Historic US Highway 70 @ Pinto Creek (02/28/2009)
The original Arizona Highway 70 between Superior and Globe was in service from approximately 1900-1949 and latter rerouted to what we now know to be US Highway 60. Between Superior and Globe are three abandoned original highway segments that can be explored. The first segment is just above Superior, following Queen Creek Canyon over the original concrete Queen Creek Bridge and beyond that to the abandoned Claypool Tunnel. The second segment is a shorter stretch beyond Oak Flat Campground, following Devils Canyon over the original concrete Devils Canyon Bridge. The third segment, and also the longest, starts out just beyond Top Of The World, heading down towards Pinto Creek, and from there crosses the canyon heading back up into the hills to later rejoin US Highway 60.
The original crossing at Pinto Creek is not a traditional bridge. It appears that due to the large span across Pinto Creek Canyon, A hand built concrete culvert with a length of approximately forty yards and a height of approximately ten feet was constructed over the creek itself. Large amounts of earthen material from the area was brought in to fill around the culvert up to the main road bed which is about eighty to ninety feet above the canyon bottom. The length across the canyon looked to be around seventy-five yards. One hundred years later, this man made mountain does not even resemble a bridge due to natural vegetation growing along the sides.
This particular highway segment near Pinto Creek is about four miles in length and located south of the current US Highway 60. The original US Highway 70 is only shown on topo maps. The east end of this segment has a wire fence crossing the road to keep people from driving on the closed route. The west end, near Top Of The World is closed off with a barricade, however some individuals go around it. Most people access this location by hiking or with mountain bikes. Due to very limited people visiting the area, everything is pleasantly well preserved with zero graffiti.
I really enjoy exploring these historic highway segments. Hiking this route is like going through a time warp. You can't help but imagine what it was like to actually drive along this narrow twisting highway in the early 1900's. Driving from Mesa to Globe was likely an all day adventure. Driving the current US Highway 60 that parallels this route is nothing in comparison with current highway design and modern vehicles. While exploring Pinto Creek below the bridge, you can almost see and hear the families that would pull off the road to do the exact same thing that I was doing. It's pretty amazing to ponder those things.