Tag Archives: ruins
The Flagstaff Roadtrip
I took a road trip a while back to Flagstaff from Minneapolis with a good friend of mine. He is, in fact, one of the two official sponsors of Circle-To-Circle. These photos are from that road trip.
I had to hunt in the archives for the original post, and was surprised to find out that this trip was back in 2014. I was amused to see that my camera battery had died on the digital, and I was forced to bring out the film camera. So here we are, over four years later, bringing CtoC up to date.
I absolutely love driving and camping across the American Southwest, and this trip was mostly a two-lane adventure. I think part of the desert appeal is that I’ve lived in the north country all of my life. The arid environment is so different. In Alaska, I’m rarely further than 25 feet from water in any one direction. For me, the West is very much an alien world.
Visiting Canyon de Chelly, both of us travelers, were hit by the bug to get into that national monument’s back country, but neither one of us has been back. Yet. Now that bug is crawling again.
I put in the photo from Meteor Crater, partly because it was from the same trip, and partly because I think the black & white film does a better job of relating just how desolate that country is.
Camera: Kodak 66; Filter: Kodisc Cloud – Yellow; Film: Kodak 120 T-Max 100
15 August 1943
75 Years Ago
The Japanese had occupied Kiska Island on Alaska’s Aleutian Chain since June of ’42. After the brutal Battle of Attu, Allied forces expected the same type of defense of Kiska from the Japanese.
Leading up to the invasion, the U.S. Air Force bombarded the Japanese positions on Kiska. In June of ’43, 407 bombing sorties were sent to the remote island, and even more in July. Japanese troop level was at just over 5100 men. Resupply of the island had become by submarine only.
In August, bombing sorties increased even more. On August 4 alone, 135 sorties dropped 304,000 pounds of explosives on Kiska.* No Japanese troops were sighted by the bomber pilots, but that was not unusual, since the Japanese went underground during the raids.
7300 combat troops landed at the main beach head. They were greeted by six dogs wagging their tails. One of the dogs was “Explosion”, the pup that was with the Navy weather station crew that was on Kiska when the Japanese invaded the island the previous June. In all, 34,426 Allied troops were a part of the invasion, which included 5300 Canadians.
As troops moved across the foggy island, occasionally a bomb or booby trap was set off, but no enemy soldiers were to be seen. Still, shots were fired into the fog by the jumpy soldiers.
The Japanese were no longer on the island. Realizing they could not defend Kiska after losing Attu, they had evacuated the island two weeks before the invasion.
92 Allied troops were killed, and 221 wounded. Most came when the destroyer Abner Read struck a Japanese mine causing 118 casualties. 4 Canadians and 17 Americans were killed on Kiska, and 50 were wounded, many by friendly fire in the fog. 130 men suffered from trenchfoot, of which only one was a Canadian due to their proper footwear.
The Americans would not learn how or when the Japanese evacuated the island until after the war ended.
Today, Kiska is part of the Aleutian Islands Wilderness, and the Japanese occupation site a National Historic Landmark.
*The Thousand Mile War
Photos courtesy of The Alaska State Library
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