It's starting to warm up in Phoenix. What we lovingly refer to as "winter" is starting to turn to "summer" and for the next nine days or so, the weather will emulate something akin to "spring" before beginning its annual rapid climb to triple digits. This is the time of year when the wanderlust takes hold. When the weekend arrives, I like drag my wife out of bed and haul her into the car for a day trip into the back roads.
For those of you requiring documentation of my claim, I'm creating some Flickr photosets from some of our trips. (Hey: I'm no Ansel Adams, but I do love me some scenery.) This first set covers visits to the Arizona towns of Superior, Clifton, Morenci and Carefree (as well as a brief stop in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York).
Just east of the Superstition mountains, Superior was the home of mining magnate Boyce Thompson's Magma Copper Company. While no longer thriving, Superior is ripe for regentrification. Here's an aerial view I found on the town's Web site. Thompson left more than just an old town as his legacy, the nearby arboretum that bears his name is one of Arizona's most beautiful state parks.
About 150 miles east of Superior, out on the edge of the New Mexico in the middle of nowhere, sits one of the largest open pit mines in the world. It used to be a town called Morenci, but that was dismantled 40 years ago to accomodate the ever widening pit excavation. All that remains are a few rows of homes and a couple of stores. As one resident puts it on her wonderful Web site of oral history, Morenci doesn't even qualify as a ghost town, since there's nothing left to haunt.
The Mistress Mine museum is a more recent victim of progress. About an hour north of Phoenix, it sat adjacent to the Tonto National Forest on tract of private land. It was felled last year when the property changed hands and the new owner decided to kick the curator Ron Kaczor off the premises. We paid the museum a visit shortly before its demise, and I got a chance to chat with Ron while I was there. I also bought a box of Brazilian postcards off him for five bucks. While sorry to see the museum go, Ron was already looking ahead to new opportunities. And besides, we both agreed the danger of fire was increasingly ominous. Sure enough, less than a month after our conversation, the whole area north of Carefree was in flames.