We got started from Magdalena next morning at 8:30. We found the roads west for a considerable distance quite good. Between Magdalena and Springerville there are two stores, nothing more than trading posts, one at 35 miles from Magdalena the other at 80 miles, and excepting two or three ranch houses, these are the only human habitations in the 135 miles. The first store and post office is Datil, where is also sort of accommodations when one is obliged to accept them. We reached here in less than two hours. In front of the building was a U. S. mail car loaded heavily ready to leave for Quemado and other small inland towns, flying a small flag from the radiator, and looking as though it had been put thru hard paces. It was a Ford, and I have noticed that on all the stage lines thru this southwest country, the Ford is the car in use, mainly because it gets over the roads as a big car can't and you would be surprised at the loads they carry.
Just beyond Datil we had a blowout. This delayed us an hour and a half. It was the after effects of the tack I picked up back in Iowa. After we were started again we entered the Datil forest reserve. This is a beautiful large pine forest which Uncle Sam has set aside for future use and from here west we passed thru many of these.
We reached Quemado, 50 miles from our destination at Springerville, at 3:30. We were some 4,000 or 5,000 feet high, and all about us could see the mountain tops with the clouds hovering about them, and where the sun broke thru we could see it snowing in the mountains. This was a very beautiful sight. As we traveled on we approached closer to these mountains and 30 miles from Springerville we ran into the snowstorm. About 5 miles further on we overtook a covered wagon with 4 burros hitched abreast, and when I started around a young fellow signaled me to stop. He wanted to ride into Springerville with us. Although somewhat discommoding to us I made room for him. The snow storm grew heavier, was somewhat soft and banked against the windshield so I couldn't see. I was obliged to lower the shield and take the snow. It grew dark early and when I switched on the lights, could not get much. Horrors! to be stuck out here in a snow storm was no cheering thought, and traveling over those roads after dark without light was impossible. I got out to investigate and found the lights covered with snow a half inch thick. When this was brushed off I had splendid lights, but I was still uneasy that the snow would cover the trail. 20 miles from Springerville, going up a steep short hill, the engine stopped. My passenger got out to crank it but it refused to go. I said I thought I was out of gas, and I wish you could see the look of horror on that fellow's face-and the genuine relief when I uncovered my 5-gallon reserve can. The roads from here were awful stony and rough, and we did not reach Springerville until 6 o'clock.
When we arrived in front of the Regan hotel here, Landlord Regan, clad in a large white apron and a countenance long unshaved, in addition to the usual habiliments, came out, as though he had been expecting us, to ascertain how many to prepare supper for. I wish you could have seen our room here. It was about as primitive as the commonest cabin, cold as charity, but a fair bed. After supper I was taken over to the Becker Mercantile Co's store, where tourists may obtain reliable information as to roads. I had intended going over the White Mountains to Globe and the Roosevelt Dam and into Phoenix, but they told me the roads in the mountains would be almost impassable and were rapidly filling with snow. After leaving Springerville there is only one ranch house in the 145 miles to Globe and as the prospects of freezing to death in those mountains were quite excellent I heeded their advice and decided to go north and west thru Holbrook, Winslow, Flagstaff, Williams and Ash Fork, then south thru Prescott to Phoenix. Next morning it was necessary to get a little gas to insure getting to Holbrook, where we again came to the railroad. I paid 40 cents for it here and 90 cents for oil.
"So we were into the Petrified Forest before we knew it. We saw some huge boulders, resembling trunks of fallen trees, and presently they became so thick, there could be no mistaking it."
On the road to Holbrook we encountered considerable rock and later in the day much sand. This rock is scattered over the land promiscuously, is of burnt appearance, and porous, to my belief the result of volcanic eruptions. If so, it must have come from some distance. We encountered this day long stretches of a white soil that must have been volcanic ash. This was generally in washes, and above we could see large mounds or hills of this, with large fissures and rivulets in their sides where the water had washed them out and carried this composition down across the lower country. A geologist would find this an interesting country. Eighty miles out on our trip today we entered the Petrified Forest, a most interesting sight. According to the Blue Book we must take a reverse fork and go back 2 miles to this, but we were not strictly following the Blue Book, but the Auto Club signs. So we were into the Petrified Forest before we knew it. We saw some huge boulders, resembling trunks of fallen trees, and presently they became so thick, there could be no mistaking it. They are of a brown appearance outside and of beautiful graduations of color thru a cross section, some resembling pearl. As we got farther into the forest, we found whole trees where they seemed to have fallen and broken in sections and one place a large tree with stubs of its root growth lay just beside the trail. The diameter of the butt was more than the height of the car and the four sections of it remaining were fully 70 feet long. Some pictures here were among my losses. The government has set this aside as a national preserve and no one is allowed to take any of the stone away. However, I am told it is done, and that when polished they make beautiful settings for rings, stick pins, etc.
The fact that scientists have decided this country to be largely of volcanic origin may be found in the names given some of the mountains and places of interest in this section. Within a radius of 50 miles of Flagstaff are the Burnt Mountains, Red Mountains, Lava Beds, Sunset Crater (said to have been in action 400 years ago) and the San Francisco Peaks, 14,000 feet high, which form the cone of a long extinct crater, and which we could see for more than 100 miles before we reached them. Forty miles to the southeast of Flagstaff is Meteorite Mountain, a huge hole resembling a crater, 600 feet deep and nearly 5,000 feet across, rising 120 feet above the plain. Scientists claim this was caused by a meteor, and cite as evidence the large quantities of meteoric iron on the plain surrounding. Just southwest of this mountain is the head of Canon Diablo which is a deep chasm that runs for 40 miles without a break in the walls.
Then there is the Painted Desert, northeast of Flagstaff, so called because from a distance, with the sun's rays at the proper angle, it appears to have been painted in many brilliant colors.
We reached Flagstaff about 4:30. The roads entering Flagstaff and west to Williams, 23 miles, are fine, and we decided to make Williams, which we reached a little before six. Flagstaff is called the "Skylight City of Arizona," has an altitude of 7,000 feet, and is surrounded by a superb pine forest, the largest unbroken pine forest in the world. The drive thru these tall stately pines is simply grand. This is the center of the lumbering interests of Arizona, and there are two mills here, each with a capacity of 100,000 feet of lumber daily, and one with a capacity of 50,000, all three having their own railroads for hauling the logs in from the forest, these roads totaling about 150 miles.
There are many points of interest about Flagstaff upon which one could spend several weeks. The Grand Canon, earth's scenic wonder, is 83 miles north. Here too are the Hopi and Navajo Indian reservations, the Hopi's holding annually in August their celebrated snake dance, now quite largely attended by tourists. The world's five greatest natural bridges are near here, and some of the finest prehistoric ruins on the continent. One of these, in Walnut Canon, is now under care of the U. S. government. The extraordinarily pure air of this elevated region and the clearness of the atmosphere gave Flagstaff the Lowell observatory.
At Williams we began to find true characteristics of the Far West. One of these quite noticeable to us was the fact that Chinamen conduct all the restaurants. Here each table is provided with a bar bell, ringing which brought a waiter who would take your order for any liquid refreshments your palate might crave, and when thru a large hamper at the rear received the empty bottles. All along the trail we had come, frequent evidences of civilization (?) had been found in the broken beer and whiskey bottles which lay in the roadway. They were of such regular frequency I wondered if they had been placed by an enterprising tire dealer in the hope that out of this stimulus to trade he would garner his share. The whiskey business in this country can plainly be seen to have been obnoxious in the extreme, both in the low class of Mexicans, Indians and half breeds who debauch themselves with it, and in the loose, unrestrained manner in which the numerous licensed places of its sale are conducted. It therefore was welcome news, though somewhat surprising, too, to learn that at the last election the people voted a constitutional amendment which drastically prohibits its sale or use after January 1st next. Owing to the extensiveness of the business in the state this means a blow to large financial interests and is one of the local elements that has seriously disturbed business conditions. And the liquor and brewery interests expect to see that this influence is fully felt, in the hope of aiding their cause.
We left Williams next morning, December 3rd, at 8:15. Road was without especial interest. We took dinner at Jerome Junction. From this place a spur of the railroad runs to Jerome, about 15 miles, where is located the United Verde Mine, the largest silver mine in the world. From here to Prescott we had excellent roads of red sandy soil, firm and fast. We reached Prescott about 2:30. Here a hook-on boot which was protecting one of the blow out holes was worn out and I had a new one put on the rear tire and also the front. We wanted to make Congress Junction so as to get into Phoenix as early as possible next day. Leaving Prescott we entered the mountains, with almost continual climb for eight miles. After reaching the summit we had a much sharper decline, in the course of which I burned out my brake lining and found myself in an uncomfortable predicament. The scenery thru these mountains was exceptionally beautiful, not only the mountains themselves but their covering of cedar and pine timber and the snow on their sides forming a beautiful contrast against the green trees.
When my brake lining was gone, travel was tedious and slow, for on those steep grades an emergency brake only is unsafe. Too much headway is very apt to assist materially in gathering one hastily to the bosom of Abraham and the knowledge that Skull Valley was on just ahead didn't make the case more cheerful. Darkness overtook us before Skull Valley station and we were obliged to make Kirkland, another little station, to get any accommodations at all. We arrived here at 6:00 o'clock, and were obliged to accept what the "hotel" afforded, though it was meager indeed. The meals were poor, no heat in the room, and after supper we went down into the "lobby" and gossiped freely with the old timers, meanwhile absorbing some of the warmth from the stove. The clerk was an elderly gentleman of lengthy grey beard and Rip Van Winkle appearances, and the whole setting of the village and tavern here at the foot of the mountains would have made Irving as good a plot as his original Catskill location.
In the course of our conversation, one gentle man, the spokesman of the crowd, which was composed of six or eight men, and constituting I presume, a majority of the male population of the village, referred to Arizona's resources and to show us what the state could produce in the line of fruit, they brought forth from an adjoining storage room a box of apples-the finest I ever saw and a genuine surprise to me. They gave us four of the largest, which, placed side by side, covered 15 inches. They had built a dam which gave sufficient water for quite a tract and had irrigated orchards. The apples were of the Black Ben Davis variety, and they told me that specimens sent to the state fair weighed 21 ounces. Next morning I bought a box, and some of these we measured were 14-1/2 inches in circumference. Price, $1.50 per box, Forty-five of them filled an ordinary 50 pound box.
We left at 8:15 next morning, December 4th. We were obliged to travel somewhat slowly because of our brake trouble, which couldn't be repaired until we reached Wickenburg, 47 miles away. We encountered three bad, winding hills, and I wore the emergency brake considerable. On two occasions I wasn't very sure of what the outcome would be and on the whole these experiences are quite satisfactory at one trial. We did not reach Wickenburg until 12:15 and I was informed it would require three hours to fix the brake. We left Wickenburg at 3 o'clock, following a river road for 20 miles to Hot Springs Junction. The road this far was very bad. Before reaching Hot Springs we came into the land of the giant cactus, which, dotted here and there about the desert like sentinels, are picturesque. From Hot Springs we traveled across genuine desert for 40 miles to Phoenix, which we reached at 7:30.
And now T must tell you of my introduction to Phoenix, to show you how relentlessly bad luck pursued me this Friday. The city has no traffic officers, but at prominent street intersections are placed little signs, around which one is supposed to drive in turning corners. I was looking on intersecting streets for a garage, and finally seeing one, made the turn too short and ran into the sign. I didn't know what I was into until I climbed out and investigated, and of course a cop was promptly on the job. He took my car number, name and address and the next day I was requested to report at headquarters. Thru the influence of the man I was negotiating to work for, I got off with the minimum of $5.00, and a little joshing from the judge.
Phoenix is in the heart of a very fertile valley and normally a very good town, but at present business is not only depressed, but paralyzed. Several things contribute to this. A large acreage of cotton (more than 20,000) is grown here, the only place so far known in the world where long staple Egyptian cotton can be grown outside of the Nile Valley. One of the chief resources of the state is copper mining. Both of these, as you know, were hard hit by the European war. Then the statewide prohibition law which goes into effect January 1st has exerted a strong influence on all the capital invested in that, a large fire that demolished a business block, and the failure of the principal bank of the valley, having over 9,000 depositors, has put a real crimp in business. The fellow by whom I was engaged got nervous about his ability to meet his obligations unless business picked up, so I was out shortly after starting. It being the only- non-union shop here I am obliged to look elsewhere, and that is undecided.
The winter climate here is very nice to one who has been used to long winters of snow, yet I do not think I should like it as a permanent thing. They tell me the summers are furnaces for four or five months. People sleep out doors the year around and there are numerous sanitariums and tuberculosis colonies. We have roses in bloom in the front yard and they are mowing lawns and hoeing vegetables. The things grown are quite diversified, including oranges, grape fruit, olives, Indian corn, alfalfa, oats, Irish potatoes (fine ones, too) sweet potatoes, and all that garden truck common to any agricultural region. Bees are numerous and thrive well because of the many flowers, and we get the choicest honey, while dairying is quite successful, and provides that other element necessary to the land that flows with milk and honey.
I know I have drawn this out quite too long, so I'll close it promptly with some information as to our trip.
We traveled 2,674 miles in a total of 176 hours and 30 minutes actual running time. We used 150 gallons of gasoline at an average price of 18 3/5 cents, lowest being 10 3/10 cents at Ottumwa, Iowa, highest 40 cents at Springerville, Arizona, 80 miles from a railroad. We used 61 gallons of oil, costing $4.85, and tire expense mounted to $32.45, including inner tubes, patches, skid chains, etc., which I have left. A large nail puncture in the right front wheel and stone cut on the left rear originated all our trouble, the other two tires being pumped up but twice on the trip, and never had a puncture. Our heaviest expense was hotel and garage bills and on any similar trip in the future I shall take a folding tent, and camp out, for I think the accommodations would be better.
I deeply appreciate the kindness of those who contributed to the camera fund and the keenest disappointment I have experienced in many years is the fact that I can't send you some pictures, of which I thought I had a wonderful collection. I have sent the camera to the factory to be put in good order and if it is returned in time I shall try to send you a few from here.
With best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and happy, prosperous New Year I will bring this to a close, and I think it will tax the most of you to follow it this far.
SAMUEL N. WHITAKER
801 North Second St.
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| PHOENIX, ARIZONA, Dec. 7, 1914 | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, Feb. 19, 1915 | MOLINE, ILLINOIS, May 27, 1915 |
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