Fountain Hills, AZ – The Dixie Mine

I suppose I should say something about Covid-19, and how we are complying with the Arizona shelter in place order.  There, I said enough about that.

Fountain Hills, AZ was built by Robert P. McCulloch with a fountain as its centerpiece.  He is the same guy that purchased the London Bridge and reconstructed it in another town he founded, Lake Havasu City, Arizona.   The fountain’s maximum height of 560 feet, it is 5 feet higher than the Washington Monument, 10 feet taller than Notre Dame Cathedral, and three times as high as Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone Park.  Fountain Hills is a pretty ritzy town.

We were on our way to hike at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  We found the park catered to off road bicycling, and the hiking trails were mostly on flat ground.  The word mountain in the parks name was somewhat misleading.  However, the park map listed a trail titled, “Dixie Mine.”  We left the park, and drove south back through Fountain Hills, though the ritzy area, and found a designed parking spot just outside the regional park.  This was the way to the Dixie Mine.  The mine was established in 1877, when mining scouts noted vast amounts of red quartz in the area. Red quartz often leads to gold and silver deposits, so a mine was quickly established.

Months ago, I read about the illusive Crested saguaros, it’s a rare oddity in the cactus world.  Because they are rare, and because of their bizarre growth patterns, the crested saguaro cacti of the Sonoran Desert are always in danger from illegal cactus poachers. Deb spotted one at the Dixie Mine trailhead.  It made the roundabout trip worthwhile.

I find saguaros really interesting. It’s kind of ironic seeing a saguaro standing tall with two curved arms’ reaching out with a, “Com’ onnn,,,,, leemmy give you a big hug” stance.  A young cactus may only grow 1 to 1.5 inches in its first eight years, while an adult saguaro can reach 60 feet in height.  A saguaro starts to flower around 35 years and produces its first arm around 50 years of age. At 125 years, a saguaro is generally considered an adult. The lifespan of the saguaro is 150 to 200 years.  Its ability to survive and thrive through the extreme summer temperatures of the Sonoran Desert is in itself an amazing testament to survival.  It’s difficult for a Midwesterner, such as myself, to not take photos of saguaros.

Dixie Mine Trailhead

Dixie Mine Trail

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