A Look Back In Time: US60 And The Claypool Tunnel 5-1-11

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Last weekend Ralph shot in an archery tournament in Globe. The tournament had sessions on both Saturday and Sunday. I love watching Ralph compete. He’s head of the class in pretty much everything he does. I think some men are meant to do certain things just because they look so darn good doing them. I’m lucky that I just get to watch and enjoy!

The Superior/Globe area is probably my favorite part of Arizona for several reasons:

-It’s the desert.

-There are working mines and many old abandoned mine sites.

-The rock formations and canyon walls are the most spectacular I’ve seen.

-There are endless rugged dirt roads to be explored. And we’ve explored a lot!

-It’s the old west. It’s history. It’s beautiful.

We drove up on Friday to register and then again Saturday and Sunday to participate. I love the highway drive between Superior and Globe. It’s narrow and winding and scenic. It’s just fun! I took the wheel on Sunday and it was a blast. Ralph’s ¾ ton Chevy Silverado crew cab drives like a sports car!

The best part of the weekend was what we did on our way home, Sunday. We decided to go check out the tunnel used on old route US60 prior to the 1950s. It’s called the Claypool Tunnel and was built in 1926.  Just before the Queen Creek Tunnel (built in ‘52) heading west, there is a turnout on the south side of the highway. A gate is blocking off the old piece of road to the tunnel so silly folks won’t try to drive down there.

The canyon walls are spectacular and steep. It’s probably a couple hundred feet from the road down to the creek in the bottom. The old highway was so narrow and hacked right into the rock wall of the canyon. I thought about driving along here in the 1930’s and ‘40s. It would have been hair-raising. Yeah. I guess people were tougher back then. They did what they had to do.

The old tunnel is only a short walk from the gate. The two things that impressed me most when I saw it were: It’s dug out of a mountain of solid rock! And it’s so very high! Why was it so high? Possibly to get the huge mining equipment back and forth? There are peculiar holes drilled inside of the tunnel and on the canyon wall outside on the west end. Only a small section of highway remains on the other side and judging from the boulders on the road, this would have been the perfect place for a “watch for rocks” sign.

I picked up and brought home a small piece of the crumbling old pavement. It sits here on my desk with my other trip mementos. I love it. This little excursion was a trip back in time to early 1900s Arizona. Really, really cool!

About Ellen

A native Arizonan, who grew up camping and backpacking all over Arizona. My husband and I share a love for the spectacular Arizona landscape and rich history. We are passionate about spending our weekends exploring in our RZR. Backcountry driving combines my love of the outdoors with the thrill of experiencing my husband's expert four-wheeling skills on challenging terrain!
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