Sunday, June 29, 2008

Little Known South Mountain Natural Bridge

South Mountain Richard

Although this was a very popular spot at South Mountain in the past, it's almost unknown to the general public now. On any given Saturday when there are hundreds of people on National trail you can visit this area and be alone for hours even though it's only 50 yards off's just that well hidden. Surprisingly, even though it was an official attraction at one time with reinforced (CCC?) trails leading up to it, it's off the maps now.

Here's a section of the Official 1964 South Mountain Park brochure map showing Natural Bridge near the Natural Tunnel. Note that Mormon Loop trail is missing because it hadn't been created yet. Also Fat Man's Pass was called Wonder Rift on this map.

At that time it was one of only a handful of pictures in the Park's brochure:

Here's a picture from when my family visited it in 2006:
Too bad it's not on the maps any more, it's a really neat place to visit.

As requested here are directions to the Natural Bridge. Please do not approach from National Trail, that approach is closed for revegetation. The approach from Hidden Valley was part of the original official trail (look for small CCC work on part of trail near bridge) This approach does not have any signs showing the old trail as being closed.


To get onto the old trail, make a left just before running into "spaceship rock" (so named by my family since it resembles an approaching Star Destroyer from Star Wars) on the Hidden Valley trail just after exiting the tunnel. (This picture was taken facing south)

The old trail (facing north) is lined with many small rocks.

Opening Of Mountain Park Well Assures Corps Camp

“AZR”, October 25, 1933

Establishment in South Mountain park of a Civil Conservation Corps camp was assured yesterday, city officials and interested Phoenicians announced, with the completion of drilling of a 250-foot well which will provide an abundance of water for all purposes.

Materials for construction of the camp already were being trucked to the park yesterday afternoon, and the site is expected to be in readiness for the first contingent, due here about December 1.

Drilling of the well means far more to Phoenix and the Salt River valley, however, than the assurance of the location in South Mountain park of a CCC camp, said H. Clay Parker, on whose property the well is located.

“About 1,000 acres of the finest citrus land in the valley is located in this district,” said Parker, “but is too high to take advantage of the gravity flow from the valley irrigation project.”

“By successfully finding water even though we were forced to drill to a depth of 250 feet, we have established that water can be pumped from wells to irrigate this citrus land.”

Though located on Parker’s property, the well and the site have been turned over to United States army officials for use of the CCC camp. After the CCC work has been completed, the well will be made available for residents or visitors in South Mountain park.

A caliche formation was found for the first 143 feet of drilling, according to W. S. Williams, 1250 North Twenty-First Street, in charge of the drilling. A water strata from 143 to 156 feet yielded seven gallons per minute in tests.

From 156 feet to 190 feet was a non bearing aggregate, but a strata from 190 to 198 feet yielded about 10 gallons per minute in tests.

Then the drill struck a hard granite shell, and almost a day was required to pierce a three-foot strata to reach a depth of 201 feet. From there to almost 255 feet, the drill cut through a pea-gravel water-bearing strata in which there was no drawn-down with 20 gallon per minute being taken from the well, according to Parker.

With pumps installed, the well is expected to produce 40 gallons per minute, Parker said. Those in charge of the drilling could not determine the depth of the last water-bearing strata, he added, but consider a 50-feet penetration adequate for any possible need.

The six-inch well, cased down to a depth of 256 feet is located one-eighth mile north of Dobbins monument on the east side of Central avenue. Water will be forced to a reservoir which will be constructed at once east of the Valley View Point platform.

From the reservoir water will be piped to the CCC camp, the gravity flow from the higher reservoir placing the water under pressure. The well is expected to make available water adequate for any domestic purpose that will arise for years to come.

Drilling of the well was started less than two weeks ago.

Forestry Men Coming Soon

“AZR”, October 14, 1933

Civilian Conservation Corps workers assigned to the four winter camps in the Phoenix area will begin to arrive here October 18 when 166 men from a summer camp in Wyoming reach Phoenix, it was stated yesterday by S. L. Lewis, state game warden. The men will be placed in a camp in Papago park. About 40 Arizona men will be enlisted Mr. Lewis said, to bring the camp up to the required 200 men.

The other three camps in this area will be located in the South mountains. It is not known when the men for those camps will reach here.

The Wyoming contingent will be quartered in a camp half a mile south of the city water supply reservoir in Papago park. They will be used in carrying out a beautifying program in the park and at the bass fish hatchery in the east end of the area.

The work will include improvement of the roads to and around the fish hatchery, several improvements at the hatchery, including a garage, store room, barbecue pits and picnic sun shelters. The men also will carry on landscape work in the park.

Drilling Of Park Well Gets Under Way Here

“AZR”, October 12, 1933

Drilling of a well to furnish water for the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Phoenix Mountain park has been placed under way near Dobbins’ monument on South Central Avenue. A pipeline will be laid and a pump installed to “lift” water to the camp which will be in the interior of the park. Because of the geological nature of the country, it is not believed possible to reach water within the park.

The well, which is being paid for by the federal government, will be a permanent improvement. It will provide a water supply for the park after the conservation camp workers complete extensive park improvement program which has been outlined.

The city engineering department is facilitating establishment of the camp by preparing plans and specifications for the “CCC” cantonment. These plans call for the construction of 10 separate buildings, including four barracks, two mess halls and two recreation rooms.

Original plans for the establishment of two separate camps in separate locations have been altered and all workers, of which there will be about 400, will be grouped into one large cantonment.

“CCC” camp workers will be transferred here from projects in Colorado and Wyoming about the last of this month.

Plans for the park improvement include reforestation of areas which have been denuded by vandals or woodhaulers of their interesting desert flora, construction of miles of additional roads, trails and bridle paths; clearing of picnic grounds and installation of improvements such as camp ovens, ramadas, camp tables and benches.

The entire program will be carried out without any expense to Phoenix taxpayers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

U. S. Will Ask Bids For Civilian Camps

“AZR”, October 10, 1933

Bids on construction for cantonments for the four civilian conservation corps camps to be established in Phoenix and vicinity will be called in the next few days and the first of the camps will begin operation here by October 25, members of the city commission were advised yesterday by federal representatives.

The “CCC” camp in Papago park will be the first unit to be established here. This camp will be transferred here October 25 from Wyoming.

Two camps will be transferred into Phoenix Mountain park from points in Colorado by December 1, it also was announced. Another camp will be established at Ashdale on the Black Canyon highway at about the same time the Papago park unit is brought here.

Bids on construction of the cantonments, including quarters for men and other necessary facilities, will be called and received through 8th corps U. S. Army headquarters at Ft. Bliss.

Bids on the installation of a well in Phoenix Mountain park to furnish water for the two camps there already have been received and the contract will be awarded in the next few days.

These two units, as well as the Papago park and Ashdale camps each will employ 215 men, Lester D. DeMund, commission member announced yesterday after conferring with Don R. Hull, inspector from the federal district park service office at San Francisco who is here in connection with the “CCC” projects.

The commissioners also were informed that local young men will be eligible for enrollment in the working personnel of the camps as their quotas of men will not be entirely filled when they are sent here. A location at which enrollment may be made will be announced later.

U. S. Releases $3,000,000 For Arizona Civilian Camps

“AZR”, October 3, 1933

Will Provide for 10,000

(Exclusive Republic Dispatch)

Washington, Oct. 3 – Federal funds exceeding $3,000,000 for maintenance of 30 Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Arizona during the next six months were made available today.

During the summer there have been 20 reforestation camps in Arizona, 18 in the national forests and two in Grand Canyon National park, Carl Hayden, United States senator from Arizona, said.

Four new camps will be established under the forest service and six under the national park service, an increase of 10 new camps for the state this winter.

Six thousand men will be encamped within the state from October 16 to April 25, 1934. As conservation workers stationed in winter quarters these men will staff 22 camps in national forests, two camps in the Grand Canyon National park and six additional camps set up by the national parks service in state and municipal parks.

Of the last six, one will be in Randolph park, near Tucson, three in the Phoenix district, and two in the mountains near Tucson. Two of the Phoenix camps will be in the South mountains and the other in the former Papago National monument.

One of the summer camps will be moved from its present location on the north rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado river. The other in Grand Canyon National park will remain on the south rim.

Two hundred men will be allotted to a camp. On the basis of their present wage scale the government $3,240,000 on their wages, subsistence and care. In addition, the government must make an outlay of approximately $120,000 to build or reconstruct living quarters in the new camps.

This will bring the planned expenditure in the 30 camps to $3,360,000.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

400 CCC workers promised for South Mountain - 10/1/1933

"AZR", October 1, 1933

Two Civilian Camps Assured For South Mountain Project

Definite assurance that Phoenix will have two units of the Civilian Conservation Corps for work in the South Mountain park district this winter, was received yesterday by S. McN. Johnston, city manager. The word came direct from Robert Fechner, director of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Pure Water Supplied

The decision to send the units to Phoenix for the winter “hung fire” all through last week over the question of a water supply for the conservation workers. The federal authorities insisited that a continuous pure water supply must be furnished and that their funds would not permit the installation of this necessity.

The city finally offered to pipe the water to the camp sites from its mains. It is estimated the water system will cost approximately $5,000.

To Develop Park

Four hundred men will be in the two camps for approximately six months, permitting the development of the great park along lines which otherwise would have taken many years to realize. South Mountain park comprises 14,000 acres and is the largest municipally owned park in the United States.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

South Mountain Master Plan Map (est 1934-1936?)

South Mountain Richard

The date of this map is currently unknown.

Click image for full size readable map.

Be sure to check out the Telegraph Pass Tunnel, the Park Circle Drive, Pima Road and the various trail names. The legend is important, it shows which roads and trails already exist vs. which ones are planned.

The proposed road on the top of the mountain currently doesn't go any farther east than Buena Vista which is approximately where Hieroglyphic (Geronimo) trail and Ames (Corona De Loma?) meet on this map. Also the road that goes over to where the TV towers are now does not exist on this map. It does show a completed trail, which could be a trail that was covered by the road, or may be part of National Trail.

The only trails on this map that currently have the same names as they do now are Kiwanis and Mormon (24th st). What is fascinating to me is all the trails that show as completed, but I'm not sure exactly which trails they would be now, or even if they still exist.

Random Notes

South Mountain Richard

The National Trail Road? A Tunnel under Telegraph Pass?

The original plans for South Mountain Park included a loop road (think a longer paved Desert Classic) going all the way around the park, and a 500 foot long tunnel road going under Telegraph Pass. Also believe it or not, a road going all the way from Buena Vista area to Pima canyon! I'll be scanning that map and some more documents today and posting later.

South Mountain Area Names have changed over the years:

"Salt River Valley" was later changed to "Valley of the Sun" to make the valley more marketable.

"Fat Man's Pass" was previously called "Wonder Rift", "Fat Man's Misery", "Fat Man's Trap", and the fairly convoluted "Fat Man's Trap Pass"

"South Mountain Park" was originally called "Phoenix Mountain Park"

The "South Mountains" were originally called the "Salt River Mountains"

"Yaqui Town" is an older name for "Guadalupe"

"Hieroglyphic Trail" was rerouted some, and is now called "Geronimo"

I haven't seen any comments on the page (other than a few of mine), so I'm enabling anonymous comments. We'll see how this goes. It was off by default, but I know a lot of people don't want to bother registering just to leave a comment. If bot spamming becomes an issue I'll change it back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dedication of Heard Scout Pueblo - 1925

South Mountain Richard

1925 Dedication of Heard Scout Pueblo with Mrs. Florena Barttell and George Phillip, Chairman

Hieroglyphics Trail Formally Opened And Dedicated To Public

[South Mountain Richard note: Most of Hieroglyphics Trail is now called Geronimo...also this is another main trail built before the CCC arrived in October, 1933]

“AZR”, March 9, 1930

With city and county officials included in the party which made the dedicatory trip, a hiking party over the newly-completed Hieroglyphics canyon trail in Phoenix Mountain park, sponsored by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, yesterday formally marked the opening of the trail to public use.

Gathering at the foot of the South mountains, the party left at 1:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon for the trip over the trail a distance of about two and one-half miles.

The path was constructed in the park by the city as a part of the development program planned for it. The park comprises more than 14,000 acres of land, including within its boundaries many interesting views, strange rock formations, and in some locations prehistoric Indian rock-writings.

The new trail leads directly through some of the most rugged and picturesque sections of the park, among which is Hieroglyphic canyon, where the prehistoric Indian writings are found.

Arrangements for the dedicatory hike over Hieroglyphic trail were in charge of the Phoenix Mountain park committee of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, which is headed by Fred Barrows, chairman and H. Clay Parker, vice-chairman.

The party halted briefly at the highest point on the trail, which has an elevation about 1,600 feet higher than the city of Phoenix, to enjoy the remarkable scenic view obtainable from this location.

It then continued down the mountain to Heard Scout pueblo, elaborate new week-end camp of the Roosevelt council, Boy Scouts of America, where “open house” was held under the direction of George F. Miller, council executive.

After inspecting the various units of the Boy Scout camp, the hiking party returned to the city.

The event was intended not only as a gesture of appreciation to the city for its part in developing the park, but also as a means of acquainting the public with its attractions as a center for recreational purposes, including hiking, horseback riding and picnicking.

Dr. F. J. Crider, director of the Boyce Thompson Southwestern arboretum at Superior, was a member of the hiking party. As the party traveled over the trail, Dr. Crider briefly commented on the interesting desert growths, shrubs, trees and cacti found there.

New Mountain Park Opens Vast Territory For Recreation

“AZR”, April 18, 1925

By Ted Dykes

Phoenix Union High School Journalism Class

Recreation seekers of Phoenix and the Salt River Valley who delight in spending a day out in the open, away from the noise and turmoil of the city, will find much to their enjoyment at Phoenix Mountain Park, located high up in the Salt River Mountains, south of Phoenix. After months of discussion and planning a recreation center within easy driving distance of Phoenix, Phoenix Mountain Park is at last a reality, and every indication points to the park becoming a mecca for thousands of picnickers this summer.

On March 30, 1924, Jim Dobbins spoke at a meeting of the Kiwanis club of the possibility and the necessity of reserving some land for picnickers. All the land to the north of Phoenix already had been held by private ownership and this left some 15,000 acres adjoining the Salt River mountains open for such use. The Kiwanians were somewhat taken aback when they found that this land also was about to be thrown open to private ownership. Therefore, in frantic haste, Jim Dobbins wired the United States Bureau of Public Lands at Washington, and had all previous claims withdrawn, and reserved all the available land adjoining the Salt River mountains.

After all previous claims are allowed, there will be approximately 14,000 acres open to the public. The total cost of this added attraction to the Salt River Valley’s natural grandeur will be approximately $18,000. It is understood that plans are being discussed to construct a golf course on some part of the reservation. Not withstanding the fact that much unnecessary labor will have been avoided in climbing the peaks to the east and west of Telegraph Pass by the Kiwanis Trail, it is believed by some persons, that in the future a paved roadway running east and west from the end of South Central avenue around the entire range will be constructed; also a similar road through Telegraph Pass which will be accessible by automobile.

If one attempts to leave the trail and diverge either east or west he will find that although he may reach the top of either peak, the hard work thus encountered will rob him of much of the enjoyment in viewing the valley when the peak is reached.

If, however, one follows the trail on up to Telegraph Pass he can then turn either east or west and quite easily reach the top and then turn back to higher peaks to the north which then will be easily scaled.

Through Dwight B. Heard, the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls will have 45 acres each to call their own. The Bartlett-Heard company bought a quarter section of Hieroglyphic canyon and gave 70 acres in the center to the public, the remaining 90 acres being equally divided between the Boy Scouts and the Camp Fire Girls. When one has reached the summit of the highest peak, he may see as if in a picture, the entire valley in a glorious mass of green. Straight to the north is Central avenue which appears to split the green foliage.

Owing to the tall trees, an unrestricted view of the city of Phoenix is not obtainable.

At sundown, the beauty of the Kiwanis trail is further enhanced and as twilight deepens into night, a beautiful sight will greet the eyes. Gone is the beautiful green of the day-time, but in its stead glow myriad lights stretching from Marinette to Mesa. Lights that twinkle, lights which diffuse a brilliant beam and lights that shed subdued a radiance can be seen. One can easily imagine that it all a dream as one pauses to think that the spot before his eyes was once a dreary waste to be avoided as the plague, but which now attracts as a heavily laden apple tree entices a small boy; a spot over which human beings seldom traveled, but now a place populated by thousands. Even the remotest spots are visited daily by many persons who seek diversion away from the city. And what is the attraction for these recreation seekers?

When the city commissioners and Jim Dobbins found they could get the land, the question arose, “how and when will we make a trail?” Most any date would do, but the labor was a different matter. Common day laborers could build the trail, but that would take a long time and cost considerable money.

Then the Kiwanis club took up the job and the call went out to all red-blooded Kiwanians to assemble on April 14. The call was answered by more than 70 Kiwanians who laid aside their daily business and entered into the work with vim. There were many Kiwanians last Tuesday who looked as if they had not done a hard day’s manual labor in their lives. Be that as it may, suffice it to say that each and every member of the Kiwanis club who was out to work that day soon acquired the art of handling a pick or shovel. At the foot of the trail there is a place where it seems that all previous picnic parties had to stop. It was at this very spot that the Kiwanians, following their usual procedure of beginning where others leave off, started constructing a trail which was to bear their name.

At 2:30 o’clock this band of earnest workers had built a trail approximately one and a half miles in length which rose upward from 1500 feet to 5800 feet. These men clearly demonstrated that despite the softness of their muscles from lack of constant hard physical labor, they could equal if not surpass the efforts of the men who gain their daily bread by wielding a pick and shovel.

Verily , Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the first, his Cromwell, and now, Telegraph Pass has its Kiwanis Trail.

C. M. "Charlie" Holbert, First Park Custodian Dies at 86.

[South Mountain Richard Notes: C. M. Holbert was the first Park Custodian and went by "Charlie"]

"AZR", February 6, 1948

Park Supporter Rites Arranged

C. M. Holbert, for whom funeral services are scheduled at 2 p. m. today at A. L. Moore and Sons chapel, was one of the original workers to preserve South Mountain Park as a historical monument and municipal park, his daughter, Mrs. John L. Deorle, Phoenix, said yesterday.

First custodian of the park, Holbert, 86 years old, retired in 1939, but spent most of his 23 years here in exploring and roaming the South Mountain area, which he "loved", she said.

Many of the stories and letters to the editor based on park subjects were printed in The Arizona Republic over a period of years.

Mr. Holbert, who died Saturday in his home, 35 West Southgate avenue, will be buried in Double Butte Cemetery, Tempe.

Editor's note: Picture taken 6/11/2008 at Tempe Double Butte Cemetery.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New road on South Mountain with Telegraph Pass in back (Year unknown)

Collected off web in years past, exact source unknown.

Click picture for larger version. This looks like where the road starts to curve around to the towers. National trail would be just above the road heading towards the rear of the picture and telegraph pass.

Kiwanians Build 5,940 Feet Of Trail To Top Of Telegraph Pass In Phoenix Mountain Park - 4/15/1925

“AZR”, Phoenix, Tuesday Morning, April 15, 1925

Kiwanians Build 5,940 Feet Of Trail To Top Of Telegraph Pass In Phoenix Mountain Park


Rome wasn’t built in a day-but there wasn’t any Kiwanis club in Caesar’s time and building was considerably slower.

Yesterday the members of the Phoenix Kiwanis club gave a practical demonstration of what cooperative action can do when scientifically applied. Three score and 10 members of the local club left Phoenix about 8:30 o’clock in the morning, motored to the base of the new Phoenix Mountain park, took off their coats and went to work. At 2 p. m. the Kiwanians had completed a trail to the top of the mountains right into “Telegraph Pass,” a distance of 5,940 feet.

Kiwanis Trail affords access to the summit of the new mountain park which has been isolated as a recreation spot for valley citizens due to the rough, treacherous climb through canyons and over rocks and cactus. Now the mile and 220 yards of trail can be climbed on foot or on horseback, the trail being sufficiently wide and solid enough for horse travel.

When the Kiwanians reached the base of the mountains they were given instructions by Jim Dobbins who was appointed superintendent by the club. City Manager Hitchcock and Henry Chambers were made “straw-bosses” and the Kiwanians were divided into three groups. Dobbins taking charge of one group while Chambers and Hitchcock took charge of one crew each. The trail was divided into two sections with Chambers’ gang taking the top section from 3,100 feet up. Dobbins’ crew started at the bottom and worked toward the top while Hitchcock’s gang worked from 3,100 feet down. At 12:20 Henry Chambers and his crew had completed the top section of the trail, while two sections of 200 feet and 400 feet each remained to be completed on the lower part.

The Hitchcock and Dobbins’ crew answered the dinner bell at 12 o’clock and on returning to the foot of the mountains they were treated to an elaborate spread prepared by Chefs Guy Alsap, “Harp” O’Malley, Joe Melczer, and Earl Brewster. Everything from olives to Budweiser was provided for the trail builders. After lunch the Kiwanians rested for three quarters of an hour and returning to the uncompleted sections of the trail finished the job at exactly 2 o’clock.

The trail reaches the topmost point of “Telegraph Pass,” which is the high point of the old trail used by the Pony Express in carrying mail from Maricopa to Fort Whipple in the pioneer days of Arizona.

Chambers’ crew on completing their work to “Telegraph Pass” turned northeast, and built a trail to the top of Kiwanis Peak where a beautiful view of the Gila River valley and the Salt River valley greets the eye.

Paul Beutke of the Union Auto Transportation company was chairman of the transportation committee and provided Union Auto busses to carry the laborers to their work. Henry Chambers provided the tool car for the picks, shovels, rakes and bars. Earl Brewster and a large Union Oil truck transported the “eats” and the chefs to the base of the mountain for the big spread.

Shortly after noon the A. L. Moore and Sons ambulance made a hurry call to the base station bringing all the physician members of the Kiwanis club. They also partook of the appetizing luncheon prepared by the luncheon committee and after enjoying the “feed” cleared a large parking space where persons desiring to climb the mountains can park their cars.

The presence of mind of Roy Murray saved many bruised fingers and many callouses-Roy reached the base of operations early and provided each workman with a pair of leather-faced canvas gloves. Some Kiwanians wore out their first pair of gloves, but others were available. Joe Melczer had ice-cold Budweiser for the boys and on their return from the trail-blazing he stood ready with chilled beverage for the thirsty.

Guy Alsap had a new one for the occasion. Individual bricks of ice cream in dainty paper cartons, each brick moulded with a “chicken” of lemon ice cream in the center. Cigars and cigarettes followed the lunch and 70 Kiwanians made merry despite the fact that they had labored in the hot sun swinging picks and shovels for nearly four hours.

The trail averages two feet in width and was cut through rocky country and in some instances boulders weighing nearly a ton were pried out of the way. A good firm foundation is given the trail by decomposed granite which the Kiwanians shoveled from the side of the mountain. Cactus and underbrush were cut away and rock walls built to make the trail as short as possible. The work was well done under the supervision of Jim Dobbins and his “straw bosses” and will be a lasting monument to the energy of the Phoenix Kiwanis club. Signs have already been ordered by the club and will be placed along the highway south of town, to guide those who wish to take advantage of the only accessible road to the top of Phoenix Mountain park.

Many Kiwanians will be suffering from sunburnt faces, calloused hands and aching muscles today, but they worked with a determination and feel that they have accomplished something. The enjoyment of working, a picnic lunch and a trail to one of the beauty spots of the valley repaid them for their work.

President Art Esgate of the Phoenix Kiwanis club, in direct charge of all activities, praised the club members for their willingness to get in and hustle and he himself swung a 12-pound sledge hammer and helped shovel dirt on Kiwanis Trail. No Kiwanian slacked in his work, each man swinging sledge and pick, shovel or what-not.

Phoenix Mountain Park Trips Reveal History Of Southwest - 1/22/1933

“AZR”, January 22, 1933

Phoenix Mountain Park Trips Reveal History Of Southwest

Attractions and varied places of interest to be found in Phoenix Mountain park are described in a letter received from C. M. Holbert, local outdoors enthusiast.

“There are so many inquiries from teachers and others that such a description will be appreciated and made good use of for the east half of the park is a perfect hiking field with plenty of interesting places to be found,” writes Mr. Holbert.

“A possible hike for a day could include assembly in Neighborhood canyon, ascent to the saddle between Two peaks, finding Wonder Rift, the natural bridge, Lone cottonwood, Pima spring where Indian metates ground in the granite and many prehistoric writings, Haunted cave, Padre Hill, which marks the spot where legend says a padre met death at the hands of Indians, the De Niza inscription rock, and Santa Cruz hill.

“All of these with the exception of Haunted cave could be included in a single day’s outing. Lunch and water should be taken and rubber-soled shoes worn. Finding Wonder Rift is the key to all the rest.

“To reach this point it is necessary to descend from the saddle between Two peaks southwest across the first gorge, and down over a low divide, into the second wash and you are near the rift. The wash soon narrows to about 19-inch width between water worn granite walls, which overlap above so that they shut out the sun. Less than a mile down the same wash is Natural bridge-a tunnel under a massive roof 50 feet long and high and wide enough to lead a saddle horse through.

“On down the wash are the Lone cottonwood tree and Pima springs. To find Padre hill, go north from Pima springs to the north summit overlooking the Salt River valley. Four stone crosses each seven feet long and pointing to the four directions are found on one of the nearby higher summits.

“De Niza rock bears the only inscription of the early Spaniards in these hills. It is dated 1539. The rock is southeast of Pima springs about three fourths of a mile. Autos can reach it by taking the desert road at the south side of Guadalupe and traveling west to the hills on the south side of a big wash.

“Santa Cruz hill is a spot sacred to the Indians of Guadalupe. Here is a shrine at which they place the cross which figures in their religious occasions. The airways beacon light is on Beacon hill northeast of De Niza rock and near Santa Cruz hill.

“A shorter hike can be planned starting from the same place and taking in Wonder Rift, Natural bridge and Haunted cave and autos can meet the hikers at or near the starting place. After leaving Natural bridge go north to the summit one canyon east of Two peaks. Haunted cave is almost halfway down. Many prehistoric pictures are found on the canyon walls as you descend. The cave is in the canyon’s west wall.

“Eventually saddle trails will traverse this entire section. At Wonder Rift a trail will lead Southwest to the summit overlooking the Gila desert and Pima Indian reservation, following that crest westward nearly two miles of Summit trail and the splendid road systems that are now open and being constantly extended from Heard Scout pueblo to Telegraph and Delta passes.”

View from Telegraph Pass before the Ahwatukee Foothills (date unknown)

South Mountain Richard

City To Protect De Niza Rock

"AZR", January 19, 1933

Steps to preserve a rock inscription at the east end of the South mountains believed to have been placed there by the Franciscan Father Marcos de Niza in 1539 and protect it from vandals were taken by the city commission yesterday following presentation to the city of a deed to a tract of 103 acres in which the rock is located.

The deed was delivered to the commission by W. G. Hartranft, chairman of the city planning and zoning commission.

The land is a gift of Madison Ballew, former Phoenix resident, who is donating it that the city may take steps to preserve the inscription for posterity. The rock on which it is chiseled will be surrounded by a fence to protect it from vandals.

Hikes In Park Planned Today

"AZR", Phoenix, Sunday Morning, January 24, 1937

Three hikes into the Hidden Val­ley area of Phoenix Mountain park will be held today under auspices of the city parks department.

The starting point will be at the end of the graded road in Pima canyon, reached by driving to Ya­qui Town, 12 miles southeast of Phoenix, thence a mile southwest and thence two miles west.

The first hike will start at 11 a. m., the second at 1 p. m. and the third at 3 p. m.

Leaving their automobiles in Pima canyon, those participating will be taken on a four-mile itin­erary covering some of the most picturesque and interesting regions in the 14,000-acre park.

The unusual spectacle of snow beds lying on the higher parts of the South mountains and in the shaded canyons will add extra in­terest.

The hikes will be led by Frank Mitalsky, experienced guide and ar­cheologist. Planned especially for the entertainment of winter vis­itors, they will be open to the pub­lic without charge.


Hello everybody,

This blog is an attempt to document my research on South Mountain Park's history. South Mountain Park (Phoenix, Arizona) was created in 1924. However, many details about the park's history are not documented anywhere on the web. There is a little info here and there, but if you try to search the web and try to find out when the National Trail was created, or when the road was built to the top of the mountain or when the TV/Radio towers were added it's just nowhere to be found. I'm trying to find as much information as I can to document the creation of the park and all the work done over the years that make it one of the most popular recreational areas in Phoenix.

This includes scanning old newspaper microfilm from the 1920's-1940's when most of the original work on the park was done. This includes the CCC years (Civilian Conservation Corps).

South Mountain Richard