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Constellation Road

Constellation Road was built as a road to service the mining Districts of Black Rock, Morgan Butte and Sam Powell. Around 1890 an old stagecoach driver by the name of Ed Devenny started a stage service from Wickenburg to the town of Constellation. Ed was a famous Western stagecoach driver. The days of the Concord stage were over and since he had spent most of his life looking at the East end of a West bound horse, he opted to finish out his days driving horses. He would leave Wickenburg every morning driving a buckboard mail stage and return to Wickenburg in the afternoon. He hauled mail, passengers, silver and gold. He kept busy since during the height of the mining, there were 20,000 miners living in the hills around Wickenburg.

As you travel down Constellation Road you soon enter Yavapai County. Right after you enter Yavapai there is a flat area to your right. The late Dana Burden related to me the story of the African lion hunt that was held in that area. His father owned and operated the Remuda Dude Ranch. He was always looking for ways to publicize his operation. One day he got a letter from an entrepreneur who offered to furnish, for a large fee, an African lion and dogs trained to hunt lions. Since it was costly to obtain a lion he suggested that Mr. Burden charge a fee to anyone who wished to participate in the hunt. At the day of the scheduled hunt a large crowd of picnickers were present looking forward with eager anticipation to the festivities. The man drove up with a magnificent African lion contained in a cage on the back of the truck. First the man opened the cage and the lion bounded out and soon disappeared into the scrub. He then released his hunting dogs who immediately charged after the lion. He then released the mounted hunters. Well, it turned out that the lion was not quite as wild as the man claimed. The lion made a large loop, jumped back into the cage, the hunting dogs jumped onto the truck and the man drove off—never to be seen or heard from again.

A short distance later the road descends into Calamity Wash where it makes a very sharp right turn and ascends out of the wash. There is a large ridge immediately to the left of the wash. I have heard it called either Skelton Ridge or Dead Woman’s Ridge (see photo below). The ridge got its name when the skeleton of a woman was discovered in a cave in the ridge. The story goes that there was a woman with red hair living with a miner in the Block Rock Mining District. The woman got into an argument with her man and left saying that she was never going to return. She was never heard from again. The skeleton in the cave was purported to have the same distinctive red hair.

An interesting legend is how Mistake Wash got its name. A large group of miners was celebrating the Fourth of July and they ran out of whiskey. They took up a collection and dispatched one of the group to take a buckboard into town and buy a barrel of whiskey so they could continue their celebrating. In his rush to return, he made the sharp turn in the Wash too fast and the whiskey barrel flew out of the buck board and broke on the ground. Since he had no more money to purchase another barrel of whiskey, he had to return to the camp and tell all of the expectant revelers that their exuberant celebration would be less exuberant as there would be no additional whiskey.

Last 5 posts by Scott Rogers

4 comments to Constellation Road

  • Mandi Stasch

    Theres a little bit of a ledgend among the kids in wickenburg… there is a tale of a lady who lived somewhere around calamity wash and there was a bad rain storm and it started to flood so she told her two children to come inside. She then left to take a shower(?) and then when she was done she came out to see that the front door was open and her children missing… so the story goes that she still wanders around the area with a dim lantern calling her childrens names. I have not seen her but at night i guess you can still hear her yelling, see her dim latern light, or see or figure very clearly on the side of the road!!

  • Mandi Stasch

    let me know if you have ever heard of this

  • Mark Baugher

    Hi can you tell me what national forest area Calamity Wash is in.


  • Allan

    Calamity Wash is not within the boundary of any national forest. A portion of the wash lies on BLM-administered land, but as it winds its way toward US-60 below Wickenburg, it passes through several parcels of private land.