March 26, 2023

The Forgotten, Lost Town of Val Verde


The evening of September 24, 1904 was windy, and the smelter’s open building provided some relief from the heat of the furnace. Around 9pm, as part of their routine, workers wet-down the furnace and began to remove, or “undrape” the liquid slag. This time however, there was too much of the by-product and the slag poured out of the furnace too quickly for the men to control it. 

“It spread over the floor, in front of the smelter,” the Weekly Journal-Miner explained, “and the molten slag, coming in contact with the water, caused [an] explosion, sending the hot metal all through the building; setting it on fire in a number of places.” While there was an abundance of water on hand, it was impossible to check the progress of the blaze as the strong winds fanned the flames. 

Not only was the building doomed, but so was the five year-old town of Val Verde. 

February 5, 2023

The Mammoth Senator Tunnel

In the early prospecting days of the 19th century, the Senator and other adjacent mines were thought to be a bonanza of gold ore. They were worked down until they reached water and work was given up. However, in early 1905 a plan was announced that would completely revive the Mt. Union section of the Hassayampa mining district.

August 28, 2022

Embezzling Postmaster is Redeemed (1875)

  James S Giles was a highly-respected and true pioneer of Prescott, Arizona. He was one of the party that accompanied Governor Goodwin and Secretary McCormick to the territory in 1863. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee during the first Territorial Legislature, he introduced most of the first basic laws known as the “Chapters of the Code.” He was elected Speaker of the House in the second Legislature. Lately he had been the postmaster for Prescott, so when he absconded with nearly $10,000 August 14, 1875, it was a bombshell.

Still, there would be a happy, yet poignant ending.

July 17, 2022

A Grave Robber's Remarkable Find

Meet John Love. In his day, at the turn of the last century, he was known as a “relics prospector.” Today he would easily be considered a grave robber. “Those who come in contact with him dub him queer, eccentric, etc., explaining that he was struck on the head in early youth by an iron bar and has suffered more or less seriously since,” the Arizona Republican reported. Still, the same paper also described him as “John Love, the well-known searcher for prehistoric relics…”

July 3, 2022

1922: The Tragic Tale of a Rising Rodeo Star

His name was Frank James Stephens. He was the son of a rancher and Mohave County supervisor, WB Stephens, who owned a ranch along the Sandy River. Frank had taken well to the ranching life and he was quickly developing into a genuine rodeo star.

His first appearance at Frontier Days in Prescott was in 1918 at age 21 and even as a rookie, he won third place prize money in the relay race. 

Three months later his wife would give birth to their first child.

June 12, 2022

What It Was Like to be an Extra in "Junior Bonner"

Sam Peckinpah was in Prescott directing the 199th movie made in Yavapai County, “Junior Bonner, when he noticed a nude painting titled “Olympia” by Earl MacPherson. Peckinpah thought it would be perfect hanging behind the Palace bar for some scenes he would shoot there. When asked if the movie could use his painting, MacPherson bargained that they could if he was hired as an extra. Peckinpah was happy to agree. Thus began an interesting, four-day, behind-the-scenes experience for the painter.