1996. It’s a lot different from I remember as very remote and quiet…like it was the end of the World. We were the only people here. Not so now. There are about 12 RV’s in the campground and trucks roaring by on a nearby road. Heck, there’s even a four-bar Internet and cell phone signal.

But then, I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday! :)

Now that you know all about the petroglyphs, here are some of the photos I took while there…

These are the two petroglyph hills as seen from our campsite, they are maybe 50 feet high. The hill on the right has the most petroglyphs as it was closer to the Mormon Battalion Trail where all the pioneers such as Kit Carson passed…

Shortly after our arrival we met a local expert. Jerry Ahnert has been studying the trail for 42 years. He gave us about a 1/2 hour seminar about the history of the trail which also served the Butterfield Overland Mail Company.

In the above photo, he told us the white skull marked the actual trail…even though there were no signs identifying it. We presume it’s to keep it from being stolen.

Turning 180 degrees and looking west…this is what the trail looks like today…

He has written a book entitled “The Butterfield Trail And Overland Mail Company of Arizona, 1858-1861. It presents a very detailed of the history of the 400 mile portion of the trail in Arizona. Mary bought his book for $29.95. To order you can contact him at nobottomgulch@yahoo.com.

Here are some other photos that I took…

And finally…a panorama sunset shot. The two petroglyph hills are to the right of the motorhome and above the Bronco…

And finally finally…a cloudless desert sunset with a jet plane exhaust trail, a quarter moon and the planet Venus in the background…

To see the remaining photos that I took…click this link…
https://picasaweb.google.com/110455945462646142273/PaintedRockHistoricParkArizona

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

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