A photo of Bernie and Chris at the Very 1st RV to arrive in Arizona. It is located in Sunflower RV Resort, Surprise, Arizona.
I decided to explore some nearby historical Arizona towns.
Saturday, we traveled about an hour to Bumble Bee, Arizona.
I was told it’s a ghost town just off I-17, the major Phoenix-Flagstaff artery.
Fact Number One: There is no ghost town in Bumble Bee.
A fascinating charm of the old west is how towns got their names.
Bumble Bee is a good example. Which story provides the excitement?
~ Named for nearby Bumble Bee Creek, early travelers claimed the Indians there were as “thick as bumblebees.”
~ Soldiers camped along the creek in the 1860’s reported Indians were as “thick as bumblebees.”
~ Gold seeking prospectors came across a bumble bee nest full of honey in cliffs along the creek. Several of the party were badly stung, so it became known as Bumble Bee Creek.
Fact Number Two: The original name was Snyder’s Station.
In the 1870’s it was a stage station on the route known as ‘The Phoenix Road’ until Interstate 17 was constructed in the 1950’s.
Cattle ranching and sheep herding was the primary economy. It wasn’t a mining town. Although small amounts of gold could be found in Bumble Bee, the vast majority of gold was found in the nearby Bradshaw Mountains.
In the mid-1930’s an attempt was made to make the town a tourist attraction. It didn’t work, though the town was used to make some B Western movies.
The deserted town sat under the scorching Sonoran Arizona desert for years as the sun, wind, and rain weathered the wood structures. The result became prized ‘barn boards’ that thieves quickly stole. Within a few years, all structures were gone.
Nearby is a working guest ranch with 180 acres. Bumblebee Ranch advertises a western adventure. Horse rides, cattle drives, cowboy dinners, tours, and fishing. Accommodations include typical ranch lodging, RV hookups, and camping.
We never saw the Bumblebee ranch. Just the trip get close to Bumblebee was a very dusty adventure on washboard dirt roads. We got our first hint when this sign appeared. Rough road means driving less than fifteen miles per hour. It took more than thirty minutes before we reached the outskirts of Bumblebee.
A few rural homes appeared. To me, rural home in this country area is anything that could be lived in. I doubt it would pass a zoning code. No HOA (Home Owner Association) here.
We passed the entire community and drove another mile before we realized the less than half-dozen structures was the Bumblebee community.
A steep drop off on both sides of a single lane road made turning around a tight squeeze.
Raw branch-fence mark ranch boundaries. The uniform branch thickness presents an interesting design. The branches are not dug into the ground. Strung barb wire maintains their vertical position.
From the moment we left Interstate 17 we were in extreme hilly country. It’s not the gentle foothills associated with mountains. These are steep hills and gullies. Tight switch-back roads cut into this continuous terrain.
The entire area is a 4-wheeler playground. At many spots along the dirt road sat pickups with empty flat trailers. Somewhere in these mountains were dozens of folks punishing their 4-wheel toys. We spotted dirt trails but never saw anyone or heard machine sounds.
Bernie and Chris excitedly explored during their short stops on the way to Bumble Bee.
I knew before traveling to Bumble Bee I wouldn’t find any historic structures. The schoolhouse is there, or at least a house is on the ground. But it has been added to and otherwise modified. It is now a private residence. I didn’t bother taking a photo.
We stopped at New River, and that’s worth sharing next time. By the time we arrived home around two-thirty, the dogs were played out. I’m wondering if they will have enough energy for their late afternoon exercise around six o’clock.