Tag Archives: arizona

Cars of Arizona

Just a few of the classics that we spotted while in the Grand Canyon State.

1946 Chevy

1953 Ford F-350

1959 Chevy Corvette

Willys Utility Wagon

1957 Ford Thunderbird

Willys Jeep COE

1936 Ford pickup

The King of Gold King

Don Robertson

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.

Sycamore Along Beaver Creek

Montezuma Castle National Monument

“Montezuma’s Castle”

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.

Montezuma Site A

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.

Beaver Creek

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.

Tonto Cactus

Tonto National Monument

The monument, established by President Roosevelt in 1907, is home to the remnants of two cliff dwellings. We were able to climb up to the most visible of the two. The second one is by ranger-guided tour only, and we were too late in the day for that.

The community appeared around 1300 A.D., and was home to the Salado Indians. The ruins overlook, what was the Salt River, and what is now Roosevelt Lake. The fertile flood plain was well irrigated, and a natural place to grow the community’s crops.

The Lower Ruin

The Lower Ruin originally contained 19 rooms. The surfaces are worn smooth, and the ceiling rocks are loaded with the soot from ancient fires. The Upper Ruin is quite a bit larger, with 40 rooms. The hike to get there is also longer at 3 miles round trip.

Looking at the photographs of the ruins over the years, show remarkable changes. When the Roosevelt Dam was built, workers would visit the ruins and take souvenirs. By the time Arizona became a state in 1912, the Southern Pacific Railroad constructed a hotel near the dam. Tours were given to the cliff dwellings, and, in an attempt to make access to the ruin interior easier, a wall was blown up. The Tonto Cliff Dwellings suffered more damage and loss in the 1920’s and early 1930’s than during the previous 600 years.

The Tonto cliff dwellings before the railroad

On the Apache Trail

The relatives should have been wary when I took the rental Tahoe. I’m driving, and my aunt is filming. They may never allow me to travel with them again…