After leaving the Boyce William Arboretum I headed for Ray Mine…..this proably would not have even been on my radar to do except that my co-worker Joe told me about it. He was born and lived in Ray as a young boy. It sounded interesting and I decided to check it out. Ray Mine is a very large copper mine currently owned by Asarco. Ray Mine represents one of the largest copper reserves in the United States and in the world. Located near Kearny along scenic highway 177, the Ray Mine has a history dating back 140 years. The town of Ray, Sonoran, and Barcelona are no longer there…….these towns were torn down as the open pit mine expanded. The small town of Ray was founded in 1870, by 1873 prospectors were mining silver and by 1880 high-grade copper ore was being mined in Ray. From the early days, there were three different communities that were established by mine workers: Sonora, Ray, and Barcelona. Sonora was founded around 1906 and was mostly Mexican workers and their families who had come from nearby Sonora, Mexico. Ray was founded in 1909 as a company town to provide housing mostly for the Anglo miners. In 1911 a third town was founded by Spanish miners and name “Barcelona” after the city in Spain. By this time in 1911 large scale, copper production had begun. By the late 1940s, the Kennecott Copper Corporation running the mine at this time decided to abandon underground mining operations to open-pit mining. By the 1950s the company had given notice to all residents of Sonora, Ray, and Barcelona that they would be required to abandon their homes no later than 1965. To accommodate the soon to be displaced families, the company built a new town named “Kearney”, which was 11 miles away and completed in 1958. By 1965, the once-bustling towns of Ray, Sonora, and Barcelona were completely abandoned and swallowed up by the expanding open-pit. On May 1, 1999, a historical marker was placed on a site overlooking where the former towns once stood. This is where I went to view the Ray open pit mine and where the Sonora historical marker was placed.
I headed out of Phoenix early to visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park on Highway 60 just 3 miles outside of Superior, AZ. From Phoneix, it is a 67-mile drive…. an easy hour drive. With temperatures already reaching 90-100 degrees during mid-day I wanted to get there early when it was going to be cooler. Two years ago when I was in and around Phoneix in February the cacti were not in bloom, so now that I am in Phoenix for a while I wanted to be sure I got a chance to see them. I had heard and read about the arboretum and wanted to make a visit here and thought it would be a great opportunity to see and experience all kinds of different plant life and blooming cacti as well as a little trail hiking. Boyce Arboretum did not disappoint me.
Entrance fees are reasonable $12.50 for adults 13 or older, $5.00 for children 5-12 and children 4 and under are free. The arboretum hours from October to April are 8 am – 5 pm with no entry after 4 pm. May to September hours are 6 am to 3 pm with no entry after 2 pm.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona. It was founded in 1924 as a desert plant research facility and “living museum” by William Boyce Thompson, a mining engineer who made his fortune in the mining industry. Boyce was fascinated with the landscape around Superior, so he built a winter home overlooking Queen Creek and beneath the towering volcanic remnant……Picketpost Mountain located in the Sonoran Desert on 323 acres.
Upon my arrival at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, you pay at the window just inside the doorway and given a map of the grounds. In this entrance area, you will find a gift store, the restrooms, as well as plants to buy. You are then free to wander the grounds how and where you want at your own leisure. I followed the 1.5-mile main loop which took me a couple of hours as I took some short side trails, checked out so many of the cactus and various plants and vegetation, took pictures, stopped to rest, relax and just enjoy.
Here are some things I saw on my trail walk……Flowers
Gila Monsters, Twisted trees, Ayer Lake, Eucalyptus Trees, Mountains, and Trails
The Clevenger House…….a stone and mortar building was home for a family of 5 in the early 1900s. Robert Clevenger and his family were homesteaders who made their living by truck farming along Queen Creek. They left this area in the early 1920s. This building was purchased along with the surrounding land by William Boyce Thompson. It was remodeled as a playhouse for his grandchildren. Today it is used for drying and displaying herbs as well as a cool respite from the summer heat.
By the time I had finished up the loop, it was getting midday and the temperatures were really starting to warm up. It was a great day, really enjoyed this place. Now off to Ray Mine.