Over the Apache Trail

AT eight o’clock in the morning the Southern Pacific Special pulled in at the Globe depot, carrying the special Apache Trail Pullman with a great number of Eastern tourists, This ear is switched off from the “Sunset Limited” at Bowie, and is a through Pullman, either from New Orleans or from Chicago.

Fifteen miles west of Globe the first vista of Roosevelt Lake is presented from the main highway at Lake View Summit, an elevation of 3988 feet. It is hardly believable that there in the middle of the wild desert region, flashing like a sapphire, 2000 feet below and 20 miles away, lies a vast blue lake, and the first impression seems like the appearance of a mirage in the desert. Far-distant peaks and ridges rim the horizon, standing out with surprising distinctness in the clear atmosphere, miles and miles behind the immense expanse of the Tonto basin. The outstanding landmark for all this part of Arizona is Four Peaks, sixty miles to the northwest in the Mazatzal Range, rearing their crests to an altitude of 7545 feet.

Within the next seven miles, the road from the summit makes a winding descent of 1600 feet. Pinto Creek and Spring Creek are crossed over concrete bridges, a small settlement is passed in the valley, and then the road rises again on the farther side, with widespread views on either hand. Inday Ridge, a castellated mountain, is seen to the south — Inday being an Apache designation for their tribe. To the north, across the lake on the edge of the ridge of the Sierra Ancha, white streaks mark a large asbestos mine. Far to the northeast, across a saddle of an intervening range, looms the steep form of Sombrero Butte.

About one and a half miles from the main highway, over a good natural road, we made a side trip to the Tonto National Monument. The ruins of the Tonto Cliff Dwellings, in two groups, represent the unique architecture of the ancient inhabitants of this region. One glance at these massively built walls and towers is sufficient to convince anyone that the people who raised them up could hardly have been savage cavefolk; but to what race they belonged must forever remain a mystery.

For several miles the Apache Trail Highway now closely follows the shores of Roosevelt Lake high above the waters in which are mirrored the fantastic peaks that ring them around. From the opposite shore rises the strange triangular bulk of Geronimo Mountain. The nearer we come to Roosevelt Dam, midway down the lake, the more the grandeur of the scenery becomes marked, each turn of the road disclosing a new vista.

The site of the Roosevelt Dam is between the massive cliffs at the entrance to the Salt River Canyon, where Tonto Creek originally joined the larger stream, the impounded waters forming a lake thirty miles in length and four miles wide at the broadest point, its man-made aspect long since lost. * * * *

The whole trip so far had been a summing up of scenic wonders, but when after crossing adivide and descending into Fish Creek Canyon the road sharply turned into the gorge, where the glowing Walls of Bronze lift 2000 feet sheer above the stream, we felt that there would hardly be a place on earth that could vie with this wildly beautiful, bewildering scenery. * * * *

Resuming the journey, the steep ascent of Fish Creek Hill is made up a long incline to Lookout Point. Here is the scenic climax of the trip, revealing a panorama that fairly catches the breath. The maze of canyons and cross-canyons beneath the gaze is bewildering in its immensity. It is a scene wildly beautiful, as unfamiliar in aspect to most of humankind as might be a landscape upon another planet.

As the route continues onward, Dog’s Head Mountain — a remarkable formation renowned in Indian legend — stands out plainly across the canyon, with a good view of Four Peaks to the right. Not far from the main road is Hind’s Canyon, a deep chasm, which pierces the plateau. We stopped a moment and gazed over the protecting railing down in the dark precipice. This is a most wonderful region, for its natural rock formations and the mineral colors of the cliffsides are remarkable for their variety and intensity.

Resuming the trip, we skirted dark Canyon Diablo, and traversed a crater region, which some scientists declare a meteoric pit. High above the trail is the weather-sculptured form of “Our Lady of Arizona”, and over to the right the “One-Eyed Giant” glowers. The rock forms of the Bull Frog and the Gila Monster are passed; the automobile coasts down into the oasis of Tortilla Flat, and then onward once more through the giant saguaro and other desert growth to Mormon Flat, scene of a massacre of emigrants by Indians in the “covered wagon” days of old. At this point, thirty miles from Roosevelt, a new dam has been completed. This dam forms another lake whose waters cover the former Flat.

Climbing again, the road passes close to Whirlpool Rock, like a pyramid of writhing serpents turned to stone. Not far beyond the road runs through historic Apache Gap, another battleground, in a broken country of malapai and red cliffs and palisades. Three miles from the Gap, over to the east the traveler gains a good view of the spire of Weaver’s Needle, a butte as steep as an iceberg.

Beyond Goldfield, with Granite Reef on the skyline to the north, the route passes Desert Wells and then crosses the canal that marks the border of the irrigated district.

Instantly there is a marvelous change from desert scenery, fields of alfalfa and corn and cotton reaching away, interspersed with orange orchards. All this has been created by the miracle of water brought from the far mountains.

Through the prosperous valley towns of Mesa and Tempe, at the base of steep Tempe Butte, the road leads. Looking back, one can see Holein-the-Rock, in Papago Saguaro National Monument. Camel-Back Mountain rises on the horizon to the right.

At last, eighty miles from the Roosevelt Dam and after a tour of 120 miles from Globe, we reached Phoenix, the attractive capital of Arizona, and the center of the rich valley land, at 5:30 p.m. Most of the tourists had reservations made on the 6:10 Southern Pacific train for Los Angeles, and found a Pullman waiting at the S. P. depot.

We enjoyed an excellent dinner in one of Phoenix’s up-to-date hotels, took in a show and then drove back to location, tired but happy after this most wonderful outing over the most ancient highway on our American continent — the Apache Trail. — Reprinted from Progressive Arizona.

The Apache Trail can be visited as an inexpensive side trip via the Southern Pacific Railroad to or from California from either New York or Chicago.

For further information regarding the Apache Trail address the Southern Pacific Lines, 165 Broadway, New York; 33 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago; the Pan-American Building, New Orleans; the Southern Pacific Building, Houston, Texas; the Score Building, Tucson, Arizona; the Pacific Electric Building, Los Angeles, or the Southern Pacific Building, San Francisco.