A few miles down the road is Dankworth Ponds State Park

Dankworth Pond State Park is a day-use park that is a sub-unit of Roper Lake State Park.  The park opened in 1982 and 150 acres of land surrounding a 15-acre pond.  Definitely the place to go if you fish the pond is now home to bass, bluegill, trout and catfish, and trout.

There is a 2-mile loop trail that winds through the park, known as the Dos Arroyos Trail.

Along its course of the trail is the Dankworth Pond.

You can go off the trail a bit to where there is an area called Dankworth Village. The village is constructed of prehistoric Native American dwellings. These dwellings are typical of Safford area sites and showcase both Apache and Mogollon construction styles.

Very nice park to walk around to see the Indian village and all the scenery.

We visited Mount Graham in The Coronado National Forest

The Coronado National Forest crosses sixteen scattered mountain ranges or “sky islands” rising dramatically from the desert floor, supporting plant groups as biologically varied as those encountered on a trip from Mexico to Canada.

Mt. Graham is rugged  and heavily forested with its tallest peak reaching 10,720 ft.  The road/trail is mostly paved and features numerous twists and turns, including several sharp hairpin turns. Because of these extremely sharp turns vehicles longer than 40 feet are prohibited.  You definitely have to pay attention because there are no guardrails and you don’t want to go off the edge of a cliff.  

When we were driving up the mountain we noticed it was getting chiller.  When we left the campground it was about 78⁰ and now it was around 60⁰.   That was when we came to an elevation about 7000ft and noticed these really nice houses at that level.  The houses were definitely away from any services  but we got to thinking. . . what better place to be in the summer months when AZ has over 100⁰ weather than right here.

When we got to elevation 9000 and no pavement we decided to head back down the mountain. It was a a chilly 50⁰.

Spectacular views, we were as high as the clouds.

They have boondocking at the park with a fire pit, table and an outhouse at 6000ft. and 7000ft. After that at 9000ft they have undeveloped recreation areas for camping.

We walked a bit on the Ladybug trail in The Coronado National Forest until we couldn’t get thru any longer.

We had an grand adventure visiting Mt. Graham. We haven’t taken any hairpin turns or been that high up since we were in The Rocky Mountains. The scenery was fantastic!

We are being tranquil at . . .

And enjoying the view

Roper Lake State Park is very scenic and has a 32-acre lake, man made of course.  The park is located off U.S. Route 191, 5 miles south of Safford, at the Gila River and Valley. The land for the park was once a ranch purchased by the state in 1972.  It has a boat ramp, a beach for swimming, fishing, picnic areas, a campground, and cabins. The lake is stocked with bass and trout. The park also has great hiking trails and lots of birds to watch. This park in southeast Arizona in a beautiful location surrounded by the sky island Pinaleño Mountains range, including Mount Graham.

Where we are in Arizona and where we are in the campground

Two big mansions near the park, what a view they have!

Asparagus Family, who would have guessed? And it’s edible.

Our first days, getting acquainted with the campground.

One of our favorite trails is the The Mariah Mesa Nature Trail. It’s about 3/4 of a mile halfway and a bit of an elevation gain 78ft getting to the top.

Heading back to our site

The campground has a dog run which is a first for us in a state campground. There we met Mike, who lives in Alaska and his two dogs Rooster & Monkey and their adorable puppies.

The campground has cabins that are great if you fish. They are complete with a fish station for cleaning the fish with a sink and of course a grill.

The sky here has incredible colors and clouds are always changing.


We are now at Roper Lake State Park in Stafford Arizona, which is nothwest of Benson. drove 79 miles today to the park, which is in the Gila valley right at the base of the Gila Mountains. We have a nice pull through site, the lake is not very big, but the area is very nice with nice scenery of the mountains. We will be here a week.

Fairbank, Arizona

I thought the only Fairbank was in Alaska. I was wrong. . .

Fairbank is located in the San Pedro Riparian Conservation area.

It sits by the San Pedro River, first called Junction City when it began as a simple stagecoach stop on the way to Tombstone.  Later it was called Kendall, and finally became known as Fairbank in May 1883.

When the railroad was completed in 1882, it quickly became an important railroad station. From Fairbank, trains brought supplies and cattle to Tombstone and took silver and other valuable ore from the Tombstone mines.

Plus, anyone needing long distance travel out of Tombstone usually went to Fairbank. Once built, it was the closest train depot. The route would be the stagecoach from Tombstone to Fairbank Arizona. Then catch the train there at Fairbank to Benson, where one could get to the train to Tucson. From there travelers could continue to many other cities. Fairbank was where it was at.

This is an adobe building which held a general store, post office, and a saloon.

In 1886 Fairbank had about 100 residents. Back then this little town had a steam quartz mill, a general store, a butcher shop, a restaurant, a saloon, a Wells Fargo office, the railroad depot, a stage coach station and a post office. By the 1900 Census Fairbank’s count neared 500 and as time went on a school was built.

The town has a cemetery, which we tried to get to but couldn’t. As you can see it was way to overgrown, which was to bad because after seeing pictures, it looks like a small Boothill Graveyard.

Old train tracks

Old railroad bridge.

Fairbank’s Train Depot.

A train robbery on February 21, 1900, took place in Fairbank, Yes a train robbery!

An express car of a Benson to Nogales train was held up by six gunmen when it arrived at the Fairbank railroad station. Two of the robbers, named Billy Stiles and Burt Alvord, had been deputy sheriffs but joined four outlaws. They blended in with the crowd acting like drunk cowboys in the station. Suddenly they attacked the baggage car.  A brave lawman, named Jeff D. Milton, “who was given the highest praise for his defense of his trust”, was inside the express car guarding the Wells Fargo box and its payroll. As he was hit by gunfire, he threw the key to the box away into a corner, so the gang couldn’t open it.  He fought the men with a shotgun even though his left arm was shattered by shots from lever-action Winchesters. Milton slammed the door shut, and collapsed unconscious between two large boxes. This saved his life when the outlaws riddled the car with bullets. The robbers opened the door of the baggage car and were unable to find the keys, so they mounted their horses and rode away.

One who was left behind, Jeff Dunlap, alias Three-fingered Jack, was a well-known horse thief. He died a day later of buckshot wounds to the chest from Milton’s shotgun. Before he died on February 22, 1900, he confessed who the gang members were, with Alvord named as the leader. He was buried in Tombstone. The robbers were eventually hunted down and imprisoned. One had fled to Mexico. The penalty for train robbery was hanging. Leniency was exercised for the attempted robbery, and all the outlaws ended up with lesser sentences. I wonder if the Fairbank train robbery was it was ever made into a movie?

Fairbank train robbery – painted by Carl Oeters
Boothill Graveyard, Tombstone.

Jeff Milton

Milton was sent for treatment to San Francisco, as medical care in Fairbank was very limited. When told his arm would have to be amputated, he reportedly went into a rage, vowing he would kill any doctor who amputated his arm! His arm wasn’t amputated, but was permanently disabled. Jeff D. Milton’s DC shows he died May 7, 1947, at age 85 and 6 months.

Fairbank began its decline when drought ruined farmers who traded there. The Tombstone mines closed in 1900 from flooding and with no gold or silver left, this forced the mills to shut down. And in 1901 when the Boquillas Land and Cattle Co. purchased the land the town was built on and exiled most of the residents, keeping just a few business going until the early 1970s. In 1970s any remaining residents left the town, when the buildings were declared unsafe. The former land grant was acquired by the Bureau of Land Management in 1986, and the town site and cemetery were incorporated into the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Fairbank was occupied from 1881 to 1973.

Fairbanks 1890

The hotel in Fairbank and the adobe building that housed the post office in 1960.

It was fun looking at the old buildings and walking around. A  great little spot that will remind you to remember the past and look ahead to the future.

Another Day in . . .

We’re back in Tombstone, it’s still kind of early so we’re walking the streets pretending we’re cowboys.

A lady who was staying here let us look at her room, very nice.

Nellie Cashman and her partner Joseph Pascholy co-owned and ran a restaurant and hotel in Tombstone called The Russ House. The Russ House offered meals to miners and homeless at little or no cost. Nellie served 50-cent meals, advertising that “there are no cockroaches in my kitchen and the flour is clean.” Nellie had rooms available for $8.00 per week. Nellie fed the hungry, needy and desperate never turning anyone away.

Just down the street a bit is the legendary Bird Cage Theatre

It opened on December 24, 1881, and gained a reputation as one of the wickedest theaters between New Orleans and San Francisco.

Its doors were open 24/7 and by 1889, it would be the site of 16 gunfights and 140 bullet holes in the building. 

Beside having a wide range of nightly nightly entertainment from Can-Can dancers to comedy shows it was also a casino, a dance hall, a poker hall and a brothel.

The theater also had women in the world’s oldest profession who sat in cribs up above the lobby and  above the stage, doing their thing.

It’s said that the longest playing poker game in U.S. history took place down here in the poker hall of the Bird Cage Theatre, lasting 8 years, 5 months and 3 days. Players had to buy a $1,000 minimum to play.   The game started when The Bird Cage Theatre opened and players would have to give notice before vacating their seats and there were always players waiting to step in to take their place.

Not much has changed at the Bird Cage Theatre since its heyday. Although it’s now a museum, just about everything in there is original, including the stage curtain, the ‘bird cages’ and many objects down in the poker room.

Are you ready for a Gunfight.

The original OK Corral

It was a fun show, they also acted out things that happened before the big gunfight.

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon first got its start as The Grand Hotel opening in September 9, 1880.

The Grand Hotel was declared as one of the finest hotels in the state, the hotel was luxuriously furnished, provided thick carpeting, and its walls were adorned with costly oil paintings. Providing 16 bedrooms, each with a “view,” they were fitted with solid walnut furnishings, toilet stands, fine fixtures, and wallpaper. The lobby was equipped with three elegant chandeliers and more luxurious furnishings, while the kitchen boasted hot and cold running water and facilities to serve some 500 people in the span of a couple of hours. The hotel opened with an invitation-only ball on September 9, 1880.

Today, the building is home to Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. A number of changes have been made to the original structure since it burned and has been rebuilt but it still holds the Grand Hotel’s original long bar.

Big Nose Kate / Her real name was Mary Katharine Harony.

It seems as if everyone, men and women, had nicknames in the Old West.  But, we know her as Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday’s girlfriend. She didn’t have a big nose. It’s said she got that nickname because she had a habit of sticking her nose in other people’s business.

We had dinner here, it was really good, plus there is always live music playing just like back in the 1800s.

Just down the road from Tombstone is the Boothill Graveyard.

In the early years Tombstone’s Boot Hill Graveyard (1878-1884) was originally called the “City Cemetery”. After the city built the Tombstone Cemetery on the west end of Allen Street, the “City Cemetery” was then called the old cemetery. Sometime around 1929 and the towns first Helldorado Days, people started calling the “Old Cemetery” Boot Hill Graveyard.

Cowboys who “died with their boots on” lie next to housewives, business men and women, miners, gamblers, ladies of the “red-light district” and all the famous and not so famous occupants that are part of Boot Hill Graveyard. Here are only a few pictures of what we saw.

This poor guy, Tom Waters was shot because somebody didn’t like the color of his shirt. I wonder what color it was?                                                                                                

This graveyard has it’s own song performed by Johnny Cash, “The Ballad of Boot Hill.”

Unmarked graves

There was a section for all the Chinese and another area for the Jewish. It is believed some 300 persons in all were buried here. It was common for bodies to be found in various parts in and outside of town, with no one ever being able to identify them, so they were buried with no markings, or as “unknown.”

The population in Tombstone increased to approximately 7,500 by the mid-1880s. However, this figure only consisted of the white males over the age of 21 that were registered vote. The figure that consists of women, children and other ethnicities, the population was at least 15,000 and possibly as much as 20,000. Tombstone was considered as the fastest populating city between San Francisco and St. Louis. Tombstone was home to more than 100 saloons, a multitude of eateries, a huge red-light district, a large population of Chinese, newspapers, churches and schools.

Tombstone is definitely a step back into the history of the Wild West. There’s lots to see here in this little town from a graveyard to stage coaches and even a gunfight reenactment.  So Howdy Partner, let’s take a look . . .

Tombstone is a historic city in Cochise County, Arizona, founded by prospector Ed Schieffelin  in 1877.  It became one of the last boomtowns in the American frontier and is still going on today by tourists like us.

Our First stop was The Visitor Center. The first business in Tombstone was opened in building  by J.B. Allen. In 1879 it was once a store and a bank, then several other businesses. Now the Chamber of Commerce and the Tombstone Visitor’s Center.

This is the original Cochise County/Tombstone Courthouse, which is now a state historic park. It was built in 1882 in the shape of a Greek cross. It is a two-story structure that once housed the offices of the Sheriff, Recorder, Treasurer, Board of Supervisors, Jail, and Courtrooms of Cochise County. Today this 12,000 sq.Ft. Courthouse is a museum that includes the following. . .

This building sure had it’s share of safes. Dave standing by a window to show how big they are.

Notice that on 1884, whomever attended a Washington’s Birthday social and then went to a “hanging” and on the same night a dance. “Hey everyone let’s go watch somebody hanging around.” Scary but true.

This bar was taken from Hafford’s Corner Saloon. This is the saloon where the Earps met to have a drink and make their plans prior to their famous confrontation and gunfight with the Clantons and McLaurys. The bottle of Rye Whiskey was at the bar at the time of the confrontation.

The World’s Largest Rose Bush is a white Lady Banksia that was planted in Tombstone in 1885 . The original root came from Scotland. From a single trunk, it spreads over an arbor that covers over 6,000 square feet.  It was first declared the “world’s largest” in the late 1930’s and continues to grow.  

The canopy of the bush/tree now covers nearly 6,000 feet of space and is elevated from the ground by a series of wooden and steel supports. Each year, after the shed husks are cleaned out from around the base of the tree, the plant blossoms with clusters of small white roses. We didn’t get to see it when the roses were in bloom, but it was incredible and you can’t quite believe the enormous size. It must smell beautiful when it’s in bloom.

Tables and chairs are placed all around the area to sit and look at “The World’s Biggest Rosebush/tree

Tombstone AZ. 1881

After the Rose Tree Museum we headed to the Gunfighter Museum and stayed a couple of hours.

A band was playing and people were dancing in the streets of Tombstone.

Listened to the music while walking the streets of Tombstone. Then stopped for a bit at the Crystal Palace.

Originally known as the Golden Eagle Brewery, this was one of early Tombstone’s saloons. Named after its builder, Benjamin Wehrfritz, the Wehrfritz Building expanded by adding a second story to house the offices for such notables as U.S. Deputy Marshal Virgil Earp, attorney George W. Berry, and Dr. George E. Goodfellow.