Monday, October 31, 2011

The Old 3 R's Trail

October 24, 2011 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Early one fall morning Bill  Barkley arrived at the ranch and told me to saddle up, we were going to move some stock down to the Three R’s Corral near Dinosaur Mountain. I saddled up an old cow pony named Scooter. He was a large bay standing about fifteen and half hands, and weighting in at about eleven hundred and fifty pounds. Scooter was a good ride and I did enjoy handling him. This would be my first trip over
the Three R’s Trail.

Bill and I had rounded up about twenty-five head of yearlings the day before. Now Barkley planned on moving them down to the Quarter Circle W Ranch (Three R’s). Apacheland stood near the old Three R’s. A few years ago, the entire old Three R’s Ranch was razed.

Bill took the lead out of the corral and I hazed the yearlings into motion. They were through the gate and on their way with me eating a large cloud of dust. Now I knew why cowboys wore bandanas. It’s amazing how much dust twenty-five yearlings can stir up when the trail is dry. Bill rode flank and I rode drag. Oh, by the way, drag is riding at the rear of the herd and eating all the dust.

One yearling appeared to know his way back to the Quarter Circle W. Once the cattle settled down and begin to trail, the job of moving them became easier. I finally moved over to Bill’s flank and we chatted as the cattle moved along the trail.

“See up there, Slim, that is where mom killed a mountain sheep in 1915 with an old 30-40 Kraig rifle,” said Bill. What a shot Gertie must have been to make such a kill. The distance appeared to be at least four hundred yards.

Bill told me how many Desert  Bighorn Sheep roamed Superstition Mountain when he was a kid. He talked about the antelope that lived on the desert around Dinosaur Mountain. I couldn’t believe antelope use to be plentiful on the desert near the base of Superstition Mountain. Yes, the region had changed a lot in forty years.

As the cattle continue to walk slowly toward the Three R’s Ranch a Mule deer became part of our herd. Bill said it wasn’t uncommon to have as many mule deer in the herd as cattle when taking this trail. As we rounded Promontory Hill we could see Dinosaur Mountain in the distance some four or five miles away. The cattle continue walking slowly along the trail. Bill then started another story about how the Indians use to gather Mesquite beans along the alluvial fans of Superstition Mountain. “The first time my mother saw those Indians she thought they were on the warpath. Once she got acquainted with a few of them she found out  they were gathering Mesquite beans and Goat nut beans,” he said. Goat nuts were sometimes called Jojoba. One story would lead into another.

I was a young and not-too-cautious man at the time. I coiled my rope with the intentions of trying to throw a loop on one of the small Mule deer bucks that was no more than twenty-five feet away. The deer totally ignored us. Bill called to me and said, “You had better think about it for a moment, Slim, before you throw a loop on that Mule deer.” Then Bill started another story about a young buckaroo he knew once, who threw
a loop on a four-point buck up near Sunflower. When his catch rope was stretched tight the buck turned around and ran at his horse right up the rope. The deer then jumped to clear the horse and collided with the cowboy in the saddle. This was a wreck that would remain a part of cowboy vernacular for decades to come.

The cowboy ended up with a broken arm and two holes in his chest. Bill said he almost bled to death before they could get him to a doctor. After Bill’s short story, I coiled my rope and enjoyed watching the deer walk in and out of the herd. Bill had a unique way of discouraging dangerous behavior that could result in serious injury or an accident.

Bill told me there was a tank about two miles ahead and he wanted to water the yearlings. As we approached we could see Mallard ducks flying off the earthen stock tank. The ducks startled the yearlings momentarily, but they soon calmed down. The ducks circled the tank until we finally moved on. There must have been a dozen or more of them flying about.

While looking at the Mallards, Bill told me another story about a cowboy who almost drowned in a stock tank. Never let your horse get into a stock tank you don’t know. If the bottom is too soft and the horse rolls on you, the horse could easily drown you in six inches of water. Again, Bill was very convincing. I soon figured out, if an eleven hundred-pound horse were to roll on you in a stock tank and cause you to inhale silt as you came up for air, I could see clearly how easy it would be to drown. Another lesson learned from Bill Barkley.

About a half-mile west of the stock tank we ran into a herd of Javelina. These pig-like animals ran right through the middle of the yearlings scattering them in different directions. ill and I were rounding up spooked yearlings all over the desert. Finally, we got them gathered and trailing once more. Scooter and I had plenty of cactus thorns to attest to our effort to corral these young cattle.

We finally could see the windmill and we knew the corral wasn’t much farther down the trail. Finally, we could see one of Julian King’s houses and civilization. I ask Bill what was going on near the old ranch house and he told me they were building a movie set.

We finally got the cattle put away and rode over to Bill’s mother’s new home for dinner. Gertie, to all the cowboys, had prepared a wonderful meal for a couple of hard working men. Gertie made every effort to make me feel at home. When she became inquisitive about my experience as a cowboy I became quite nervous. Then she looked at me and said, I was too young to be very experienced at working cattle. She then asked Bill where he had found me. Bill mention my dad and that seem to ease her interest in me.

Out her front window I could see only a couple of homes in the area. She commented on  all the folks that were moving out to the desert. She believed the area would be covered with houses someday. What a vision she had for what the future held for this area. I will  always cherish that evening at Gertie Barkley’s home and the stories she told me about the old days and real cowboys of her day. Men like her late husband, William A. Barkley and a son like William Thomas Barkley. They were true Arizona cowmen.

I visited Gertie’s home a few times after she passed away and visited with her daughter Nancy and her husband Ken. I could still feel the spirit of this cowgirl of the Superstition Mountain stage. I have the deepest respect for these fine people who helped guide me through that youthful part of life when guidance was most needed to keep me safe.

The Three R’s trail from the Quarter Circle U Ranch to the Three R’s Ranch was a great learning experience for me. The lesson has lasted me a lifetime.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Cowboy Called 'Bud'

October 17, 2011 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The following story is an appropriate story for this year’s “Day of the Cowboy” celebration  here in Apache Junction and Gold Canyon.

Richard A. “Bud” Lane touched many of our lives here in Apache Junction. His name was synonymous with cowboys and horses and his love for animals and the outdoors was shared with all those he knew.

Bud Lane was born on March 5, 1923, in Hanford, California. His life’s work was with horses and cattle. He served his country during World War II with honor. He was a navy diver and was on the USS Fanning near Pearl Harbor when it was bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. He also served in the United States Air Force during the Korean Police Action. Bud worked as a cowboy on many of the ranches that dot the landscape of the American Southwest. He also was a part of the rodeo circuit for several years. His saddle bronc riding received a wide range of recognition and denoted the type of man he was.

Bud was an honest and proud man. His pride prevented him from accepting charity at anytime form others. He was so stubborn at times it was difficult for some to understand him, but those of us who really knew Bud understood why.

He knew who he was, what he was, and he wanted nothing else but to be a cowboy. He wanted to improve his place in life, but it had to be in the outdoors and with a horse. Bud Lane was born a hundred years too late. He dreamed of owning a couple of acres where he could have a horse and dog. Bud’s willingness to help others when he was down and out revealed the true character of this man. This desire to help others earned him a lot of respect in Apache Junction. A call for help to aid a person, injured horse, dog or other animal would always bring Bud on the run.

I will never forget the time my dog, Duke, was severely lacerated on his leg by a large piece of glass. I called Bud and he responded immediately to assist me with my injured dog. Within minutes he had stopped the bleeding and was stitching up the gaping wound on Duke’s leg. Duke walked a couple thousand miles in the Superstition Wilderness after that day attesting to Bud’s skill in doctoring animals.

Those who knew Bud respected and loved him despite his faults. There will be many “Bud Lane” stories that will emerge in the years ahead. These stories will be the legacy of a cowboy who never changed his way of in life to suit progress. Bud always tried to maintain a low profile. Stories about him and Superstition Mountain evolved from those who knew Bud best.

There were few people who knew the Superstition Wilderness as well as Bud Lane. Geographic place names such as Frankfurter Flats, Lane’s Short Cut Trail and many other names will be part of his legacy in this mountain country. Bud packed prospectors for Ron Feldman’s O.K. Corral, Crader’s Superstition Mountain Pack Outfit, and was half owner of the Peralta Stables with Everett “Arkie” Johnston. Those who met Bud on the trail had a high regard for him as a seasoned cowboy. I sometimes believe the song “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” was written about and for Bud Lane.

Bud Lane touched the lives  of many of my students at the Apache Junction Jr. High School over the years. He and I sponsored numerous horseback trips into the Superstition Wilderness for the students of my classes. Bud and I guided these school trips for more than fifteen years together. On one trip we had sixty students and ten adult sponsors. Bud always said the children were his best “dudes” because they
took his advice about safety around the horses and also sought his knowledge about horses. I believe these were some of the happiest moments in this old cowboy’s life. Bud was very gruff toward adult customers, but his demeanor changed completely around children.

Bud Lane also taught classes on horse shoeing for Central Arizona College. He never dreamed he could get such a job. I talked to the dean of the college and he thought it was a great idea. Bud soon started teaching classes on Saturday at the old Quarter Circle U Ranch. These classes gave purpose to an old cowboy’s life. It was in these classes where he shared with his students the life he loved so much.

Richard Alexander “Bud” Lane was a proud man. He had his ups and down with life, but most important of all his integrity stood far above any of his faults. He was not a self-serving man nor was he self-centered. He was a man of his word and definitely a spirit of the Old West in Apache Junction. He was the cowboy in all us that we loved so much. Our friend Bud Lane passed away on Monday, June 1, 1987, at the Tucson Veteran’s Hospital in Tucson, Arizona.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Desert Bonanza

October 10, 2011 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Goldfield and the famous Mammoth Mine have long ceased to be the booming mining camp it was at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The inhabitants have left and little remains today of its glorious past. Remnants of this era can be found on the base of a large alluvial fan (an alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit formed where a fast flowing stream flattens, slows, and spreads typically at the exit of a canyon onto a flatter plain). This alluvia fan protrudes into the desert far below the towering cliffs of Superstition Mountain.

Late in the Nineteenth Century, early prospectors passed this area without much of a glance. Mexican prospectors found small stringers of gold in the area as early as 1879. However, these outcrops did not attract any serious interest. Eventually, some Mormons from Mesa City began to prospect in the area. The Lucky  Boy claim was staked in 1881,  but produced very little gold. On November 27, 1892 C. R. Hakes, Orlando Merrill, Orrin Merrill and J. R. Morse filed on the Black Queen claim. The Black Queen produced a reasonable amount of gold because it kept miners busy in the area until the discovery of the Mammoth claim occurred in April 1893. This discovery was prompted by a flash flood along Goldfield Wash (Weeks Wash) that exposed a rich vein of gold ore.

Hakes, the Merrills and Morse worked their claim for a short time than filed four other claims, the Black King, Mammoth, Mother Hubbard, and Tom Thumb. They sold their claims to Denver capitalists Denny Sullivan and Charles I. Hall just six months after filing the claims for a price of twenty thousand dollars.

It was the Mammoth that became the bonanza of the five claims. At first there was only a small amount of gold detected at the surface, however at the depth of sixty feet a large ore deposit was located that later became known as the “Mormon Stope.” Between seventy and two hundred and fifty feet the gold was so rich it held the quartz together in the stamp mill making it difficult to separate. It is claimed over three million dollars in gold was removed from this mine in four years between 1893-1897. Most of the gold was removed from the Mormon Stope in the first two and a half years.

Geologically, this area is a basement pediment complex composed of coarse grained, indurated conglomerates and granite breccia. The region was intruded by rich veins gold in quartz. The principle ore body, the Mormon Stope, was located in the vicinity of two northward striking and steeply westward dipping faults that outcropped some three hundred feet apart. Within this zone the riches ore was produced, resulting from granite outcrops heavily stained with brownish limonite containing irregular stringers rich goldfilled quartz. According to George B. Church, the material mined was oxidized. The Iron Pyrite that accompanied the quartz was the source material for the gold bearing Iron Oxide. Some minerals today that have been associated with the gold quartz was Monzanite, and Calcite.

By November of 1893, the hostile desert environment had been altered so that it was compatible for occupancy by miners and their families. Frame structures and tents were common place. However, Goldfield was doomed from the beginning. The miners were digging rich gold ore one day, and the next day the gold ore was gone. The rich ore body had been dissected by a fault millions of years before. The rich ore body had attracted well over five hundred people to the area. By November 1897, Goldfield became a ghost town haunted only by the wind and the coyotes.

Early in 1910, Goldfield briefly came to life again. George U. Young acquired the claims and for the next fifteen years tried to relocate the lost ore body. At 900 feet, low-grade ore was encountered, however this attempt ended in failure because they didn’t locate the high-grade ore deposit. It was at this time a large steamdriven electric power plant was installed. The purpose of the power plant was to operate a ten-stamp amalgamation mill and provide power for a 50-ton cyanide plant. The two were operated intermittently for several years producing about $67,000 worth of gold and silver.

On June 8, 1921 Goldfield was re-established as Youngsberg, Arizona. After the closing of the post office in Goldfield (Youngsberg) in 1926  the community ceased to exist officially. The area saw mining activity in 1949, and then through much of the 1970’s. During both of these periods gold was produced. Only sturdy concrete foundations and eroded mine dumps exist today.

In 1985, Goldfield had a rebirth when Robert and LuAnn Schoose deciding to fulfill a dream and build a ghost town that would serve as both tourist attraction and a museum. The site of Goldfield and Youngsberg are once again a place to go see. Schoose’s effort has definitely help preserve the mining history of the area and Arizona.

With our Arizona Centennial celebration coming up in 2012 their effort to rebuild this historical site should be recognized. This attraction is just north of Apache Junction on State Rt. 88 and has one the finest displays of old mining equipment in Arizona. It’s well worth your time to visit the Goldfield Ghost Town.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Dutch Hunters' Rendezvous

October 3, 2011 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

We are now in the twenty-first century, and the intense interest in lost mines in the Superstition Mountain area still prevails.

Men and women continue to come to the Superstition Wilderness Area hoping to find their fortunes. Most find nothing and some are lucky to just walk away. Sadly, some make poor choices and eventually end up dead or injured. These accidents are no stranger to the unprepared and inexperienced in this rugged mountain range east of Apache Junction. Adventurers and prospectors have suffered from extreme weather conditions, gunshot wounds, falls, flash floods, dehydration, and sun stroke to name a few. Ironically, the Superstition Mountains are far safer than the streets of Phoenix or the highways of Arizona.

Since the early 1880’s, men and women have searched these rugged mountains for lost mines and treasure. Gold is the natural magnet that attracts the modern day adventurer to these mountains. The most significant lost mine story centers around a German immigrant name Jacob Waltz. His infamous mine was allegedly located with a two-mile radius of Weaver’s Needle, a prominent landmark east of Superstition Mountain.

Each year, I am amazed at the people who become interested in the search for the Lost Dutchman mine. There is a continuous list of new prospectors who are searching these rugged mountains for clues. Several years ago a businessman and prospector named Joe Ribaudo, of Lake Havasu, Arizona, decided he wanted to see the Dutchman’s legend carried on by some kind of annual gathering. He came up with the idea of the “Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous.” He held the first “gathering” just west of Twin Buttes along the Gila River east of Florence, Arizona.

This first “Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous” was small with only thirteen people attending in October of 2005. However, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea. The next year the rendezvous was moved to the Don’s Camp with the help of Don’s member Greg Davis. The camp is located at the base of Superstition Mountain near the Peralta Trail Head. Each year the activity has been held toward the end of October and has continued to grow. It is a gathering of individuals that are extremely interested in the Superstition Mountains and stories about lost gold mines. This event has attracted old timers, as well as contemporaries, anxious to learn new stories about the Superstition Mountains.

The third year, Joe handed over the organizing of the “Dutchman’s Rendezvous” to Wayne Tuttle and Randy Wright. Greg Davis continued to make the arrangements for the Don’s Camp for the annual rendezvous. Joe and his wife, Carolyn, remained being camp hosts providing some shade and cold water. The scheduled activities include a variety of options for attendees. Friday includes sitting around various campfires and telling stories about the mountains and the many characters that searched for gold there. There are usually two hikes Saturday morning. One is a very difficult hike over rough terrain and the other hike is over much easier terrain and gentler slopes. After dark on Saturday evening everyone gathers at the Ramada
to listen to a couple of guest speakers.

I attended last year for the first time and I thought it was an excellent opportunity to meet a variety of people from all over the United States who are interested in our local history of the mountains. This particular event is not connected with the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce or the Superstition Mountain Museum. Last year there were three days of events. The interested, the curious, and the very serious showed up for the events last year. They traveled from such distant places as Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, California, New Hampshire, and other states. The organizers of this event should be proud of their accomplishment. I would estimate approximately a hundred people attended last year’s “Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous.” The event is growing each year.

Each year, noted Dutch hunters, historians, and authors attend this gathering. Many of the authors have published books on the history of the area. Over the years Clay Worst, Bob Corbin, Jack San Felice, Bob Schoose, Gregory Davis and Dr. Thomas Glover have attended the event and added their signature to it.

The “Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous” is an open event, so everyone is welcome. This year’s event is scheduled for Fri., Sat., and Sun., October 21, 22, & 23, 2011. There is no admission, no charge for camping, and all activities are free, based on first come, first served. The camping is primitive, so you need to bring what you need to be comfortable. Be sure to bring water, food, tent and bedding. If you don’t bring a tent you will have to sleep outside or in your vehicle. There is no electricity or running water. There are restroom facilities.

For more information you may email Joe at havasho@ or Randy at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Old Hermit Elisha M. Reavis

September 26, 2011 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

No story about the Superstition Mountains would be complete without a mention of the old hermit. Elisha Marcus Reavis was one of the most enigmatic individuals to wander the West. Reavis was born in Beardstown, Illinois in 1827. He taught school briefly in Illinois after graduating from an Illinois teacher’s college, but soon moved to California where he taught school at El Monti.

Reavis soon lost interest in teaching school and then decided to dedicate his time to the gold fields along the San Gabriel River. He spent most of the 1850’s prospecting for gold. Reavis joined a group of adventurers and prospectors headed for the Bradshaw Mountains in Arizona Territory in early 1863. He had little success in the Bradshaws and returned to California in 1866.

Upon returning to California he married Mary Y. Sexton on December 30, 1867, in San Gabriel. There were two children born to this marriage. One was a daughter named Louisa Maria born on November 22, 1868. There was also a son born to Elisha and Mary, but he did not grow to maturity.

Reavis returned to Arizona Territory shortly after his daughter’s birth. It was the fall of 1869. Elisha’s uncle, Isham Reavis, had just been appointed Assistant Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. Reavis traveled to La Paz with Isham, but separated from him and traveled on the Vulture City near Wickenburg. He spent enough time in Vulture City to appear on the U.S. Census report for August 20, 1870.

Reavis’ name then appears in the 1872 U.S. Census report in the Fort McDowell area. It is believed Reavis settled on a horse ranch north of Fort McDowell on the Verde River were he broke and trained horses. It is believed he may have rode with the Army as a civilian packer between 1870- 1872. This would explain how he knew the Superstition Mountain region so well and was familiar with the Reavis Valley. He may have served as a temporary Deputy United States Marshall in the McDowell Precinct appointed by his uncle, Assistant Territorial Supreme Court Justice Isham Reavis. Also the 1875 U.S. Census report showed Elisha still living in the Fort McDowell Precinct. The 1880 Great Registry of Maricopa County listed Elisha Marcus Reavis as a resident of the Fort McDowell Precinct. This record may have resulted from Reavis filling out paper work on one of his many visits to the area to sell vegetables from his Superstition Mountain home.

Elisha Reavis was a skilled packer and expert marksman with a rifle. He carried a Winchester 1886 38-40 repeater. There were many stories about his marksmanship and fearless way of life. One of the best stories told about Reavis was the time he defended his abode from ten fierce Apache warriors who were heavily armed. Early in the afternoon of May 8, 1878, warriors tried to get Reavis out of his defensive dugout. Three warriors had lost their lives to the deadly accuracy of Reavis’ rifle. Finally, they decided to go across the creek and camp for the night. Their new plan was to wait until Reavis ran out of food and water. They were in no hurry.

Reavis, while waiting his fate, recalled an old story he had heard about the Apaches from other men who had survived similar situations. If he could convince the Apache he was insane or crazy they might leave him alone. He quickly stripped off all his clothing from his body, grabbed two butcher knives and ran across his garden, then the creek, screaming and showing absolutely no fear. The Apaches heard, then saw the fire red hair and blue eyes of a screeching “white devil” racing toward them in the light of their campfire. The Apaches were convinced he was surely crazy, as no sane man would run naked, armed with two knives, into the camp of seven heavily armed men. The Apaches fled in panic never to return to Reavis’ mountain sanctuary again. The Apaches raided into the area as late as 1881, but avoided Reavis’ valley.

This horrific event in the life Elisha Marcus Reavis certainly represents the overall cunning, daring and selfreliance needed by him to survive in these rugged and  isolated mountains during this period. During the latter years of his life he grew vegetables and sold them around the mining camps that dotted  the central mountain region of Arizona. Reavis was a loner, but did enjoy having an occasional visitor at his mountain dugout. He certainly had the first library of fine books kept within the boundaries of the Superstition Wilderness Area. Reavis became a legend during his life because of his personal appearance, his education, his self-reliance, and his isolated way of life. He never shaved or took a bath. His unkempt appearance undoubtedly added to this legacy. When Reavis arrived in various communities in Arizona Territory he was always riding his favorite burro and leading a string of eight to fifteen burros. These small sure-footed beasts of burden served Reavis well.

The old “Hermit’s” health created a lot of concern among his friends in the fall of 1895. He was close to seventy years old and still making trips from his mountain home to the small towns in central Arizona Territory selling his vegetables. Reavis cultivated and irrigated about fifteen acres of land by himself. He had chickens, turkeys, hogs, burros, two horses and several dogs he cared for. His team pulled a shear plow, disc and leveler. James Dalabaugh often checked in on Reavis at his place in the mountains. Dalabaugh stopped at the ranch on April 9, 1896 for a visit and check on his friend.

Reavis was preparing for a trip to Mesa to buy seed potatoes. Dalabaugh bid Reavis farewell and then checked on some mining property he had in the area and finally ended up at the JF Ranch on May 6, 1896 and found out his old friend had not stopped at the ranch. Dalabaugh back tracked and found the remains of the old hermit just off of Roger’s Canyon in what is known as Grave Canyon today.

He died alone along the trail about four miles south of his mountain home around April 10, 1896. A grave was dug and Reavis’ remains were laid to rest on May 7, 1896. Today the grave can be seen in a small Indian ruin with a pile of stones on it. Twenty years ago the grave had a stone marker, however, it is gone today.