Thursday, July 2, 2015

White Cliffs Park

On the edge of downtown Kingman, AZ is an old ore wagon trail to the Stockton Hill Mines. The gold and silver mines operated from the 1800s until 1980! Click on the picture to enlarge it and then note the flagpole, old foundation, and evenly placed holes in the rock face to the left in the picture! 
Here is a closer look.  I suspect the holes were for log beams to create floors and ceilings of buildings built on the hillside. I couldn't find any historical data to support my theory, though.
Here is a closer look at the flagpole and foundation for what is documented as the Old Trails Tavern. 
Here is a look inside the tavern's foundation.
You can see some shallow ruts in the light colored rock made from the wagon wheels. The edge of the wagon road appears cluttered with fallen rocks. 
This is further up the wagon road. Lots of large rocks are cluttering the way. This may have been done intentionally to keep vehicles from driving on the wagon trail. Vandalism has been a problem for this historic site.
This is looking back down the trail. That is quite a road to be bringing heavy loads of ore down! 
Here is a view looking back down the road from further up the trail. I was amazed at the wide deep ruts, as I thought ore wagons would be small to accommodate moving heavy loads. It turns out that the wagons are massive! The holes along the side of the trail are called snubbing holes. All I could find out about how snubbing worked was that long poles were used for braking and leverage. If anyone knows more, please post it to our blog's Facebook page. 
If you enlarge the picture and look up on the cliff face, you will see a sign for the Old Trails Tavern! 
Here is a closer look! 
Here is another look at the Stockton Mines ore wagon road. It was once known as Old Johnson Road, as it came through the Johnson Ranch. 
Here's another view complete with the tavern sign!
Here is some easier traveling further up the road!
This is an ore wagon. Given the rough terrain they traversed, very few are left in existence! They represent some of the biggest, toughest, and most impressive vehicles that ever traveled the American frontier! Ore wagons are 16 feet in length and stand 14 feet tall to the top of their canvases. The back wheels are 7 feet tall and 4 inches wide with steel treads! Standing empty an ore wagon weighs 6,400 pounds. It has an interior capacity of 250 cubic feet. The dimensions of the wagon translate to a vehicle capable of carrying 9 tons of cargo! Comparably the wagons are similar in weight to a typical full-size heavy duty pick-up truck, but with about 4 times the payload capacity! That's some impressive early engineering!     
In my research of the technique of bringing ore wagons down steep inclines, I learned about wheel shoes or what are more commonly called drag shoes! To slow the wagon on a steep descent the back wheels would have drag shoes put under them and the wheels tied off to the wagon so as not to roll, but just slide! The drag shoes kept the wheels from shearing flat!
Ketchum, Idaho has a wagon museum and is proud to own six 1889 ore wagons! Every Labor Day weekend is the Wagon Days Festival. The highlight of the event is the parade and display of the six giant ore wagons! Note how the wagon train workers would have ridden on the side of the wagon. No seating was built inside. I suppose this is so they could quickly climb on and off performing various jobs required for getting the wagons safely up and down the mountain roads. 
This is a cool picture I found of two mule teams pulling lines of ore wagons!  It is an 1897 picture taken in Pinal County, AZ.  Click on the picture to enlarge it!
This is something I never would have expected, but happened across in my research! The Stockton Hill Mines that operated in the 1800s was just recently for sale and has sold! It is being promoted as having a lot more ore to give! It was brought to our attention at another mine we visited, that ore can be extracted with today's technology that was not accessible in earlier times.  
There is a lot of history readily available to explore in Kingman!