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For the first time in my 62 years, I'm collecting unemployment, was laid off from my tanker driving job almost a month ago.
it's given me time to go shooting several times a week, and to do more exploring here in Northern Arizona.
Yesterday the pup and I went south of Williams and walked part of the old Overland Road.
It was built by soldiers to link Flagstaff (called Antelope Springs back then) and Fort Whipple, where Prescott is today.
The Overland Road was used as the main travel road for military use from 1863 to about 1882. Settlers and private stagecoach companies also used it. Rock cairns every few hundred feet marked the way if there was snow on the ground.
There is a 23 mile stretch through the Kaibab forest that hasn't been covered over by modern dirt roads, and except for the occasional dirt bike, untouched by modern vehicles.

Today we went north of Williams to explore the Beale Wagon Road. Construction began in 1857 and in 1859 the road was further improved, again by soldiers but was also used by settlers. It was used extensively until 1882, when the AT&SF railroad line was completed.
In addition to the usual oxen and horses, Edward Fitzgerald Beale also tried Camels imported from Syria. The Camels did well in the southwest deserts.
The road is very faint here, the land is reclaiming it. Logs and new trees make it hard to see it as a road, but there is a foot path connected by rock cairns so you know you are on the old road.


The wagon road passes by Laws Spring, one of the few reliable water sources across the northern half of Arizona.
Laws was a major in command of the military escort that accompanied the Beale expedition, Beale named the spring for him.
The first hint that this spring has been used long before the white man's arrival are numerous petroglyphs around the spring.

This is the lower pool of the spring, only about 60 yards below the Beale Road.

This nice carved inscription by the pool was done by Peachy Breckinridge, son of vice president John Breckinridge. Breckinridge was vice president under James Buchanan. "Peachy" was known as a carver of tombstones, unlikely that you'd find the son of a modern vice president that goes around carving headstones.

When both of these wagon roads were built, it was pre Civil War, and soldiers and settlers traveling through here would have been packing single shot muzzle loaders.
By the end of the roads use, most would have been carrying repeating Winchesters and Marlins.
A lot of history up and down these old wagon roads.
 

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Very cool and interesting,sandog! I really like that kind of history. I hope to travel west someday to experience some myself. Am sorry to hear about your current situation. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Tanker driver? Maybe you should have been a journalist. 😀 Enjoyed the article and the accompanying photos. Thank you for the post.
 

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I love the history of the American West. Thanks for sharing the cool story. I hope you're back to work soon.
 

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I've spent a lot of winters in Arizona when I was a Montana resident, worked at Davis Monthan Air Force Base and the aircraft "Boneyard" for 7 winters. Explored the low deserts during those winters.
Nice weather and all the rattlers were in a deep sleep.

Some of the higher country I didn't get to see much because of snow. For maybe 20 years I've wanted to drive along the Mogollon Rim. It is a 2,000 foot cliff that extends for 200 miles across northern Arizona, from northern Yavapai county near Ash Fork, all the way over to the New Mexico border.
There was a road built along the very edge along a good part of it, by General George Crook to run supplies for the forts during the campaigns against the Apache. The lower parts are still intact, I traveled some of it 3 winters ago.
The wagon road left the Verde Valley at Camp (Fort) Verde and climbed up onto the Mogollon Rim.
Here is a pic of it:

The trail, then a couple years later improved so wagons could travel on it, was marked every mile with the mileage chiseled into a rock:


That was marked onto the rock 149 years ago by one of the cav troopers, that helped construct the road.
Farther up on the rim the road is now known as Forest Service road #300, the Rim Road.
I got up there a couple weeks ago and drove the length of the Rim Road and camped in a few places.
You can see along way to the south, here are some views:


Pretty neat to know that I was walking where soldiers traveled all of these wagon roads, over a century before I served in the Army.
Along the rim road there is a monument that tells about the Battle of Big Dry Wash. A couple dozen renegade Apache raided some ranches below the rim and killed some settlers. When the Army caught up with the renegades, the renegades ran along a ridge firing at the troopers, and the troopers were on a parallel ridge maybe 100 to 150 yards away. The battle ran along those ridges for miles. In the end 20 of the renegades were killed, and 2 of the soldiers. I would have taken a pic of the nice bronze plaque but modern day Apache had thrown acid on it and stenciled across it " SETTLERS HAD IT COMING". It didn't turn out well for the raiders as almost all of them were kiiled a few days after their raid.
I'll bet there a few old cartridge cases along those ridges from the running battle.
 

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Amazing history and very good photos! Thanks for the share and I really would love to see that part of the country. That appears to be an unforgettable adventure. God Speed and hope things get back on the road for you. You spent your time wisely and again glad you let us in on your travels. Rick
 

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Dang beautiful landscape.

.....and that's one of the reasons I'm trying to convince my wife that we should move to a place with more nature and wide-open spaces.
 

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I love that part of the world. I grew up in Northeast Arizona and Northwest New Mexico and spent a lot of years on the Navajo Nation.
 

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I lived in Northern Arizona for a number of years and despite the fact that I wasn’t born there, I still considered it home. Thanks for the pictures and history!
 

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While every state has it's history, I find AZ to one of the most interesting. I lived there for several years & loved it. I'd go back in a second if I get the wife to leave the State of Misery (MO). Don't seem likely to happen but I remember so beautiful hikes and once having a jackrabbit, coyote and deer in my bino's at the same time! Lovely place if you can stand the brutal summers!
Cheers,
crkckr
 

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Great reading. It is beyond me, with all there is to see in the good old USA, why people spend thousands to be ripped off, scorned & ridiculed by the locals. If each Ruger member would include just one place in their state one should visit it would make for a fabulous journey thru the history of this great country before it's lost to time & circumstance.
 

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Nice post, Sandog!
I moved here twenty years ago but I feel like I’ve only seen a small portion of this beautiful state. From SE Az Chiricahua National monument to The Grand Canyon this state is just breathtaking in the diversity of its many ecosystems. Sorry to hear about your lay-off but it seems you are making the best of it.
 
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