Day of the Wolves
Warning: Swansea is a Arizona-designated archaeological site, and is also aministered by the BLM. As such, do not remove artifacts or vandalize the ruins. Also, there are *numerous* prospects, shafts and adits in the area -- some covered for safety, some not -- so beware falling in holes. Also, there are rusty nails everywhere on the ground, so watch your footing if you wish to avoid lockjaw.
Overview: Swansea is a small ghost town in La Paz County in the U.S. state of Arizona. It was settled around 1900 in what was then the Arizona Territory. It served as a mining town as well as a location for processing and smelting the copper ore taken from the nearby mines. Current permanent population is 0, not counting ghosts. In the Arizona Outback, Swansea is void of people in the summer and attracts RVs and campers in the cooler months.
Camping: According to signage, there are five designated no-fee camping spots. I found four, of which only one had a latrine. There is a second latrine a half mile west of town on the road in. Each site has a fire pit, grill and picnic table (perhaps covered). Bring your own TP!
History: The information on Wikipedia differs from that of BLM web site, on-the-ground info signs, and several ghost town sites I perused.
The general facts seem to be that there was prospecting in the Swansea area as early as the 1860s, but the town itself was not founded until Newton Evans and Thomas Jefferson Carrigan, associates of William Clark in Jerome, struck out on their own, beginning development in 1904. The new town was called "Signal". A 350-ton capacity furnace was in operation by 1908, and Signal's population peaked at about 500 in 1909.
By then, the general manager was a Welshman named George Mitchell, who re-christened Signal after his own home town of Swansea. Unfortunately, Mitchell spent too much of his capital on construction, and not enough on operations, leaving his debt-laden Clara Consolidated Gold and Copper Mining Company spending 15 cents to extract 12 cents worth of ore. In less than three years, Clara went bankrupt, and Swansea began its decline.
Swansea had once boasted a car dealership, indoor plumbing and electricity -- things most of the country did not yet have, let alone a place so remote -- but by 1924 even the post office had shut down. Operations petered out, finally ceasing in 1937, with the last holdouts finally leaving in 1943.
In 1971, the movie "Day of the Wolves" filmed its heist training scenes there (and on Planet Ranch).
In 2008, workers fixed up the houses to be more stable.
Hike: There is a numbered info sign driving circle, but most HAZards will want to walk it. The "official route" is really more of a meander, hitting most of Swansea's major ruins and historical information signs. I advise wandering roughly counter-clockwise, so as to keep the sun mostly at your back, making for higher quality photo ops.
There are also two arches just west of town: The nearer is tiny, the further out is huge. If you want some AEG to go with your several miles of wandering, climb up to USLM 2797 in the saddle between the two arches.
At a leisurely pace, you will need about six hours to hit all the ruins. With an arch or two, or the USLM, it will be a full day. Get an early start if you are driving from Phoenix. At the speed limit -- and there is none on the dirt road I could tell -- it is about a four-hour drive from Phoenix to Swansea.
Water Sources: None. When Swansea was in operation, they piped in water -- up to 400,000 gallons per day, mostly for operations -- from the Bill Williams River, which is 3.5 miles north.
Wildlife: In spring, Swansea is overran by desert iguanas. Lots of snakes inhabit this area, including speckled rattlesnakes, sidewinders, gopher snakes, coachwhips, and patchnosed snakes. There are signs up that indicate that mountain lions roam the area. Burros are numerous, spending the summer near Bill Williams River, but scattering towards Swansea in the cooler months.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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