Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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in frantic haste, Jim Dobbins wired the United States Bureau of Public Lands at Washington, and had all previous claims withdrawn, and reserved all the available land adjoining the Salt River mountains.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.

1 comment:

South Mountain Richard said...

I know there are some inaccuracies in this article, but I posted it as originally written. I think the author misunderstood the 5,800 feet of trail to mean that the trail went up to an elevation of 5,800 feet.

Also note that in that time period and on many maps, the "South Mountains" were also known as the "Salt River Mountains"...and the park was originally known as Phoenix Mountain Park.