Just a few of the classics that we spotted while in the Grand Canyon State.
Monthly Archives: December 2017
From all accounts, Don Robertson was the heart and soul of the Gold King Mine in Jerome, AZ. Robertson, along with his wife Terry, spent 30 years building the mine to the collection that exists today.
One of the highlights of the collection, is the 1928 Studebaker Indy race car, built by Robertson himself. Don raced the car in vintage races around the west.
My Kiwi friend visited the Gold King Mine a few years ago, and Don started up the old Studebaker for him.
“He was a big-hearted soul with a side of orneriness,” said Jerome Police Chief Alan Muma. “He had this Indian motorcycle with a really loud motor. To stay out of trouble, he’d ask me, ‘Get your sound meter out and check me’ and as long as he kept his hand off the throttle, he would stay out of trouble.”
Don Robertson passed away in October of 2016. He was 73.
The historic Gold King Mine, is located where Haynes, AZ once stood. The suburb of Jerome, was home to the Haynes Copper Company, which dug a 1200 foot shaft looking to find copper. The copper strike was minor, but the gold that was found was not.
It was around 30 years ago, when Don Robertson bought the old, played-out mine. One mining shack remained, the bunk house. That, and the mine shafts. Robertson immediately started to drag in trucks, machinery and equipment. The result of this love affair with all things mechanical, is the Gold King Mine, Museum & Ghost Town.
It is quite the collection. From massive generators, to chainsaws, to Fords & Studebakers, if it once ran, it’s now here.
I could have easily spent an entire day here, but the trails were not the easiest for my Dad to travel. Still, I was able to mingle with the equipment for a decent amount of time.
Robertson must have had a thing for Studebakers, because they were scattered all over the area. Easily, the most I’ve ever seen of the iconic brand in one place.
Gold King Mine is a gear heads paradise. A 100 year old sawmill is now powered by a 1943 submarine engine. You can buy huge slabs of wood, if you are in the market for a new dining room table.
Walk among the ruins, take pictures, enjoy the memories. We had a herd of mule deer saunter by us on a trail above the mine. Just be careful of the abandoned mine shafts, resting rattlesnakes and the free ranging chickens and goats.
I’m here on earth to save this beautiful old machinery from a horrible death. I get it running and show people so they can appreciate it.”
— Don Robertson
Rust In Peace
The United Verde Copper Company was started on Cleopatra Hill in 1883. The town of Jerome was incorporated 6 years later. By 1900, Jerome was a bustling mining community, and by 1903, the New York Sun described the town as “the wickedest town in the west”.
We decided to see just how wicked, when we made the loop to Prescott.
Today, the narrow, winding streets of Jerome contain no obvious red light district. With the closing of the UVCC, the town turned to artists and retail to stay alive. Tourism and outdoor recreation are the main economic drivers.
A subsidence problem developed in the 1920’s when 10 buildings were damage beyond repair by 1928. Dozens of buildings were damaged as the earth sank beneath them. The jail “slid” downhill 200 feet. Faulting in the area, as well as blasts from the mines were contributing factors. The smoke from the smelter killed off vegetation, which dramatically increased erosion. The mine was eventually shut down in 1953.
Jerome is a neat, little, mountain town. The 2010 census tells us that 444 people call Jerome home, and I can understand why they live here.
Described as a “prehistoric, high-rise apartment complex”, Montezuma Castle was occupied by the Sinagua people between the years 1100 and 1425 AD. The National Monument is located near the present town of Camp Verde, AZ.
The dwelling was built in an alcove, 90 feet up a limestone cliff, and looks out over Beaver Creek. Montezuma Castle is known as one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. At its peak, the Castle housed between 30-50 people in 20 rooms.
Just west of the Castle, is Site A, or Castle A. These ruins show where a much larger dwelling once stood. It consisted of 45 rooms in a 5 story structure. It was destroyed by fire, possibly after it was abandoned. The small caves are actually “rooms”. Some brickwork can still be seen.
The site was designated a National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Montezuma Castle in 1929. Notice the ladders propped against the limestone cliff allowing access to the rooms.