Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Back in the outback2: Kirkland

The trouble with photojournalism is that sometimes the pictures force the direction of the story. In this case, literally. Simply put, I can't think of a better entrance to the village of Kirkland than this curve in the road heading back to Prescott from Bagdad and the west country of Yavapai County. So be it. If you decide to visit one of the last cowboy bars in these parts, no doubt you'd be coming from the other direction, down from Skull Valley via Iron Springs Road.

Kirkland is important enough as the site of an elementary school serving territory as far away as Walnut Grove and Wilhoit; student population, 59 kids. In fact, as a sometime property owner in that turf, I can tell you that the school district property taxes are higher than in Prescott! An aside: that distinctive mountain in the background of the picture below is, you guessed it, Kirkland Peak.

The Phoenix-Ash Fork railroad line runs through Kirkland, where some maintenance materials are stored alongside the spur tracks.

A pair of small tufa buildings at the intersection of Iron Springs Road and the highway from SR89 is a distinctive sight in Kirkland. The building to the right served as the post office for many years; I've no idea what might be the story of the building to the left. (To any geologists reading this post, I want you to know that I am aware that tufa properly refers to a particular type of limestone deposit, whereas the Kirkland area tufa is actually volcanic tuff. However, locally it is called tufa. There's even a one-time tufa mine up the road a piece.)

My guess would be that most of Kirkland's actual resident population lives in the trailer court; there is only a handful of small houses in town (one of which we almost bought before moving to Arizona).

Focal point of the town -- and an important institution for the entire surrounding area -- the Kirkland bar, cafe, and hotel. It's been some years since I was last in the saloon, but at that time, it was definitely a boondocks cowboy bar, with a dance every Saturday night. The for-sale sign is, I am told, a permanent fixture.

When we moved into Wilhoit back in aught81, there was an arena back of the Kirkland Bar. Periodically, it was used by local cowboys who would get together for an afternoon of roping followed by beer. And, about once a month, parents from nearby ranches held a gymkhana for local kids to show off their horsemanship.

No more. The former arena now serves as one more enclosure for livestock and horseflesh (above, below.)

I'm sure it had to have been during the reign of Ronald Reagan that we landed two new post offices out west of Prescott -- in Skull Valley and in Kirkland (above). After all, our congressional district had faithfully elected and re-elected Republican Bob Stump to the House of Representatives forever and a day.

And here's the road heading back into the hills alongside the Skull Valley Wash and the railroad tracks. First stop, Skull Valley and then Prescott. As I said at the beginning, my pictures dictated the beginning and the end points.

13 comments:

Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

That's real country depicted in this post. Have you relevant shots of El Rancho W. in Wilhoit??

Hermano

Boonie said...

I loved the photos of those decayed buildings in Kirkland. That town looks lonesome.

Changes in the wind said...

Love the picture of the Brama bull...good post.........

azlaydey said...

The second derelict building next to the retired Post Office was once a garage. Both were owned by Bill and Sally Kohnke.My family was one of the ranch families whose kids participated at the Gymkhanas in the 70's.........

Granny J said...

bro -- ys, indeedy, the Real Thing! As for pix, the answer is: yes, somewhere in a box somewhere in my house...

boonie -- you'd have to take a look in at the Kirkland Bar of a Saturday night to determine just how lonesome it is. Besides, it's located at a crossroads.

changes -- it's a good look into Arizona's recent past...

lady -- somewhere amongst the slides is at least a roll of film's worth of gymkhana pictures from the 80s, but too late to feature any of your kids!

Anonymous said...

I love that area and appreciate the journalistic post.

I so need to plan a trip back to Yavapai Co.

My sister says y'all got a lot of snow again. :)

~Anon in AV.

Steve said...

It's nice to see a small town like this survive, but I wonder how much longer.

Granny J said...

anon av -- yes, it's time for a trip! Wait a couple of weeks -- we keep getting snow every couple of days.

steve -- There's an expensive country subdivision nearby, not to mention Wilhoit over on SR89, which means the school & post office remain in business. I wonder, though, about the cowboy bar! I suppose it could be gentrified.

Anonymous said...

GJ,

Is that expensive country subdivision called Ruger Ranch? We had looked at lots there... yikes!

Also, the folks down in Wickenberg should drive up to Kirkland and Skull Valley to give them a little more business. It's such a nice drive. (Or, ride on a hog.) We've also had some nice breakfasts in Yarnell on the way to Prescott.

~Anon in AV

(Waiting for the snow to melt... planning a trip to YC...!)

Lucy said...

It does look lonely, but the bull is very handsome!

Granny J said...

anon av -- yes, indeed, I was referring to Ruger Ranch; I wonder how they are doing in the current economy...

lucy -- it does look lonely, tho the joint might be jumping of a Saturday night...

Kathleen said...

Gret post - thanks for all the fun pictures and great info. I didn't know that much about the place before.

Granny J said...

frame -- that's what comes from living far north of Prescott -- you don't know what's on the other side of town!

 
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