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Mar 24, 2010
|Wednesday, March 24, 2010
We had a good time exploring around Cottonwood, AZ. We saw some ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument that were left from the Sinagua Indians. At least that is the name given by the folks who study this stuff. Now say the monument name several times: Too-zee-goot, Tuzigoot, Tuzigoot. Ain’t that a neat word? In Apache it means “crooked water.” There were Apache workers on the WPA crew that uncovered the ruins in 1933-34 and one of them suggested the name. The ruins are on a hill overlooking the Verde River and it twists and turns a lot. Thus the name. This tribe also mysteriously disappeared about 1450 AD as did all the tribes around these parts. Only their ruins remain. Obviously these tribes moved and eventually became the modern tribes such as Hopi, Pueblo, Apache etc. But the experts just don’t know why they moved and exactly where they went. These ruins are unusual in that they are not built near cliffs but on a hilltop. Great view from up there.
We wandered the streets of Cottonwood, all 2 blocks of the old downtown. Had some ridiculously expensive gelato and then just laid back at the CG.
When we got here we strolled around the CG to the top of a hill and could see down the valley and up into the Mingus Mountains. We saw what we thought was a new development built up on the side of the mountain. Only later we found out that this was the town of Jerome. It is an old ghost town and is now a tourist attraction. We had heard about this place from several people so on Monday we headed up there. It is a good climb to get there tho only a few miles as the crow flies from the CG and boy is there a view of the valley.
Ok, so now a little history on Jerome. Well when the Conquistadors wandered thru here in the 1500’s they saw that the natives were using copper and learned where they found it. Yup, up near present day Jerome. The Spaniards decided it would be too much work to get it so just said faagitaboudit and went on their merry way. Long after, in the 1870’s, some enterprising white guys showed up and staked claims on the mountainside. Some richer guys bought them out and boom, Jerome was born. Now it is claimed that this was the wildest, woolliest rock-em sock-em town in the west. Who knows, but one thing I do know is this sucker is perched on the side of a mountain. Reminded us of places in Italy where ya look and just say “What the hell did they build here for?” The streets are el steepo for sure. Buildings are tossed in helter skelter and it looks like kind of a mish mash.
So anyway Jerome boomed with the construction of miles of underground tunnels and a copper smelter. The word is that there are still 88 miles of tunnels beneath Jerome. It reached its peak population of about 15,000 in the 1920,s. When the mine shut down in 1953 they say only about 50 people stayed on. But they were stubborn and formed an historical society and began acquiring properties from the mining company and other individuals. In the 60’s the hippies moved in and artists were among them and Voila, today it is a thriving town again with lots of art shops. We toured the museum, had a good lunch and just wandered the streets. There are a lot of holes where buildings used to be but all in all it is a neat place to wander.
I learned another interesting fact. This one about Arizona highways again. A few weeks back I mentioned driving on the Apache Trail, State Hwy 88 that blew me away as it was not a highway in any sense of the imagination and something we could not drive on with our trailer. Well upon leaving Cottonwood we had planned to drive on State Hwy 89A to Prescott. Looked easy on the map. The road goes thru Jerome. As we began the climb to Jerome we saw a large sign of a truck with a red slash thru it and the words 50’ max beneath it. When we wandered town we found out why. There were a number of switchbacks heading to the town but in town there was a ridiculously sharp switchback. I asked a couple locals if we should tow our trailer across this highway. Boy did they laugh. We drove about a mile out of town and the road was naaaarrrow and hugged a cliff. Nope, we’ll skip it.
Tuesday we headed to Montezuma Castle National Monument. This was another Singua village but this one was built in a neat location, it is high on a steep cliff tucked under an alcove. This place also has a year-round running river nearby. Since the 1950’s visitors have been unable to climb up into the ruins but it is an impressive sight.
After that we drove to Sedona. Most people have heard of Sedona, there are incredible red rock formations around the area. We were last in the area in 1991 and all I have to say is Yuckk. Wow is this area built up now. We didn’t stick around very long. It’s still very beautiful scenery though.
Today we hit the dusty trail and took the long way around to Prescott, then on to I-40 and Bullhead City just across the Colorado River from Laughlin, NV. We are in a CG right down by the river.