In my last post, I was ranting against some of the "cheesy" things that are presented in some ghost towns. In truth, the places that hold staged "gun fights" are really not quite ghost towns yet. There are people still living and working in these places. I also said that my next article would be related to what I love about them. If you get off the main street, you will see that they are very much alive. Alive, with history, interesting people that are only found in the desert, and an amazing mix of creativity and art. Chloride is one of these towns.
The Back Streets of Chloride Arizona
Not necessarily historical, but I love the old RV.
Cowboy boots as yard art
Many of the homes on these streets have some kind of display, either along the road, or in their yard
At first glance, it may just look like a bunch of rocks and junk. Upon closer examination, there are some really cool items and displays in there. A cross between folk and yard art.
This house has some bottle trees. Some bottles were old and some were a bit newer.
Certainly not art, but pretty odd that these two boats were just sitting there. This is pure high desert and there is no place in the area to use them.
New house and sculpture
---------------------------------------------------- Some folks might not like this stuff at all. To me, it is quirky, whimsical, and very creative. There is a lot more, but I wanted to keep this post reasonably short. .
Chloride used to be a silver mining camp in the state of Arizona. It is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in the state. Valuable minerals were first discovered here in the early 1840's. The town was founded in 1863, but mining did not really take off until they found a way to cheat the local Hualapai Indians out of their land. The town then prospered and became the county seat. By the mid 1940's it was considered a ghost town (or close to it). Today, there are still a couple hundred people living in the area.
Allegedly, some of these buildings date back to the early days of Chloride and some were moved here from somewhere else. To me, it looks like most were built on this site from old wood. -------------------------- Allow me to rant for a bit... Don't get me wrong now, I love history and I certainly love ghost towns. However, I'm not terribly fond of mining camps and/or ghost towns that are created, or allowed to exist primarily for tourists. An example: This little western "cul-de-sac" is not here for historical significance, it's here for theater. During the tourist season, mock gun fights are staged every Saturday at noon. That is so darn cheesy! Most of the folks who are interested in this, don't even see the back streets of the town. Many of the buildings on the actual main street of town, although newer, are much more historical and real, than this "contrived" history side show. The best parts of Chloride are either outside of town, or on the back streets.
Can you imagine two gunslingers pacing towards each other ready to shoot it out? Yuck!
Below are two photos from the early 1900's (thanks to Wikipedia)
Some of those same buildings today
Another (there are plenty more)
The next few don't really have any historical significance, but the scenes really appealed to me and I snapped them.
The next post will be about the part of Chloride that I loved... .
They say you have to start a story with the end in mind. That has no bearing on this post at all, but I thought it would be cool to say it. Sorry...
The petroglyph (yes, just one) we were going to see is about 1/2 of a mile up this road. It is a very important piece of prehistory. Not because of what it means, because we have no idea what it means. We are going because it is EXTREMELY unusual. I guess all of this is lost on my wife, because she is lollygagging walking up the hill and taking photos of every little thing that catches her attention. Don't worry, she probably won't even see this post.
This was a well used back county road at one time. However, it runs very close to the amazing petroglyph we are walking up this hill to see. Rather than subject the site to the traffic and unavoidable vandalism, they CLOSED the road. A simple and effective way to protect the site; the fewer people that see it, the safer it is. Sometimes though, the opposite is true.
This has nothing to do with the post, but doesn't that boulder in the center look like the head of an eel? It even has a black eye.
Based on all the fencing around those rocks, that must be the place.
Not just one fence but two! One of them is even topped with barbed wire.
So hard to get a good photo without the fence screwing it up.
Finally, I my wife climbed up the fence enough to get a good photo. You can now see why they call it the Hemet Maze Stone. Maze, because it's a maze, and Hemet Maze, because it is outside of the town of Hemet. The one and ONLY bit of vandalism is visible in this photo. It's hard to see, but in the lower left hand corner, somebody scratched in a swastika. If I had a drone, you'd get a better view of what I'm talking about.
As you can see, this is an amazing piece of work. It is clearly a"maze"ing.
Doesn't this rock look like some kind of a sea mammal, covering it's ears with both flippers?
Here is some actual (but maybe not so accurate) information on the Maze Stone
People much smarter than me, have weighed in with their opinions relating to what this maze actually is, and when it was created. Some of those opinions area:
It was created by shipwrecked Buddhist missionaries.
It was created 15,000 years ago, by the "Cascadians" who were thought to be Mayan ancestors.
The most balanced opinion, places the creation of the maze, at about 2000 years ago.
I (not unlike the really smart people) have no idea what-so-ever...
There are many other "maze" stones in the American southwest (and very few anywhere else), and this one seems to be the most intricate. I think it would be pretty cool if it was created by ancient Buddhists or Cascadians, but it was most likely the Cahuilla, or Luiseno tribes who deserve the credit.
These pictographs were created by the Cahuilla Indians several hundred years ago (at a minimum) and related to female puberty initiation rites. The initiates themselves are thought to have "painted" the symbols. The symbols included various forms of chains, diamonds and zig-zags. These patterns are known to represent rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are the "spirit helpers" associated with females. "Other parts of the initiation rites involved isolation in a warmed pit for three days, thereby mimicking the ritual isolation and immobility practiced at childbirth; the ingestion of tobacco and resulting receipt of a supernatural vision; and apparently at the culmination of the initiation, the painting of the designs representing the spirit received during the girl's altered state." (David S. Whitley) A slightly different take on the last part of the initiation follows: "The final event of the Indian puberty celebration consisted of a race, called a "hayie," to a certain rock where a relative of each girl awaited her with a little pot of red ochre paint. On arrival, each initiate painted a design on the rock. Indian informants indicated that these designs were always diamond-shaped and represented the rattlesnake." (Dolcie H. Vuncannon) Once the initiates had completed these rites, they were considered women.
A photo of the "pictograph rock" You can see part of the fence around it also
The same photo enhanced by DStretch
A closer view of the symbols
Same image after DStretch - Notice that all the patterns described above are present here