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Transcript: of PBS Show on the 1970's in Arizona


The Apache Trail in Arizona was originally a stagecoach trail that ran through the Superstition Mountains. It was named the Apache Trail after the Apache Indians who had used this trail to move through the Superstition Mountains for thousands of years.

The current Apache Trail links Apache Junction at the edge of the Greater Phoenix area with Theodore Roosevelt Lake, through the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest.

Today, much of the Apache Trail is paved, and the section east of Apache Junction is known officially as State Route 88. It is also the main traffic corridor through Apache Junction, turning into Main Street as the road passes into Mesa, and regains the Apache name by becoming Apache Boulevard in Tempe, ending at Mill Avenue. Prior to the completion of the Superstition Freeway in 1992, the Apache Junction portion of the Apache Trail was part of US Highway 60, which was rerouted to the Superstition once it was completed.

The Trail winds steeply through 47 miles of rugged desert mountains, past deep reservoir lakes like Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. The narrow, winding road is unpaved from just east of the town of Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Dam; there are steep cliff drops. The trail requires caution when driving and it is not recommended for large RVs, or SUVs. Some  RV rental companies in the US do not allow their vehicles to be taken on this route.

We begin in Apache Junction. The Apache Trail follows the course of the Salt River which ancient peoples known as the Hohokam would travel along the shoreline through the Mazatzal Mountains for thousands of years.

In the late 1800's settlers found the are attractive for farming but the Salt River was unpredictable and prone to flooding.  In 1902 President Roosevelt signed the National Reclamation Act and Roosevelt Dam was begun, completing construction in 1911. To bring supplies to the dam site a road was built following the ancient trail.

A stretch of the road through the Goldfield Mountains was referred to as the "Little Alps". President Roosevelt was quoted as saying, "The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the Rockies and the magnificence of the Grand Canyon, then adds an indefinable something  that none of the others has. To me it is the most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has ever created."

The drive from Tortilla Flats to Roosevelt Dam takes about 2.5 hours with an average speed of about 25mph.

The entire adventure ride features spectacular scenery to rival any in the state. The twenty mile graded dirt section of the trail provides magnificent views of twisted igneous mountains with dense forests of saguaro and cactus with several deep blue lakes along the way. Fish Creek Canyon is perhaps the most awe-inspiring section. The road hangs on the side of this high-walled canyon and winds its way along tremendous precipices that sink sheer for hundreds of feet below.

Sites along the way: Goldfield Ghost Town a rich gold strike that led to the establishment of Goldfield Mining District in 1892, and old buildings still line the dirt road. The famous Mammoth Saloon, Goldfield Livery, Lost Dutchman Museum, Coffee Cantina and Bakery, Rock Shop, Live Rattlesnake Exhibit, and Gold Mine Tours.

 Superstition Mountains, 160,000-acre mountain range has a history of legends, mystery and lost gold mines. The most famous story associated with the area is the Legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Lost Dutchman State Park, is where numerous hiking trails led into the mysterious Superstitions.

Tonto National Forest

Canyon Lake was formed in 1925 when the Mormon Flat Dam was completed. The beautiful lake provides a refreshing retreat from the desert sun, has a marina, restaurant and the well-known "Dolly," which provides steamboat cruises on the lake.

Tortilla Flat, an old stage stop which was built in 1904 as a rest area on the way to the construction site of the Roosevelt Dam. During its boom era, the tiny town had 125 residents, a school, church, post office, hotel, livery, general store, saloon and a restaurant. In 1942, a devastating flood swept through Tortilla Flat, destroying many of the homes and most of the town. Today, when you drive into Tortilla Flat, you enter another era -- a remnant of the past. Since the big 1942 flood, a small portion of the settlement has been rebuilt or refurbished, and six residents live there year-round to greet tourist who venture down the Apache Trail.

This is a trip of a lifetime and not to be missed

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