What better way to launch the Before and After section of wickenburg-az.com than with a report on something that currently exists but will soon be removed forever?
I’m talking about the Hassayampa Well, one of the few “attractions” listed in the AAA Tour Guide‘s entry for Wickenburg.
I don’t know the story behind this attraction, and I hope someone who does shares what they know by using the Comments link below. (I just tried Googling it and came up empty; I guess this entry will fill that gap, anyway.) I just know it the same way any other winter visitor might know it — if they know it at all — as a shady spot along the Hassayampa River where someone made an effort to share some history with passersby.
The sign for the Hassayampa Well, just over the bridge.
It’s easy to pass by the Hassayampa Well. As you’re coming into town on East Wickenburg Way (from Phoenix, etc.), it’s just after the bridge on the right hand side of the road. Get in the turning lane and make that first right. Then pull into the small parking lot there and get out to take a look.
The view of the well site from the turn.
The site consists of a ramada under which you’ll find a stone well (closed up), ore bucket, and bench. There’s a wooden sign there with the legend of the Hassayampa River written out as rhyming verse. If you don’t know the legend, you ought to visit the site to read it for yourself — while you can. The whole area is surrounded by tall trees that offer natural shade from Arizona’s sometimes brutal sun.
The Hassayampa Well.
Nearby is a matching sign for the Hassayampa River,which also mentions the legend. What it doesn’t say is that before the area was developed and the Yavapai Indians lived here the river flowed above the ground year-round. With thousands of people living in the area, sucking water out of the ground, the water table has dropped considerably over the years. Although the river’s water can be seen year-round north of town at Box Canyon and south of town at the Hassayampa River Preserve, it’s rarely visible at the bridge. (Of course, 2005 was a bit different; after heavy flooding, the river flowed through town for about five months before dropping back under the sand.)
Another sign tells you about the river.
Although I admit that I’d only visited the Hassayampa Well once before today, I’ll be sad to see it go. It’s a remnant of Wickenburg’s old days, when quaint tourist attractions were erected just to give visitors something interesting to see, along with a dose of history. Back then, the town was more interested in walk-through traffic than drive-through traffic, more interested in preserving history — even fabricated history — than giving trucks and Phoenix/Las Vegas traffic a faster way to buzz through town.
If you do want to check this out, I recommend that you do it soon; with the coming “roundabout” planned by ADOT and the Town of Wickenburg, I expect this site will be torn up before long. That’s when the only thing left of the Hassyampa Well will be our memories and photos like these.
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