Note: This article, which was orginally written on November 24, 2004, is a great introduction to Robson’s Mining World, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary on Saturday, January 20, 2007. Come by and join the fun! – Maria
Nestled in the foothills of the mountains north of Aguila, AZ is Robson’s Mining World. Part museum, part ghost town, part lodging and dining facility, Robson’s is an excellent retreat from the sounds and crowds of civilization.
We visited Robson’s the day before Thanksgiving. Mike and I had out-of-town guests: my mother and stepfather from Florida and my sister, brother, and sister-in-law from New Jersey. We loaded into two vehicles for the 30-minute drive to Robson’s.
Getting to Robson’s is easy. From Wickenburg, take Highway 60 (West Wickenburg Way, which turns into the old California Highway) west past the Wickenburg Airport. Keep going until you reach the intersection of highway 71, just before you get to Aguila. (It should be about 25 miles from Safeway in Wickenburg.) Make a right onto 71 and drive about 2-3 miles. At the easy-to-spot Robson’s sign, make a left and drive approximately 1 mile on the dirt road to the parking area.
You can pay the entrance fee at either the Ice Cream Parlor or the Gold Leaf Saloon Restaurant. Signs will direct you. Paying the fee gets you entrance to all of the exhibits, a guided tour of the “Main Street Buildings” (when the tour guide is available), and an eight-page walking tour guide that includes information about the history of the site and details about many of the displays.
The Gold Leaf Saloon.
We paid at the restaurant (shown here) and, while were were in there, had a nice lunch. The restaurant has a limited but varied menu. Food is prepared fresh and some items come on or with freshly baked rolls. For desert, there’s some of the best homemade pie in the area. The cherry pie, with a scoop of ice cream, is excellent.
What You’ll Find
Built on the site of the Nella-Meda Gold Mining Camp, Robson’s is surrounded by the beautiful, saguaro-covered hills of the Sonoran desert. Historic features include an ancient Indian campsite with petroglyphs, mine buildings and shafts, and an old stage stop. The “Main Street” (shown here) includes a row of buildings crammed with historical artifacts. Although the buildings are kept locked, a tour guide is usually available to unlock them, one at a time, so you can browse around.
Main Street at Robson’s.
But what’s most noticable is the literally thousands of pieces of mining and farming equipment, including a multitude of old engines. It was this equipment that most fascinated my stepdad. He wandered from machine to machine, examining them carefully. What impressed him most, he told us, was how early 20th century engineers had ingeniously solved the problems they encountered while designing and building their machines. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the smaller machines. But I did photograph this excellent example of a steam-driven tractor. This tractor is actually started and run during Robson’s annual Anniversary Celebration, which is held each January.
Behind the main street buildings is a covered parking area with dozens of antique trucks parked in the shade. The vehicles are fascinating, primarily because they are so seldom seen in classic car shows and car museums. My favorite was an old Mack truck, but this photo shows an old truck painted with the Robson’s Honey logo. The Robson family’s primary business is honey manufacturing and they have a honey plant in Aguila. Honey is available for sale in the restaurant and ice cream parlor.
Robson’s Honey truck.
Also behind Main Street, you’ll find two perfectly matched burros in a large pen. They’re friendly and like to be petted. You may hear their loud calls while wandering around the exhibits. Next time, I’ll bring a few carrots as treats for these guys.
Burro at Robson’s.
In addition to the restaurant and displays, Robson’s is the home of Litsch’s Boarding House, a bed and breakfast available for overnight lodging and longer stays. This huge wooden building has large windows and porches overlooking the desert. Because there’s a beautifully situated chapel on a point above the town, the facility is a popular site for weddings and other celebrations. It’s also a great place to get away for a few days and enjoy the quiet of the sonoran desert.
A one-mile hike on a primitive trail will bring you up into a canyon in the mountains behind the town where you can find petroglyphs — ancient rock drawings — on the rock walls. We didn’t take this hike during our visit — most of us were too full from lunch! — but we did hike up the hill behind the town. From that vantage point, we got an excellent view of the town and the desert beyond it, as well as the mountains to the northwest and south.
Robson’s from above.
We spent a total of about four hours at Robson’s that day and saw only a fraction of what the place has to offer. We could have easily spent the whole day. There’s something for everyone there, lots of interesting sights and features and plenty to learn and explore. I’ll be back again, either alone or with some other out-of-town guests.
Robson’s is open from October 1 to May 1. You may want to call in advance to make sure it’s open if you plan to visit mid-week. You can learn more about Robson’s on its Web site, www.robsonsminingworld.com.
Robson’s Mining World is on Highway 71 Near Aguila, AZ. Call them at 928/685-2609. And if you do stop by to visit, be sure to tell them you heard about them on wickenburg-az.com.
Distance: About 60 miles round trip.
Time: At least 3 Hours, including time to get out and walk around. Add an hour if you plan to have lunch and even more time if you enjoy looking at old machinery and engines.
Features: Historical artifacts, mining ruins, Indian camp with petroglyphs. A restaurant and overnight lodging is also available.
Driving Conditions: Most of trip is on paved roads. Last mile is unpaved but easily traveled by any car.
Equipment: Wear good walking or hiking shoes and bring your camera.
Note to Adventurers
Flying M Air, a Wickenburg-based helicopter tour and charter company, offers day trips to Robson’s mining world that include the entrance fee and lunch. You can learn more about this trip on their web site, www.flyingmair.com.