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Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins, AZ

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Guide 24 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Cordes
3.3 of 5 by 8
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.85 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,470 feet
Elevation Gain -197 feet
Accumulated Gain 523 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.47
Interest Ruins
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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4  2018-06-09 MandaBearPig
22  2018-03-12 Steph_and_Blake
33  2017-12-22 eagleloc
7  2016-09-25 phlak
7  2016-09-11 Eartheist
12  2016-06-12 Bradshaws
19  2016-02-07
Richinbar & Badger Springs
21  2016-02-07
Richinbar & Badger Springs
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Feb, Mar → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:31pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Culture Nearby
Prehistoric and Historic Ruins
by Randal_Schulhauser

Note: Dec 2015 gate reported locked and barbed wired.

History: President Bill Clinton created the Agua Fria National Monument in 2000 at the behest of his Secretary of the Interior, former Arizona Governor. Bruce Babbitt. For most people zipping along the Interstate, they're probably scratching their heads looking at the big empty spaces wondering why this area has been declared a National Monument. One answer to the "Why?" is "Abundant prehistoric and historic period ruins". This hike gives one the opportunity to experience both.

From about 1200 to the mid-1400's a thriving "mesa-canyon complex" culture inhabited the area leaving 400+ known archeological sites. The Perry Mesa Tradition featured "seven ancient cities" supported by a number of "satellite" settlements. Richinbar Pueblo represents one of these "satellite" settlements, featuring about 65 rooms, at least 2 rock art clusters, and countless pottery sherds.

After the Perry Mesa Tradition disappeared, Apaches and Yavapais hunted the mesas until they were supplanted during General Crook's campaigns in the 1870's (see Turret Peak hike description ). This opened the area to ranching and mining.

Original prospecting claims for Richinbar Mine were filed upon discovery in 1882, but it wasn't until 1896 that commercialization began in earnest. A post office opened that year with the name "Richenbar" - a derivative of Richard N. Barker, one of the mining camp's leading citizens.

A Prescott News article dated August 28, 1897 indicated that Richinbar had phones, electricity, plus daily stage service. As researchers Neal Du Shane and Pat Ryland have documented, this news article also tells of the death of one of the miners, Ed Barden. He was killed on August 21st, 1897 when he was getting out of the mine, had a heart attack, and fell off a ladder into the shaft just as some TNT detonated. "The body was interred on the hill above the mine".

A 20-stamp mill was added in 1906 and workings now featured the Zyke shaft (main shaft) at 500 feet deep that connects with several thousand feet of workings extending northward plus two more shafts accessing upper workings. The largest stope was on the 140 level at 65 feet long by 55 feet high and 14 feet wide. Employment at the mine grew to 35 workers by 1935.

A Big Bug News article dated March 10, 2009 contains an interview with a former Richinbar resident, Anita Wheeler Underwood who spent her teenage years in the mining community; "In 1936 the Wheelers packed up and left a comfortable home in Houston TX and moved to Richinbar AZ. Mr. Wheeler went to work at the mine and Nita and twin brother Bud spent their first fall through spring in Phoenix attending school. Shortly after returning to Richinbar that spring of '37 the mine shut down. Everyone left but us. The electricity shut off and since the water had to be pumped up from the river, there was no water either."

The Richinbar Mine slowly emerged from bankruptcy and re-opened in 1940 and continued operation by the Sterling Gold Mining Company until 1948.

Richinbar mining production as recorded for the period 1905 - 1948 by the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources;

Cumulative totals are:
Tons of ore 31,833
Pounds of copper 7,352
Pounds of lead6,947
Troy oz. of gold4,616
Troy oz. of silver1,425

Hike: Armed with a GPS track posted on the "Arizona Pioneer and Cemetery Research Project" by Neil Du Shane, we found ourselves at the FR9006 trail head just off the I-17 on a perfect December morning. Parking at the gate seems to be your only option as it is locked (rancher and forest service access only?). Squeeze between the gate and post and begin your hike along the dirt road.

The Bradshaw Mountains provide your backdrop to the west. In front of you lies our first hiking trail POI - the Richinbar windmill and corral. Continue on an easterly heading along FR9006 about 1 mile until the Agua Fria Canyon comes into view.

The dirt road will bend slightly right to the southeast and begin a gentle decent of about 100 feet. As the dirt road comes to a "T-intersection" near the lip of the Agua Fria Canyon, there are multiple pioneer graves on both sides of the road as reported by the "Arizona Pioneer and Cemetery Research Project" (see map).

We take the south fork of the dirt road and discover some historic period "sherds". Our first shaft is spotted on the west side of the dirt road in an area that appears to have been surface mined. With a reported shaft depth of 500 feet, our "tests" give us no reason to doubt that number.

A few feet further south, an isolated chimney points the route up a small hill top capped with an earthen water tank. This elevated water tank created the water pressure used in the mining operations.

From this high point, you can easily spot the stamp mill and Zyke main shaft head frame foundations lying to the northwest. You can easily picture the head frame location relative to the main shaft. Tailings are everywhere.

Mike and I contour down to the foundations and try to match each to the vintage photos we are carrying. Large stamp mill elements become clear to us. We're perplexed by the large number of trashed cans (gasoline? Kerosene?) we find littered about the site.

Having fully explored the central mining operations, we retrace our steps along the dirt road heading north towards the petroglyph site. These are easily spotted - just look for the elevated cluster of boulders. Deer and antelope seem to be the subjects for most of this rock art.

Next up is Richinbar Pueblo located on the high ground just west of the Richinbar townsite and slightly north of the central mining operations. There is much rock art surrounding the walled area of the pueblo. I suspect there is another ruins site nearby. I had 2 photos with me labeled "Richinbar Pueblo" taken on past Arizona Archeological Society field trips. One certainly matches up with the site we explored. The second photo just doesn't seem to match any of the landmarks!

We found a faint double track heading southwest from the looped dirt road. We spotted a sign at the canyon lip and charged over to it expecting to see more ruins. This was only a geological survey marker. We continued along the double track until it abruptly ended at what must have been a Richinbar dump site. Tin cans and porcelain remnants everywhere - a historic period midden! From the dump site, we took a cross-country cowpath over to FR9006 back to the trail head.

Summary: I've always wondered why there were vehicles parked just off of the I-17 near a windmill on the mesa. A little research and I discovered the name "Richinbar" and multiple references about a bustling little mining community that disappeared about 60 years ago. Step back in time and rediscover "Richinbar" on this hike, Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-12-21 Randal_Schulhauser
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins
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    Richinbar & Badger Springs
    looking for hikes we haven't done before
    john suggested badger springs trail, which we've all driven by many times without stopping
    he also found richinbar mine for enough to make a day of it
    got an early start and set out for the mine while still dark
    breezy and chilly until the sun came up
    explored the mine ruins, which are extensive
    found the petroglyphs to the north
    think we missed the old townsite
    checked out the old corral area
    lots of cool old stuff
    drove two miles north to badger springs exit and hiked down badger springs trail to the agua fria
    went upstream through the boulder playground - lots of fun with plenty of water flowing
    found a cairned trail and then an old road that went up on perry mesa
    didn't really see or know of a destination up there, so retraced our steps
    the mesa is huge, with great views and much more to explore
    on the way out, found the petroglyphs at the confluence of the wash and the river
    the day warmed up nicely
    we had thought about hiking up to the black mesa ruins, but will save that area for another time
    had to get back for the super bowl ;)
    fun day seeing something new - two good ideas, john
    thanks for driving
    Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins
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    All Things Richinbar
    Well, I visited Richinbar Mine Ruins, Richinbar Pueblo Ruins and four little survey disks that have Richinbar stamped on them. All things named Richinbar derive from a guy named Richard N. Barker, who once was associated with the mine.

    I first located Richinbar Triangulation Station (1946) and its two reference marks, just west of the mine, atop a little rise. The mine is below and on the opposite side of a little valley. From the benchmark, one gets a great overview of most of the mine area.

    I then went south to Richinbar Pueblo Ruins, which was a multi room dwelling with many stone walls separating the rooms. It’s on the edge of the mesa, near a wash that leads to the Agua Fria River.

    Next, I hiked to the mine.
    Richinbar was a gold mine, with a bit of silver mined also. From reading many accounts, it wasn’t tremendously successful. It was active for over forty years, so obviously the various different owners threw alot of money into the mine, in the hopes of striking it rich. I don’t believe they did.

    Mine artifacts are strewn all over the place, and the after-affects of the settling tanks (separating water from the slurry) can be seen down in the wash where the discarded, yucky water ended up discoloring huge rock formations, before eventually going into the Agua Fria River. Parts of the wash are coated with the brownish, rust colored slurry residue. I walked on those rocks and it reminded me of thick, hardened epoxy.

    I located some petroglyphs very near the mine, in an area called “Indian Lookout” (named that in a 1934 photo). Indian Lookout overlooks the river and is a good place to see the mine’s ‘other side’.
    I wasn’t aware that petroglyphs could be ‘stolen’. I have photos of ‘before-and-now’ that verifies the theft.

    I also located what I believe is a small ruin, much further north on the mesa. I’m a true rookie when it comes to ruins. At these northerly ruins, which are right on the edge of the mesa overlooking the Agua Fria River and Perry Mesa, I found more petroglyphs and a couple metates.

    Once done with the northerly ruins, I went back to my comfort zone, and searched for the Richinbar Azimuth disk. Luckily, I located it without a lengthy search. The disk (1946) looks brand new.

    As I was hiking directly back to the trailhead, I had the surprise of the hike.
    A herd of 8 pronghorn were running at high speed, off to my right, and they were coming right at me. When they saw me, they veered off, but still passed within 100 feet in front of me, heading east. They then made a sharp 90 degree turn north, up a dirt road. My guess is, when they turned north on that road, they were moving at 40 to 50 mph. What a sight.
    Pronghorn are the fastest mammals in our hemisphere, and can keep-their-speed-up for 20 or 30 minutes. They are true marathoners.
    After fumbling to get my stowed camera out, I was lucky to get two photos off before they disappeared. Those 'pronghorn' 15 or 20 seconds were worth as much as the rest of the hike.
    Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins
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    I made a trip out to the mine finally. I've looked at it from below and maps but had not ventured onto the mesa yet. The most difficult part of this hike is getting off an on I-17. The exit is between sunset point and badger springs. You could walk from either of these exits but that would add a few more miles. It is directly across a turn around point and behind a big bush. You'll probably miss it twice just like I did :? Once I was parked at the gate right off the freeway I noted that the gate was locked. I promptly hopped the fence and ripped my pants on the barbed wire. Awesome!

    The walk in is relatively flat. I passed by a corral and small office which seems to have been out of service for some time. The office had some junk in it and mouse poop. Did not explore further.

    Along the road I was looking out for signs of petroglphs but I didn't see anything. I was told there were some out here but didn't get clear directions until after my trip.

    When I made it to the main drag of the mine you could tell something had happened here. There was debris all around. I would not recommend walking around with no shoes on. There were a few structures I explored but nothing that was really all that exciting. The view of the canyon bottom was pretty cool. I have been told there is a way down from here but didn't not attempt on this day. I worked my way around to everything I could see taking a few pictures along the way. I knew there was also some more ancient ruins across the way. So after looking at the other side of the hill where the actual mine shafts were and finding a geocache I continued over to "Ruins tank". Just a note: I was not looking for the geocache and it was super obvious. Nothing spectacular at the ruins either. No pottery shards, petroglyphs or really anything of note. Basic walls and rooms for a medium sized occupation.

    There were some interesting formations below the mines and I now know there are some grave sites and petroglyphs I missed so there is a reason to return when it gets cooler out. If it was not for the barbed fence I might even bring the family out on this one. This one is short and would be interested in tacking on some distance and elevation next go around to make the drive worth it.
    Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins
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    I've been sick for what seems like forever. I've had strep throat, then bronchitis and then pneumonia :( I haven't been able to get out hiking for months. This was the first day I've felt well enough to try and I had the day off and both my girls are on spring break so I wanted to take the kids out to explore some of the ruins out here.

    We got a late start... Well, it was a late start for me but a crazy early start for both my teenage girls. :roll: got to the trailhead at 9:30ish. There use to be an opening in the fence for people to get through but it has been closed off. Now there's a large gate that is locked but the gate is easily climbed and has no signs that would indicate that you shouldn't ;) so over we went.

    The mesa is covered in these 6 foot tall weeds that are covered in bright yellow flowers and knee high fox tail grass. My plans were to check out the ruins south of the mine. Unfortunately by the time we reached the mine my oldest daughter was having trouble breathing. One of the MANY flowers out the was making her sinuses go crazy. I foolishly dismissed her first complaint but when I turned around to listen to her second set of complaints OMG!! :o Her eyes were starting to close and she was pouring snot and tears!! I broke out the first aid and got some Benadryl in her. Needless to say we beelined it back to the car. By the time we got to the car she was doing much better and is back to normal now :) . The only thing she hasn't been around before were the tall yellow flowered weeds. I'll have to get some allergy meds in her before we hit the trail next.
    Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins
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    Badger Ruin - Richinbar Ruin Loop
    I parked at the Richinbar starting place, just off I-17. I headed diagonally north across Black Mesa toward the Badger Pueblo, walking mainly along cow paths. I kept my eyes open but didn't see many signs of the ancient residents til I got near Badger. It really has a magnificent location overlooking a big bend in the Agua Fria. I looked around quite a bit but didn't find petroglyphs on the boulders or the cliff band, though I know there are some lower down along Badger Springs. There is at least one, maybe more satellites of the main ruin.

    From Badger ruin I returned south but hugged the edge of the mesa. There is a nice spot and small ruin right at the point overlooking the river under a lone pinon tree. The ruins (like almost all the others) are easily recognized by some piled rocks, pottery shards, and flaked quartz or obsidian.

    I continued further and got distracted by some white quartz flakes and fell on my face. This brought me a close up view of some pottery pieces and so I scouted "inland" another 20' or so where crumbled walls were obvious. I hadn't expected anything here. This was probably the highlight of the day though because this ruin had a concentration of grinding areas decorated with some petroglyphs.

    I continued south, dropped below the rim and back up again to catch the nice petroglyph site associated with Richinbar Pueblo. I looked briefly for another ruin and glyph site (inferred from azmuslima's photos) but couldn't find it. I did contour west past the small hilltop ruin and along to the main ruin. I didn't spend much time since I was there a couple weeks ago and I was getting thirsty! From here it was not much more than a mile through the pasture to the car.

    This is an enjoyable walk on the mesa. Some hikers might prefer starting down at Badger Springs and climbing the mesa, avoiding the awkward (and possibly illegal) turn off and on the interstate.
    Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins
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    My daughter was in town for a 3-day weekend and tells me at ~7:30AM she'd like to do something outside but has to see her friends after lunch. I do a quick calculation and decide we could try Richinbar. I print out Randall's description, grab my pack and off we go.

    A couple interesting things. We never went "north enough" to find the main petroglyph site. However I had preloaded the location of what I think is the main Pueblo (clearly visible in the satellite view - thanks Joe for Route Manager) and we did go there. As near as I can tell most of the other logs missed this place. It's location is roughly due west of the mine ruin on the ridge. After studying the other triplogs for this site it seems there is another ruin nearer the river - guess I need to go back.

    Not a lot of pottery sherds at the main ruin though we noticed plenty of flaked quartz and some obsidian. I guessed that the cliff band further to the south might have some petroglyphs but we didn't see any, though we did notice a bedrock grinding area just above the cliff edge.

    Cool area and certainly convenient access to the mesa. Back home by noon.
    Richinbar Pueblo and Mine Ruins
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    Best of Richinbar - January 2012
    Having spent most of the past week in Memphis TN on business (with nightly blues pilgrimages to Beale Street => ), needed to stretch the legs and soak up some "outdoors".

    Curiosity about a Frank Lloyd Wright disciple, Paolo Soleri, and his "Arcosanti" architecture/ecology urban fusion experiment just north of Cordes Junction (check out => and ... ge-of-man/ ) was our agreed primary destination with a back-up plan to visit the Richinbar sites. Packed up the F-150 and Lynn and I were off to explore!

    It's always good to have a back-up plan...

    Upon arrival at home, I had to dig up a news article about a 1930's Richinbar resident reminiscing about life in this mining community (check out => viewtopic.php?t=4673#p46847 and download the article). Certainly allows you to connect with the past life of this ghost town. :D

    Photos to follow...

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    Directions to the Trail: From Phoenix (or Tucson)
    1. Take I-10 west until you reach the junction of I-17 North to Flagstaff AZ.
    2. Take 1-17 North towards Flagstaff about 60 miles onto Black Mesa/Perry Mesa.
    3. As you pass the Sunset Point rest stop on the west side of I-17, you begin a gentle rise to the northeast. Look for a windmill with two above-ground holding tanks on the east side.
    4. Spot FR9006 heading east towards the windmill. Exit I-17 onto FR9006 and park at the gate about 50 feet from the highway. This is our trail head.
    5. NOTE: If you begin descending into the Badger Springs area, you've missed your turn-off!
    page created by Randal_Schulhauser on Dec 21 2009 7:05 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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