Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Day 147: An Orderly Lynching
Cutter to near Top-of-the-World. 19.3 miles/2821.2 total
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
8:57 a.m. This morning I set out from the western edge of the San Carlos Apache Reservation, heading west on U.S. 70 until it merges with U.S. 60, through Globe and a string of mining towns and uphill to just east of a town called Top-of-the-World, a distance of 19.3 miles.
It’s a nearly cloudless day, the temperature in the high 50s, probably getting up into the high 60s.
Today’s walk will be one of contrasts. Here at the beginning I’m in the desert and distant mountains of the reservation but very soon will be moving in to a series of small cities with strip mines and bustling commerce. Then for the last third of the walk I’ll be going uphill into the mountains, looking at some scenery and rock formations that are different from anything I’ve seen hitherto.
Because of the earthly delights I will encounter on the way I have deliberately made this walk a little shorter than usual, anticipating that I’ll have to enter a few antique shops and maybe a museum or two. I’m also traveling light because of the easy access to drinks and snacks.
Very shortly after I begin I leave the reservation and enter the outskirts of Globe. It started as a mining town and is the seat of Gila County. I believe the reason they named it Globe is that when they started mining silver here they found a huge nugget of ore shaped like a globe. Silver only lasted for four years, and then copper took over and has been mined here ever since. In fact, the Freeport-McMoRan Gold and Copper company, also present in the Safford area, is one of the big copper mining outfits here.
About two miles into the walk, at the entrance to High Desert Middle School, sidewalks begin. A green and white sign says I’m entering Globe, elevation 3,544 feet, founded 1876.
About a mile into the city, as I continue my descent into the river valley, I stop to get a cappuccino. I stop to pick up a penny (and the Greek behind me disappears), and I see from my notebook that I’ve only found 15 cents in Arizona so far. I guess after the spectacular haul I got on the last day in New Mexico I’m due for a let down, but this is a pretty small take, even for a state that's mostly desert. Before the New Mexico treasure my largest single day for money was in Louisiana, on the Route 10 bridge from Slidell across the eastern end of Lake Ponchartrain, when I picked up about six or seven dollars. That’s a phenomenon I still can’t explain, unless the folks who drive across that bridge use it as a sort of wishing well, in which case I hope all their wishes come true.
Just before the El Rey Motel, which has an old neon sign with flaking paint advertising that it is “refrigerated,” thus consigning it to a different generation of hostelries, there’s a large painting of Geronimo, his sad serious defiant mouth set, and his eyes fiery, staring with reproach at the passing motorists.
U.S. 70 has merged with U.S. 60 and will end shortly. I’ll remain on 60. I pass the Toastmaster Café, a wonderful defunct pink stuccoed building with glass bricks on each side of the door. Then I pass the Rock Shop, a little place I visited yesterday. It’s filled with polished stones, rocks, and jewelry, much of it local, including the peridot of the San Carlos area. A great place except, as happens all too frequently, the guy who owned it was listening to a hideous right-wing radio show. The shit that was spewing out was so obnoxious that I just tried to tune it out. The show was coming from, of all places, Hillsdale College, in Michigan, a traditionally Baptist school that has turned into a serious bastion of fundamentalist ultraconservatism. When I was going to Alma College, Hillsdale was in our athletic conference, the MIAA, and in fact pretty much dominated it, at least for football. Now I think their only varsity sport is Obama baiting.
I wonder if anywhere in this country there’s a little shop owned by a guy who’s as far to the left as these geezers are to the right. But then, what radio show would he be listening to? There is no such thing as left wing talk radio, unless you can pick something out of Havana. Still, it would be fun to come in and hear the guys on the radio ranting about wresting control of the means of production and eliminating private property and lining all the parasitic capitalists and their running dogs against the wall, and all that. That would be refreshing.
After stopping at an antique store I make my way to Broad Street, to walk through downtown Globe. It’s an exceptionally lively place, with the majority of buildings occupied, in spite of being a couple of blocks off the highway. There’s even a first-run movie theater with four screens right downtown. That’s pretty rare.
At the La Luz del Dia bakery and coffee shop I turn south to visit another antique mall that boasts it’s in the tallest three-story building in the world. That’s a pretty serious claim, and I doubt it. I then wend my way back to Broad street to follow it back out to 60. On the way I pass a marble slab with an inscription. It says that near here was the Hanging Tree, a sycamore where L.B. Grime and C.D. Hawley were lynched in 1882 for the holdup murder of two men. It says the culprits had a “fair hearing” before someone on Tuesday evening, and at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning they were taken out and hanged. “Saloons were closed and it was an orderly lynching.” And--get this--the monument is dedicated to the law enforcement officers of Gila County. “Protect and serve.” Behind it stands a young sycamore, perhaps twenty years old, which might be a descendant of the Hanging Tree.
That’s a pretty interesting commentary on local law enforcement. I don't know about you, but I get a little nervous in a place that brags, in the name of the law no less, about an "orderly lynching."
There are any number of little antique places around here and I have to be selective or I could really eat up some time. Dusk comes promptly at 5:00 p.m.
At 5.7 miles I’m back out on the highway, walking past large aspens, their leaves still greenish-yellow in the late autumn, and mostly still on the trees. Hills rise steeply on both sides a few hundred yards from the road.
To the north, as the road follows a dry stream bed, there is a large man-made mountain of stone that looks like coal. This is tailings, which is what’s left after the copper ore has been processed and treated and the copper removed from it. Probably filled with interesting chemicals that leach into the water. Despite that, a few tumbleweeds have managed to take hold in it.
I stop at the Gila County Historical Museum for about 20 minutes. The elderly hostess is bursting with information and eager to tell it all. Finally I must break away, leaving a Dutch couple from Vermont to get the balance of her tour. Like most of these museums, it is filled with “old” things from the early days of the town, but since the town isn’t all that old by eastern standards, much of the stuff looks like what was in my house or that of my grandparents when I was growing up. Still, interesting.
I did learn that the mountain of tailings is from the underground mine that used to be operated here by the Dominion Copper Company. Now all the mining is open pit, which is a less emotionally charged term for strip mining. My feeling is, what are a few less mountains when you’ve got so damn many? Just trim them down neatly and try to do it all in one area. Unless of course you think it’s better to send men underground like in the good old days. Speaking of that, the building in which the Gila County museum is housed used to be a mine rescue station for when they had fires and other disasters.
I pass a restaurant called Hog Heaven and the smell of the barbecue is divine. In the distance the open pit mining presents an interesting picture. The terraces and layers make some of the hills look like ziggurats. And they seem to be different colors—some beige, some white, some greenish from the copper, some rich brown.
At 9.4 miles I pass the Walmart where I’ve been staying for the past two nights and will be staying tonight again, under a light so bright that I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes thinking it’s morning. Don’t get me wrong. I like staying at Walmart. But darkness is more conducive to sleep.
I pass into Claypool, then in less than a mile into Miami. I pass the Divine Grace Presbyterian Church, then go two blocks north to the main drag. Miami has a funky cache, and Sullivan Street is one antique place after another. Finally I have to quit going into them to keep up my walking pace. I should have come here yesterday. There’s a nice arty feel to Miami that Globe didn’t seem to have, and there are a couple of nice looking restaurant/bars, too. If anyone is visiting this area and likes antiques, I recommend Sullivan Street in Miami. Looks like it could become a gay haven if it isn’t already. Who knows? Maybe there’s a whole gay copper miner-Brokeback Mountain thing going on here, with guys in tight blue jeans and hard hats and cowboy hats, like in the Village People. Very butch, these Arizona dudes. I can see it now--late night on Sullivan Street, with the music pounding. Suddenly a high lispy male voice: “Hey girls, let’s have a lynching!”
There’s a plaque in a park in the center of town that tells a little of its history. Prospectors first came here in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the big copper mining companies really got set up. Cleve Van Dyke came in 1908 from southwestern Arizona and did something or other. The place was finally incorporated in 1918. Its population has fallen off, I suppose because mining has become less labor intensive. Miami calls itself “The Copper Center of the World.” I'm guessing that's a little bit of municipal hubris, but what the hell.
Now I’m a couple of miles outside Miami and the road is going uphill precipitously, through some interesting and beautiful rock formations. The hills are covered with big beige boulders that are quite rounded, and almost look like the artificial rocks they have at climbing walls and in hokey theater sets. Life imitating art.
At about 15.5 miles I arrive at a cemetery, a memorial garden, here in the quiet mountains. I sit on a bench in front of the grave of Richard O. Martinez, 1939 -1971, and relax. Two men are digging a grave near the entrance. This is a pretty nice place to be buried—a lot more serene than down near the busy highway.
At 17.5 miles I cross Pinto Creek. The road cuts right through the rocks now and creases the hillsides and takes sharp blind turns, making my walking a bit dangerous because there’s no shoulder to speak of. The bridge over Pinto Creek was given an award—the American Institute of Steel Construction “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge, Class II” award, in 1949. I can’t see the bridge because I’m on it, so I’ll have to look later. The dry creek bed lies perhaps a hundred feet down. After I get to the other side I look back to see the structure of the bridge. Not bad. Off to the north are several more strip mines.
The road continues to wind upward as my walk for today comes to an end, where the motor home is parked in a little turnout.