Down By The River Bed and Breakfast
Canadian Travel Writer Highlights Down By The River 20 May 2013, 12:00 pm
In April, Angie and I hosted a Canadian travel writer Bruce Penton and his wife Barbara at Down By The River B and B. Bruce has owned and run papers but now he is free to be away from the day to day at times and be a travel writer as he tours different locales. After his visit to Southeastern Arizona, our San Pedro River B&B got a rave review by Bruce on Trip Advisor and then he followed that up with an article in the Kamloops This Week travel section. The article can be seen at this website, although I don’t know for how long. In case the article disappears into the archives we have a .pdf of the Article here.
Bruce stated that they had “a one-night stay at what must be one of the most spectacular bed and breakfasts in the States.” We have had other guests write in our book that Down By The River was one of the best or the best B and Bs that they have ever stayed in. However we have never had that put in public print before. We feel humbled by what has been said about our B and B and we thank Bruce for the kind praise he has given to our efforts to provide a great B and B experience to our guests.
Down By The River B and B offers world class breakfasts and a quiet ambiance not found in many places. Some guests state that we are off the beaten track but we say in return that this is where Memories are Made. Come for a visit to our St. David, AZ bed and breakfast and find out why this is the place to relax and enjoy.
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San Pedro River History 15 May 2013, 4:25 pm
The headwaters of the San Pedro River start in the foothill of the Sierra Madre Mountains 30 miles south of the US border in Mexico.
Today the San Pedro River is the major source of water sustaining the wildlife in Southeastern Arizona and Cochise County. In Arizona it is unusual to find a greenbelt as lush as you see along the San Pedro River. The river starts in the Sierra Manzanal as a spring about 30 miles south of the American border near the City of Cananea. The San Pedro River is about 140 miles long and flows north into the US terminating at the Gila River. Because of the water source provided by The San Pedro River, there are approximately 400 species of birds that can be found in the area at different times of the year. The San Pedro River Valley is one of the five best birding migration routes in the US. To protect this valuable resource, The San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area was set aside by The US Congress in 1988. The area covers nearly 57,000 acres and runs from the border to just south of our San Pedro River B & B in the town of Saint David, AZ.
The San Pedro is formed by a rift valley with mountain sky islands having peaks from 8,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation along the river valley. In the 1890s there was a seismic event, or earthquake, about 60 miles south of the border in Senora Mexico that actually changed the flow of the river. The area that is now the Town of St. David was once an ancient lake bed. During that time alluvial and clay deposits at the bottom of the lake gave St. David the artesian springs that add to the vitality of the area. These ponds and streams flow continuously to supplement the water sources for animals in the area. The San Pedro River Valley has been home to people for at least 13,000 years. There are many Clovis sites along the river and the prehistoric peoples hunted mammoths and bison in the area. Some sites along the river valley have been excavated for artifacts. A map that is on the Friends of the San Pedro Website show the San Pedro River Riparian Area features.
The Spanish first entered this area around 1539. Fray Marcos de Niza and his companion Esteban traveled in the San Pedro Valley in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola – The Cities of Gold. Coronado, believing the rumors, decided to lead an expedition up the San Pedro River Valley to the Gila one year later. He continued on to the Zuni Villages in New Mexico and probably ventured into present day Kansas before turning back without finding anything. There is a very interesting book written by Douglas Preston called the Lost Cities of Gold that traces Coronado’s route and recaps the contrast of the area found then and now. After Coronado failed, Father Kino worked his way up the Santa Cruz River Valley and established missions all the way to Tucson. In 1776, The Spanish started building The Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate along the western bank of the San Pedro River just north of where Highway 82 is today. Because of the Apache attacks and the tough life, the fort was abandoned in 1780.
Fur trappers lead by James Ohio Pattie followed the San Pedro River in the 1820s and called it the Beaver River because of all the beaver that were in the area. The beaver dammed the river and created swamps or cienegas which are permanently saturated wetlands. The beavers were trapped out over the years and beaver dams were dynamited to remove mosquitoes that caused malaria. With the removal of the dams, much of the river swamps and cienegas disappeared. Beavers were reintroduced around the San Pedro House in the 2000s.
In 1877, a year before the silver discovery in Tombstone, Saint David was founded by Mormon Settlers. Saint David has the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited community in Cochise County. There are many descendants of the original families still living in the area. After Tombstone was established, there were many towns that sprung up along the San Pedro River including Charleston, Contention and Fairbank, all of which are now ghost towns. Ranches were established along the San Pedro including the Clanton Ranch, and the Boquillas Ranch. There is a petroglyph trail that is located just north of Charleston Crossing on the San Pedro River.
Down By The River Bed and Breakfast lies just to the north of the San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area on the banks of the San Pedro River. There is easy access to the San Pedro River from the property for birding enthusiasts. Our San Pedro River B&B is open all year and allows birders the luxury of lodging close to the San Pedro River. Birding in the area is good at all times of the year. During the spring and summer, flycatchers live off the insects that are found around the San Pedro. Tent caterpillars are found feeding on the leaves of the cottonwood trees that grow along the river. Harks, eagles and vultures are flying overhead during the day looking for prey or carrion. The area is home to as many as 84 species of mammals, 100 plus species of birds that make the valley their year-round home and numerous reptiles and amphibians. During the migration periods there are over 250 species of birds that use the San Pedro River as a flight corridor. Approximately 100 butterflies also migrate through the San Pedro Valley. We have seen raccoons, skunks, coatimundi, mule deer, white tail deer, javelina, grey fox, coyote, bobcats, squirrels and even a small bear. Neighbors have seen cougar many years ago.
The San Pedro River flooding can be so strong that trees are uprooted and flow down the river during the monsoon season.
After non-Arizonans see the San Pedro River, some have told us that from where they come from this is only a creek or crick. Most of the year, the San Pedro is a quiet river without a large flow. In some places the San Pedro appears to disappear and people think that it dried up. That is not the case. The San Pedro goes underground in some areas but is still flowing. If you dig down a short depth in the river channel, you will find water. We built the Lodging Hub of Cochise County, Down By The River BnB along the San Pedro, the river has never stopped flowing. In July and August, there are times that the river is flowing bank to bank and is at least 10 feet deep. During heavy monsoon storms the river can be heard roaring. In some cases even the washes are flowing and there is a roar that can also be heard from that direction.
Water is the life blood of the desert and supports the animals that live within the area. We do have people that come to this part of Arizona just to see the monsoons and to photograph the lightning storms. If you would like to have a little adventure and experience vivid sunsets after watching and hearing a Southeastern Arizona afternoon thunderstorm, then come on down to Saint David in July and August. With a little luck you might even be blessed to see a double rainbow. They do happen here and we have the wide open spaces to take it all in. We are at 3800 feet in elevation, generally 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix and a lot wetter. The smell of the desert when the rains come is something that I have always loved. You can experience all of this when you stay at Down By The River and watch an Arizona rain storm during the summer.
Our B&B Berry Nut French Toast Recipe 11 May 2013, 12:00 pm
At Down By The River, our B&B Berry Nut French Toast recipe is a real hit with our guests. It isn’t your normal French Toast since we have added a little twist to the recipe. We serve this as a side dish to one of our main entrees such as the egg cup or one of our quiches. When we serve this we also include a berry syrup such as Boysenberry or blueberry. This syrup really sets it off. The longer you let your bread soak the better it is for holding the cereal on the French Toast. We actually will use a spoon to dip on the cereal and press it into the bread. This recipe make four serving. Adjust the quantities as needed for other serving amounts.
Our B&B Berry Nut French Toast Recipe
2 cup Post Cranberry Almond Crunch Cereal
4 Large Eggs
4 Slices ¾ inch cut diagonally Ecce Panis Bread (Shepherds Bread or large French Bread may be substituted)
3/4 cup Half and Half
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp Butter
- Coarsely crush the cereal and place in a shallow dish. Set aside.
- In a bowl large enough for the bread slices; beat the eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, heavy cream and half and half.
- Preheat oven to 350o F.
- Dip the bread into the egg mixture until moistened, turning to coat both sides.
- Place the slices of bread onto the cereal and turn over, coating both sides.
- In a skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bread slices and cook about 5 minutes on each side or until golden and crisp.
- Place slices on non greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until bread rises.
Being the Lodging Hub of Cochise County where guest can stay and take short day trips, we want to make sure that the Guests at our San Pedro River BnB praise the breakfasts that we serve. We don’t want our guests to have the normal eggs and bacon dishes that are served up in a chain restaurant. That is why we go out of our way to make sure that you have a morning breakfast you will not forget. Many guest ask for the recipes and we freely give them out. But before we serve a new recipe to our guests, we try them ourselves to make sure that they meet the standard that we have established. Sometimes we have to tweak the recipe just to make it better.
Egg Cup with Ham and Cheddar Cheese 6 May 2013, 8:02 pm
/Down By The River has had a lot of requests asking for our BnB recipe for egg cups. Down By The River B&B has many recipes in our rotation and we don’t serve the standard Restaurant fare. This is really a versatile dish and allows us to provide a similar meal for most dietary restrictions, with the exception of vegans. We are adding it to the blog for all of our guests so that they can try it out if they wish. Next to the souffle and crepe breakfast, this is one of those most loved by us.
Here are some ideas for changing up the recipe. If you have a vegetarian leave the meat out and add peppers, onions, mushrooms or other items. For lactose intolerant persons substitute soy milk or silk and use the soy cheeses. For gluten intolerant persons you can use potatoes or gluten free dough for the crust. For types of meat restrictions or just to change up the recipe, the ham can be substituted with any of the following: bacon, chicken, turkey, sausage or other items to your taste. Other cheeses can be used instead of cheddar. You can let your imagination run wild with items in this recipe. We do at times when we run short of a particular item.
As a side with the egg cups, we provide different types of French Toasts, pancakes, waffles or fruit plates with yogurt. Again versatility is the best part of this recipe. You can visit us and you will enjoy what we do for breakfast at our San Pedro River B&B. We never want to serve a breakfast that you can find in a chain restaurant. Our commitment is to make sure we will give you the best breakfast that we can provide and one that you will remember! We also endeavor to give you a different breakfast every time you are here. Of course this doesn’t work for guest that have been here more times than we have recipes. One of the reasons we always look for something new.
11 oz. – Pie Dough Crust
6 oz. – Cooked Ham (you can substitute Canadian Bacon or regular bacon)
1 cup – Shredded Cheddar Cheese (you can substitute other types of cheese)
6 – Large Eggs
4 Tbsp – Half and Half
Ground Black Pepper
Use 4 – 6 oz. ramekins and coat with butter. Place the crust in the ramekin and cook for 10 minutes at 400o F. Take out and let cool. If you like, you can do this the day before.
Preheat oven to 350 o F.
Cut the ham into 1/4” to 3/8” square pieces and place one half at the bottom of the crust.
Add the cheddar cheese and make a depression in the center.
Add the rest of the ham over the cheddar cheese.
Break the egg shell and place one egg into the depression. Don’t break the yolk.
In a bowl place the other two eggs and the half and half. Mix well until everything is blended.
Equally divide and pour the mixture over each egg in the ramekins.
Sprinkle nutmeg and black pepper, to taste, on the egg yolk.
Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and put into oven for 30 minutes or until the whites are no longer clear. This will yield a runny yolk egg. If you want the egg harder cook for longer.
Fort Huachuca Historical Museum 2 May 2013, 5:25 pm
The Fort Huachuca Historical Museum was established in 1960 but the Fort itself has a long history of over 135 years in Southeastern Arizona. It tells the story of the Army in the West from 1846 to the present day, with emphasis on SE Arizona. The old portion of the Fort is on the National List of Historic Places and many of the buildings around the museum date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The visit to the museum is free but there is a request that you donate $2 in funds to help keep the exhibits and building maintained. The museum covers all aspects of the fort. The original museum shows the history of the fort in the early days up until World War II. The Annex museum is the US Army Intelligence Museum. In addition to the museums there is a self guided walking tour of the old Fort that you can take to see the different buildings.
The US 6th Cavalry Column from Tucson, lead by Captain Samuel Whitside, made camp on the northern end of the Huachuca Mountains in March1877. The camp was only temporary to begin with but after assessing the site and the strategic location, a proposal was made to the Army headquarters in Washington to make the site a permanent post. The camp was a perfect spot to block the Chiricahua Apache escape route into Mexico. The location provided a view of the entire San Pedro Valley, over to Mt. Graham, The Dragoon Mountains, The Chiricahua Mountains and the Mule Mountains around Bisbee. General of the Army William T. Sherman personally visited the camp in 1882 and recommended to the Secretary of War that the camp should become a permanent post.
During the Apache War, the Army recruited some Apaches to be scouts for the Army. These scouts would guide the troops in pursuit of the Apache that were waging war. Fort Huachuca was instrumental in winning the war with the Apache and the final capture of Geronimo. There was proximity to the water from creeks that feed the San Pedro River, timber from the Huachuca Mountains for building material and close support for Fort Bowie. After the Apache war was concluded many of the posts in Arizona were shut down and abandoned but Fort Huachuca survived all the cuts.
The Fort was home for the men of the 9th and 10th Cavalry, the famed Buffalo Soldiers. The regiments were authorized by Congress in 1866 and were manned by former slaves, black free men and black troops that fought in the Civil War. They originally were led by white officers. The Buffalo Soldiers were assigned throughout the west and served courageously in the Indian wars, Spanish American War, with General Black Jack Pershing in foray into Mexico and in the Philippines. In Fort Bayard, NM, near Silver City, there is a statue of Corporal Greaves, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1879 fighting the Chiricahua Apache. The name Buffalo Soldier is purportedly given by the Cheyenne to the troops because their hair was wooly like the buffalo.
The Statue of Corporal Greaves can be found in Bayard NM. This Buffalo Soldier was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The exhibits are laid out very well and give you the history of the troops that manned the fort. There is a lot of information to read including quotes from people that have served at the fort. You will find timelines and old photographs of the fort and people that were there. I didn’t know it until I was looking at the exhibit of the baseball player that some of the stars from the Negro Leagues came from the Fort Huachuca Team. Angie and I have met some of the men who do reenactments that are featured at the various functions around Cochise County. We have had some long talks with one man, Willie, and he has told us many stories of the Buffalo Soldiers and their lives. If you have a chance to talk with Willie you will learn from a very well versed person on the historical events surrounding the Buffalo Soldiers.
The Buffalo Soldier Reenacters come to many fuctions in Cochise County. Willie, the man on the right, is very knowledgeable about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers. We enjoy talking with all of these guys.
The museum is open Monday to Saturday 9 to 4. It is closed on Sundays and Federal Holidays. To gain entry to the Fort you must be an American Citizen and show your driver’s license prior to driving onto the fort. The MP at the main gate will give you a map to show you where to go to find the museum. A small map can be opened if you click here. The Fort is only about 45 minutes from Down By The River B and B, the San Pedro River B & B. After seeing the museums there are also some good birding areas that are inside the fort in Huachuca and Garden Canyons. The Elegant Trogan can be found in this area and some of the local birders know exactly where. So come and spend some time at The Lodging Hub of Cochise County and go on a tour of the Fort Huachuca Museum.
Kartchner Caverns State Park Review 26 Apr 2013, 12:00 pm
Kartchner Caverns State Park is probably the best preserved living cave in the United States. No one has set foot on approximately 85% of the cave floor. It is located south of Benson on State Route 90. I recently wrote a blog on the Good Enough Mine Tour. In that blog, I mentioned that there are 3 underground adventures in Cochise County and Kartchner Caverns was one of these. When we started our Southeastern Arizona B & B, Kartchner had only been opened 5 ½ years. This is one of the best things to see in Cochise County but I am surprised that so many people in Arizona have never heard about it. The tours are limited to about 750 people per day and reservations are recommended although they hold back 100 tickets for walk-ins. There are 2 tours of the caverns. One is the Rotunda/Throne Room Tour featuring a massive 58 foot tall stone flow column called Kubla Khan and the second is the Big Room Tour featuring different types of calcite features and formations. Both take about 1 ½ hours to complete and both tours are totally different. You can do both tours in a day but you can only do the Big room Tour from October 15 until April 15. The Big Room closes due to the approximate 1500 bats that nests there during the spring and summer months.
The history of the cave goes back to 1974 when it was first discovered by two spelunkers, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts. They were exploring the limestone cliffs of the Whetstone Mountains and found a sink hole with a crack in the earth that led into the cave. They kept their find a secret while exploring the cave over the next 4 years. Then in 1978, they informed the Kartchner Family of their find. They went on to explain how extraordinary the cave was and that there was a need to preserve the exceptional colors and formations. They all agreed to keep the find a secret.
Over the next 10 years, the Kartchner family, Tufts and Tenen worked at coming up with a way to preserve the caverns privately while still keeping the location a secret. If the cavern’s existence had become known to outsiders, it would have been vandalized. Finally the Kartchners approached the State of Arizona Parks Department for help. After the group approached the State they worked with people in the Parks Department along with Governor Babbitt to sell the caverns to the State. The immediate problem for the successful transaction was how do you spend public money and still keep thet secret at the same time. A way was found and the State Legislators and Senators were shown pictures of the caverns in closed session. The legislation to purchase the complex was passed by both houses on the same day and sent to Governor Rose Mofford to sign. On April 29, 1988 the bill was signed into law. That will be 25 years ago next week.
Over the next 11 years, the Parks Department planned how to provide for the toursists while still preserving and maintaining the integrity of the caverns. The Parks Department determined that building a multi-door air lock chamber to seal the humid caverns from the effects of the dry desert air and providing a misting system was necessary for the preservation of the cave. Mining professionals were brought in to excavate the passage though the solid rock that shielded the caverns. The Center was built, paths were made, railings were put up, seating and lighting were installed and a means to wash down the cave at the end of every day was devised. Finally on November 5, 1999 the Rotunda/Throne Room Tour was opened to the public. On November 11, 2003, the Big Room Tour was dedicated. Unfortunately Randy Tufts had passed away in 2002 and wasn’t able to see the Big Room open to the public.
A video has been produced by the Parks Department that shows you some of the special things you will see when you do the tour. Reservations for the tour can be made at this link. I also found a photo gallery online that has pictures of some of the things you will find in the caverns. The Cavern has shields, soda straws over 21 feet long, stalactites, stalagmites, and helictites, formations that defy gravity. There are features such as bacon and fried eggs; looking at them will make you hungry unless you have had one of BnB breakfasts.
The Discovery Center houses the museum, a gift shop, a restaurant and a movie theater that show a short film about the discovery of the caverns. It lasts about 15 minutes and is something you will want to see if you have never visited before. The museum has the bones of an 86,000 year old ground sloth that was found in the cave. You can’t take photographs on the tour nor can you carry purses, backpacks, fanny packs, food, water, nor other items. Check with the park website for other restriction. For those of you that bring a picnic lunch there are picnic areas and shelters for you to have that lunch.
There are two trail heads at the park for those that want to hike. One is the 4.2 mile Guindani trail that climbs from 4750 to 5620 feet. It starts out easy then becomes moderate to difficult and the last bit of it is strenuous. The other trail is the 2.5 mile Foothill Loop trail that is rated moderate to difficult. There is also a little Hummingbird Garden walk that is located at the Center. As always when doing desert hikes, take plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. Keep on the trails and watch for snakes during the warmer times of the year. Keep an eye out for wildlife. There are 63 different birds that have been sited at the park along with mammals, such as mountain lions, coyote, fox, coatimundi, rabbits, skunks raccoon and deer. There are also many insects and reptiles that can be seen in the area.
When choosing Kartchner Caverns lodging, think of Down By The River B&B. It is about 30 minutes from Kartchner but you can cut 10 to 15 minutes off the time with a desert short cut. Ask us about it. The hours of operation for the park are as follows: When you are lodging at Down By The River B and B, schedule your tour after 10:30 so that you won’t be rushed at breakfast.
Summer Hours (June 1 – Sept. 30): Gate Hours 7 am – 10 pm, Park Hours 8 am – 5 pm, Discovery Center Hours 9 am – 5 pm.
Winter Hours (October 1 – May 31): Gate Hours 7 am – 10 pm, Park Hours 7 am – 6 pm, Discovery Center Hours 8 am – 6 pm. The Discovery Center is closed half-day on Thanksgiving & December 24, and all day on December 25.
HawkQuest Guests 21 Apr 2013, 12:00 pm
We had the pleasure of hosting Kin and Patti Quitugua from HawkQuest during their stay at our San Pedro River B and B. During their stay I found out that Kin had originally lived in Guam before finally ending up in Parker Colorado. I talked to him about HawkQuest and what his business did. Kin was one of three co-founders of HawkQuest back in 1986. The purpose of HawkQuest is to educate people about raptors and their place in the ecosystem while sharing the message concerning biodiversity and nurturing respect for our land and stewardship of the environment.
The goal is to make education fun and meaningful for the people that attend the programs that HawkQuest puts on. The education process allows for the audience to be part of the experience while learning about the hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. The team brings the birds to different venues for persons of all ages, preschool children to senior citizens. They will do lectures about birds of prey, HOOT – hands on owl training, and Classroom in the wild where Harris Hawks fly in the open and show off their hunting skills. They also do booth appearances at shows.
The funny thing is that after we introduced ourselves, I was able to remember that Barb and I had gone to Tubac during an art show about 5 years ago. At that show we came to a booth that had eagles, hawks and owls perched in the open. The birds were calm and the handlers were telling everyone about the birds. I told Kin about this visit I remembered we had in Tubac and then found out it was his company HawkQuest that was at that show. I still had some old pictures so I printed a copy of them and showed the photos to him. Kin laughed and said yes that was one of his associates that was holding the eagle.
During the time that Kin and Patti were here, they headed down to the San Pedro River behind the BnB. While birding, they were lucky enough to see a Peregrine Falcon flying up the river. Kim knew what the bird was because he has a falcon that he flies during his demonstrations. We have never had anyone tell us about seeing this bird while visiting and so we are adding this to the website and crediting Kin for the view.
Shows you how small a world this really is doesn’t it? The next time you decide to take a short break and do some birding and you don’t have time to go to Colorado to see the people at HawkQuest, think about Down By The River B and B in St. David, AZ. We are centrally located and short distances to many locations in Cochise County. We are the B&B that is the “Lodging Hub” in Southeastern Arizona.
Tombstone Good Enough Mine Tour 16 Apr 2013, 9:44 am
Southwestern Arizona offers many experiences to give you the “Old West” feeling. One of the things you can do in Cochise County is to go underground on tours such as Kartchner Caverns in Benson, The Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee and The Good Enough Mine in Tombstone. Each has its own charms and I have experienced them all. Angie and I were in Tombstone prior to the Rose Tree Festival and after touring the Rose Tree we decided to take in the mine tour. We got to the Toughnut Street location 10 minutes before the tour began. Early arrival allows you to look at the old mining equipment that is on the property.
I will give you the short history behind the mining that was done in Tombstone. In 1877, Ed Schieffelin found an ore deposit and filed a claim. He called the mine the Tombstone, because he had been told by his friends that a tombstone was all he would find looking for ore in the Apache wilderness. That is how the town got its name. In 1878, he filed another claim for the Good Enough Mine. Over the years, Ed filed 19 different claims. The mining tunnels from the different mines intersect in places. Ed and his partners also established a lumber mill in the Huachuca Mountains and a stamping plant to process the ore in Contention. Tombstone became the largest town between San Francisco and St. Louis. In the end Ed, his brother Al and a mining engineer, who were partners, sold their mines to Consolidated Mining for $600,000 each, $12 million in today’s dollars. The mines turned out to be one of the richest strike in the southwestern United States.
After the company that owned the mine decided it wasn’t worth anything, The Good Enough Mine was purchased by the ex mayor of
Tombstone and his wife for $2000. They wanted to bring back something that made was the reason for Tombstone to exist. After the purchase the real work began. As the mine had been abandoned, the shafts and tunnels were filled with trash and dirt. Over a 6 year period, the debris was removed from the mine, paths were made and the walls were washed down so that visitors could see minerals that were still in the walls. The paths were made smooth and relatively level with the exception of the stairway which takes you down to the main mine trail. In places the roof of the mine tunnels are painted red where the rock hangs down. Head protection is needed and hard hats are available if you don’t have one. Prior to the tour opening, the mine was inspected for safety and there are some areas where additional safety
Ore wagons were pulled by the mule teams to the Contention stamping mill for processing the ore into silver.
screening and shoring have been added to stabilize the rock. The organized tours were started about a year and a half ago and the experience has been improved by the owners over the years.
At the beginning of the tour, our guide introduced himself and gave us a demonstration of what it took to drill holes in the rock walls by hand. The drilling was done so that dynamite could be placed in the rock face. Unlike the western movies where miners were using picks and shovels to get the ore out, miners needed to blast the ore deposit into pieces that could be loaded on to carts and brought out of the mine. The video I made gives a
You can see the copper ore still in the mine. This was a silver mine but copper, gold and lead were also found here.
demonstration of what it took to drill a hole into the rock. After the demonstration, we walked down the slope toward the wash and into the mine entrance.
At the entrance we were told about the debris removal and what we would see during the tour. The mine was worked for many years from the 1880s into the 1930s. Our guide said that he had found an El Paso newspaper down in the mine dated 1908. We were also told that one of the urban legends about the mine being flooded is only partially true. As the miners dug deeper chasing the silver ore, they reached a level where water entered the mine. Pumps were brought in and installed and pumped the water out until the miners reached the 700 foot level. When the pumps failed the water returned to the 500 foot level again covering the pumps. The mine never totally flooded but mining below 500 feet is not feasible.
The mine tour starts with stairs that go down 70 feet to the loop trail that has been made in the mine. The entire trail is lit and there are specific side areas and niches that are lit for people to see different aspects of the mine. Our guide pointed out tunnels and shafts that were roped off. He explained that the entire inner-connecting complex of tunnels goes under the town of Tombstone and out into the surrounding areas. To illustrate his point he showed us one that goes under the wash and comes out at the Toughnut Mine entrance. The mine is a man made hard rock cave and if you are claustrophobic, it isn’t not for you. The miners followed the ore wherever it went, horizontally or vertically. Some passages are low and narrow and other places being are large rooms with 30 tall ceilings.
The miners spent 12 hour shifts in the mine and worked by candlelight at the beginning. Carbide lights were introduced much later in the history of the mine. Unlike coal mines, there was no gasses emitted from the deposits and explosions from a live flame did not happen. The air is fresh in the mine. The complex of tunnels creates a draft that is flowing throughout the mine. We were shown some of the items left by the miners in the tunnels from tools to empty cans of food. The mine structure is sturdy and has some shoring. An earthquake in Sonora Mexico in the 1890s didn’t affect the structure at all. There are some areas of town on Toughnut Street that are collapsing due to the mine. If you go to the Courthouse, there are detail drawings there that show the mine tunnels and the levels of the mines in Tombstone. It gives you some more information on just how big the tunnel complex is.
Near the end of the 1 hour tour, we were shown some ore samples from the mine. Most of the silver from the mine was shipped off to New Orleans and was minted into coins. We were also told of a more extreme tour that is done on Saturdays and it takes about 3 hours. The Toughnut mine tour goes back into areas of the mine that are seldom seen. This tour requires a minimum age of 10 years old, hard hats, lighting and water. It is advisable that you have old clothes, gloves, knee pads and protection for scrapes. When you are making plans to go on any of the Cochise County underground tours, remember that your lodging choice should be Down By The River B and B, “The Lodging Hub of Cochise County.” We are located in St. David about 20 minutes from Tombstone and our San Pedro River BnB is perfect for that quiet relaxing stay in Southeastern Arizona.
Tombstone Rose Tree Museum Update 5 Apr 2013, 2:15 pm
Recently I did a blog about the Rose Tree Festival which is held in Tombstone, AZ. The Rose Tree is located on 4th and Toughnut Streets in the back of the Rose Tree Museum. I did the blog prior to the Tombstone Rose Tree Festival to let people know about the festival. I wanted to supplement my collection of pictures of the rose and provide more detail as an update to the previous blog. On April 4, Angie and I had a chance to go to the Rose Tree Museum. Tombstone is a short drive from our San Pedro River BnB. Angie had never been to the museum and I wanted to go while the Lady Banks Rose was in bloom. We were not disappointed with the display of the rose bush. The Tombstone Rose Tree Festival is held when the rose is at the peak of the blooming cycle. We went the day before the festival so that we wouldn’t be fighting the crowds and we could get some pictures without a lot of people blocking the views. The rose tree was at the height of beauty and there are still some buds getting ready to bloom. The rose is about 1 inch in diameter and the blossoms come in a cluster. The smell of the blossoms was a nice scent but not overpowering.
When we arrived, we paid our $5 entrance fee and walked through the museum on our way out onto the patio to look at the roses. We found a little plaque on the east wall that gives a short history of the rose tree. After reading the information, I got Angie to pose at the tree so that there was a reference to the actual size of the stock. The stock is large and really rugged looking. It is amazing that this plant is still alive. It had to be lovingly cared for while growing in the desert for over a century. The rose is growing over part of the Good Enough Mine. There have been some concerns about the ground collapsing near that part of Toughnut St and the adjoining museum grounds. Recently the road has been closed to traffic and part of the property that the rose tree has been fenced off due to these concerns. The mine entrance is just to the west of the Rose Tree and there are daily tours down into the mine.
Under the canopy of the rose tree you are shaded and the tree is supported by posts and steel beams.
To show just how large the rose tree is, I wanted to take a single picture from the platform that is provided. It was not possible for me to show the extent of the rosebush in a single photo unless I had a fisheye lens on the camera. A fisheye lens distorts the picture and doesn’t reflect the true size of the subject. Instead I got back as far as I could and then did a panorama shot with 5 separate pictures. I then combined the pictures with a program to join them together and place them in alignment. If you look at the picture, under the arbor you can see a couple of people standing. This will give you some perspective as to the size of this 127 year old bush. It was a cloudy afternoon when I to the picture and the colors are not as vibrant in this photo. On a brighter day the yellow roses would have stood out better but this does give you an idea of what you will see. Click here to see the panorama.
After we finished viewing the rose tree, we returned to the small museum and toured the exhibits. There are collections from the past owners of the building and rose. Another section houses mineral displays. There are also old photos of old historical significance which are hung up on the walls in the museum. There is even a neon sign that is on display that was used when the building was known as The Rose Tree Inn. The Museum also has a small bookshop. We did enjoy the Museum and feel that this is a good place for people to visit when they tour Tombstone.
If you go to see the rose tree consider Down By The River B and B for you lodging requirements. We are located in St. David and we are a short drive to Tombstone.
The Hummingbirds Have Returned 2 Apr 2013, 10:09 am
In the last week and a half the hummingbirds have returned to the San Pedro River Valley and are at the feeders at Down By The River B and B. So far most of the hummers are black-chin hummingbirds but I have spotted an Anna’s Hummingbird in the mix. The San Pedro area around St. David is a nursery for the black-chin and they spend all summer here nesting and raising the young. We have had a nest in the carport area a couple of times over the years and many times guests have never noticed that it was located atop one of the support posts under the roof cover.
It won’t be too much longer and we will be getting rufous hummingbird that stop on their way to Alaska. We can always tell when the rufous are here. They will sit in a tree or other location that allows them to see all the feeders and they will run all the other hummingbirds away as they come toward the feeders. These black-chins do employ tactics sometimes or so it seems. The hummers will go in with multiple birds and some will get a drink of nectar while old man rufous is running another one off.
Our guests have spotted other species of hummingbirds on the patio while watching the black-chin, anna’s and the rufous. They have seen magnificent and calliopes at the feeders but these are rare occurrences. Last fall I got a picture of two Annas having a fight at the feeder. If you haven’t seen it when I posted it here is a link that will take you to the video. We also have the Gila Woodpecker raid the feeders and I have a blog on that too. The rufous will leave the woodpecker alone as he knows his limitations in that contest.
If you like to watch the hummingbirds and the woodpecker, then come on over to our San Pedro River BnB and relax on the patio while the action takes place in front of you. Sometimes if you wear red earrings or have a red flower shirt, a hummer will come right up to you to check it out. We have had hummers within inches of ears checking out a ruby. You may even want to enjoy some wine while you watch. Try some of the Arizona wines that are made in the area. We are located in St. David, AZ on the San Pedro River at the northern end of The San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area. We are centralized with access to many of the Cochise County attractions with short day trips. That is why we are the Lodging Hub of Cochise County.