As we soon will be ushering in 2016 and we are complaining about the cold, our hearts go out to those in Texas and some other parts of the South, who have lost so much Christmas Eve as a deadly tornado struck and cut a 40 mile path destroying so many homes and lives. Hopefully you will have a fun filled but safe New Year’s Eve and a wonderful 2016.
Now for my story! Many year’s ago, a man most of you will remember, Bobby Unser, owned a home here in Puerto Peñasco. As luck would have it, he loved to go clamming like we did. So one Friday, he asked if I wanted to go (as it is always better to go 4 wheeling in pairs) and our friend Karl Blume and I said sure. Actually I think he needed to have someone go along in case he got stuck but off we went to the Bahia San Jorge (3rd Estuary)out past where the Mayan Palace now sits and ran down the beach for about 8 miles. Within an hour we had 2 5 galloons pails full of the freshest most beautiful clams you can imagine. Had our lunch and a couple of ice cold beers and were going to head back to Rocky Point. Well, Bobby, decided we should take a short cut. I don’t know what I was thinking because a short cut means a straight line back the way we came. As we wound our way along a 1 lane dirt road, we passed a couple of really old rusty vehicles, stopped at an old well that was very deep and headed up towards Gillespie’s Mine.
I had been to this mine on one other occasion with Mr. Unser (note I am still calling him nice names) and it was scary. On that trip, as about 16 of us headed down into the mine, I heard a timber behind me crack and stated I was heading back out for fresh air and said I’ll take you pictures when and if you come out. I guess they all decided I might be correct in my assessment and came out rather quickly.
Back to my story, we got to the mine and found there was a man and his 2 sons that were mining GOLD and they would get about an ounce a month. A lot of difficult and lonely work for so little in return. However, we found they were very happy at what they found and we gave them a few beers and off we went…. in the opposite direction from where we came. He said the “short cut” would come out just north of Puerto Peñasco. I had a brand GEO Tracker at that time so I was not comfortable with the accuracy of the fuel gage, but assured all was well. Make a long story short, we came out 10 miles south of the US border. At this point I had hit the red zone and was no longer calling him Bobby! He said no problem as he had picked up a piece of old dirty tube and that he could siphon so leaded (GEO takes unleaded) into my new vehicle. This was just one of our adventures in coming to Puerto Peñasco and I guess why we loved it hear so much.
If you went clamming and forgot your rakes, no problem, watch the locals and they dug with they feet. Lock the Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s in the vehicle as I did on another trip with friends from Payson… my name was mud. As we all headed to the spot, my 2 friends decided this was a spectator sport and headed to the Tracker for drinks, only to find we had the keys.
There is a book called GILLESPIE’S GOLD (The Saga of the Southwest’s Most Incredible Millionaire) by Earl MacPherson. It is the story of Bernard Gillespie and his adventures when there was only a dirt road to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. He writes about Gillespie and all of the “encounters he had with bandits, fortune hunters and simple Mexicans who called him their Patron.” There is a picture of him dancing with a beautiful Mexican lady at the Vasquez Bar in Sonoyta and so much history. Some of the old cars we passed by that day were from Mr. Gillespie’s era and I feel so happy to have been able to see it all and pick up old metal rail road spikes that I still have.
If you ever decide to drive to Puerto Peñasco, please take at least one trip on the old highway that goes over the Gillespie Dam which was built around 1922. As you come south on Highway 85, the last road to make a right before heading over the new bridge at the Gila River and just follow the signs. You will wind past a lot of agriculture and then cross over the bridge and end up in Gila Bend. This was the old highway between Phoenix and Yuma. It may take you longer, but picture yourself crossing that river on a relaxing drive.
Puerto Peñasco, although a young city by Mexican standards, has so much history to it. It is only about 85 years young. The State of Sonora is itself very rich in agriculture and now mining and of course the fishing and shrimping industry here in Puerto Peñasco, It is part of the Altar Desert and is the driest and hottest part of the Sonoran Desert. It is because until 1930’s and 1940’s when the railroad was built connecting Baja to the rest of Mexico that Puerto Peñasco, Caborca and many of the other little cities sprung up. Although the passenger trains no longer come through here we have a great deal of freight trains hauling everything from cement to cars parts for assembly.
If you would like to read this book and are here, I will lend it out. You can check out on Amazon if they have any copies left or go to your local library.
Come down and spend some time with us and earn about your neighbors from South of the border. It is a safe easy drive and only 4 hours from either Phoenix or Tucson.
Need Lodging info? Please Call us at: 1-800-997-9431