June 1, 2015

Glassford Hill's History Included Many Names

Many Changes:
On this 1905 map, Glassford Hill is labeled as "Bald Mountain."  The east-west railroad tracks just north is the Iron King recreational trail today, while the north-south railroad is now the Pea Vine recreational trail.  "Point of Rocks" is better known to us as the Granite Dells.
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It was a day 12 million years ago.  Antelope, camels and early horses were peaceably grazing when lava and super heated ash started thundering toward the surface.  Suddenly, the earth shook violently and a volcanic eruption blew through a hill. "Clouds of fiery ash buried (the animals) that roamed the flanks of the hill," according to Beverly Morgan, geologist for the Prescott National Forest. (*1)

Standing at an elevation of 6177 feet, what we now know as Glassford Hill was born.  However, over the years, this mountain in the middle of the valley has had several names.


The first known name was "Malpais (Mell-pie-eez) Mountain" (which translated means "the badlands") and it was so marked on early maps. (*2)  This early name is so old that no account exists as to why the hill was ever considered to be "bad" lands in the first place.

"The center of Glassford Hill is a cinder cone intruded by three dikes of basalt that join in the center," according to Medora Krieger who worked for the US Geographic Survey. (*1)  

When the anglos came to the area, they noticed that it was the one mountain here that was devoid of trees.  As a result, it was referred to as "Mount Baldy," "Bald Hill," or most often, "Bald Mountain." (*1)  These names remained popular into the early 20th century.  However, "Mount Glassford" was originally listed on topographical maps as early as 1880. (*2)  But by the 1930's, "Glassford Hill" was widely accepted.

The hill is named for Col. William Glassford who traveled the area in the 1880's and helped form a sophisticated system of heliograph stations to monitor the movements of Apache Indians, U.S. military and civilians. (*3) Seven men including one cook were stationed on Glassford Hill.

The heliograph was a short-lived invention that used mirrors to flash signals similar to morse code. Messages were passed hundreds of miles via 27 stations on mountaintops throughout Arizona. Col. Glassford used math, among other things, to perfect the heliograph system. (*2)

The Indians referred to it as "sun talk".  It seemed to prove enough of a deterrent in our area that it was never used in battle here. (*2)


The astonishing story of a frog that survived millions of years embedded in sandstone.



Heliograph usage was short-lived because the telegraph and telephone had already been invented.  The system was only useful in locations where there were no communication wires in place--a situation that would soon be remedied...

Technically, the true Glassford Hill is not the one with the lava cone, but the peak that has the radio towers on its top.

Ironically, these towers depend on the sun just as much as heliographs did because they are solar powered.  One of these towers actually "reads" some of the modern water meters in town as they transmit the consumer's usage to the tower.

Prescott Valley's long-term plans for Glassford Hill include designing a trail to the top for a challenging hike and a stunning view.

The future of old "Bald Mountain" is brighter than ever.  The days of it being considered "badlands" are long forgotten.



A description of the archeological findings of the Fitzmaurice Ruin in Prescott Valley, AZ. It's the largest Indian Ruin in the Prescott region.



Tourist Tips:

The Iron King trail which intersects with the Pea Vine trail, is an excellent bike ride or hike. (No motorized vehicles are permitted and there are no bathrooms.)
CLICK HERE for PDF Info/Map of the Iron King Trail
The trail features several areas to rest where you may view railroad service cars from a bygone era. Also, the trail has three wash crossings that utilize flatbed railcars that are strong and secure for the public as well as emergency vehicles.


UPDATE: The hiking trail to the summit of Glassford Hill has been completed!

Sources and Bibliography:
(*1) Prescott Valley Tribune 7/24/1996 page 5 col 1
(*2) Prescott Evening Courier; 3/19/1932; pg 1 col 4 & pg 2 col 6
(*3) http://www.pvaz.net/index.aspx?page=32

#PrescottAZHistory


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Also by Drew Desmond:   The Crux Blog