2009 Trip Report - Seligman -Williams Loop
Seligman - Williams Loop
April 17-19, 2009
By Tom Weiss
Last year a friend suggested I consider joining the Mohave Outdoor Explorers (MOE). Their icon is a desert tortoise with motto: The world isn't to bad if you can just get out in it.
After being invited to attend their Burro Creek area run, I felt obligated to pay these fine folks back by offering to lead a Prescott area run.
Dan, our leader, led us on a historical trek from Seligman, AZ to Chino Valley. We had 13 people and 10 vehicles. We stopped to check out 11 buffalo fenced just feet from us. Farther down the road we were forced to stop for a spring cattle roundup. What a blast into history! Something that is fast becoming a thing of the past.
Just before lunch we toured Walnut Creek area, visiting an historical ghost town and cemetery. After lunch Dan pointed out historical place name of Simmons -- a major stop along the Hardyville wagon Road. I had driven by this spot 10's of times always wondering who planted those huge cottonwood trees
Here I took the lead, guiding us to our (Dan selected) camp site high above Verde River Canyon, overlooking Perkinsville, AZ. Everyone brought camp food to share. (my) Sue had made (complex) Palace Saloon beans and homemade bread. I also brought some ice-cold beer.
8:30 Sunday morning, using my new MOE trail boss hat, I led us into Sycamore Basin, stopping at Henderson Flats then our trail-head for a wonderful cliff dwelling overlooking Sycamore Basin.
We parted ways at our road split, me going west to Drake, the group north to Williams for ice cream then west to explore two old railroad dams, finally to their Kingman homes.
At this road split a young couple was stranded. Those mechanically inclined MOE's gathered aound the overheated engine to do their magic. Fifteen minutes later I was following this old pickup back to pavement.
Seligman/Williams Loop — an additional write-up for your reading pleasure.
By Dan W. Messersmith
Friday, April 17
Dick Taylor, Haul Reddick and I (along with Buddy) left Kingman at 3pm to camp out prior to our Seligman/Williams Loop trip. As breakfast was at Lilo’s West End Café at 7:30am tomorrow, we thought we would rather go over today instead of very early tomorrow. We arrived at Seligman and had an early dinner at Lilo’s and then headed out to find our campsite in the area of Bridge Canyon Estates a little west of Seligman. I got directionally challenged at one point, but we ran into a resident of the area and got directions that got us back on track and to our scheduled campsite. We had time to have a small campfire and tell a few stories before we headed off to our respective beds.
Saturday, April 18
Up about 6am and got coffee going. We broke camp while we had our morning coffee and headed for Seligman and breakfast at Lilo’s.
We were joined for breakfast by Shelley Lossing, Martha Prumers, Tom Weiss and Wayne & Glenda Erwin. Later arrivals included Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Pete Mallet and Joe Stevens.
We were out the door and on the trail by 8:30am, with me in the lead for the first portion of the trip as we headed south on the county gravel road toward Walnut Creek.
A short time later we encountered our first surprise of the trip — a small herd of eleven buffalo. They were kind enough to hang around near the fence to allow us to stop and gawk and take lots of photos. It was a very nice unexpected event.
Continuing down the road Shelley’s truck encountered a sharp rock and went flat on her. We got out the jack, air compressor and Safety Seal and with Bob Jaussaud in the lead, we made short work of fixing her flat without taking it off of the vehicle.
We moved on into the Yavapai Ranch territory and to our second surprise of the day. A cattle drive! One dog, sixteen cowboys and one very loud cowgirl, all on horseback swinging lariats, chasing screaming and uncooperative calves, and pushing cows who were loudly objecting to all the commotion, made for one great viewing and listening experience. The sounds, the dust, the smells and the visuals all mixed together into a symphony of action and realness that is rare in today’s electronically enhanced world. More photos were taken and Tom did a short movie of the event that he shared with us after the trip. Here is the link. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomweiss/3459974568/in/set-72157617094255146/
As the drive continued north, we continued south to a mine site that Tom called the Iron King Mine, which was a hematite mine. A short stop there allowed us to experience the heavy ore first hand.
We continued on to the Walnut Creek area where I pointed out an old settlement area and then the small cemetery for the community. Both the old settlement site and cemetery are near the old Camp Hualapai site, which was later the site of the Walnut Creek Ranger Station and is now the Walnut Creek Center for Education and Research.
Back on the road, with Tom now in the lead, we passed the pastoral site of the K4 Ranch next to Walnut Creek. Later when we passed the historic site of Simmons, a significant stop on the old Mohave and Prescott Toll Road, I pointed the site out to the group.
We continued on, crossing Chino Valley to the town of Chino Valley where we made a short stop for gas and supplies at the local Safeway store.
Tom then took us out of Chino Valley via the Perkinsville road, which provided numerous photo opportunities for our travelers.
We arrived at the Perkinsville site and the Verde River. The Perkinsville ranch site is private property now, but was once a stop on the Verde Canyon Railroad. The following is from their website:
“The railroads of north central Arizona were all built to support Arizona's richest copper mine, located in Jerome. The first rail line, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, was completed in 1882, connecting Jerome to Ashfork.
The Verde Canyon Railroad (formerly the Verde Valley Railroad, operated by the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad), was financed by Senator William A. Clark for a hefty $1.3 million. A miracle of engineering, the 38-mile line was built in just one year, from 1911 to 1912. It took 250 men using 200 mules, picks and shovels and lots of Dupont black powder explosives to lay these rails. Today, the same railroad would cost in excess of $38 million.
The smelter, which initiated the construction of the town of Clarkdale, named after Senator Clark, was located just below the Jerome mines. Used until 1952, the smelter had its final 400-foot high stack blown in 1962, signaling the end of an era and an industry on which a community had been built and prospered.”
We crossed the old bridge at the river and went down along the river below the bridge. Photos were again the order of the day. We looked the place over as a possible campsite but decided to look further down the road.
We looked at a site immediately above the river with great views but sparse with trees and very close to the road. I left everyone there and continued up the road to see if anything else could be found. About two miles up the road I did find another site that allowed us to get back off of the road and be surrounded with lots of trees. We settled in for the night.
Shelley and Martha headed for home at this point and we found out later that they made it with no trouble with the repaired tire.
Our plans called for a potluck dinner for our evening meal. Tom had promised famous recipe beans and cold beer. Others brought in lots of snacks for the cocktail hour that just merged into the potluck a little while later. Needless to say, we all ate far more good food than we should have. Our newest MOE folks (Pete & Joe) had not known about the potluck and had to suffer along with large grilled ribeye steaks they had brought along. Joe and Pete had quite a camp with a state of the art grill system that was camping at its best.
It had been a great day and we all retired to our beds soon after dark.
Sunday, April 19
Up early for coffee and breakfast. Dick fixed up a big batch of eggs and potatoes and sausage that he shared with Haul and I. Later we visited the Pete & Joe camp and watched Joe cook up a gourmet breakfast that he shared tastes of with anyone who was willing.
We also did a short walk around the site and found evidence that this was once a very large campsite with several cement paved areas or floors. (It could have been a campsite for those who built the railroad line in 1911.)
Leaving camp with Tom again in the lead, we worked our way over to a side road that would take us to the pre-historic Indian cliff dwellings in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness area.
Along that trail we encountered a sign that declared it was “Railroad Draw,” but had no chance of ever having a railroad in it based on its location. Farther on, we came to Henderson Flats that had the remains of what was once a very nice house. The site also had a very large water tank covered by a catchment system. After a short visit there we moved on.
When we got to the trailhead, everyone except Dick, Glenda and I, hiked up to the dwelling site. They were all very pleased with the site and have pictures to prove it. After they returned, we had lunch at the trailhead and headed out.
We eventually came to the intersection where Tom would return to Prescott and the rest of us would push on to Williams. At that intersection we found an old truck badly overheated with a young woman (Mary) and a young man (Colton) in bad straights. We asked if we could help and they asked for water for the truck. Pete, who had been testing his new off-highway trailer on this trip was filled with water cans. In short order we had their truck cooled down and running again. They were also provided with more water if they needed it. Tom would follow them out to Drake and provide any other assistance they might need. (We later heard from Tom that the young couple got safely to Drake and phoned home for help.)
Continuing on to Williams we had been persuaded by Bob and Sue to look for two old dams and lakes along old Route 66. He had an 2001 Arizona Highways magazine that had a story about them. One was a stone dam and one was an iron dam. We weren’t hard to convince and took on the task guided only by the write-up in the magazine.
We found the stone dam first and it was wonderful and had a nice large full lake behind it. Based on the number of people there it is a popular fishing hole.
We had trouble finding the steel dam and after Bob and Sue did some experimenting with a trail he found it. I did a go around run on a pipeline road and met up with Bob. The trail down to the lake and dam was very rocky and required 4x4 Low gears to get there and back. We enjoyed the views and the unique little iron dam and started out to return to the freeway to get home.
At Seligman, Dick, Haul and I stopped once more at Lilo’s and had dinner. We got home later than expected, but had a great weekend with wonderful people and saw some fantastic scenery.