Crown King Mine
Ghost Town - Old Gold Mine - Crown King, Arizona, a hamlet at about 5900 feet elevation in the pine forest of the Bradshaw Mountains, attracts people from nearby Phoenix and the Sonoran Desert like a magnet during the summer. They come now to cool off, but once, they came to get rich.
In the early 1870s, prospectors discovered gold and began staking claims in the southern Bradshaw Mountains, one of the most heavily mineralized ranges in the world. During the 1880’s, Orrin F. Place, Noah Shekels, and George P. Harrington emerged as major operators, and opened several mines, including the Crown King mine. It was the largest in the Bradshaw range, according to Bruce M. Wilson in his book Crown King and the Southern Bradshaws: A Complete History. They built a mill nearby to process the ore and a road to connect the Crown King Mine and the mill. They used 50 mules to haul the ore. Crown King, the community, grew up along the road, with a saloon as one of its first enterprises. More...
Adaptive Strategy to Attract Pollinators
Cactus Flowers - As far back as I can remember, I have always liked cacti. Sometime in my sixth year, my parents gave me a small cactus with a flower grafted on to it. I was quite thrilled that this strange, spiny specimen had a flower. It seemed so exotic. During the following year, I faithfully watered my plant and tried to keep it in what little sun I could find in my Seattle bedroom. It didn't exactly thrive. It didn't die either, but I don't remember that it ever grew and the flower finally dried and fell off. I eventually lost interest in this particular plant, but I never lost my interest in cacti.
I am still fascinated by cactus flowers; they are one of the great surprises and paradoxes of nature. How can such apparently defensive plants produce these magnificent blooms? They go to great lengths to protect themselves from predators with their spines and yet, each spring they create a clarion call announcing themselves. The showy brilliance of the flowers, an adaptive strategy to attract pollinators, contrasts with the dull green stems and pads; the instinct for reproduction competes with the need for survival. More...
The Kaibab Trail
Hike to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon - After living in Arizona for 6 months, I felt as if I had grossly neglected one of the state's (and country's) most popular and magnificent treasures -- the Grand Canyon. So with the heat from the summer expired (yes, 90s is "cooled down" for a Phoenician), I entreated my most consistent and most "in shape" hiking buddy, Monica, to hike the Grand Canyon with me, which wasn't hard because she would rather hike than go to Disneyland.
Since I was a novice on Grand Canyon operations, I wanted to camp in the Canyon two nights and spend the days doing hikes that wouldn't kill me. However, I quickly learned that camping in the Canyon was a bit trickier than that. One is required to obtain a permit at least 4 to 6 weeks in advance (4 to 6 months is more realistic). More...
Medicinal Plants - I'm always amazed to see herbal products on my local grocery shelves that contain ingredients from medicinal plants growing right here in the Southwest. I marvel at the trial-and-error process that generations of humans have gone through to learn which plants to use to treat particular ailments. Some cultures, the Greek and Chinese, for example, have relied on written records to pass down what they learned about medicinal plants. Other cultures, for instance, Southwest or Amazonian Indian tribes, with no written languages, depended on oral histories to convey information about the plants through the centuries.
In the 1700s, your physician might be trained, not only in anatomy and medical science, but also in botany. As part of his practice, he would identify and collect plants from the local area to make into a treatment for your ailment. More...
Last Week's Top Story
Desert Survival - It's unfortunate that many people equate deserts with a hostile environment that conspires against human life. In the popular media, desert areas seem to be considered at the top of the wilderness list for danger. The historical fact is, however, that the human race was cradled in arid lands and people are well adapted to survive in deserts. Learning to be part of the desert's ecosystem is the first step of desert survival. My philosophy is not to fight the desert, but to become part of its ecosystem. Being prepared is an obvious benefit.
Preparation starts with how you dress. People stand upright and receive only 60% of the solar radiation that animals on all fours do. By adding a proper hat, with a wide brim and closed crown, the head and body are further protected. A common mistake made by new desert visitors is wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts. Loose fitting long sleeves and pants provide good air circulation and much better protection than sunblock. More...
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