Monday, August 27, 2012

King's Place Names

August 20, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

There are three “King” names in the Gold Canyon area. A couple of names have been long forgotten, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the past and a little local history.

King’s Mountain, King’s Way and Kings Ranch Road are three names of landmarks in the area, however only one name has survived until today.

When Julian and Lucy King first arrived in the foothills of Superstition Mountain in December, 1945, they had a dream to build a guest ranch and resort. They purchased land from a wiry old character named Pearl Bates and went about creating their dream on raw desert land. Julian and Lucy hauled water for a long time before developing a well. They were neighbors of the Barkleys who had lived in the area since 1907.

The road that meandered across the desert from U.S. Highway 60 to the Barkley’s Three R’s Ranch was merely a primitive set of tracks that was seldom maintained. Julian and Lucy King extended the road from the Three R’s Ranch to their property about a half-mile. If you are “new” to the area and don’t recall the old Three R’s Ranch it was located near the site of the legendary Apacheland Movie Studios owned and operated by Ed and Sue Birmingham until Valentine’s Day 2004 when it was destroyed by fire. The old ranch house was constructed of native stone and stood for more than 50 years.

Julian and Lucy King made every attempt to promote their property and business. A sign constructed out of 4 x 8 piece of plywood was erected near U.S. Highway 60 announcing to the world the King’s Ranch Resort at the base of Superstition Mountain. The road from U.S. Highway 60 to the King’s Ranch and Guest Re sort soon became known as Kings Ranch Road. The first time I remember going over the road was in 1948 when my dad and I visited old Gus Barkley at his home.

I don’t remember Julian’s sign being on Highway 60 at the time. However it was there in 1952. The first time I worked for the Barkley Cattle Company in 1955 Kings Ranch Road had been well established.

In recent years I have heard comments about why the county named a major road after the Kings Ranch and Guest Resort. I don’t find the naming of a road after a pioneering entrepreneur such as Julian King unusual or different.

Some have wondered why the road wasn’t named after the Barkley Cattle Company. After all, William A. “Gus” Barkley had been working a ranch in this area since 1907. Barkley probably could care less about a road being named after him as long as somebody maintained it. According to many who knew the Kings they spent many hours working on the road from their place to U.S. Highway 60. I am sure this pleased Gus Barkley.

After Julian King’s death in 1972, I learned many things about this man and I found him in an entirely new perspective.

I knew he was a proud man and also quite an entrepreneur. He never, in all the years I knew him, talked much about his experiences during World War II. He served on the carrier U.S.S. Enterprise during World War II. He was a deck flight officer when the Enterprise was part of a task force that challenged the power of the Japanese Navy in the battle of Midway Island.

The ships of that task force turned the tide of World War II in the Pacific. For Julian’s part as a flight deck officer launching airplanes against the Japanese Navy and the final sinking of four Japanese carriers is reason enough for the road from his old ranch to U.S. Highway 60 to always bear his name.

Another interesting name change in our area is that of Silly Mountain. Originally this mountain was named King’s Mountain, but not after Julian M. King. It was named after William N. King, an owner of a small ranch near the base of the mountain in 1934. William N. King was the founder of the Superstition Mountain Ranch Club at the Apache Junction Inn in 1934. The club was active for about seven years. After the
World War II the club never started up again.

There are several stories as to how Silly Mountain got its name. There are those who believe it originated from a small girl continuously calling the peak a “silly looking mountain.” Whatever the source of the mountain’s name, the name Silly Mountain stuck.

Recently Rosemary Shearer of Gold Canyon indicated the mountain may have had another name. She suggested it might have been called Tonto Mountain at one time. I believe Tonto means “fool” in Apache or at least one of the Native American languages in our area.

Speaking of Native American sites, one of the most misnamed landmarks is Hieroglyphic Canyon. Originally on early maps this site was known as Apache Springs.

Ironically, I was told by Barkley this site’s name was changed by Julian King because it sounded a bit more international then Apache Springs. I believe Julian had a relative living out here that was associated with Howard Carter in 1924. As I recall it was Mrs. Lansing.

Carter is the Englishman who discovered King Tut’s Tomb in Egypt.

It is interesting how place names come about. Many years ago there was another landmark named after a King and that was King’s Way what is known today as Blackhawk Road or Drive. At one time this road was the route to Julian and Lucy King’s house on a small hill at the end of the road. Again I was told there were no Blackhawk Native Americans in this area.

Two of the King names can be accredited to Julian and Lucy King and their guest ranch and resort. They were pioneers in this area when it was really tough to survive during the hot summer months. Eventually Julian and Lucy left the area and traveled over to Catalina Island where they managed a hotel in the summer time. A Pacific island was much cooler than the Sonoran Desert of Central Arizona.

I must admit each time I drive down Kings Ranch Road I think of Julian and Lucy King and their guest ranch and resort. Their hospitality and storytelling was a wonderful part of the history of this area fifty years ago.

So many place names in this area have been lost forever and will probably never be revived. Place name changing from generation to generation is the legacy of human occupancy. I suppose this is what you call progress.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Outlaw 'Hacksaw' Tom

August 13, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Stories can still be heard along the Apache Trail about the adventures of the legendary desperado “Hacksaw Tom.” It was after the turn of the 20th century this highwayman burned his name into the legends and lore of Superstition Mountain forever.

From remote hiding places near Fish Creek Canyon he preyed on the travelers of the Mesa-Roosevelt Road (Apache Trail). “Hacksaw Tom” robbed several of the teamsters who traveled the tortuous route between Mesa and the Roosevelt Dam site, according to legend.

At one point many teamsters felt they were paying a toll fee to cross the Fish Creek Bridge. Now, of course this is just legend, not fact. In all the years Hacksaw Tom preyed on the Apache Trail travelers, not one individual was injured or killed. As a matter of fact, not one individual can remember a shot being fired.

The real mystery of Hacksaw Tom was his identity. Some old timers claim he lived at the Silver King Mine in Superior and hiked across the mountains to make his periodical robberies at Fish Creek. Others thought maybe he was a local cowboy who supplemented his meager income with robbery.

An elderly retired lawman who was a friend of Jeff Adams thought Tom had a hidden camp deep in the Superstition Mountains, probably in Lost Dutch Canyon.

This canyon is a small tributary of Fish Creek that flows in above the Fish Creek Box. Several years ago two men explored a site in this canyon that appeared to be an old camp with metal detectors, but discovered nothing significant.

Whatever the case, Hacksaw Tom was never apprehended by the law. His camp, if he had one, still remains lost somewhere in the mountains. It is possible someday a lucky hiker or horsemen will stumble across Hacksaw Tom’s camp and discover his cache of loot taken from the many travelers of the Apache Trail. That is, provided he did not spend it all before his death.

There is not much documentation that supports this tale, however there were a couple of robberies along the Apache Trail that were unsolved and were noted in the Arizona Republican. The locations of the robberies have long since been forgotten, but it is apparent these old robberies may have given premise to the story of Hacksaw Tom.

Several years ago an Apache Junction resident discovered a cache along the Apache Trail that contained a hooded mask, saw-off shot gun, and other items. This discovery lead some people to believe Hacksaw Tom’s camp had been found and therefore documented his existence and exploits. These items are on display at the Superstition Mountain-Lost Dutchman Museum at Goldfield.

The tales of Hacksaw Tom continue to fascinate those interested in stories of the West. Several years ago a fine article appeared in the Arizona Highways about the legendary Hacksaw Tom.

The story of Hacksaw Tom s what legends are made of. They are tales that lie on that thin gray line between truth and fiction and become the folklore of Arizona history. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Charles Kenworthy: Treasure Hunter

August 6, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Charles “Chuck” Kenworthy was probably one of the world’s renowned treasure hunters. He was an intelligent man who formed a treasure company that sought treasure all over the world. Chuck formed the Quest Exploration Group better known as the Quest Corporation to hunt treasure worldwide. His major projects included sites in Peru, Cocos Islands, Catalina Island, Bahamas, Florida, Arizona, Virginia and California.

Chuck decided in 1973 he needed a better way to approach treasure hunting. He had used most of his resources, but had limited success as an amateur. He convinced the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) scientist to team up with him on treasure hunting. The equipment developed by the Stanford scientist provided Kenworthy an all-new research tool for treasure hunter. He now could X-ray a mountain or use a Magnometer on the ocean floor. This modern equipment redefined the term “treasure hunting.”

Kenworthy then approached John Wayne to rent his yacht, the Wild Goose, for a treasure search near Catalina Island in 1975. However, Wayne insisted on being partners with Kenworthy. Chuck accepted
Wayne’s offer and was searching for a Manila galleon that sank around Catalina Island. They found no gold, but they did find copper bullion. Soon after this expedition Kenworthy looked toward Arizona and the Superstition Mountains.

Chuck’s personality could be very infectious. He knew how to present his case and had the tenacity of a man with a dedicated mission in life— and that was to find treasure. He let nothing stand in his way, but always maintained his integrity, ethics and professionalism.

Charles Kenworthy contacted me in 1977. He told me he wanted to make a trip into the Superstition Wilderness Area to a location called Charlebois Spring and an area just west of Black Mountain (Charlebois Mountain). We communicated several times about his plans.

After we met in 1977 he wanted as much information about the Superstition Mountains as I could provide him. He wanted to know about the trails, permanent springs, camp areas and local outfitters. He indicated John Wayne was his partner. I contacted Everett “Arkie” Johnston and Bud Lane, who owned and operated the Peralta Pack Outfit and Stables on South Meridian Road in Apache Junction. Johnston and Lane became Kenworthy’s trusted packers for several years until they closed their stables. Chuck then moved his packing operation to Ron Feldman’s O.K. Corral toward the end of 1983.

During the winter 1977-1978 Charles Kenworthy set up a camp at Charlesbois Springs and started exploring the area to the immediate east against Black Mountain. He was convinced the Peralta Stone Maps
fit the area around Charlebois Springs. He said the “heart” was located immediately above the springs and the cartographer who made the Peralta Stone Maps stood on a point along the eastern ridgeline of
Bluff Springs Mountain providing the perfect detail illustrated on the Stone Maps.

I made two or three trips into the mountains with Kenworthy. He spent a remarkable amount of time trying to convince me the Peralta Stone Maps were authentic. He took me by helicopter over the area and even had the pilot illegally land on Bluff Springs Mountain so he could point out to me where “El Gato”, the Peralta Stone Map artist, had stood to do his work. Chuck was adamant about his belief in the Stone Maps.

I will never forget the time I rode into the mountains with a geologist from the University of California. Chuck wanted the geologist’s opinion of the local strata above Charlebois Spring. The man was not familiar with horses and the trip into the mountains was not good for him. He was so sore he could barely get off his horse. He was convinced he could not ride the eight miles out the next day.

This created quite a dilemma for the wrangler, Bud Lane. We rested the old man for a couple of days and then decided to take him out. He would walk a couple hundred yards then ride a couple hundred yards. It took us nine and half hours to get the old geologist out of the mountains. To be  honest I didn’t think we would get him out alive. Personally, I would have never taken him into the mountains. I never did see this geologist’s report on the area around Charlebois Spring, but I think he was ready to sue Kenworthy for maltreatment even though they were friends.

One of the most interesting incidents I shared with Kenworthy was a map that included many cryptic symbols on it. Chuck believed the map was authentic and I believed it was a fraud. Chuck believed the cryptic writing on the map was some form of ancient Hebrew. He sent the map to Israel by courier to be analyzed by scholars in ancient Hebrew. The scholars studied this map and they concluded some of the symbolism was very similar to ancient Hebrew. Chuck always believed the map was significant, but I still believed it was a fraud. Once Chuck made up his mind there was no changing it.

I remained friends and communicated with Chuck by mail for several years until the time of his death. He authored several books on treasure hunting, treasure signs and how to solve complicated maps, etc. He was often a guest speaker in the Apache Junction area. You might say Chuck was a very intelligent and enigmatic character on the treasure history of the Superstition Wilderness Area. His integrity and ethics appeared to be always intact. He was a gentleman for the most part and respected by many people. Kenworthy’s treasure expeditions left a legacy with our treasure hunting society in the Apache Junction area.

Chuck passed away on Sept. 10, 1998. His wife Agnes and their seven children survived him: Agnes, Kathy, Charles (“Tiger”), John, David, Paul and Michael. His oldest son, Charles, was Chuck’s and the company’s legal counsel.

Charles Anthony Kenworthy was born in Cleveland, Ohio on Dec. 10, 1930. He was a very successful real estate entrepreneur who retired from his business 1971 to become a world-renowned treasure hunter.

Undoubtedly Charles Kenworthy was one the best known international treasure hunters to set foot in the Superstition Wilderness Area.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Wings of Santa Maria

July 30, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Colonel Francesco De Pinedo planned carefully for his flight around the world during the winter of 1926-27.
The Italian aviator would be flying a sea plane called the Santa Maria named after Christopher Columbus’ ship.

The Santa Maria was a mono-wing seaplane with two engines, one a pusher and the other a puller. The Franchini engines were water-cooled and the airplane was designed to lift a given amount of weight at sea level. This factor created a real problem for De Pinedo at Hall Lake in New Mexico because the lake was so much higher than sea level.

De Pinedo and his crew of three left Italy near the end of March 1927. His mechanic was Lt. S. Fachetti and Captain Carlo Del Prate served asco-pilot and meteorologist.

De Pinedo’s flight around the world carried him to North Africa, then across the Atlantic to the Amazon Basin then on to Colombia, across the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. From New Orleans De Pinedo flew across Texas to the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico. He landed on Hall Lake, at Elephant Butte, New Mexico on April 5, 1927 at 3:15 p.m. MST.

Colonel De Pinedo had previously been presented the Grand Gold Medal by the Royal Geographic Society for his accomplishments in aviation. His crew was dedicated to him and Italy and this 1927 flight represented Italy’s first attempt to fly around the world.

In New Mexico, De Pinedo, a world famous aviator, presented one of the Santa Maria’s cracked propellers to Ettore Franchini, a representative of the Italian Colony known as the Colombo Society. The Colombo Society was an organization preserving the history of Christopher Columbus’ vovage to the New World. The presentation of the propeller was made on April 5, 1927, at Hot Springs.

Early on the morning of April 6, 1927, De Pinedo tried to lift the Santa Maria off Hall Lake. But, before he could become airborne he was forced to dump 250 gallons of fuel, tools and spare parts. The plan was to fly to Roosevelt Lake to refuel and then on to San Diego, California.

Colonel De Pinedo and his crew arrived at Roosevelt Lake about 11:50 a.m. on April 6, 1927. Only minutes later, Italy’s dream of having the first team to fly around the world was ended. By 12:15 p.m. the airplane was totally consumed by fire during refueling. A cigarette caused the fire that destroyed De Pinedo’s airplane and it sank below the surface of the lake within minutes.

The Franchini engines of De Pinedo’s plane were raised from the bottom of Roosevelt Lake on April 19, 1927. Members of the Christopher Columbus Society of Albuquerque, New Mexico recovered the engines. The three men most responsible for this achievement were Ettore Franchini, Tom Domenici and Pete Vichi.

A native Arizonian diver  named Charles Granger helped recover the Franchini engines from forty feet of water at Roosevelt Lake. The engines were eventually transported to New York and then shipped to Italy.

After World War II Ettore Franchini was awarded a gold medal by the Italian government for his part in helping return the engines. The engines were eventually used as a memorial to the De Pinedo flight around world that ended tragically at Roosevelt Lake.

When we look back on the accomplishments of this flight it was truly a monumental undertaking in 1927. Though the around the world attempt ended prematurely in Arizona, De Pinedo’s flight still recorded 16,000 miles across uncharted jungle, ocean and desert. This was quite an accomplishment for 1927 and only one month prior to Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic.

General Francesco de Pinedo was killed in a fiery plane crash at the Floyd Bennett Field in New York while taking off to fly non-stop from New York to Bagdad on Saturday, September 2, 1933. He was one of this century’s greatest pioneer aviators. 

Author’s Note: In 1993, I traveled to Albuquerque searching for information about De Pinedo and found a display and model of De Pinedo airplane at the Albuquerque Air Terminal. The display was maintained by an organization known as the Cavalcade of Wings. If ever you visit the Albuquerque Air Terminal you should look at this display. The search for more information about Francesco De Pinedo linked another part of the world to the Superstition Wilderness Area and Roosevelt Lake region.