Friday, January 27, 2012


Author Jerry Ahnert told us about  two distinct features marking  the “real” Butterfield/Immigrant Trail.  A place where children played with stones and an obvious encampment farther on.  Wednesday afternoon, a couple of hours before sunset, I decided to try to find the place where children played while Jim finished a book he was reading.

The terrain is rough and desolate, but beautiful in its own way.

Signs of human activity were fairly abundant. A placement of rock pointing in four directions? Did it indicate something of importance?

An old metal can. Did it hold water?

A piece of metal?  From what era?  Jerry told me when the travelers camped, children play with whatever is available to them. In this case, they placed stones around a bush. He dates his site by finding other artifacts such as bits of metal, buttons, and so on to authenticate the site.

I zig-zagged back and fourth and decided to follow the deepest runnel figuring the stage  would follow water.  I found many campfire spots and stacked rocks before  locating the bush with rocks stacked around it “where children played.”  But, even then I questioned. How can one be sure when those rocks were placed?  Wouldn’t that bush be dead by now? Jerry stated that this area is very stable, and changes very little. He has been hiking these places for sixty years.  The right place or not, the walk was invigorating, made purposeful by trying to find a historic site,  and I returned to catch a nice sunset.

In the morning, Jim decided we should try to find the encampment, so we spread out and searched for signs in two different areas. We could see in a distance the saddle, or pass, the stages had to cross over to get to the Gila River behind the Petroglyphs.

Again, there were many campfire spots. This one, I kicked a rock out of place and noticed how deeply it was buried. Deep enough to convince me it was an older spot. But, how much older?  No ash, small plants had grown into it.

An unusual shaped object once was buried in this spot. Could it have been a part of a stage coach?  Or an old frisbee?

More evidence of what we thought might be water cans. Lots of them, mostly crushed.

We found a deep wash, and several narrower washes running into it that drained the nearby mountain as the elevation increased. We speculated, could these ruts have been made by a stage coach. Both of us are remembering some of those old western movies we’ve seen. But, would a stage have driven inside the deep channel of a wash? So, I walked the bank and Jim stayed in the wash.

Our find!  The obvious encampment. Cans strewn down the embankment to the wash.

Shards of broken dishes, and a piece of rusted metal.

A piece of a thick milk glass bottle.

I love rusty stuff, but Jerry entrusted us with information and we would not loot this site for anything and left it as it was for the next (hopefully respectful) visitor.

We enjoyed a more leisurely pace on our return and took more pictures of scenic stuff.  I uploaded the pictures from our desert hikes if you’d like to see them at the following link:

I also uploaded my petroglyphs pictures if you would like to cruise through them.

No comments: