Friday, May 01, 2009

Road Trip: Thompson Valley Road

Most people simply call it the Bagdad Road or, sometimes, the Hillside Road because those are about the only possible destinations for most people. Oh, yes, there's also the Santa Maria River, which is where my dotter and I might often be headed. The county calls the stretch from the Kirkland railroad crossing out to Yava and thence to the Hillside take-off the Thompson Valley Road. I like to think of it starting at the tufa gates just beyond Kirkland (above) where the road turns to the west. The mountains seen here in the distance are the Weavers.

A good snapshot of what the road is like. Straight, through high desert range land. It parallels the little canyon of Kirkland Creek, where the Santa Fe tracks are located. Several prosperous ranches front on this perennial waterway, though the former Ruger property has been subdivided into a big development on both sides of the highway. The mountains in the distance are between Yava and the Santa Maria.

Kirkland Peak is a major landmark on your right shortly after leaving the little crossroads hamlet. Unlike most of the area, it is granitic.

Mesas formed from great flood basalts surround the flat terrain of Thompson Valley. A romantic piece of me has wanted terribly to make it to the top of one of these mesas, convinced that there's a strange and wonderful new world on top. My inner realist, of course, knows better. More prickly pear, grasses and cat's claw acacia, most likely.

One year, the dotter and I did the tour of the mine at Bagdad; we asked the company geologist if he could tell us where these basalts originated...where was the great crack in the surface of the world fron which oozed all this lava. His disappointing answer is that, frankly, no one knows.

Long shadows are the clue that this is the return trip, arriving shortly back at the tufa gate to Kirkland.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I've wanted to take that turn-off and go for a ride. Was always too busy to do so.

Now I know where the (developed) Ruger Ranch is... thanks for the 411.

One day, I hope to visit that huge whole in the ground in Bagdad. :)

~Anon in AV.

Anonymous said...

Nice trip and good photos along the way. Who named it Bagdad and why? Does anyone know?

Christina Lucido said...

Great photos! I love those rock formations. I'm new up here, is this out east of Prescott?

Warren said...

Great pics! Its been decades since I've been out that road.

I notice on your 4th photo a vertical white blur up in the rocks. Any idea what that is? Waterfall trail? Bird/bat residence?

Your last picture looks like the back of a resting lioness, looking out over her territory.

Granny J said...

anon av -- the Bagdad tour is not to be missed; it's fascinating.

steve -- it was named after the old Bagdad mine & how it got its name, who knows? Possibly because it's in the desert mountains.

c-lucid -- first off, welcome (and do visit again!) About this road, no it's almost due west. Go out Iron Springs Road & stay on that road til you get to Kirkland, then take a right across the RR tracks and you're on the way to Bagdad (or Hillside) as advertised.

warren -- no idea, though my likeliest suspect would be a long-time nest & landing spot for big birds of some sort. Can you imagine ME climbing those tall granites?

Lucy said...

What an austere landscape, but the earth has beautiful bones...

Granny J said...

lucy -- I love those bones (and Arizona has plenty)!

Anonymous said...

Here is some info I found.

Bagdad was named in 1882 for a copper claim by W.J. Pace and J.M. Murphy. In 1910, a post office was established.

Here is an interesting version of how the name of Bagdad came about from a now defunct website
"Please don't associate our town's name with that of Baghdad, Iraq. Please note the "h". Bagdad has always been a mining town. As legend has it, the first miners were a father and son team. The ore was hauled out on mule teams in bags. (see the "Historical Photos" link) The son would be mining, filling the bags with ore. The father would be getting the things the son needed to mine. When the son needed another bag to fill, he would yell, "bag Dad". Consequently the name Bagdad was derived. It had nothing to do with Iraq."

Photo Blog Blog Top Sites Blog Directory for Prescott, AZ

Local Blogs - Blog Top Sites