Saturday, March 6, 2010

Humbug - March 6, 2010

Hey - you Fore Wheelers and Morter Bikes...yes, Morter know who you are...

On Saturday, March 6th, Randy and I attended the 4th Annual Humbug Potluck Weekend.  It was glorious.  Humbug is a ghosttown I have been wanting to visit for just shy of 20 years. But it is private property.  You may visit by invitation only.  And by invitation, I mean you have to call Dave and ask permission, then he meets you up there, as there is a heavy steel gate across the entrance, and Dave will unlock it for you.  If you ain't invited, you'd better not be there.  For this reason alone, Humbug is a beautifully preserved ghosttown, with a rich, rich history, and lots to see!

However, due to my recent involvement in the Arizona Pioneer Cemetery Research Project, I was made aware of this very special weekend, once a year, where Dave opens up Humbug to visitors, with an open invitation.  Up until this year, Neal DuShane, founder of the APCPR, indicated that the weekends brought in roughly 30 to 35 people.  This year, Neal and I guessed there were at least 150 people.

My first ever view of Humbug - So excited!

The ride to Humbug was uneventful.  A high clearance two-wheel drive truck could probably make it with little trouble.  High clearance would be the key here, however.  But once we turned the corner past the gate, I gasped and started bouncing around on the back of the quad with eager anticipation of what was to come. 

Adobe bricks at Humbug

Buildings dot the hillside above Humbug Creek, which, due to the rain the past few weeks, was flowing beautifully.  There are buildings propped up with large timbers, there are buildings which appear to be abandoned and starting to fall apart...all are stucco.  All are adobe.  Most are double-stacked adobe walls, meaning there are two walls of adobe bricks with a space between.  Does wonders in the summer to keep the homes cool, and to keep the heat from the fireplaces in during the winter.

Humbug Creek crossing

Dave Burns, caretaker of Humbug, greeted us as we crossed Humbug Creek (about a foot deep, maybe a bit more) and came up the beautiful stone fence-lined entry way past the stables.  After everyone took a few minutes to take it all in, Dave gave us a tour of Humbug proper.  His tour included the incredibly long history of Humbug, which started in the 1880's.  For more information on the history of Humbug, click here.  Neal has done massive amounts of research, and has put together a fabulous history of Humbug.

Bobbi Jo at the "Big House"

Dave spent hours talking to us about the history and everything he knew...he spoke to us of Charles Champie's home (the Champie's are Arizona pioneers, and their name is forever in the history books with regards to ranching in the lower Bradshaws), the 1920's partnership of Pat Fogarty and Frank Hyde (the big house pictured here is Frank Hyde and his family's home - the picture with me at the window is Pat Fogarty's home)

Bobbi at Pat Fogarty's home

Dave spoke about the well, the mill, the different mines, the hardships and the booms.  

Dave invited us to go up to the Pero Bonito mine, which was spectacular.  Periodically worked, the Pero Bonito is a well preserved mine from days past.  It is, however, on private property, and therefore its location and pictures of it will not appear on my blog. 

Later in the day, after a leisurely lunch, a group of us chose to follow Neal up to the old site of Columbia.  Columbia was another one of the ghosttowns which had a caretaker, that I had been wanting to see for years.  Unfortunately, this time I was a few years too late.  The site of Columbia proper is now on BLM land.  And the BLM has razed all the buildings in Columbia.  All that is left are the palm trees that used to be on main street, along with some foundations, an old stone corral, and an arrastre.  Across the river is an old stone house rumored to have been a home, a post office, and/or a bar.  Who knows, it could have been all three.  Above Columbia and to the East is the "Gold Road" - a 4-wheel drive road that goes over the hills to Tip Top and Gillette.  This is where we found the sign above.  I will also note at this time that with the exception of one poorly marked BLM road, the roads into Columbia cross private property.  Do not attempt to enter the areas without permission.  Leave all gates as they were found, and respect these areas.  People live up here, and as Phoenix continues to encroach on the areas North of Lake Pleasant, more and more people are roaming around up there...please respect the fact that these areas are privately owned.  Many don't mind if you travel through, but they will if we do not respect the right of way they have given us. 

Back at Humbug at the end of the day, we all said our goodbyes, thanked Dave and Theresa for their hospitality, and started back home.  As the sun set, and we road our quad out, I felt a distinct sense of fulfillment.  I had seen one of Arizona's greatest historical treasures.  And most don't even know it is there.

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