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Historic 4WD Trip to Bradshaw's Grave a Success!

Yesterday, a total of 31 people in about 20 vehicles joined leaders Scott Rogers (wickenburg-az.com’s Tommy Knocker) and Tom Riggs on a 4WD day trip to Isaac Bradshaw’s Grave. My husband and I, and our dog Jack, were among the group.

We met at about 10 AM at the parking lot across the road from the Rodeo Grounds on Constellation Road. I was surprised by the turnout. Although I estimated that up to 15 people could be joining us (based on the response to the trip description posted here), there were far more people and vehicles. So many, in fact, that I thought another group had decided to meet for a trip at the same meeting place and time. The group included people ranging in age from a little girl about 2 or 3 years old to older folks in their 60s or perhaps even older — I didn’t ask! — and every age in between. Vehicles included quads and other ATVs, Jeeps, pickups and even a Nissan Xterra.

After a few brief words from Scott and Tom, we headed off down Constellation Road. Because this was an historic trip — meaning that the main purpose was to get a little history lesson along the way — we made several stops where Scott or Tom told us about the places we were and pointed out things of interest. We heard about how Calamity Wash may have gotten its name, why Skeleton Ridge is also called Dead Woman Ridge, and how Jack Burden tried to get some publicity for his ranch long ago by arranging for a lion hunt.

A Group StopFrom Constellation Road, we turned right onto Buckhorn Road and followed that up into the mountains. The road was long and winding but had been recently graded, so it was very easy to travel. We passed mines and ghost towns and got a bit of history about many of them. We saw ruins of more than a few mine sites, too, including mine shafts, foundations, and roads. We made a brief stop for lunch — most of us had brought along sandwiches, snacks, and beverages — then continued on our way.

Schoolhouse at SwallowWe made a left turn off Buckhorn Road just as the road was descending down toward Buckhorn Wash. I don’t know the name of the road and it really doesn’t matter much, since there were no signs anyway. (In fact, it’s amazing how many roads exist out there without any kind of identification. Unless you have a foolproof sense of direction, it’s not a good idea to go out there without a GPS unless you’re prepared for the possibility of getting lost.) We passed the remains of the town of Swallow, where we stopped for a while for some more history, photos, and a look at a mine shaft near the road. This was about 15 miles from our starting point at the Rodeo Grounds. Then we continued on our way.

What’s very interesting (at least to me) is how many people live way out there in the desert mountains, far from the conveniences of “civilization.” We passed a few year-round homes — usually trailers permanently parked near a well or spring, using generators for electricity and doing without telephones or televisions. This is rough, remote living. And our caravan of 4WD vehicles was probably more traffic than they’d see in a week.

The road grading ended right after Swallow and the road began to get rough. It was narrow and winding, with steep hills littered with loose rock. I got in a bit of trouble trying to climb a hill in second gear. I lugged it to a stall, then started sliding backwards as the Jeep twisted a little to the side. It took two attempts in 4WD to straighten it out and continue up the hill. I kept it in 4WD in first gear the rest of the way.

Fixing Up Bradshaw's GraveWhen we arrived at Bradshaw’s Grave, it was nearly 3 PM. Although it was only 18 miles from our starting point, we’d made quite a few stops along the way. Neal DuShane had brought along a gravestone to put on the grave, so a bunch of us opened up the fence around the pile of stones and tidied it up a bit by pulling out the weeds that had grown there over time. (Future visitors with this goal in mind might want to bring along a pair of clippers to cut the young trees that have taken root at Isaac’s head and feet. We didn’t have the tools to do the job.)

The New GravestoneAfter some debate over which way Isaac was lying (head east or west?), Neal and some helpers laid out the new gravestone at what we think was his head. We then closed up the fence, leaving the site in better shape than it had been when we arrived.

Group PhotoI got the group to pose for this group photo. Tom Riggs is on the far left side of the photo, partially in the shade of a tall saguaro. Scott Rogers is on the far right side of the photo. Everyone else (except me!) is in the photo. (To those in the photo, if you click this photo, you’ll get a high-resolution version (1.2 MB) that you can save to your computer. Just right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the photo and use the Save command on the menu that appears to save it on your hard disk. You can then print it or do whatever else you like with it.)

On the way backWith the sunlight fading, we headed back the same way we’d come. We picked up the pace a bit and stopped only to make sure the rest of the group was behind us. At our last stop, on top of a ridge near Swallow, I took this shot looking back down the way we’d come. The circle points out some of the vehicles in our group and gives you an idea of the scale of this wonderful desert mountain range and winding dirt roads.

It took roughly 90 minutes to get back from Bradshaw’s Grave to Constellation Road. 18 miles.

I want to thank Scott Rogers for offering to lead this wonderful day trip and Tom Riggs for joining him as leader and adding his insight. I learned a lot about the history of the area and now have all kinds of ideas for places to explore in the future. I’m hoping that Scott and Tom lead another day trip for site visitors soon, perhaps to Harquahala Mountain? (hint, hint) It would be great if we can turn this activity into a monthly event for the folks who want to learn more about the area by seeing it firsthand.

I also invite the folks who joined us on this trip to add their comments about it to this article. Use the Comments link. If anyone wants to share their photos of the day, please use the Contact Us link at the top of the page to let me know; I’ll send an e-mail address where photos can be mailed.

Thumbnail of PDF MapAddendum, December 11: Lee Pearson, who is part of the Wickenburg Cultural Organization’s mapping project, provided the following topo maps to illustrate our route: Rodeo Grounds to Bradshaw’s Grave. This 4.2 MB file is in PDF format and requires Adobe Reader or other PDF-reader software to open, zoom (for greater detail), view, and print.

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Last 5 posts by Maria Langer

17 comments to Historic 4WD Trip to Bradshaw's Grave a Success!

  • Bobby,Cindy & Trevor Hall

    The trip was great! Trevor and I had a good time. I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did in such a short time.

    Thanks to Scott Rogers & Tom Riggs

    Hope we get the opportunity to do more!!!

  • Bobby,Cindy & Trevor Hall

    please notify us by e-mail thanks

  • Lee Pearson

    Thanks for the great guide services Tom and Tommy. Much appreciate.

    Lee n’ Sharon

  • The site I dowsed for the Camp B/Sayers/Sayers Station/Gilbert cemetery isn’t where Tom pointed out. I can assure you however, there are nine graves at the site I worked. I want to go back and see if I can find the 30 or so graves in the area Tom pointed out was the settlement of Camp B. Its very likely there could have been more than one cemetery in this area. Tip Top as an example, we have documented and found three individual cemeteries.

    I’d like to go out with you and/or Tom and document the lone grave of the woman who had the Victorian home near Sayers/Sayers Station and or Camp B. Maybe we can do this in conjunction to trying to find the three graves you spoke of at or near Sayers Station.

    It is my belief that at every mine, or very close to the mine (within one mile) we will find a cemetery for that mine. Your writing that miners were dispensable, is a fact. Mine accidents happened, if the miners where Chinese or Hispanic I’m sure there was no ceremony and or identification regarding the burial. They were buried “Over There”.

    Arizona Pioneer Cemetery Research Project (APCRP) is in the process of making a headstone for the only documented person in the Verde Flat Cemetery (Vulture) out of 235 graves there. Are you or the Wickenburg group interested in helping with the placement of this headstone? I’ve written the Editor of the Wickenburg newspaper but have heard nothing from them in respect to publicity for this event.

    Need to express once again, how enjoyable our sojourn was to Isaac Bradshaw’s grave. And I want to thank everyone that assisted in placing his new headstone at the grave site. This meant a lot to me and the Arizona Pioneer Cemetery Research Project (APCRP).

  • Desert Hawk

    Thanks Scott & Tom !

    What A Wonderfull Adventure I have passed
    so many places before and never knew what
    I was passing by, Time flew by so quick.

    Also it was A Pleasure to meet and ride with
    everyone.

    Thank You

    Desert Hawk

  • HighDesertBunny

    Scott is awesome when it comes to history lessons and rides. I’ve had the opportunity with LilHighDesertBunny to ride with him previously in the area and you cannot ask for a better guide! Thanks Scott!

  • […] A pasty, as I learned just the other day during our Bradshaw’s Grave excursion, is a collection of ingredients wrapped up in a pastry shell and baked. They were popular with miners who prepared them in advance and took them down into the mines with them for their meal breaks. […]

  • Scott

    I rode to the Bradshaw Grave this last weekend and it was amazing. I love the Arizona desert.

    I had a couple questions about the road up to the gravesite. First, we passed through someone’s farm and heeded the 10 mile an hour sign because of the livestock. When we saw the man that lived there we waved to him but he just turned around and walked away. Does he not usually see people out there are are too many people traveling his way now?

    Second, at Swallow Mine, is there any way to check out the equipment and mine entrance? We saw that the gate was closed and it looks like someone might live out there.

    Thanks,
    Scott

  • Mike

    Hi
    Will you be doing anymore trips like this in the future? if so, I would very much like to join you.
    Mike

  • Hi Folks,

    Just ran acoss your trip to Bradshaw’s grave while looking for the Bradshaw’s Mine on the web. Sounds like your trip was great and I look forward to it someday with my boys.

    I would get lost in the stories of the old ghosttowns and mines in the Bradshaw Mtn. My amazement of the mines started when I met an older gentleman, Retired WWII Navy who once use to own the Bradshaw Mine. He told me that before he sold the mine that he promised the Bradshaw granddaughter that the new owner must maintain a fence around Mr. Bradshaws grave forever. Mr Hall then conti. on about additional stories of other mines in the area. I cant wait til my first trip.

    Great Stuff!

    Sincerely,

    Bruce Johnson

  • martin green

    Any plans to continue exploring off of constallation road

  • Martin,

    The Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project (APCRP) has researched and explored from Wickenburg to the Williams Ranch on Constellation Road for the past 5 years.

    Log on to http://www.apcrp.org and look at our information in “Ghost Towns”, “Cemeteries” and “Roads Less Traveled”.

    APCRP has been able to difine the exact location of the ghost town of Constellation and the cemetery there, which over the years has been missreported.

    We also have defined the original Constellation Road before the existing road was built in 1893. The original road went through Constellation, thus the name Constellation Road.

    Let us know if there is any questions or suggestions we can research for you.

    Neal

  • Allan Hall

    Martin:
    You just might be amazed to know how many pioneer cemeteries and isolated grave clusters exist in the Constellation Road area you have referenced. If you expand the geography by a few mile miles to the north, east and south, you would define a principal area of prospecting and pioneer ranching that began in the 1860’s and ended in 1940. Some of these areas had extensive goat ranching from the 1880’s until the 1920’s, and several small settlements developed near these sites. When you factor in the stage coach routes near Constellation Road, you simply multiply the opportunities to visit and research our history.

    As stated in a few of my articles on the web site, “if there was a mine, there was almost certainly a cemetery nearby.” This holds true for every mine that you pass along Constellation Road. Although some of these cemeteries are on patented (private) land, and are generally unpublished on the APCRP web site, there are many others on State Trust and BLM land.

    The area surrounding Constellation Road contains one of the richest areas of pioneer heritage in Arizona!

  • I am interested in putting together a Halloween run for the kids and families.
    How would I contact your tour guides to do so?

    I think this would be a great day run as well!

    Thanks!

  • Janet Berge

    My husband and his family are descendants of Isaac Brandshaw and have always wanted to go out and visit the site of the grave. My husband’s mother and father visited many years ago with the help of a local rancher. Let me know if you plan another trip out to the site. We would love to go along.

  • Elliott Bartlett

    I have suggested to our club, the Honeywell 4×4 club, that we go out there and take a look at the grave site. There has been some thought of taking along some paint for the fence. We might have a few extra seats for passengers. Give me a call or email.
    Is there anyone who has “custody” of the grave site? Such as Janet’s husband?

  • Daryl Drake

    I was out there before Xmas, probably quicker to reach via Castle Hot Springs Road, Buckhorn Road, Castle Creek Wash and over the hills west of Copperopolis, if you are starting in the Valley.

    Fence could’ve use a fresh coat, and weeds’ll be a sproutin’.