Thursday, March 05, 2009



Cloud cover first thing this morning assured us the sun was going to leave us alone for the day. We actually got off to an earlier start as we headed north up the Sulphur Springs Valley. HERDS OF BIRDS HEADING TO THEIR EARLY MORNING FEEDING AREA

First stop was for gas in Elfrida followed by a second stop for coffee to go before our third stop at the Library. We had to make a U-turn before we got to the Library though. While I was filling up with gas Kelly had taken two small bags of garbage out of the back seat & dropped them into a trash bin at the service station.....except one of those bags wasn't trash!! Yep, she mistakenly threw the bag of Library books & DVD's in the trash. Oh, how sweet it is that something was FINALLY not my fault:)) Retrieved the bag with no problem & off we went to the Library. PEARCE'S GOLD MINING HILL

Our first main destination this morning was the ghost town of Pearce just south of Sunsites which in turn is southeast of Benson Arizona. The large mining scarred hill just east of Pearce is the first thing we saw & it was obvious the hill had been used for mining with traces of roadways crisscrossing the slopes. Cement or adobe buildings terraced up the hill in one area accounting for a third of the hillside. The town of Pearce & what's left of it lay a short distance away to the northwest. It is still an active town & boasts more original buildings than Tombstone. Key word there is...original. The General Store is still intact & serves more as a museum. It is only open 2 days a year for tours. Across the road is the original Post Office & beside that a small gift & pottery shop. The lady owner inside was very friendly with a wealth of information on Pearce. Said Pearce was the largest gold strike in Arizona history back in the 1890's. Said it literally happened overnight & resulted in emptying Tombstone for a time. People flooded over the Dragoon mountains from Tombstone with some even transporting houses with them. At some point a disastrous flood occurred in the mine killing many miners. This is what I found on the internet about Pearce...."John Pearce, a rancher, struck gold in this vicinity in 1894 and the Commonwealth Mine was begun. The railroad station opened in 1903. For several years Pearce and his wife lived in Tombstone where he was a miner and she managed a boardinghouse. They saved their money and began a ranch in the Sulphur Springs Valley. It was while riding the range that Pearce stopped to rest at the top of a small hill and here he discovered rich ore. Pearce sold out for $250,000. The peak of production at the mine was reached in 1896. However, the mine was worked until 1904 when shaft cave-ins caused a shutdown. With the erection of a cyanide plant in 1905, the mine went back into operation. It is now inactive." Post Office est. March 6, 1896. THE GENERAL STORE IS NOW A MUSEUM ONLY OPEN 2 DAYS A YEAR

No ghost town visit is complete without a trip to the local cemetery so we headed a short distance west until we found it. The cemetery is still being used so the old pioneers & miners are mixed in with newer folks. Sign inside the gate says Abraham Lincoln's bodyguard is buried here as well as some Confederate soldiers. I did find one of the soldiers. PEARCE'S CEMETERY WITH THE DRAGOON MOUNTAINS & COCHISE'S STRONGHOLD IN THE BACKGROUND

From Pearce we made our way north stopping briefly for some pictures of an old Helicopter bone yard along the way. A lot of them appeared to be out of service Coast Guard choppers. There is also an active helicopter service there as well I think.AN OLD HELICOPTER BONE YARD

Driving north on highway 191 we were flanked by the mighty & mysterious Chiricahua Mountains off to our right & the jagged Dragoon mountain range on our left with the hauntingly ominous Cochise Stronghold ever present & ever vigilant. The cloud shrouded sky lent itself well to the legends of the mountains & it was one of those days you might have heard the Indians as they passed on their war ponies. It was one of those kinds of days when the winds could have coaxed the secrets out of the canyons. SAND HILL CRANES IN FLIGHT

We turned off 191 & headed west into Texas Canyon to the small settlement of Dragoon & beyond to a place recommended to us by several people. The Amerind Foundation (Amerind meaning American Indian) houses one of the finest private collections of Native American art & artifacts in the country. This is a very impressive building but I was only allowed to take pictures on the outside & could not take my cameras into the museum. I understand the reason but it always miffs me just the same when that occasionally happens.THE AMERIND
The museum houses a large collection of artifacts dating back many hundreds of years & more. Various southwest Indian cultures are well represented as the history of the land & it's people are displayed well in the galleries. Of particular interest to me was the Chiricahua Apaches who lived & died in this very area. Cochise, Geronimo, & others played out their lives here on these plains, deserts, plateaus, & mountains. I spent most of my time inside watching a DVD on the last days of Geronimo's futile struggle with the white man's ways, deceptions, & treacheries. The broken promises, the heartbreak, the end of an era. It was a sad time in American history for the North American Indian peoples. NICE SPAINISH ARCHITECTURE
t was early afternoon when we left the Amerind & headed back down the valley. Earlier we had heard some noises coming from the back of the car & later determined something was amiss with the driver's side rear wheel. By the time we got near home we could here some screeching & grinding when slowing down & turning corners. When brakes were applied it kinda stopped. I was at first sure it was a wheel bearing but then figured it was probably something to do with the brakes. And as always, I figured it was the end of the world & we would have to get the car over to Sierra Vista for an expensive brake job or something. Or throw the whole car in the garbage can & try to find another one:(( I'm real good at figuring worst case scenarios you know. With vanishing dollar signs in my head I got out to look at the wheel after we got home. Noticed right away something was different than the other wheel. Looked like a wear mark all around the outer hub & on closer inspection saw a stone lodged between the drum & something else. The stone had lodged itself there & was scraping on the turning drum. A screwdriver quickly & easily popped the stone out & short test drive around the yard confirmed the squeaking was gone & all was well in Al's world again. Oh dear, will wonders ever cease......................................... IT'S KELLY SCHMOOZING WITH THE LOCALS....(THAT'S KELLY ON THE LEFT:))
To-morrow........ "Time to clean the car!!!!"



  1. Yes, I thought it was funny too that we both talked about chimi's in our blog yesterday. Great minds think alike.

    Glad that for ONCE in your life, something wasn't your fault... lol

    And glad it was just a rock stuck in your drum, same thing happened to us last year.

    Send some of that hot weather this way please! MnM

  2. Nice pics as usual Al. As kids our age we all played cowboy's and indians but it is fastinating to see the real places they lived and worked.

    the hermit