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Swansea AZ October 2023

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We had a most awesome weekend out Swansea way!  Thanks to Gear, Chris and Sarah, and Jack for joining me!   

We headed out Friday morning and got to Swansea by noon.  Our first stop was at camp - setting up tents and eating lunch!  Important stuff!

After that we spent the afternoon exploring Swansea.  This place never fails!   Our first drive was to the pumping station.  With over 500 residents in this town, and the smelter needs, water was pumped by steam-powered generators) 5 miles from the Bill Williams River. 100_0699.thumb.JPG.1c7fd2bf75be63eb95aa0be20b410b6c.JPGthe Bill   To The northern end of the trail is a  cherry stem spur in the Swansea Wilderness, so we only get so far,  then walk the rest of the way.    This little baby burro led the way.  There's nothing left of the pump station except the base....bummer. 


After our visit here, we drive to the center of Swansea, passing by the remains of resident homes and worker homes.  On the way, we did find the lime kiln - used to make bricks - and one of the two cemeteries.  A most interesting cemetery - a mound of rocks.  Oh and on our walk to the cemetery, we find in-the-ground remains of their terra cotta water line.




It's interesting as there are holes on this mound with scattered wood that appears to be the remains of wood crosses.  Our guess is that the ground was so hard, that they covered the dead, as opposed to burying them....but totally unknown to us.  This pile of rocks was not like any other in the area, and Sarah's gps did identify this as the cemetery.  Wierd.








Once we get to the center of the mining operation, Mike tests the quality of the shaft covers.   The hillside has many shafts, and all are covered....or at least we saw enough to believe that they got them all.




The old 'dust chamber' and the remains of the furnace/smelter.





We never did figure out what this was for....



And a view back as we head towards camp.



It was a beautiful evening!   I enjoyed sleeping under the stars, minus the rainfly, in my 15 year old (needs to be replaced) tent!  But first, we needed to eat that cherry cobbler, then a battle for the pumpkin carving contest.  It was a close draw, but Chris won the prize.  Hopefully Sarah has pictures of our competition!   (mine did not come out)100_0734.thumb.JPG.4f7aa87fcb5bfe6e3a6ac07eb3b43c72.JPG


The next day we head over to Lincoln Ranch.  Along the way, small and larger gatherings of burros.  If you talk to them, they stand still and listen.


Lincoln Ranch area is very large, along the Bill Williams River, and was purchased in 1984 for water rights.  According to state law, owners had to show land use in order to keep those water rights, so they leased it back to the original owner who continued to graze cattle and grew crops.    In 1995, ownership was transferred to Phelps Dodge/Freeport MacMoran - who agreed to keep water in the Bill Williams River in exchange for wellheads in Wickieup, near their Bagdad mine.  We assume that it was then that the ranch was abandoned.




This building was their power generating building.







We never could get to the slot canyon near the southeast corner of the ranch.  I was amazed how much the vegetation, primarily mesquite trees, have filled the area in the few years since I last was here.  So along the way to Camp Bouse, we stop at a pit mine, and see this spring.  More signs of burros here too.




Then we run the gas line over to Camp Bouse....for at least part of the way, before we head out across Butler Valley on trails.  I have only this one picture from the gas line road.



Edited by Ladybug
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And to finish ....

We had a few winds that afternoon, but after tents were up, the winds settled and we were able to enjoy a beautiful evening campfire.  



Not a good picture, but I'm sure someone has one better!  (Sarah)

About 1.30 am Sunday morning the gale force winds began.  It was brutal;  most of us were up at 2 am to move jeeps to block wind.  Chris and Sarah took their tent down, and I tied mine to Millie.  We ensured the campfire was not exposed - we had doused it well - but double checking is always good.  Shortly after returned to our tents, (or in Chris and Sarah's case - their jeep) the winds settled and we got a few more hours of sleep.


That morning wasn't so much cold as it had a steady biting wind.  But we wandered around Camp Bouse - home to about 10,000 men between August 1943 and April 1944 as they trained for war in South Africa.  Hard to imagine that this was one camp of 12 that General Patton had in 3 states.  



After that we headed down the power line road to Alamo Road and home.

It really was a great trip (IMHO) with a great group of people!



Edited by Ladybug
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Thanks for leading a great trip @Ladybug!  It was good to see everyone!  Don't have any pictures, but found a good article on the Saudi farm leases in Butler Valley:  


A Saudi company took as much water as it wanted during Arizona drought - The Washington Post

Edited by gearhead
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1 hour ago, gearhead said:

Thanks for leading a great trip @Ladybug!  Don't have any pictures, but found a good article on the Saudi farm leases in Butler Valley:  


A Saudi company took as much water as it wanted during Arizona drought - The Washington Post


That's quite an interesting article.  Also note that there are fruit farms in Kingman area (not related to Saudi) that are pumping groundwater without regulation...or so I have been told.   To see Lincoln Ranch and Planet Ranch remain untouched, leaving the water in the Bill Williams River, so that Freeport (owners of the Bagdad mine) can have  Wickieup water wellheads...That was their agreement upon purchasing those ranches. ....makes you think eh?

Thanks for posting Mike.  And it was so good to have you along on this trip!

smiles, ladybug

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We had a wonderful few days following "Moses" around the desert.  It's always neat to find new parts of a ghost town you have visited before.  Karen spoiled us with cherry cobbler and some very tasty cookies too!  I owe a much more detailed trip report but for now here are my photos.

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21 minutes ago, Bradywgn71 said:

I scanned the history packet Karen made for the trip. Some interesting history of the area that I though you might enjoy!

Swansea Lincoln Rach and Camp Bouse History.pdf 5.01 MB · 1 download


wow @Ladybug - that's a TON of info! thanks for putting that together (and thank you @Bradywgn71 for scanning it).

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Some highlights from the Swansea trip.


The views on the way to the Swansea pump station were beautiful. 



We dropped down into a beautiful canyon and found a baby burro.  Poor thing kept running down the trail instead of to the side even with us going super slow.  Hopefully the baby made its way back to the herd.  





We walked to what we thought was the river but it was so overgrown could only see mud and couldn't get to any actual water.  We found the remains of the pump station on the cliff and a large water cistern in the ground. 


It was neat to see this new area of Swansea and hard to image them laying ceramic pipe or ditches to bring the water 5 miles back to Swansea.  We did find the old ceramic water pipes later near the brick kiln area.  See main photo album for more pictures of this area.




We made our way back to Swansea and hunted for new areas.  On my map scrolling way in found the North Cemetery marked.  We parked next to the brick kiln and walked it.  Hunted for quite some time and then figured out the cemetery was a large stone hill with grave indentations.  Not much left. 



There were a ton of cans, nails, bottles, etc in this area.  Chris found a whole bottle which is a first for us.  He left the brown bottle where he found it. Here is an old coffee can lid



The housing that's been preserved



Edited by Bradywgn71
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The group checked out the covered mine shafts next to the housing.  I was overheated and waiting in the Jeep sucking up that AC



We the drove a short distanced and walked to the dust blower/furnance



I swear there was another wall up the last time we visited but this is still neat to see the dust collector and smelter.



Check out those views




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From below the powerplant looking back towards the smelter



After we checked out a little but more we were all hot and tired and ready for dinner.  We drove back to the group site and got setup.  Check out this sunset and view from camp. Plus the lone pumpkin ready for carving.






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