Thursday, November 18, 2010
I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY
Thursday 11/18/10 Today was a rest day after 8 straight days of biking. We explored Wickenburg and treated ourselves to overdue haircuts. This town (pop. 5082) rests on the northern edge of the Sonoran Desert at an elevation of about 2200 ft. and has some great mountain views. Reportedly the town was named for Henry Wickenburg, a German immigrant, who apparently threw a rock at his recalcitrant burro in 1863. Since the rock was heavy with gold, it fell short of its mark, and Henry started digging. Mark Twain once said, "Wherever there was a rumor and a hole in the ground, someone built a town around it." The town was named Wickenburg. The Vulture Mine discovered by the town's namesake eventually yielded 30 million in gold. Henry subsequently used some of his wealth to pay for an irrigation project in the Salt River Valley that ultimately led to the founding of Phoenix. Today Wickenburg is still a popular haunt for amateur gold prospectors who pan for gold along the banks of the Hassayampa River. We did a self-guided walking tour that has 31 restored historical buildings. Some of the locations have life-like bronze sculptures depicting the history & people during the 1800's. One of the stops on the tour is a 200 year old mesquite tree that was used as a jail by chaining law breakers to its trunk. The jails had been adobe structures; however, the prisoners could dig their way out, so the tree became a more effective way to keep them captive. The town also has a first-class museum displaying early settlement & contemporary life with great art work and artifacts. Norb usually has the attention span of a gnat inside a museum but this one held him captivated for a portion of the afternoon. Although Wickenburg has some classy shops and restaurants targeting tourists, it is still very much a cowboy town. The saddelry shops had riding gear for working cattle as well as the showy stuff used to deck a horse for a parade. Today was a community ride and some of the locals took vacation to saddle up. Wickenburg is proud of its prospecting and ranching history in addition to being the "Dude Ranch Capital of theWorld." We ate homemade ice cream at The Chaparrel while listening to Hank Williams sing, "Hey, hey, good-lookin' Whatcha got cookin'? How about cookin' somethin' up with me."