The Picture Rocks Community Center Hiking Club has adopted its itinerary for the coming season, with emphasis on exploration. The PRCC van will leave the community center, located at 5615 N. Sanders Road, at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, to visit the “ghost town” ruins of the SASCO smelter, which closed in 1919.
Those participating should wear sturdy shoes, bring a lot of water, wear a hat and bring a light lunch. A walking stick is always useful.
Hikers will wander around about a mile’s worth, being careful of metal and glass on the ground.
The hike is free, but reservations are recommended to ensure a seat in the van. Reserve a seat by calling 682-7166.
The lineup of other hikes, which are all estimated at abut three miles round-trip and on Thursdays, incudes:
Oct. 23, 8 a.m. – Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Pima;
Nov. 20, 8 a.m.– Box Canyon and Redemptorist Center ancient rock art;
Dec. 18, 9 a.m. – Cactus Wren Trail to Signal Hill In Saguaro National Park, an ancient “flower power” gathering place;
Jan. 22, 9 a.m. – King Canyon wash and Gould Mine Trail, with a stop at the mine;
Feb. 19, 9 a.m. – “Wildflower Wash.” Box Canyon and then north to, if we are lucky, great wildflower displays;
March 19, 8 a.m. – Tentatively a walk up Bajada Wash from the Park’s Sus Picnic Area and up the Valley Overlook Trail;
April 23, 8 a.m. – Silver Bell II: A “company town” closed in 1984 near the Silver Bell Mine.
The Southern Arizona Smelting Company (SASCO) processed ore from the Silver Bell, Mile Wide, and other mines, and was itself the center of another company town. Begun in the early 1900s, the smelter closed in 1919. Until then the Arizona Southern Railroad ran to Red Rock; the present dirt road was the railroad’s original track. The railroad replaced mules and wagon trains to supply water to the town and smelter. A 1919 global flu epidemic put the nail in Sasco’s coffin.
One surviving Sasco story says that in April, 1919, a man named Charlie Coleman was shot and killed in Sasco by a saloon owner known only as Mr. Wilson. Coleman came to town from Bisbee with the intention of killing two Sasco residents. The two unknown men had affairs with Coleman’s wife and he sought revenge. After announcing his intention of murder, Mr. Wilson asked Coleman to leave and avoid trouble. Coleman wouldn’t leave as he was creating a trap for his two potential victims. Mr. Wilson responded by picking up his 30-30 rifle and shooting Coleman dead.
It was still The Wild West and Wells Fargo agent J.G. Eades robbed a $10,000 company payroll. In a separate incident Deputy Sheriff S.O. Thompson was shot while attempting to disarm Frank Hill.