Sunday, February 8, 2009

In the Beginning...

This is an old and murkey picture, it helps to click.

This view of Thumb Butte looking up Granite Creek must be what those first intrepid mountain men and trappers saw when they first tracked Arizona waterways in search of beaver pelts. Although I doubt that Ewing Young and Kit Carson trapped Granite Creek, they are reputed to have trapped the Verde and to have stocked up on water and jerked antelope (pronghorn) meat at Del Rio Springs in Chino Valley, before tackling the arduous trip to the Grand Canyon.

It's just another sad tale of history that the beaver trapping in the Southwestern United States began around 1825 and only twenty-five years later, beaver were pretty much eradicated from Southwestern rivers. In Larry McMurtry's book, Buffalo Gals, two old trappers realize the error of their ways, and when they have an opportunity to buy a pair of beavers while in England they do so, hauling them up into the Colorado (I think) mountains to release them in a stream. Okay, it's fiction, but a lovely idea just the same.

And, while we're on the subject of trappers... perhaps the first party of trappers to enter the New Mexico territory was led by Sylvester Pattie and his son James . While the men of the Pattie party were away from their camp, a band of Apache raided it, stealing their belongings. Among the items taken were Sylvester Pattie's red, long john" underwear. Pattie's lost red shirt became a fierce Apache Chief's trademark. He wore the red shirt so constantly, the feared Apache Chief was called Mangas Coloradas, Spanish for red sleeves.

When you click this for a better view, you can see a number of containers, one clearly labeled Obispo. Does anyone know what that is?
In 1862, a party of about thirty mountain men, soldiers, and other adventurers led by Joseph Reddeford Walker, made their way up the Hassyampa river arriving in the central Arizona. mountains in 1863, about the same time Governor Goodwin established the first territorial capital at Del Rio springs. Soon, mining claims were located in the general vicinity of the confluence of the Hassayampa with Groom and Wolf Creeks respectively , miners established placer claims like the one pictured above, and were soon combing the creeks in search of gold nuggets.


  1. I can only repeat myself: WOW! You are forgiven for not showing up this afternoon at the blogger get together. Everybody should just look at that picture of Granite Creek and compare it to the meager narrow channel that runs through town today, tho the stretch to the north of the VA hospital might be much more like it was in the old days. And, of course, we don't know if all that water were a regular occurrence -- or a sometimes thing, as it still is.

  2. "Obispo" as in San Luis Obispo is spanish for Bishop. The objects look like they are cans and some in the background look burnt. Could they be for oil? What else would be transported in metal cans at that time?

  3. GJ, Ee says that as a boy, he never remembers Granite Creek with no water. At least in the forties, fifties and even sixties there was just a lot more rain and snow.
    I think your idea of covered bridges to prevent skitish horses from jumping into the void is probably the real one! I hadn't thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense!

    artinthequad, thanks for the definition of bishop and for reminding me of San Luis Obispo. I googled that and found lots of adds for San Luis Obispo kerosene!