We had asked the owner, Don Robertson, if we could park overnight in their big level lot and he said that was no problem. When we woke up the next morning, we waited until the 10:00am opening dynamite blast (at least that's what it sounded like!) and then we wandered over to explore.
It costs a reasonable $5 to get in. And what is it that you'll see when you get in?
Well, it's hard to describe.
This place is part junk yard, and part museum. An interesting collection of oddball things! It looks totally unorganized, and yet I think it's been done this way on purpose. It's not really a ghost town, although there are one or two buildings that have been here since the 1890's.
Here's what we saw even before we made it past the entrance...
The Ghost town.
An old Studebaker.
Hey, that little van would make a great RV, wouldn't it?!
How about this converted school bus...with a pop up roof!
Don loves his old heavy duty machinery!
Okay, so then we made it to the entrance...
Somewhere around 1980, Don Robertson bought this property from Phelps Dodge Mining company and moved his collection of rusty old trucks up here. And then his collections of everything else. And he collected more and more stuff. In fact, wandering around the place, all I could think was "how does anybody collect this much stuff?"
And interestingly, none of it is for sale. For any price. Don just loves tinkering with his stuff. Much of the old heavy equipment still runs!
Kevin, with a 1918 Ford Model T 3 wheel tractor kit. Hand crank start only, and it still runs well!
Lots of rusty machinery. And chickens.
How does one collect so many old trucks?
Don says that he just loves saving old machinery from the smelter. If he sold everything for scrap metal, he'd be a rich man. And then, there's the one of a kind items that would collect a fortune at auction. But Don says he doesn't need any more money and just enjoys getting up every morning to tinker with his machinery and say hello to the folks from around the world who come to see his stuff.
I'll tell you a story about a man named Jed...
See the little chihuahua? He lives in the car.
A funny little van.
Wandering around, we came across Don in his garage. He was firing up an old 1928 Studebaker Indy Race car that he restored and built himself. Even at his age (somewhere in his 70's, we were told) he still races it!
A hand crank eight cylinder engine, and he fired it up on the first crank!
Check out Don...he looks like a grizzled old prospector. You'd almost think it's part of the show. But I'm pretty sure that's just him.
Apparently Don's an opinionated guy. If you're so closed minded that you can't accept the fact that somebody might have a different political opinion than your own, you might not want to visit.
The old mine entrance.
Don't expect a tour of the mine or anything like that. It's all fenced off and probably dangerous. However, you might come across Donny (no relation to Don), who will teach you how to pan for gold. Yep, it costs $10, but you can keep the gold you find and you will find gold!
Young Don was also an interesting guy to talk to. Sure knows a lot about rocks!
Don's car collection alone is worth a fortune.
I didn't get a picture of it, but he's got a 1902 Studebaker electric car. Said to be the only one in existence. It would get 40 miles on a single charge, and it still works perfectly!
An old shell fuel tanker.
How about this for an RV?
This is the original place from the 1890's.
That old building did a short stint as a bordello. Don says that's Virginia on the balcony. They used to call her Virgin for short. But not for long.
Don's got a sense of humor.
Don, with Ruth.
What an interesting character. And an interesting place. Certainly the most interesting thing we saw yesterday!
In the afternoon, we drove down to Clarkdale and the Tuzigoot National Monument. We used our National Parks pass to save the $5 entrance fee. Worth it for that, but not worth it in my opinion if we had to pay the $5.
A ruins site dating back to between 1,000 and 1,400.
Then, we drove over to the Verde Canyon Railroad because we're taking a four hour train ride this afternoon! We were hoping they'd let us overnight in their parking lot, and sure enough they said that was fine!
Sherman, parked up at the Verde Canyon Railroad station parking lot.
So? Was that the most interesting thing you saw today??
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