Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Weekend Trip "All about Spirits"

On a beautiful Saturday in March, 16 enthusiastic travelers set off from Pueblo Grande for a weekend “All about Spirits”. Ghost towns and wineries in southern Arizona was the subject for the Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary Spring trip.

Our first stop was the Hardy site and Fort Lowell in Tucson. Following our theme of Ghost towns, our first docent led tour was of an old Hohokam site, the Hardy Site. This site was occupied from approximately 300 AD to 1450 AD and the evidence found during the excavations in the 1970’s included pit houses, pottery sherds, and a trash mound.

For the same reasons as the Hohokam, in 1873 the U.S. Army decided to build Fort Lowell in the same area as the Hardy site, due to the streams that flowed through the area. The fort remained an active post  until 1891. Our docent led us through most of what remains at the site, including the remains of the post hospital. We also spent some time touring the museum and seeing old surgical tools, uniforms, and other things left from territorial days. Recently, the City of Tucson bought the property across the street that included many of the original officer’s quarters and they are in the process of stabilizing them and hope to open them to the public in the future.

After lunch in Tucson, we spent the afternoon visiting three of the ghost towns featured in the photography exhibit currently hanging in our changing gallery at Pueblo Grande Museum. In Pearce, we were able to see the original tin front store. We were fortunate when one of the local residents, a potter, came out and shared her knowledge of the town and its history. We returned the favor by purchasing some of her hand made pottery, Christmas ornaments and bells. 

Our next stop was Courtland, where the remains of a jail are all that is left of this once thriving town. The final stop of the day was in Gleason where we saw an identical jail as the one in Courtland however this one was in a better state of preservation. There were also a number of other buildings including the remains of the old school house. We then proceeded to Tombstone where we spent night. We were able to tour Tombstone, have a leisurely dinner at a restaurant of our choice, and shop during the evening.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast at the hotel before leaving on our second day of adventure. We arrived at the fourth and best preserved Ghost town, Fairbank. This town is preserved by the Bureau of Land Management and the Friends of the San Pedro Riparian Area who operate a small museum and gift shop. The town came into existence in 1882 when the railroad established a station there. Fairbanks was the main supply point for the town of Tombstone through the early 1900's. However when the mine closed in 1887 and after the flood in 1890, the town began to fade away. The store and post office were open for many years and those buildings are the best preserved in the area. The group then split up with some people walking down to the beautiful San Pedro River and some touring the cemetery.

Our next ghost town site was the Kentucky Camp. Kentucky Camp was built in 1904 as the headquarters of the Santa Rita Water and Mining Company, whose investors hoped to collect water from the Santa Rita Mountains for hydraulic gold mining. The venture was abandoned following the mysterious death of the chief engineer the following year. The property became a working cattle ranch for the next 50 years, before being sold to a mining conglomerate. A unique feature of this site is its collection of five century-old adobe buildings. The ten room headquarters building is one of the largest surviving adobe buildings of its era. We were fortunate to have the president of the Friends of the Kentucky Camp lead the tour for us. Mark Doumas, told us not only the history of the site but what goes into preserving a ghost town site like Kentucky Camp. He also showed us one of the original water cannons the company was using to help extract the gold from the adjoining canyon.

After lunch in Sonoita, we proceed to the second half of our spirits adventure, visiting two of the best wineries in the area. We tasted flights of wine at both Dos Cabezas and Callaghan vineyards. The tastings, included in the trip, were really one of the highlights of the trip. After a couple of hours of tastings we were ready to climb in the van for the trip back to Pueblo Grande.

The Spring trip was a complete success and enjoyed by all who attended. If you missed out on this trip, we still have two more trips this year. Our Western National Parks trip will be August 21 to September 1, and will visit a number of parks including Great Basin National Park, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Cedar Breaks National Monument. The Colorado Archeaology Trip is October 20 to 26, and will include the beautiful Anasazi Heritage Center and Lowell Pueblo. We will also spend an entire day at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center to tour their labs and learn proper field techniques and visit the Ute Tribal Park and Mesa Verde. The trip will also go to Colorado’s newest National Monument, Chimney Rock, and cap everything off with a visit to the Southern Ute Cultural Center. These trips, organized by the Museum of Western Colorado, are filling fast! If you are interested please contact the Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary at 602 495 0901 or email, and remember Pueblo Grande Museum Members receive a discounted rate. 

Submitted by Don Appel, Pueblo Grande Auxiliary Board Member and Docent

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