Along the Santa Fe Chapter 3 page 4
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Into the Mountains

After leaving Cordes we were still climbing and getting deeper and deeper into the mountains. Our next stop was a small mining community called "Turkey Creek." There were a number of houses here, and one store and post office owned by a men named Jim Cleator. A number of years later this town discarded the name "Turkey Creek" and was renamed "Cleator." We stopped here a little while and set out a car, and also unloaded some merchandise for the store. I met Mr. Cleator, who seemed to be a pretty good fellow.

Then on our way to the next stop, about three miles further on, there was a siding called "Middleton", where there were a few houses and a store and post office, which was run by a large fat woman, a Mrs. Orr. There was no railroad agent here. Mrs. Orr was a very nice jolly woman, full of fun, and we unloaded some merchandise here and also set out a couple of cars. Then we were on our way.

We really began to climb now; we were about twelve miles from Crown King, and it was uphill all the way from now on. There were ten switch backs between Middleton and Crown King, all the way from a half mile to a mile in length. I never knew what a Switch back was before, but I soon found out. A "switch back," according to the dictionary is: "Originally a railway ascending or descending a steep incline in a series of zig zag tracks, the train alternately switching from one to another." The trip was getting more interesting all the time. Going over these switch backs was a new and very interesting experience, and we enjoyed it very much. The train moved very slowly over this last ten miles into Crown King. Our next stop was at a siding about three miles from Middleton. Nothing was here but a side track, where loaded ore from a mine up the mountain away called "Peck Mine." The siding was named "Peck." We unloaded a little merchandise here, than on our way, the next station would be Crown King.

On our way up the mountain we had crossed over numerous bridges, some of them quite long. After leaving Peck we had one or two more switch backs to go over, then we went through a small tunnel about three miles from Crown King. Just at the mouth of the tunnel was a siding, and a sign at this siding read "Horsethief." A dirt road led from this siding down to a mine. The mine was located about three miles from the railroad in a canyon that was called "Horsethief Canyon", and was in some pretty rugged country. We learned later that the only way you could get to the mine was to walk or ride a horse or burro, and all supplies were carried down by burro back trains.

After leaving the tunnel we were over the switch backs, and had a straight shot into Crown King. We came into Crown King and it sure was a pretty sight. We were really at the top of the world, in a little mining town, surrounded by mountains, all covered with pine trees, and the ground covered with snow. The first building we came to a large flotation mill, where the ore was made into concentrates and then shipped to the smelter at Humboldt. A little further on we came to the railroad station, which was right in the center of the community. Just across the street from the station was the store and post office, two restaurants (one on each side of the store), and next to the store was a Catholic Church, the only church in town. Then came a large pool hall, and a one room school house a little ways up the mountainside. The agent's house was about a block from the station; this was to be our home. There were a number of other houses not too far distant. I think everyone from miles around was at the station to see the train come in, and this was so, as I afterwards learned. It was really the highlight of the day, the arrival of the train with freight and mail. There never as yet had been auto-mobile come into Crown King.


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