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Signal Mountain
8 Photosets

mini location map2012-06-11
12 by photographer avatarOutlander
photographer avatar
Signal MountainSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 11 2012
Hiking10.00 Miles 2,000 AEG
Hiking10.00 Miles   6 Hrs      2.00 mph
2,000 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to hike Signal Mountain, then check out the 1995 Amtrak Sunset Limited train derailment site, also known as the Palo Verde Derailment.

Access is easy, taking the Agua Caliente Road to the railroad crossing, then head SW to Patterson Tank; another dirt road will take you a mile south of Signal Mountain.

I arrived at the trail head at 10 AM in good spirits, though not quite 100%, still suffering the effects of a long sweat hike a few days prior. There are several routes to reach the summit, though I recommend the north face. So long as you keep a respectful distance from the cliffs, you will not fall down them, says me. I took the west face back down, which is fairly easy but composed of slippery gravel that is sure to dump a few travelers.

There are less than two dozen names on the peak register, dating back to 1998. Most of the peak baggers reported spotting bighorn sheep, as did I, seeing four sheep near the water tank on the north end.

The next stop was the Sunset Limited train derailment site, located at exactly 33.21193 degrees North, 113.01559 degrees West.

That reminds me of a little story:

Not long after the initial reports of the derailment became known, authorities revealed that the incident was an act of domestic terrorism, and a group known as "The Sons of the Gestapo" had claimed responsibility. (the note was a ruse)

A half million dollar reward was offered, and is still pending, for information that leads to the conviction of the person/persons who committed the crime, that to this day, remains unsolved. The huge reward attracted an army of bounty hunters, who descended upon the nearby community of Hyder like locusts, searching for El Dorado. One of whom was a family acquaintance named John X.

John had spent much of his childhood in the tight knit community of Hyder, and had a few relatives living there that he was on speaking terms. He played the part of a returning prodigal son, coming home to start up a new jojoba bean processing business, promising high paying jobs to everyone in town. My dad acted as his "big city money man", pretending to be the financial backer in their ridiculous cover story.

Over the ensuing weeks, John learned that a member of the Church had come up missing shortly after the derailment, and no one knew where he had gone off to. It was rumored that he had been killed by Church elders, and then the body was dumped in the Sundad Mine, which was sealed in the dead of night by a bulldozer. Others surmised that he had been spirited away to Colorado City or Utah, and lives in hiding to this day.

Most of John's story was falsehood and deceit, I have no doubt, but it is true that someone did collapse the entrance of the Sundad Mine that year. I followed up on the info in 1995, worming my may past the debris covering the entrance. The shaft was a steep incline, to which I bailed after going down 40 feet or so, judging it to be too dangerous to continue. Had there been a dead body in there, I would have smelt it, so that part of the tale was likely a fabrication, as was his claim that there were 40 ore cars at the bottom of a mine west of Yellow Medicine Butte; his $200 finder fee I never did pay, but that is another story.
Bighorn Sheep
Railroad Right-of-Way

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Patterson Tank 1-25% full 1-25% full
There is a well and tank set up with water.

dry Quail Wash Dry Dry
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