Sierra Vista from Carr Canyon Road
If you look up at the Huachuca Mountains from the town of Sierra Vista, a band of sheer cliffs bends and curves across the face of the mountain range. The relatively flat area above is called the Carr Reef. In this case, however, the word “reef” doesn’t refer to coral and oceans. It harks back to an earlier time when it also meant a thick layer of exposed rock. While you’re looking at the Reef, you may also notice a tree-covered break in that impressive barrier, just south of a deep canyon. Look even closer and you should see a barely visible set of switchbacks climbing that slope. That is the Carr Canyon Road, the only road into the upper reaches of the Huachuca Range.
This narrow, winding road was built at the turn of the century to open up the Carr Reef to gold and silver mining. It was reconstructed in the late 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The mines have come and gone, but the road persists with little change.
Carr Canyon Road provides the reward of extraordinary views of Sierra Vista, the San Pedro Valley, and a number of surrounding mountain ranges as it winds its way up the mountain. The road is narrow with many switchbacks forcing us to back up for a second try at several turns with the Mighty 350.
The road ends at the site that was once occupied by the old mining town of Reef at 10,000 feet elevation. That remote outpost got its name from the nearby Carr Reef, a tall band of quartzite-bearing cliffs that form the Huachuca Mountains' dramatic eastern front. Mining activity along the Reef began during the last few years of the nineteenth century and proceeded in fits and starts all the way into the 1950’s. The property occupied by the mines and the town was returned to public ownership in 1970, and in 1988, the Forest Service constructed a campground on the townsite.
We explore the many relics of Reef’s mining history, including the remains of the town’s old water system, foundations for an ore mill, and the old mining digs still visible in and around the campground.
We take a trip to the quaint town of Bisbee, Arizona. Bisbee is a copper mining town built into a narrow valley here in southeast Arizona. The streets are narrow, the buildings mostly brick. Like all early western towns, Bisbee had its share of disastrous fires, rebuilding with brick construction. Lots of antique shops and art galleries line the newly poured sidewalks. The town is putting lots of dollars into restoring the infrastructure.
Once known as "The Queen of the Copper Camps", Bisbee nestles among the Mule Mountains of southeast Arizona, world renowned for its diverse minerals and wealth of copper. Although its mines closed in the 1970s, the town's legacy has been preserved not only in its architecture and mining landscape, but in a museum that has welcomed, educated and entertained hundreds of thousands of visitors.
The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum is located in the former corporate headquarters of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company and is a National Registered Landmark. The museum is also part of the Smithsonian Institution's Affiliations Program, with displays on loan from the Smithsonian.
Over 8 billion pounds of copper have been mined from local claims. There are an estimated 2,200 miles of tunnel under and around Bisbee. Tunnels are visible on the sides of the Lavender Pit, a huge modern day open pit mining operation now closed, and surrounding mountains around town.
Working on a Christmas Tree lot is hard work. Extra pounds just seem to melt away to be replaced by muscle. Trees must be unloaded, mounted on stands, displayed, watered, prepared for the customer, and loaded and tied onto the customer’s vehicle. Lot help was hired, mostly young first time jobbers. Valley View grew most of the trees we sold and the quality was exceptional. We sold Noble, Frasier, Grand, and Douglas Fir along with Scotch Pine trees.
Wind once again won the battle. On December 7th we once again watched as our tent was blown away by the winds coming off the Huachuca Mountains.
We ended up selling 1102 Christmas trees. We were exhausted and in need of lots of rest and relaxation. After packing up the lot, we headed to Quartzsite for the rest of winter.