3/13/2013 8:00:00 AM Interest in mines, old ruins sparks new tour company
Kevin Leonard stands next to what he calls a “story wall” of spectacular petroglyphs at Perry Mesa in 2010, one of the six-hour tours he plans to offer in the future through his new business, Humboldt Mining Tours. Current shorter trips include a loop drive out Iron King Road with a silver mine guests can explore, the old McCabe Cemetery, and a six-room Indian ruin.
Trib File Photo/Sue Tone
Correction: In our March 13, 2013, Prescott Valley Tribune story, "Interest in mines, old ruins sparks new tour company," it stated that Humboldt Mining Tours currently offers a 6-hour trip to Perry Mesa to see petroglyphs. Tour guide Kevin Leonard said this trip and others on Bureau of Land Management property will be offered in the future after obtaining the required permits, of which he is in process of acquiring.
Missouri resident Kathie Meyer said she and her cousin from Pennsylvania joined Dewey-Humboldt resident and tour guide Kevin Leonard on a sight-seeing trip into the Bradshaw Mountains to "get down, crawl around and see Arizona in a new way," and she wasn't disappointed.
"I expected to see rock-colored walls inside the mine, but there was something with the moisture and the rocks were a bright blue-green color. I didn't expect to see those colors all over the walls," Meyer said.
Leonard, who has been conducting monthly trips to old mines and Indian ruins with the Dewey-Humboldt Historical Society for the past two years, has started a new business specifically to give people a glimpse of Arizona history in person. The blue-green color of the porous rock is copper, he said.
A life-long fascination for exploring isolated mountainous areas gave Leonard a reason every year to take off on horseback with his mule and pack horse for two- to six-week trips into the Bradshaws, Mazatzal Wilderness Area, and Prescott, Tonto and Coconino National forests.
Sometimes he comes across metates, intact pots and lots of potsherds at old ruins - he leaves 'em where he sees 'em - and abandoned mines that he enters cautiously - leaving rattlesnakes where he sees 'em, too, although that is a rare occurrence.
"I love finding things that I never knew was out there," Leonard said. "I think other people would love it, and I want to share it."
People kept encouraging him to start a tour business, and so he launched Humboldt Mining District Tours on March 1.
Depending on the season and destination, one can expect to see wildlife such as coyotes, javelina, deer, elk and jackrabbits, and a variety of wildflowers and cacti. Forgotten mining camps, streams and gulches, tunnels with existing tracks for ore carts and equipment left behind, all give an idea of mining life around the turn of the century.
Tours range from two to six hours, and participants ride in four-wheel-drive, climate-controlled vehicles that can accommodate up to five passengers each. Leonard provides lunch and beverage with the six-hour tours, water and snacks with all tours. He also provides flashlights and hard hats for exploring tunnels safely.
Leonard is fully covered by liability insurance, and he makes sure the mines on his tours are safe.
"You'll see what it was like back in the mining days with copper, gold and silver minerals on the walls of some of the mines," he said.
He is the caretaker of the Silver Prince Mine and has permission from its owner to take tours inside. This mine is part of one of the six-hour tours.
"I'll have special treats on that trip," Leonard said.
Another six-hour trip (in the planning) is to Perry Mesa where people can spend hours looking at extensive petroglyphs and ruins. Current shorter trips include a loop drive out Iron King Road with a silver mine they can explore, the old McCabe Cemetery, and a six-room Indian ruin.
Leonard said he brings historical photographs taken when the mines were up and running to compare with what can be seen today.
After walking around some foundations at an old campsite during her February trip, Meyer said it made her stop and think about the lives of forgotten miners.
"How did they get all these things up here? It's difficult enough now, but 50-plus years ago?" she said with amazement. "I would definitely go on another trip. It's worth the time. Make sure you bring a camera."
For more information, visit www.MiningTours.net or call 928-713-2769.
Leonard is offering a chunk of raw silver from a mine he owns to the first 100 tour participants.