Tuesday, January 06, 2009

... or shine; the curves don't go away!

I've mentioned before that one of my uncles worked for ADOT (the highway department) back in the mid-20s when the White Spar was under construction. He later joined the US Forest Service, working all of the forests in Arizona -- except for the Prescott. When he was with the Kaibab and the Coconino, he drove many trips from the north to visit his parents in Phoenix -- all via the White Spar. ("A fine highway," he said, "but look out for scared little old men hugging the mountainside. Extra dangerous when they're heading north -- on the wrong side of the road.") According to his oldest son, they were often delayed for hours in winter by jack-knifed semis completely blocking the roadway. I don't know just when the Skull Valley Road was paved; however, when we moved to Wilhoit in aught-81, almost all semis split off from SR89 at Kirkland Junction over to Kirkland and thence up through Skull Valley, arriving in Prescott via the Iron Springs Road. Not very many curves -- but some long stretches in grade that resulted in trucks gently sliding off the highway.

Now that you've clenched your jaws for your first two rides up the White Spar, you should be used to the curves and we can plan another trip Real Soon Now -- this time to focus on the mountain scenery. (Two other facts worth mentioning: 1) most people are not aware of it, but this highway follows the course of the Hassayampa River for most of its length and 2) my family has the distinction of two speeding tickets on the White Spar, one each for the dotter and my LH. Neither, by the way, on the stretch of road between Prescott and Ponderosa Park, which had a bad rep for tickets.)

10 comments:

Prescottstyle said...

You should be careful on this section Granny J as the Safeway delivery truck (40') sneaks down sometimes if he is in a hurry for Wickenburg. His wide turns block boyh lanes in the hairpins!

TomboCheck said...

Oh the fun these curves can deliver to a young man in a sports car.....

Many a clenched rear has slid around these lovely hairpins. :)

GrannyJ said...

style -- interesting -- never heard about that particular truck, but it's a good warning. Any particular time of day?

tombo -- when we came out in aught-81, we had a R.E.D. TR-4. 'Nuf said.

RV-boondocker-explorer said...

It's weird how scary it is to go through curves like this in the passenger seat. But in the driver's seat, curves mean nothing to me.

OmegaMom said...

Time has blurred my memories: Did I really get a speeding ticket on the White Spar? Ah, well. When I was doing it almost every day, I got to know those curves like my own and could drive it in my sleep.

Granny J said...

boonie -- good point there; perhaps the problem for me was not being in control!

dotter -- indeed you did -- I was with you and it took place about two miles out of Wilhoit -- not a spot where I would have expected a stake-out.

Anonymous said...

Heee! Family secrets revealed.

And, the factoid about the Hassayampa River...I learned something new today, thank you GJ.

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

anon av -- it took me a long time to figure it out (about the Hassayampa), though it should have been obvious to anyone who thought about it. After all, all those impossible roads heading downstream from the White Spar ended up at or near the river, which is live water in much of that section.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article.
I remember a conversation with a friend who's father came to the area just after WWI. His father drove an old Ford (Model T or A ?) that had a gravity-fed fuel system (no fuel pump). He had to drive up the Spar in reverse in order to prevent fuel starvation.

Anyhow, I am curious. How did White Spar get its name? What the heck is a "White Spar" anyhow? I'd like to find out...Thx

Granny J said...

anon-2 -- I recall the White Spar from my youth in the 30s & 40s. It gets its name from a mountain called the White Spar which can be seen in the post I linked to. What Spar basically means white rock; that particular mountain has a major quartz outcropping toward the top.

 
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