Monday, November 29, 2010

Rhyolite Canyon

I found this guided walking tour pamphlet at a bookstore in Tucson. Published by the Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, it is designed to accompany wanderers through Rhyolite Canyon. Rhyolite Canyon is part of Chiricahua National Monument, more famous for the spectacular hoodoos clustered in the Heart of Rocks
I picked up the pamphlet for the illustrations. They're beautiful depictions of birds and plants by Lawrence Ormsby, a talented illustrator from Marana, AZ (just outside Tucson) who's illustrated many books on animals. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Objectsphere - (Rad Shit, Recently Obtained)

I've been one busy dude. End of the semester blues. The harried life of a grad student/instructor. So I haven't had time to post much lately. No time for adventures. Instead, I offer some things I've obtained more or less recently for your appreciation. Pictured above we have a cabin incense burner and accompanying balsam fir incense sticks, both by Paine's Products. These were a gift from my in-laws for our anniversary. It's awesome. You light the incense on the inside and the smoke comes out the chimney. It smells like a campfire. Leaning on the cabin is a porcupine quill. I found it on the floor in Gem World in Quartzite, Arizona. I thought it was garbage, but they charged me $1.50 for it at the counter. That was an unusual place. Finally, we have my glasses. I bought these a year ago at Catalina Optical in Tucson. I told them I'd post about it because they gave me a deal, then I forgot. I'm making good on it now. It's a great place that doesn't charge too much (very helpful when you don't have vision insurance) and they have a huge collection of vintage frames. The vintage frames are awesome and wicked cheap. I bought two pairs, but I put the other pair down while taking a photo at the Oak Creek Overlook near Sedona and somebody picked them up. I miss those glasses. They were great. These are cool too. They're pretty old, probably 1960's.
sabbath vol 4
I got Black Sabbath Vol. 4 on vinyl at Bookman's in Marana. It's the out-of-the-way Bookman's, so the records aren't all picked over. Usually all that's left at Bookman's (and most other used record stores for that matter) are lots of Englebert Humperdink, Barry Manilow, Men at Work, and Pure Prairie League.Don't even get me started on the mammoth loads of Bing Crosby Christmas records at Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Not only do I not want them, they also remind me that I'm buying clothes that belonged to old men who have passed away. I try not to think about that.
I got lots of books! From left to right: Law and Authority in Early Massachusetts by George Lee Haskins, The Democratization of American Christianity By Nathan O. Hatch, The Transformation of American Law 1780-1860 by Morton J. Horwitz, Hanging Between Heaven and Earth by Scott D. Seay, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman by Carol F. Carlsen, Underwriting: The Poetics of Insurance in America 1722-1872 by Eric Wertheimer, a Forest Service Map of Tonto National Forest, and The Puritan Family by Edmund S. Morgan. I've read Carlsen, Morgan, and Seay's books so far. Interesting stuff. Eric Wertheimer is the chair of my Ph.D. committee. He puts up with listening to me talk about all the stuff I read in these sorts of books and helps me make something out of it. He's a talented poet, too.
clothes copy
I got these moccasins at Payless of all places. Not exactly the pinnacle of fine footwear, but vegans take note - many of their shoes are all man-made material and not leather. The flannel is an old one from L.L. Bean I found at Buffalo Exchange in Phoenix. I got the vest at Sunset Clothing Exchange in Tempe, AZ.

ll bean

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ghost Town Mine, AZ

On Halloween weekend, me and Erin and our friend Katie had the opportunity to visit one of Arizona's best preserved mine sites/ghost town. I found the site in a book and did some research online to find out more information. Through the ghosttowns.com forums I learned that this particular mine was on private property and that trespassers were particularly unwelcome. A little more searching and I contacted the owners and set up a time to visit the mine.

I never used to have an aversion to trespassing. If I visited a place that was privately owned, I'd only take pictures and I would never, never, never sue anyone for a risk I willing took upon myself. Still, as I get older I find worrying about getting caught really stressful and it's disrespectful to go onto someone's private property (though I don't feel the same about trespassing on public property - public means public). This time around, I'm really happy that I contacted the owner, as he not only gave us permission to visit the mine, he personally escorted us there and gave us a tour full of great stories and historical facts. Though the mine site is in several ghost town books and online, I've decided not to reveal the site name or owner's name here. This site is his childhood home, his family is buried there, and he's made some very nice improvements to one of the buildings so he can spend his time out there in his own personal, quiet, solitary spot in the desert hills. He did us a big favor and he seemed happy to do it, but I didn't get the impression that he was ready to share it with many people. So, here I'll refer to him as "T" and I'll retell some of the stories T shared with us.
Today this shack wears it's struggle against the elements proudly, but time's been hard on it. The desert is a really harsh place. Between the sun, the torrential rain and hail storms, pack rats and other industrious animals, and, at the mine's elevation, snow, desert structures require considerable maintenance. Older photos of the mine that I've seen online and that T showed us featured several more buildings.

T grew up in this house and he told us about how his mother had a piano brought way out there. It must have been amazing to hear the piano echoing in the desert hills. The mine opened in the late 19th century. T's family acquired it in the early 1900's and it remained open until the 1970's. It's a shaft mine that produced a lot of copper and silver. You can see machinery from the mine at the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum.  T donates the cool stuff he finds to museums so everyone can appreciate it.

Here's a few pictures from the house:

Across from the house is the cook's building, the building where the miners ate. At one point, the mine had 250 workers. It's so quiet out there now it's hard to imagine hundreds of people and tons of industrial machinery grinding away under and above ground, but it was a considerable operation. The bunk houses burnt down and the main factory was dismantled, but the remnants of the structures make it clear that they were pretty big. T has adapted and modernized one of the structures into a great cabin with running water and a flush toilet. There are some feral cats that live out there, too, and they got all excited when T showed up. He feeds them and looks after them. The picture at the outset of this post is of cook's building. It was full of a lot of old stuff, so we didn't photograph inside. Here's a couple other shots of it.

Mining, as the Chilean mine incident recently reminded us, is very dangerous. The mine shaft was quite deep. There was a machine shop 600 feet down. T told us a rather terrifying story about how 13 men died working there. The men took an elevator down the shaft and into the mine. One morning, 13 men stepped in the elevator and started down. The elevator was controlled by an operator on the surface and the men in the elevator communicated with the operator by pulling a chord that sounded a bell. As the men were descending, they suddenly found that the mine had flooded overnight and they elevator was plunging them under water. The operator had stepped away from his post to use the bathroom and failed to here the bell. They all drowned. Here a some photos of the a workshop and some mining remnants.

 This is just a little side project mine around the area. The real mine shafts were covered up for safety and didn't look like much more than big sheets of wood resting on some cement.
 This is part of the foundation of the main factory. It's surrounded by a mountain of tailings. It's where they separated the copper or silver from the other rocks.
 Here I'm holding a rock core, a rock sampling that was used to test the rocks down the mine shaft.
T told us lots of other fascinating stories about growing up around the mine and the history of the mine itself. Exploring the mine area and the buildings was terrific, but meeting T was just as cool. I suppose if I owned amazing piece of American history, I'd probably enjoy sharing it with other people who appreciated it, too, but T (and his sister who I initially contacted) had no obligation to spend the better part of a Saturday morning showing some strangers around. I hope he understands just how much we appreciated it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monarchs of the Superstitions

As the weather gets colder, millions of monarch butterflies begin a southward migration. You may have heard of it; it's one of North America's most famous animal migrations. Throughout October, monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains head south into Mexico, eventually gathering in huge numbers in the high elevation pine forests in Michoacán. Monarchs west of the Rockies head south and overwinter in various warm locations. I was happy, though not surprised, to see many monarchs hanging out in the turpentine bushes along the trails of the Superstition Mountains. They weren't alone, either. Many bushes and wildflowers were in bloom and alive with bees, butterflies, beetles and moths. I spent most of time photographing the transient monarchs, but of course I had to take a couple shots of Weaver's Needle and a curious hawk.
downward wingstroke
double monarchs
monarch butterflies
Trail Signs
I think I attracted this hawk when I scared up a dozen or so Gambel's Quail along the trail. It watched me from atop a saguaro for a bit, then hovered around me for a while, possibly hoping I'd scare up a quick meal.
Black Mesa view
Weaver's Needle is in the upper right.

I ran across a few petroglyphs too. Always a neat find.
yellow butterfly

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mine Name Poetry

Recently, a friend of mine from Tucson showed me how to use the USGS MRDS (Mineral Resource Data System). This might be old news to some people, but it's new and cool to me. It works in Google Earth and marks out every mine in production, every mine that ever produced and even every occurrence or claim. You can download the MRDS here.You need Google Earth, too. It works with every state.

Now I'm into tracking down old mines. We checked out a great one last weekend and I'll put it up here when I'm done editing the photos. But for now, back to MRDS. All the mines are named and the names of the mines are all very cool. I like to scroll around Arizona in Google Earth, highlighting mines, seeing what each mine produced and what each is named. The namers' creativity is sometimes striking for it's oddity, other times striking for its absence.

I decided to take the names and work them into sort of Haiku-like poems. Each line is the name of a mine, the titles are names of places near the mines featured in the poem. I'm only the editor or anthologist. I don't know who the authors are, but I hope they'd enjoy the poems:

I. Santa Ritas
Silver Spur,
Blue Jay-Good Friday,
Sweet Bye and Bye.

II. Northern Catalinas Part 1
Old Hat,
Dead Bull,
Halloween and Spook.

III. Northern Catalinas Part 2
Sueno Del Oro,
Madre Del Oro,
American Flag.

IV. Superstitions Part 1
Lazy Mule,
Happy Wheels,
Lost Dutchman,
Mystery Mountain.

V. Superstitions Part 2

VI. Tonto
First Chance,
Devil's Chasm.

VII. Cleator
Golden Turkey,
Grey Goose,
French Lilly,

VIII. Bisbee
Silver Bear,
Irish Mag,
Copper Queen.

IX. Prescott
Mormon Girl,
Hoot Owl,
Pine Grove.

X. Tucson
Little Mary,
Pure Gold,