In our last episode, we mentioned being stuck in Wickenburg… so maybe we should show you a bit of this little town.
Henry Wickenburg, originally from Prussia, came to Arizona in 1862, looking for gold. Legend has it that he was throwing rocks at “a recalcitrant burro,” and noticed gold in his ammunition! He started the Vulture Mine, which quickly resulted in this little town that takes his name. The Vulture would eventually produce over $30,000,000 in gold.
I say little town, but for a time it was one of the largest towns in the Arizona territory. When the famous Route 66 came through town, Wickenburg grew in popularity… billing itself as the “Dude Ranch Capital of the World!” Now Wickenburg has a flavorful downtown with lots of shops and such, and features plenty of Rodeos and other cowboy events.
This is the Garcia School, which claims to date from 1898. It has been restored, and frankly is hard to believe there is any old portion left. We couldn’t see inside – maybe that view would have convinced me.
I believe the statue below is honoring Sacagawea…
This is a cute little courtyard with shops and eateries, and one version of an iron horse…
Of course, there is another version of an Iron Horse. With the discovery of gold in the area, and the Vulture Mine in particular, a railroad was a “must have.” While proposals were made for a rail line to California, it never came to pass, and the raw ore had to be transported to San Francisco in wagons – a hugely expensive undertaking. Without a railroad, the Vulture Mine’s tremendous potential could not be realized, and they fell into the Sheriff’s hands for failure to pay taxes. In 1877 the Southern Pacific Railroad came as close as Yuma, only 70 miles from Wickenburg. The mine was reopened, and a private rail line brought to Wickenburg by 1895.
The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe locomotive, No. 761 was built in 1900. Designed as a freight engine, it was used all over the AT&SF system. As they got larger engines, 761 was relegated to regional lines. Eventually it was used as a switch engine in Las Vegas, New Mexico., until being retired in 1953. In 1955 it was donated to what is now the Chamber of Commerce for Wickenburg, by the AT&SF. The placard reads: “About 50 volunteers worked through the day, fully expecting to move the locomotive through the streets of Wickenburg to its resting place in Stone Park. However, the determined volunteers were only successful in moving it a mere 90 feet in nine hours after it jumped the track and locked its wheels on a tight turn. Two days later , the locomotive reached its destination.”
I might have mentioned that we were somewhat held here against our will… while our motorhome was supposedly getting repaired. We left our home right after breakfast most days, as they didn’t want to work on it with us inside. (Maybe they didn’t want to work on it anyway!) So several times we would spend most of the day in the public library. It was cool inside, and great to be surrounded by so many books! [They had a room full of books for sale – buy one for $1 and get two free! We left with far too many books!]
One morning we left before breakfast, hoping work would commence sooner. We drove to the Hassayampa River Preserve, thinking to enjoy our meal in their nice bird-filled garden. But it was closed that day! We decided to park at the gate, since there would obviously be no traffic that day… I did move the car to the side of the road, just in case.
And I was glad I did! Soon a truck arrived, delivering a heavy off-road forklift for some work the Preserve was having done. A bit of a surprise.
Oh yes, I’m supposed to update our motorhome dilemma…
Wednesday, after lunch, we headed back to get some things from the motorhome that needed to visit the post office. It was about 2pm, and our mechanic buddy Joe said it was finished! He’d run it about a half hour, and the temp stayed right where it should. All that remained was a test drive (and of course further payment.) I asked who did the test drive – the shop guys or me? He was most happy to have us do the test drive, as long as he could come along. We drove it a ways and it performed perfectly! We were elated! After our post office errands, we hitched up and drove out of town! 10 days delay for diagnosis, part acquisition and installation. But it’s done!!
I must record a very strange story. It seemed like every day, they would tell me why they didn’t have the expensive part I’d paid for yet. Or it would arrive, and it was the wrong part. Every time it was that the part was ALMOST here… or it would be reordered and be here the next morning. One morning, after they said FOR SURE it would be here, they told me an amazing story. The parts come into a truck supply place in Phoenix, and they have an Uber drive the part the hour plus to Wickenburg. (Turns out Uber delivers more than people and hamburgers!) This morning, the truck supply swears they gave the part to the Uber driver, but apparently the driver then cancelled the route and disappeared! They had never had this happen before, and Uber couldn’t tell them where the driver had gone or why the route was cancelled. The police were called, and supposedly, the police found the Uber driver, and car, at a tire repair place. The driver said she had a flat tire so had to cancel the route. The police took the part from her, and it eventually got delivered. I still wonder if this story is true or they were just seeing how gullible I really was. The next morning, I greeted them before leaving the rig again, and said “Don’t tell me… the boss actually got the part last night, and put it in his underwear drawer for safe keeping. But his house burned down… he still has the part, but it’s smoke damaged, and we’re ordering another one that will be here tomorrow! Right?” We all laughed (?) and they said it should be here any minute…
So finally, after a nice long hot visit of Wickenburg, we were on the road again! We made it to our winter campground in Tucson about 7pm. It felt good to have the motorhome run well, and pull into what felt like a safe harbor!
It did seem like our motorhome had one final comment to make on the whole indignity of parking in a repair lot so long…
The back bathroom toilet paper roll said it all!
That seems a great place to end this blog, but I have to give you a teaser for next week. I’ve been communicating with the Tucson Auto Museum, and will be volunteering a little each week while we are here. I’m super excited about it! Here’s my favorite (for today) row of cars – Duesenberg, Pierce Arrow, Packard, Cord, Delehaye, Brewster and more. Rather than do a whole museum in a blog, I’m going to limit myself to one per week (or maybe two…) I hope to make it interesting even if you’re not a “Car Person.” Come back next week and see if I can pull it off!