|Name: Stanton||Author's Rating:|
|Author: Matt Marine||Avg. User Rating: (based on one vote)|
|Type: 4WD||Difficulty: (Easy 2WD/4WD Road) - Reaching Stanton can be done by car or high-clearance truck|
|Time: 2 - 3 hrs||Region: Central Arizona|
|Length: 16.6 miles (one way)||Elevation gain/loss/change: +639 / - 1403 / -764 (one way)|
|Type: Through trail (connects to others) or out and back||Avg Elevation: 2800 ft|
|Best time to go: fall, spring, winter||Fees: NA|
|Fitness rating: Low||Educational Merit: Medium|
|Danger/fear rating: Low||Scenic Beauty: Low|
|Hours of Operation: (9 am - 5 pm) See description||Last updated: March, 2011|
|Short Description: An easy dirt road to a privately owned ghost town, then a slightly more difficult 4WD trail to Hassayampa River|
|Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Stoctave; Weaver P.O. Box; Rocky Road|
|References / Contact Information: Backcountry Adventures: Arizona, Pages 420-423; Lost Dutchman's Mining Association;|
|Points of interest: Ghost town of Stanton, Opera Hall, Octave Cemetery, Hassayampa Canyon|
|Special Considerations: The ghost town of Stanton is owned by the Lost Dutchman's Mining Association and is an RV park for their members. See description for more info.|
|How to get there: From Phoenix, head northwest on Highway 60 to Wickenburg. Go through Wickenburg, taking Highway 89 north. Drive almost 12 miles until taking a right onto Stanton Road at Waypoint 009. Click here for directions.|
The road from highway 89 to the ghost town of Stanton is a well-graded dirt road and should be passable by most passenger cars or high-clearance 2WD trucks in good weather and road conditions.
The road connecting Stanton to the Hassayampa / Box Canyon trail is what rates this trail at a 1.5/5. When we took the trip, there was only one spot that needed 4WD. But if you plan on heading through Hassayampa River, you should be prepared for a little bit more difficult conditions.
Stanton is owned and operated by the Lost Dutchman's Mining Association and is an RV park for their members. LDMA members can "mine" for gold in the area. Many of these people go out in their ATVs, bring back 5 gallon buckets of rocks/sand to work in their gold sluices.
When we took this trip, they allowed visitors to come in and walk around to look at the old buildings, including opening up the Opera House and Bar for us to see. They are currently refurbishing it and it was awesome!
We met some very nice people who showed us around and showed my kids how to pan for gold and how they work their wet and dry sluices. The kids were excited to see some real gold and understand how it was found.
The area around Stanton has a rich and somewhat sketchy past. As with many tails like this, the driving force behind this story is gold. The legend of how the gold was found sounds like a tall tale, but one never really knows.
In 1863, a prospecting party led by the famous mountain man and explorer, Pauline Weaver, headed deep into the Arizona Territory wilderness. They stopped for the night along Antelope Creek.
One of the men, a tracker by the name Alvaro, chased after a runaway burro. He climbed a small hill and saw large objects reflecting sunlight. These "spud-sized" objects were just what they were looking for: huge gold nuggets. The gold stampede was on. Rumor has it that the first few prospectors were able to pry thousands of dollars of gold from the hill with nothing but their pocket knives. This hill was aptly named Rich Hill.
The discovery of gold in the area brought about three different communities: Stanton, Weaver and Octave. First, we will concentrate on the town of Stanton.
This town received its namesake from a ruthless man named Charles P. Stanton. He came to the town in 1871 wanting to make a name for himself. The settlement at that time had grown to above 3500 residents. Reportedly, Stanton had a group of "thugs" he used to "persuade" others in a series of shady deals. He had come to Arizona from Nevada where he had been an assayer at the Vulture Mine.
Most residents in the town disliked Stanton from the moment he arrived. He soon received the nickname, "Irish Lord". Soon after his arrival, he acquired (some say underhandedly) partial interest in the Leviathan Mine near Rich Hill. He built a small cabin and store, but was jealous of the trade the town's other businesses were doing compared to his. He set out to destroy his competition.
When Stanton came to town, it already had a stage station and some stores. The station was run by a man named William Partridge, the general store by G.H. "Yaqui" Wilson. These men had a ongoing feud going after Wilson's pig trampled Partridge's garden.
Stanton fueled the fire between the two men, which cumulated in a gunfight in which Partridge killed Wilson. Partridge was sent to the Yuma Territory Prison, where he said he was haunted by Wilson's ghost every night.
Stanton didn't receive any immediate success by getting rid of Partridge and Wilson. But he wasn't deterred. After a man named Timmerman claimed to be a silent partner of Wilson claimed his store and Partridge's creditors sold the station to a man named Barney Martin, Stanton put his Plan B in place.
Not wanting to do the dirty work himself, he hired a man named Francisco Vega and band of thugs to kill Timmerman. Which they did as Timmerman was returning from Phoenix with $700 in gold. They proceeded to set Timmerman's body on fire after they murdered him.
After Timmerman's death, Stanton came forward with a will (supposedly made by Timmerman) naming Stanton as the rightful heir to the station. Stanton quickly took it over, then by default, became the town's postmaster. Being of "The Lord" mentality, he changed the name of the settlement to Stanton.
Next he set his sights on the general store owned by Barney Martin. On a family trip to Phoenix, Barney Martin and his family were murdered, their bodies and wagon burned just a few miles outside of Stanton. No one was able to prove it was Stanton that had it done, but all the scuttlebutt said it was Stanton.
Bad things happened quite a bit in Stanton and they always seemed to be in a way that Stanton profited. He was never officially charged with any crimes. Stanton was a prolific speaker and would repeatedly (and very vocally) claim his innocence. It looks like the newspapers of the day were on his side and told readers what an upstanding citizen he was.
It didn't do him much good in the end. Not soon after the Martin's murder, Stanton himself was killed in 1886 by a man in Vega's gang. It seems that Stanton had insulted his sister. Stanton was gunned down in one of the buildings (Stanton's own store) that still remain to this day.
The mine quickly played out and the post office was closed in 1905. In 1978, the Lost Dutchman's Mining Association bought the property and have been slowly refurbished. The stage coach station is now the camp’s office, the town saloon (opera house) a recreation hall and the former Hotel Stanton has been made into a small library, a kitchenette, and a game room. The old jail is also standing.
It's hard to believe, but it appears Weaver had an even more troubled history than Stanton. Weaver got its name from explorer Pauline Weaver, noted above. The town was originally named Weaverville, but was shortened to Weaver.
During the first phase of its life, Weaver was a tent city for miners working the nearby claims. When it looked like there may be enough ore to support permanent structures, people began to build them.
Crime was rampant in Weaver and the gang often hired by Stanton found the town of Weaver to suit them. Murders and gunfights were commonplace. After the murder of William Segna, a newspaper article recommended that the town of Weaver be shut down. Travelers and business tended to avoid Weaver due to its outlaw mentality.
In 1863 a trio of Mexicans who cut grama grass for a living were working outside of town when they were surrounded by Indians. The Indians stole everything they had: guns, burros and clothes. The Mexicans had to walk back to town naked.
Law abiding citizens moved to nearby Octave and when the gold ran out in 1899, the town dried up and died. The post office had a very short life span, it was opened on May 26, 1899, then it was moved to Octave on April 19, 1900.
All that remains of Weaver is the partial remains of the stone post office/house, a few corrals, cemetery and some old machinery. All is on private property.
Of the three nearby towns, Octave was the last to get going. It didn't begin it's life until the 1890s. The town received its name from the eight men who started the first mining company there, the Octave Gold Mining Company. Many of the claims worked by Octave residents were around nearby Rich Hill.
Many of Octaves first residents came from nearby Stanton and Weaver. As mentioned above, Octave's post office was the one that had moved from Weaver and it began operation on April 19, 1900. The post office was shut down December 31, 1942. In its heyday, Octave supported a school, stage stop, general store and a grocery store.
Mining was active in Octave until 1942 when Executive Order L-208 essentially closed down all gold mines in the U.S. Why did FDR do such a thing? America was in WWII, and things weren't looking all that great at that time. Hitler and Japan were still kicking some serious butt and he wanted the mining industry to concentrate on "strategic" materials needed to produce war materials.
This, and another Executive Order, had dramatic (and some unanticipated) effects on the mining industry. See the Executive Orders and Gold Mines page for more information.
Most of the buildings were torn down after WWII to reduce taxes for the property owners. All I could find that was left of Octave is the cemetery, which you can visit. It has been partially restored by some 4WD clubs. There is supposedly an original building and some foundations left, but these are on private property.
Note: I ran this trail in conjunction with the Hassayampa Canyon trail, first running Hassayampa, then heading out through Stanton. I think it makes more sense to begin at highway 89 (backwards from the way I ran it), therefore, the GPS waypoints will be in descending order (from Waypoint 009 to 001). You can run it either way.
Turn east at Waypoint 009 off highway 89 on Stanton Road. This portion of the road is usually well-graded. Most passenger cars and light trucks can make the trip to Stanton in good weather.
Continue down Stanton Road for roughly 6.4 miles until you reach Stanton (Waypoint 008) on your left (you will pass many different side roads leading off in both directions - stay on the main road).
If the gate is open, enter the LDMA's entrance. Park in the parking area in front of the office. Please be respectful of their property and check in with the office if it's okay for you to look around.
After you're done with Stanton, you can either return the way you came to highway 89 or proceed to head out through Hassayampa Canyon. Take a left on the main road, then immediately bear right onto Octave Road.
Stay on Octave Road for almost another two miles. You will see many old mines, buildings and equipment on your left. This is what remains of Weaver and Octave. It is my understanding all of this is on private property. We tried a few roads, but all quickly hit private property signs and we had to turn around. When you reach Waypoint 007, you will come to a three way intersection called "Decision Corner".
Keep straight (slight bear right) onto Morales Ranch Road. This is the start of the rougher trail (though it doesn't get rough fast). After about 0.4 miles, you will see some tracks on your left that lead to the Octave Cemetery (Waypoint 006). It's not far (a few hundred feet) to the cemetery. This was a neat old cemetery and I found it very interesting.
When you're done with the cemetery, get back onto the main road and turn left. Keep going straight at Waypoint 005, then bear right at Waypoint 004 (11.7 miles from highway 89). The trail becomes much less traveled and rockier here.
Continue on this trail for another two miles until you reach Waypoint 003. Keep straight on the main road. Drive almost another two miles until you take a right at Waypoint 002. A main road heads off to the left and when we did this trip we took this road by mistake for a few miles.
After you turn right, you will head down into the Hassayampa Wash. At Waypoint 001 you have reached the end of this trail and started on the Hassayampa trail. The run through the Hassayampa Canyon is a ton of fun, but a little bit more difficult (mostly due to deep sand) than the previous trail. You can either turn around or head out through Hassayampa.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun and be safe!
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