Originally Published: April 15, 2018 6 a.m.
Today we’re going to visit an interesting old building that dates back over a century – the Algonquin Mine. After many years with no maintenance, it’s surprising that this building is still in pretty good condition.
On the other hand, when I tell you it is located in Hell’s Hole and how much effort you’d have to expend to reach it, perhaps it’s not so surprising. I don’t expect you to hike there – you’ll have to enjoy it through my photos and description.
In 2013, this was one of the hikes in the annual Spree, organized by the Highlands Center on Walker Road. Normally one map is sufficient for the hike, but I had to make two maps for the Algonquin Mine! To print these maps, go to their website (HighlandsCenter.org), click on the Events tab, and scroll down to Hiking Spree near the bottom.
Click on Get Maps, then scroll down to 2013 and click again – select 11a and 11b. Both maps are very busy with lots and lots of interesting information. The second map is for the hike that starts off County Road 59, which continues upward to the historic hamlet of Crown King. This map shows the hike is 2.2 miles one way, but also shows a descent of 1,000 feet down to Poland Creek. This may not be so bad when you are fresh and hiking down, but a challenge on the return journey! WARNING: Unless you are very fit, this is not the hike for you – do NOT try it in summer.
The first photo shows the mine building in a shady spot next to Horsethief Creek, which usually flows. The miners needed water to live, and for their mining operations. I thought there was a spring next to the building but Jay, a friend who lives in Crown King, told me it was seepage from the mine shaft opposite – rails used to lead out from the mine. It was a great spot then, and still is today – good shade for a picnic and a rest. The building is quite long, with a sliding door (partly open in the photo) that allowed vehicles to enter. The second photo is an interesting rusted metal cart, fairly close to the building. The drum with the axle at the front (by maple leaf) was probably driven by a belt, but for what purpose? If anyone knows what this contraption was for, please tell me.
Even if you aren’t a hiker, the drive to Crown King makes a wonderful outing unless you don’t like dirt roads – though the road from Mayer to Cordes to Cleator to Crown King is not particularly rough. Look at the Access map to find out more of the history of Cordes – an important place for sheep to stop on the way north from Phoenix (where they wintered), to the Mogollon Rim (where they spent the summer).
Visit the APCRP website for a long but fascinating history and photos (use Google). After Cordes, you’ll soon reach Cleator, another place with an interesting history (and a bar in case you are thirsty). After Cleator, the dirt road uses the old railroad grade for much of the way – more about that railroad in a future article. About 5 miles past Cleator, you’ll enter the area burned by the Gladiator Fire in 2012, which started on the outskirts of Crown King. It burned 25 square miles of National Forest but many firefighters and slurry bombers saved the town. Crown King has a grocery store and a bar/restaurant downtown. A second nearby restaurant contains a reconstructed stamp mill.
Nigel Reynolds was born in England and has lived in Arizona for almost 40 years, and in Prescott for over 20 years. “Exploring is in my blood,” he says. To see my articles online with the photos in color, visit dCourier.com and enter “Amazing Places” in the search-bar at top right.