Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back in the outback 1: Hillside

Hillside is a tiny hamlet in southwestern Yavpai county located on the Date Creek road which starts at the Bagdad Road near Yava. The road continues on to Congress, although it is dirt. Don't let the county warning sign deter you. They have those waivers on all the county dirt roads. As you travel, remember that 80 years ago this was the best north/south road across our state, according to William Peck, who has contributed a number of articles on this area of the county to the Sharlot Hall Museum archives. (This must mean that it is the same road taken by my Phoenix grandparents when they drove to their new warm-weather home from the Dakotas in 19-aught-16.)

Hillside has been around a while, as the 1885 date on the old store indicates. But... the highway sign on the Yava-Bagdad road said "Hillside store now open." No, it was not the Saturday that dotter and I showed up. As I recall, another Prescott blogger passed that way recently and also found the store closed. Not that Hillside and environs add up to a real market, but a general store is always an important meeting place out in the far countryside. (I wonder if any reader might know whether the store is ever open these days.)

In addition to the store, there is a church...

...and a school/school district with 28 students when last counted.

It's a two-bus school district serving ranches, miners, and locals in a not too ancient set of buildings built in Hillside sometime in the 1940s after the old schoolhouse in Yava, 4 miles up the pike, burned down. With 21 qualified voters in Yava and an equal number in Hillside, where to locate the school, then serving 11 students, was a contentious issue, according to one of Peck's articles. (That, by the way, was why this blog was not written last night -- I was quite caught up in his memoirs and my writing time ran out!)

Population? Data for Arizona from the 2000 census, though listing places with as few as 150 people, didn't bother to include Hillside. Be that as it may, Hillside has been around for a good many years. After all, it is located on an important branch of the Santa Fe, now the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, that runs between Phoenix and the mainline across northern Arizona.

About the Santa Fe, Peck wrote in 2002, watch for a train along the east side of the road. This is a working railroad and a dozen mile long trains a day wind through our mountains. As recently as three years ago, our sleepy little burg was the origin of a trainload of ore a day. Thousands of cattle have taken their last trip to the slaughterhouse from our former stockyard.

It was hard to figure out just what of the railroad siding structures were still in business and which abandoned. If we had been lucky, a train might have passed our way while my camera was out, but it wasn't to be.

I think I can hazard a guess that this was the conveyor belt that moved copper ore from trucks onto railroad cars, whence it was shipped to a refinery in the eastern part of the state. When we first moved into Arizona in the aught-80s, a drive on the many-curved Bagdad road on any weekday meant competing for the right of way with the speeding Dickey trucks that hustled ore between the big mine and the Hillside loading docks.

Abandoned or not? Hard to tell.

This building (above) appeared to still be in use; don't know about the lower.

One missing Hillside picture is the bigger mobile park; the one shot that didn't work is the house high up on the hilltop. Fortunately, The Prescott Chronicle has a good image in a recent post. If you want to follow up on any of the Hillside articles at the archives, pop the word "hillside" into the search window and take it from there.


sheoflittlebrain said...

Lovely and intriguing post, GJ. I'm going to read some of the Peck stuff as soon as I can. My Dad worked for Dickey driving truck in the early Bagdad years..that would be thirties, I believe.
Happy New Year to you and yours!

Granny J said...

brain -- too bad that Prescott people forget about (or don't know about) the mine over in Bagdad, which, I understand, is the county's biggest taxpayer, followed by the Santa Fe -- neither of which have a presence (other than maybe an office) here in Prescott.
And a Happy New Year right back to ya!

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