Monday, September 24, 2007

CD Cabin Near Bluff Springs

September 24, 2007 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

Deep in the Superstition Mountains near the south end of Bluff Springs Mountain there is the ruin of an old one room cabin. The cabin is about eight feet wide and ten feet long. It had bunk beds at one end and a potbelly stove at the other. The roof was sound enough to keep water out and a barrel at the side of the cabin to gather rain water. As I studied the cabin one morning while working for the Barkley Cattle Company in the 1950’s, I could imagine all the wonderful memories others must have of it. Its’ obscured location made it a special place to get-a-way from our modern complex society. I am sure others have come across this old cabin in the last four or five decades, or at least its remnants.

I had no idea who built it or its origin until last year when Grover Ryan contacted me by sending me photographs and the story about the cabin. Grover’s heart had always been in the Superstition Mountains. Throughout most of his life he has worked as an architect, but always had time for the Superstition Mountains. His friendship with Fred Guirey helped build his interest even more in the mountains. He heard stories from Fred about the infamous Lost Dutchman mine. Grover climbed Superstition Mountain, Weaver’s Needle, Tortilla Mountain, Mound Mountain, visited Reavis Fall and the Reavis Ranch. He was friends with the Uptons and often spent time at the old Reavis Ranch. Grover has tried to enjoy all of the Superstition Wilderness Area over the years.

Grover Ryan first learned about the Superstition Mountains from his Grand-Dad Bill Hamby. Ryan’s grandfather had wandered Arizona prospecting, farming and being a forest ranger from 1890 to1920. He met many of Jacob Waltz’s friends and heard their stories about the old Dutchman. According to those stories Waltz had a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. Grover wanted to spend some time searching the Superstition Mountain for Waltz’s lost mine. Grover Ryan was born in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area in 1934 and began hiking in the mountains with his grandfather in 1944. Ryan attended Phoenix North High School between 1949 and 1953. He played football for Phoenix North High School and after a game he would spend the night hiking in the Superstition Mountains. By the early 1950’s Grover knew the mountains very well.

He led many groups of young people on hikes in the Superstition Mountains. Out of these many groups two young men believed they needed to build a cabin back in the Superstition Mountain. These two young men were C.D. Rhodes and Elson Schwabe. They all had passed the remains of the William’s Mining Camp on the south side of Bluff Springs Mountain recognizing the potential of building material. The young men decided to tear down the old William’s Camp and use the material to build a hiking cabin.

The project began in earnest shortly after high school for the young men. Finally an 8’ by 10’ cabin was built high above the trail and off the regular path. This cabin remained obscure and hidden for several decades. The cabin became known as the CD Cabin. Eldon was the architect and the chief builder of the cabin. CD Rhodes packed most of the materials from the William’s Camp to the cabin site. He even packed in a pot belly stove from Peralta Trail Head. This certainly was no easy task.

The cabin was used for many years by the families of the founders, but was eventually abandoned to the ravages of time.

Grover had revisited the cabin several times over the years only to watch it weather and crumble. Their sons had no real interest in hiking or camping: they preferred to “Cruise Central.” Their lives were of a different era. The cabin stood strong for forty five years never being disturbed. Grover’s last visit to the cabin was February 12, 1995. Just a few years ago the old pot-bellied stove was packed out to safety.

There are many more out there like Grover who appreciated the mountains as a very special place of their youth. This story is dedicated to all of you who find Superstition Mountain and its environs a special part of your life. My father introduced me to these mountains in 1947 and I have never forgotten that special relationship I had with my father and the mountains.

Dan Hopper is a good friend of mine who also enjoyed that very special relationship with the mountain because his father introduced him to it as a young lad. Dan also introduced his son Bobby to the mountains.

Grover, thanks for sharing your story with us. Until I had heard Grover’s story I had always thought the old cabin was a prospector’s cabin. I never dreamed it was a hiker’s cabin especially from this particular time frame. Each year new secrets of old Superstition Mountain are revealed. It appears somebody comes along and reveals yet another great story about the Superstition Wilderness Area.

We who have known the mountain for decades can really appreciate these stories about others and how their lives were affected by the mountains. Granted some people have had serious altercations associated with the mountain, but most have just enjoyed their beauty, remoteness, solitude, and tranquility. Some have searched for gold and other have just enjoyed hiking or walking through the beauty and vastness of the Superstition Wilderness Area.