2019 - Trip Report - Friday Inbound to the Rondy
Friday Rondy Inbound
Leader: Bob & Sue Jaussaud
A warm Thursday evening on the Colorado River with a group of friends and lots of wine. What could be better? Well… how about Nancy’s hors d’oeuvres, Ron Lipari’s barbecued lemon chicken, Vicki’s baked potatoes with toppings, Sue’s salad and Axel’s avocado pie. Life was good on the river. Then it was off to the historic El Garces in Needles to hear a talk by Ron Ross about his Grandmother’s years as a teacher at nearby Fort Mojave. The talk was well attended and Ron gave an excellent presentation.
Next morning, after Sue’s chili cheese egg casserole and Vicki’s fresh fruit, we packed up and started our inbound trip for the Desert Explorer Rendezvous in Boulder City. Our adventure would take us on Old Route 66 over Sitgreaves Pass to Kingman, then north on Highway 93 to Chloride. We planned to cross over the Colorado River to Nevada via the new Tillman Bridge.
Our ﬁrst stop was in Oatman to savor the old mining town and pet the burros. Oatman began when gold was discovered in the 1860’s. The town is named for Olive Oatman who was kidnapped by Apaches or Yavapais, sold to the Mojave Indians and ﬁnally exchanged for a white horse and other goods at Fort Yuma in 1856. When Route 66 was built in the 1920’s, Oatman was at its peak and used its clout to have the new road wind over Sitgreaves Pass and through Oatman instead of following the easier route along the railroad through Yucca. Oatman wasn’t bypassed until 1953.
Beyond Oatman the wildﬂowers became intense. The remains of the poppy “super bloom” were accentuated with abundant white chicory, lupine and phacelia. The Gold Road Mine is in full operation again at the old townsite of Gold Road. The mine was discovered in 1900 when Jose Jerez discovered gold while looking for his lost burro. Sadly, the town was razed in 1949 to save on taxes even though the section of Route 66 passing through it was still the main route west.
Route 66 over Sitgreaves Pass was notorious for its steepness and switchbacks. Early day drivers would sometimes hire someone to drive their car over the pass for them. Finally cresting the pass, we were treated to an expansive view of the Sacramento Valley and the Hualapai Mountains beyond. East of the pass we took time to stop and see the goldfish in Fish Bowl Spring, a historic spot with rock steps most likely put in place by the W.P.A. We stopped again at Little Meadows to take a short hike through the vegetation and found inscriptions made by members of Lieutenant Beale's party. The inscriptions were left in 1859 when Beale was constructing an all weather wagon road to California and, incidentally, testing the camels over the route.
Leaving Little Meadows, we passed through the remains of Ed’s Camp before emerging from the canyon at Cool Springs. Cool Springs had been a beacon of light on Old Route 66 offering cabins, home cooked meals, gasoline and fresh water to weary travelers. Sadly, it was abandoned when Route 66 was bypassed and had crumbled into ruins. Ned Leuchtner bought the remains in 2001 and restored the store. Today a charismatic character named “Crazy Ray” manages Cool Springs and it is well worth a stop for a cool soda, or maybe a piece of jalapeno bacon brittle.
In Kingman we took a break at the Visitor Center in the historic Power House. They have a Route 66 Museum that is a must see and a one-of-a-kind electric car museum. Railroad Park across the street from the Power House was a shady spot for our lunch. Kingman is a really pleasant place.
After lunch, we turned north on Highway 93. Just north of Kingman we came to the Turquoise Mine Store. The mine is located in Mineral Park and not open to the public, but the store is a unique chance to learn everything you ever wanted to know about turquoise. The parking lot has ﬂakes of turquoise scattered everywhere. Quite a place.
Chloride was our ﬁnal destination before heading to happy hour. It is famous for, among other things, the Roy Purcell Murals in the hills just outside town. These were painted in 1966 when Roy worked as a miner in the nearby Cerbat Mountains. The town of Chloride is the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in Arizona. It started in the 1840’s when silver was located at “Silver Hill.” We saw the Chloride Post Ofﬁce which opened its doors in 1873. They are still open. The Butterﬁeld Stage Line serviced Chloride from 1868 to 1919 and their stage stop is still there. It’s now called “Yesterday’s Restaurant.” Our ﬁnal goal in Chloride was to locate the Railroad Station which was built by the Santa Fe in 1898 and served until 1935.
After Chloride we headed for our destination, Boulder City, for a gathering of good friends at the 2019 Desert Explorer Rendezvous. We had had a fun and interesting start to a great weekend. ~ Bob