Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 040416-2




Photo by Neal Du Shane, Pilot: Gary Grant

By: Neal Du Shane 04/04/16 - Revised



HUMBUG, ARIZONA - c. 1934 – Picture. 5



















HUMBUG, ARIZONA - c. 1934 – Picture



By: Dave Burns, November, 2001




Small pottery shards and matate fragments indicate previous habitation by Native Americans, but most evidence is gone.


- 1882 -


Charles Champie and family arrived and began mining gold on the Llano Claim. He excavated a shaft and tunnel, built two stone houses, mill site, well, and smelting furnace. The Llano workings produced about 2,000 ounces of gold.


He then developed a tunnel on the Sidewinder Claim about a mile east, recovering about 1,000 ounces of gold.


Charlie Champie Home 2006. Photo by: Neal Du Shane

On the Mountain Chief Claim (later renamed El Pero Bonito) south of the Sidewinder, a pocket produced 5,000 ounces of gold.


At this point, Champie & Co. left Humbug and moved about two miles south to Columbia, where he continued gold mining and milling in Swilling Gulch and along Humbug Creek. Here he owned a steam powered mill. The boiler still resides next to Humbug Creek. He also mined at Copperopolis and the Golden Aster before starting a ranch on French Creek. The Champie Ranch and small community of Champie are still in operation today, though the Champie family lost the ranch during the depression.


- 1920 -

Pat Fogarty was living and mining at Humbug when Frank Hyde, a wealthy easterner, was looking to invest in gold mining. They struck a partnership, with Hyde supplying the operation with a substantial infusion of capital. He built half a dozen new buildings, including a large house for himself and his family, miner's quarters, mess hall, assay office, and a cottage for Pat Fogarty, who was getting old.


Hyde's mining operation produced about $50,000 in gold, silver, copper, and lead. This included a 1,000 oz gold pocket from the Little Annie Claim. Production was not sufficient to cover expenses, however, and mining was discontinued in 1934.


- 1940 -


Newt White came to work for Frank Hyde about 1940 after having worked many years for the Champie Ranch and other jobs including miner, mill operator, cowboy, wrangler, mechanic, etc. He stayed on at Humbug as caretaker after Hyde moved to Tucson in the 1950's. Newt died in 1997 and is buried in the Humbug Cemetery.


- 1970 -


Frank Hyde's daughter, Carolyn, formed a small corporation called Humbug Gold, Inc. with equal stockholders herself, Newt White, and Dr. Robert Hurt, a Phoenix dentist, for the purpose of gold exploration.


Courtesy Arizona Bureau of Mines


Humbug Mines – Acknowledgement are due M. J. Elsing, C. L. Orem and F. de L. Hyde of Humbug Gold Mines, Inc., for important information.

Situation and history: The holdings of Humbug Gold Mines Inc., in the southwestern Bradshaw Mountains or Humbug district, consist of approximately 100 claims and include the Fogarty Queen, Little Annie, Heinie, Lind, and Columbia groups. Humbug camp, at an elevation of 2,600 feet on Humbug Creek, is accessible by 9 ½ mile of road which branches eastward from the Castle Hot Springs Highway at a point 22 ¼ miles from Morristown.

Larry Gill – 2006 at old Arrestre in Columbia, AZ – Photo: Neal Du Shane

Arrastre \Ar*ras"tre\, n. [Sp.] A rude apparatus for pulverizing ores, esp. those containing free gold.

In this area, gold mining was carried on with the aid of Arrastre’s as early as 1880. From 1900 to 1905, C.E. Champie operated a 4-stamp mill at Columbia, on Humbug Creek. Some ore was shipped but, during the early days when Yuma was the nearest shipping point, operations were greatly hampered by the inaccessibility of the district. After 1905, only small-scale intermittent work was attempted until 1932 when the present operators started active development. According to Mr. Elsing, test shipments of 207 tons of ore, mined from surface cuts and tunnels on numerous veins, averaged approximately 1 ½ ounces of gold and 3 ½ ounces of silver per ton, together with 3 ½ percent of lead. A 50-ton flotation and table concentrating mill was completed and put into operation early in 1934. In February of that year, about eighty men were employed on the property. Water for all purposes was pumped from a shallow well near the bed of Humbug Creek, which normally is a perennial stream.

Topography and geology: This ground, which lies within the drainage area of Humbug Creek and its branches, Rockwell and Carpenter creeks, has been eroded into sharp ridges and alternating southward-trending canyons about 800 feet deep. The prevailing accordant summits of the main ridges appear to represent dissected remnants of the early Tertiary, pre-lava pediment that extends south of Silver Mountain.

Within this area, the principal rocks consist of large bodies of mica schist, surrounded by granite and intruded by numerous dies of pegmatite and rhyolitic to granitic porphyry. The schist, granite, and pegmatite are regarded as Pre-Cambrian in age, and the porphyry as Mesozoic or Tertiary.

The schistosity and the dikes prevailingly strike northeastward. Considerable pre-mineral and post-mineral faulting, principally of northeastward strike, is evident. Post-mineral faults of great magnitude follow some of the main gulches.

Veins: The veins of the Humbug area occur within fault fissures, mainly of northeastward strike and steep northwestward dip. Their filling consists of massive to coarsely crystalline, grayish-white quartz, together with irregular masses, vainlets, and disseminations of fine to course-grained pyrite and galena, in places, arsenopyrite is abundant. A notable about of sphalerite is reported in one vein.

Most of the gold is contained within the iron minerals. The galena is reported to carry a little gold and locally as much as 40 ounces of silver per ton. Some free gold occurs as irregular vain-lets and particles within fractures and cavities in the quartz. In the completely oxidized zone, which is generally of shallow irregular depth all of the gold is free.

These veins range in width from less than an inch up to 3 feet or more and persist of remarkably long distances along the dike. One of them is traceable on the surface for more than 9,000 feet. The ore shoots, which have been found to range from a few feet to a few hundred feet in length, are reported to contain from 0.25 to 9 or more ounces of gold per ton.

The wall rocks have been extensively altered to coarse sericite. Such alteration, together with the vain structure, texture, and mineralogy, indicate deposition in the mesothermal zone. Not enough work has been done to reveal the structural features that determine their ore shoots. Apparently, the high-grade portions are less than a foot wide, but the altered condition of the country that permits cheap mining by lessee system. According to C.L. Orem, the total cost of drifting during preliminary development ranged from $1 to $4 per linear foot.




The Southern Bradshaw Mountain prospecting in the early 1860’s caused miners to survey this area in search of new strikes. Humbug Creek got its name based on the promise for good strikes, only to bust. Due to the fact prospecting on the Creek turned out to be disappointing the “humbug” moniker was used to identify the creek. During the 1870’s, solid placer deposits were found at Humbug and nearby Columbia. In 1884 Humbug had a mill and associated building relating to mine and mill. A post office opened in 1894 at Columbia and served Humbug and Columbia.

Humbug is one of the most unspoiled and isolated examples of a historic Arizona mining camp. Its future is uncertain however, as one of the three partners, Ruth Gaisford of Tucson, AZ hopes is to refurbish the historic town and open it to visitors. The two other part owners want to explore the feasibility of mining the long non-operational mine and keep the property fenced off to the public. The world has a shortage of well-preserved Ghost Towns like Humbug, regardless of the quest for Gold.


KILN: Photo by: Neal Du Shane

At that time, the owner of Humbug Gold Mines was Frances “Frank” de Lacey Hyde, a New York Stock Broker who moved to Tucson in 1932. Due to the area’s remote location, transportation and scarcity of water issues; mining operations were minimal until 1932. In 1932 the Humbug Gold Mines Inc., bought the claims. Almost instantly Humbug area became home for about 100 hardy individuals. The company had its own mill but shipped its concentrate for smelting to Miami, AZ and El Paso, TX.

From Hyde’s point of view, Humbug was not only a gold (and later tungsten) endeavor. Humbug was Hyde’s definitive sanctuary. Pictured above, he built a home at Humbug and eventually brought his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Carolyn. Carolyn was known as “Tuffet,” and was brought for extended stays at the mine and Tuffet became an accomplished horsewoman. In the above picture Tuffet is seen holding a Polo stick. An article in The Christian Science Monitor in April of 1944, when Tuffet was nearing her fourteenth birthday, tells of Hyde and his daughter taking nighttime rides to search for tungsten in scheelite with “mineral lamps” that utilized ultraviolet rays. On one trip it began to rain heavily, Hyde and Tuffet sought refuge in an old mine tunnel where a miner was making his home. The miner bragged of the mine tunnel’s comforts, which included carbide lamp, radio and other living essentials of the era. The miner exclaimed he hadn’t seen one scorpion or rattlesnake in the tunnel. Hyde turned on his blue light, scanned the tunnel, and four scorpions lit up the dark. It’s uncertain the miner got another good night’s sleep in his formerly secure abode, after Frank and Tuffet’s visit?

Entrance to Humbug: Photo by Neal Du Shane

During World War II, Mining at Humbug ceased. Tuffet Hyde, in 1947, was a student at the University of Arizona, brought fellow classmate Ruth Gaisford to Humbug for a visit. This was the first of many trips Tuffet and Ruth took, to the magnificence and serenity of the Southern Bradshaw’s. In 1956 Frank Hyde, by then divorced, visited Humbug his last time. Frank Hyde died in Tucson in 1973 at the age of 75. Tuffet  left her one-third interest in Humbug when she died in 1989, to her lifelong friend Ruth Gaisford. For Ruth, as it was for Frank and Tuffet Hyde, the town is not a mine, but a priceless retreat that must be conserved.

In 2006, Humbug has six buildings remaining, the Hyde’s’ main house in desperate need of repair, a three-apartment guesthouse and foreman’s residence, an assay office, the kitchen-dining building, and a stable with a corral. Humbug displays an excellent example of dry stacking stone which is rarely found. Some uses are functional, like the corral’ others are decorative, like the elaborate patio and garden walls in front of the Hyde home. The ruins of several other residences dot both sides of the creek one of which is pioneer Charlie Champies’ home, near the kiln.


Humbug, along with Columbia a distance of 2.24 miles downstream, following the creek, came into existence during the early 1870's as placer gold was found in Humbug Creek. A mill was constructed and the town operated until the turn of the century. A caretaker resided at the mine for years and then production started again. The town thrived and the mine was extensively worked until the early 1930's. Warner Watkins, who had worked at Humbug in its later years, told of what life was like when he had to drive to Wickenburg, a round trip distance of 69 miles every night, to get milk for the town, or how the miners would walk to Crown King (about 20 miles uphill) every weekend to go to the saloon.

Mill foundation, Photo by: Neal Du Shane



Rod Ball Mill - Courtesy Dave Burns



Humbug is on private property and all roads dead end at Humbug, if you are past the locked gate without permission you are trespassing. After gaining permission to proceed through the locked gate, panoramic Humbug comes into view, as you round a bend to your left on the four-wheel drive road and look down in the Humbug Creek Valley. There are still buildings standing and are spaced out along the northern canyon above Humbug Creek. Remnants of former pioneer homes, including Humbug Pioneer miner Charlie Champie, the Humbug Kiln, line the southern banks of Humbug Creek.

Philip Varney in Arizona’s Best Ghost Towns” writes “When I visited the site in May of 1979, it had been very recently abandoned, for in one building were playing cards on the kitchen table and assorted remnant of foodstuffs in the cupboard. But the droppings on the floor indicated that coyotes and rodents were the only current residents. The building left me with the eerie impression that the last tenants grew weary of cards and so decided to pack up; it all seemed so spur-of-the moment. I kept expecting someone to step out of a bedroom to ask what I was doing in his home, but the evidence that Humbug had been abandoned was indisputable.”

The main home of Frank Hyde in 2006 is in desperate need of repair and will not survive unless attention is given as soon as possible. The roof is leaking allowing the double adobe walls to decay. The miners apartment building however, is still be quite comfortable and in good repair. Dave Burns the present caretaker resided in this structure. Humbug is too attractive and desirable a place to remain uninhabited. Dave’s goal it to open Humbug up for tourist visits. Although the 5 miles of four wheel drive road to reach Humbug will limit visitations by the novice.





THIS IS NOT THE ROAD TO CROWN KING !! Go back south five miles until you cross Cow Creek. Then proceed north.


THIS IS NOT THE ROAD TO NEW RIVER !! Go back south one mile and then proceed east. Follow the sign indicating BLM, access.




THIS ROAD DOES NOT GO THROUGH. It goes to the top of the next ridge and dead ends.


THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY. SOMEONE LIVES HERE. If you are interested in the history of the Humbug Mining District, and would like to see and hear about Humbug, call 480-899-7317 and arrange a time to visit. We are happy to show the ghost town and tell about the history.



In Arizona, trespassing on a mining property is a FELONY.


This property has open mines and other hazards. Damaging gate or signs constitutes public endangerment, which is a FELONY.


Persons caught committing a felony can be ARRESTED AND DETAINED BY FORCE until a deputy can be summoned.






Courtesy Dave Burns



Courtesy Dave Burns



By: Neal Du Shane


In 2005, the secret to having one of the most enjoyable trips to a Ghost Town in Arizona is calling ahead and getting permission to meet Dave Burns at the Ghost Town property of Humbug. He is extremely knowledgeable, cordial, packing and will take you on one of the most historic tours of the property that I’ve ever experienced.


Today the easiest way to access Humbug is to venture up the Columbia road, which is a high clearance four-wheel drive road, from Cow Creek Road at Indian Springs. You will travel approximately 5 miles, through one gate, until you reach a “T” in the road. It’s believed there are from two to three burials at this S.W. corner of this intersection, due to a Stage Coach robbery.


Turn to the left and follow this road to Humbug. Along the way you will pass the site of “Old Columbia” and the two burials from a reported robbery for the two miner’s gold, at this location.


Continue west, and you will come to a corral with a sign posted “Dead End” on one of the fence posts. Continue approximately another half mile staying on the main road. There is a locked gate, so make sure Dave has made arrangements for you to gain access to the property.


Figure 1Humbug Entrance, Photo by: Neal Du Shane


As you travel past the unlocked gate, and come around the corner, notice across the valley all the mining roads, well, buildings, this then is the general area of Humbug, Arizona. Continue traveling down this road toward Humbug Creek. The unique entrance to Humbug is one of a kind. I’ve visited hundreds of Ghost Towns in my travels to the back country of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Montana and Arizona and have never witnessed anything like this entrance. As you cross Humbug Creek you see a driveway with a rock fence on both sides approximately 5 foot high, 2 foot wide, for some 500 to 600 feet. Which bends to the right leading you into the main street of Humbug, this is a one of a kind experience, extremely impressive entrance and one of a kind? A tribute to the individuals that completed the dry stacking of the rock, which is almost a lost art today.


Dave Burns is a gracious host and will answer all you questions, leaving little information unanswered.











Yavapai County, Arizona








From north end of Lake Pleasant blacktop, L on Castle Hot Springs Rd., R on Cow Creek Rd to Columbia Rd, R to "T" intersection, L to locked gate at Humbug
















Burials =


























Pile of Stone - No records currently available







Pile of Stone - No records currently available







12 year old Hispanic girl - not buried with the other 5. Short distance S.E. Grave is marked with a saguaro cactus and stones covering grave







Dowsing revealed burial - male







Dowsing revealed burial - male





Feb. 23, 1908

Aug. 24, 1997

Born in Oregon, Son of Edward G. & Adella E. White - Caretaker of Humbug - worked at the Champie Ranch for years























Humbug is on PRIVATE PROPERTY - Do not Trespass - Call 1-480-899-7317 and arrange for someone to meet you for your tour of Humbug.








Contributor: Neal Du Shane

Research:    Dave Burns, Neal Du Shane, Gary Grant, Gene Simonds, David Nimick

Archivist:     Neal Du Shane








Submitted by:

12/01/05 Neal Du Shane






12/10/05 Neal Du Shane






03/29/16 Neal Du Shane






Material may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as APCRP is acknowledged as the source and this

message remains on all copied material, AND written permission is obtained from the contributor of the files.












These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit

or presentation by other organizations. Persons or organizations

desiring to use this material for non-commercial purposes, MUST obtain

the written consent of the contributor, OR the legal representative of

the submitter, and contact the listed archivist with proof of this consent.








This file was contributed for free use.

    Contributor/Archives by: Neal Du Shane - All rights reserved




By: Dave Burns

USGS map Columbia quadrangle shows the canyons I have referenced.

It appears that "Humbug
 placers" must refer to Swilling Gulch and Humbug Creek near where Swilling drains in.  Swilling is the gulch coming from the east into Humbug about half a mile or so north of Columbia.  Rockwall and Carpenter come from the north, parallel to Humbug, and drain into Swilling. This would put Humbug about a mile north of the placers, and Columbia about a half mile south.

There is no sign of mill site or ruins at Sand Creek
.  It rarely has water anyway.

From 1882 thru 1934 there was sporadic mining in Humbug, Rockwall
, Carpenter, and Swilling Gulches, and on Gold Hill.  There were well over a hundred mines and claims, a few of which I know a little bit about.  The Beacon Light has a very interesting history.  The owner had a good mine in Swilling.  He owned the store, saloon, whorehouse, and boarding house.  Not much money left the area except in his pocket. After he was done mining, he moved to Phoenix and started the Valley National Bank.

Other mines in the district:  Sidewinder
 produced about 2,000 ounces of gold for Charlie Champie, Mountain Chief produced about 5,000 ounces of gold for CC, Little Annie about 1,000 ounces of gold for Frank Hyde, Uncle Sam unknown amount silver.

Lizzie Lee
, Acquisition, Betty Lou, Top Notch, Gold Spring, Little Joseph, and Crescent were all producers, but I don't have figures.  There were many more that were only prospects.

Photo by: Neal Du Shane

As with many mining camps of the era, a brand or logo was adopted at Humbug. They chose a “Pick and Pan” as their insignia. The picture at the left shows this insignia and is pressed into the concrete at the ladies horse-mounting step, in the courtyard at Humbug.




Courtesy: “Ranch Trails and Short Tales” by: Claire Champie Cordes

Edward Newton Whites grandfather was a scout on a wagon train from Missouri across the Oregon Trail, finally landing in Lowell Range, Oregon. They had many close calls with the Indians; for many days they were afraid to build a fire. At night the wagons would form a circle and the animals and people stayed in the center for protection.


When they arrived in Lowell, Grandfather White married the girl he had admired all along the trail, Sally Hobbs, and Irish-German girl. From this union, eighteen children were born, the last was Newt’s father. He turned out to be a restless, adventurous man who worked as little as possible. After he married Newt’s mother, Newt and a sister (Annie May White, buried at Copperopolis, AZ Cemetery) were born.


The grandfather had built up a large estate; when he died, each child received a generous stake. Newt’s father soon spent his part, divorced his wife, and took his children to Tallahassee, Florida.

Newt was made to work from the time he was six years old to help support his new mother and family. When Newt was about fourteen his father decided to leave Florida so they took off on foot with their bedrolls. They picked up and old cloth car top along the way and used it for a tent to protect them from the rain. They caught rides on freight cars part of the way; then while walking along the highway, a big bus stopped and picked them up. He let them off the bus as he approached Tucson, but picked them up on the way out the next morning. After letting them off in Phoenix, they had started across the desert on foot when a rancher in a truck picked them up and took them to Rock Springs (AZ). From there they walked on to Tip Top, then on to the Champie Ranch. At the dude ranch, Ann Douglas, the owner, needed a boy to do chores and help around the ranch so she gave Newt a job. His father went on his way. Newt worked there for years until the guest ranch sold. After that, he stayed in the area and went to work for another Champie as a cowboy.

One day he was riding along out west of where the other cowboys were camped when he jumped a cow and her calf as he rode around the south side of Spring Mountain. There was a heavy growth of cholla cactus all over that country. When he roped at the calf, his horse jumped over a cactus, catching a ball cholla between his tail and leg, causing him to go wild. Off Newt went with the coils of the rope wrapped around his arm and hands and the other end tied secure to the saddle horn. The faster the horse ran, the more cholla’s stuck to Newt on their way down the mountain. The horse finally fell releasing the rope long enough for Newt to free himself. By this time he was covered with cholla from head to toe, as well as many bruises and a broken leg. He crawled to the top of a ridge to call for help. His boss finally heard the call of distress and came to this rescue. They picked thorns out of Newt for hours. Then they laid (1) him across a horse to get him to the ranch headquarters. They then laid him on a cot in the back of a pickup and took him to the hospital in Phoenix.

Newt White Headstone, Photo by: Neal Du Shane

He remained at St. Joseph’s for weeks. Because he had a pinched artery in one leg (left), it had to be removed just below the knee because of gangrene. After many weeks recovering, he became interested in mining and worked with my mother and dad in their mining projects.

Finally making contact with a mineral surveying crew he was hired to work with the mining engineers and worked with land and mineral surveying for many years until he retired at sixty-five. He settled down on an old mining claim with two silent partners where he remains today. At age seventy-eight, he is dreaming of selling his interest for at least 10 million dollars. We hope it come true!

Note: Edward Newton White died August 24, 1997, his remains were cremated and the urn containing his ashes is buried at the Humbug Cemetery. Many local residents attended the burial at Humbug.

Notably in attendance were: Dave Burns, Henry Cordes and members of the Champie family. Dave Burns relates that Newt originally had a wooden leg after the amputation. Still working at the Champie Guest Ranch, one of Newt’s jobs was to drive the wagon into town (Morristown) and pick up and deliver the guests and supplies as needed. Newt hollowed out the wooden leg, or it was hollow in the first place and Newt carried the payroll and deposits in it for the ranch and guests. Newt was never held up!

Cathy Cloin of Cordes, Arizona informed us that Newt worked in and about Cordes for many years also and was a good friend of her grandfather Henry Cordes. She showed us Newt’s room while he was staying at Cordes. One of Newt’s old prosthesis is now at the Cordes Store in downtown Cordes. We checked . . . there was no money inside it.


From information provided by Cathy, she has numerous mining claims that Newt was either a partner in or owned outright. In one of the letters it made reference that Newt White was the Mayor of Cordes. 

Photo Courtesy: Cathy Cordes



Newt Whites Room in Cordes, AZ. Photo by: Neal Du Shane



Wood Sign to Humbug Gold Mine’s, Courtesy Dave Burns




By: Neal Du Shane


Front Yard in front of miners quarters - Photo: Neal Du Shane


Humbug continues to maintain its status in Arizona’s rich mining history. Much of its historic past is still being maintained. Other aspects of Humbugs history is being returned to the earth. As mentioned earlier the goal of Dave Burns is to maintain this Ghost Town, providing private public tours by appointment only. Once a year, Dave holds an Open House, making Humbug open to the public.



Photo by: Neal Du Shane


One noticeable decline is “The Big House”, once standing as the landmark in its proud heritage at Humbug. Its adobe walls are now showing signs of decay and disrepair. The roof is leaking with each rain, allowing water to penetrate the once proud walls. Before this structure reaches beyond repair it would be worth the effort if volunteers could reconstruct this structure to a state allowing no further decay. Preserving its once proud heritage as the shining light of Humbug. If you are interested in volunteering your skills and labor, contact Dave Burns the current caretaker of Humbug.




The statuesque front yard was the pride of Humbug and the Hyde’s now stands unattended and forlorn, being returned to its natural state. One can only stand in awe on the Big House front porch and listen where silence has lease. Imagining the hustle, bustle and mining clatter that filled this thriving community in days of yore.



Letter from: Miss Ruth Gainsford (deceased)

Nov. 19, 1989 Tucson, AZ

(Transcribed as written)


Dear Eleanor & Charles,


While cleaning out some of Tuffet’s drawers the other day, I found the famous sought - after letter of your trip to the Humbug so many years ago. It really is extremely funny, so do enjoy your trials and tribulation once again.


I’m slowly getting through all the paperwork involved – it’s a long process. To add the icing to the cake, I was broken into and robbed the other night. That dropped me right back into the doldrums.


We’ve had perfectly beautiful weather – low 80’s, and a mild winter is forecast. I hope you fare as well. If you pack up your old kit bag and head West, you’re always welcome to stay here, as I’m rattling around in the four-bedroom, four-bath house and would love the company – keep in touch ! !


Affectionately, Ruth



Francis B. Nimick Coraopolis, PA

March 31, 1949

(Courtesy David Nimick)

Transcribed as typed.


Tonight we are encamped at Gila Bend, out in the Arizona desert. Last night we were at Humbug Gold Mine, about fifty miles north of Phoenix.


The trip to the Humbug started off innocently and unsuspectingly enough, but rapidly developed into a most interesting and exciting expedition. Tuesday evening, when we stopped for the night at the Desert Lodge in Tucson, Mother began trying to get in touch with the Hydes at the Humbug, something that we had more or less vaguely planned to do, when Arizona was first included in the itinerary. I had looked casually at the map and located Castle Hot Springs, the Hyde’s Post Office address, up north of Phoenix on a thin blue line leading northeastwardly from a small dot labeled Morristown on U.S. 60-70. We were later to learn just how thin that blue line really was, although I had my suspicions aroused by the clusters of mountain peaks indicated in that neighborhood.


Mother soon discovered that no telephone contact could be made in Humbug, so on a chance she called a Mrs. Haskell in Tucson, a sister of Frank Hyde, to make inquiries, and ask about road conditions. She reported that Mrs. Haskell had been most cordial, but seemed a bit evasive about the condition of the terrain, and could hardly be classed among the superhighways of Arizona. I had primed Mother to say that we were heavily loaded with passengers and baggage, and were not equipped for mountain climbing on back roads. However, during the course of the conversation, Mrs. Haskell did mention that “Tuffet” Hyde was at present a freshman at the University of Arizona in Tucson.


So I suggested (and right here Peter Rabbit made his big mistake) that “Tuffet” would certainly know all about getting to the Humbug, so why not telephone to her. No sooner said than done, and although subsequently “Tuffet” admitted that she had only a very hazy idea of who Cousin Mary might be, she was immediately full of interest about the expedition. When all the explanations about weight of members and baggage, and vague ideas as to geography, had been made “Tuffett” announced that the only solution was for her to draft her roommate as co-pilot, and that they would rendezvous at Morristown, take over some of our baggage and an extra passenger and lead us thence to Humbug.


So the Dean at the University, being satisfied that all arrangements were in the national interest, a plan was made to meet at approximately 1:30P.M. at the Shell Service station in Morristown.


Next morning (Wednesday) we were off for Morristown, approximately 150 miles to the north on schedule and after an interesting and pleasant ride arrived at what we thought was our destination almost exactly on the tick of 1:30 P.M.. But no Shell Service Station put in an appearance so we ran 5 or 6 miles up the road, then came about and cruised back to a likely-looking Richfield Station to make inquiries. It immediately developed that this was the very place for which we were searching, having only recently changed from Shell to Richfield, and that Tuffet and her roommate Barbara Kinnear were at the moment inside purchasing extra provisions for all the unexpected arrivals descending on the Humbug.


We quickly transferred some of the baggage and Eleanor (29 years old at the time) to “Tuffet’s” Plymouth while she scrutinized our road-clearance and explained that the road was all right except for the last six miles and for those six only the last one seemed bad, according to her road classifications. I thought that her idea of bad might be a reasonable facsimile of Thorn Run, (Thorn Run was the name of the cinder-surface road off which our family’s home was on Coraopolis Heights, PA) for up to this point we hadn’t seen any roads which would not have put Thorn Run in a very poor light by comparison and the indicated road from Morristown started as a wide, smooth, level, gravel, thoroughfare.


Cliff road down to Humbug.

Photo by: Neal Du Shane

Charles (27 years old at the time) took the wheel of our car and off the Plymouths started. “Tuffet” told us the entire distance in was 32 miles, and that she would wait at any forks of the road where there might be indecision as to which route to take. The first six miles ticked off merrily enough, but we were beginning to climb and weave in and out around foot-hills, and a multitude of darn sight bigger and higher mountains were beginning to move in on all sides.


It wasn’t long before we were running around mountain shoulders and down along creek beds at the bottom of gorges, sometimes over boulders and sometimes in the creek itself, and anyone with half an eye could see that the farther we went, the more exhilarating it was going to become, because each range we came to was higher, and the road was of course steeper, and the open air on the outside edges was less substantial, than the one before. “Tuffet” was going along at a good clip and when we caught sight of her, waved encouragement back from zigzags higher up the mountains. I began to think that 32 miles of this was going to be a long and progressively worse haul, especially as the sharp turns and switch backs were becoming so blind that we couldn’t possibly see what happened to the road on far side, and Charles was practically standing up on the pedals to get the bad news at the earliest possible moment. Well this went on for 22 miles and Mother was beginning to talk to herself in the back seat, evidently to keep her courage up, for Charles and I were far too busy navigating to pay much attention to the comparatively inconsequential subjects that she was discussing.


Thus the miles proceeding the last questionable six were wiled away, and we arrived at the official U.S. Post Office of Castle Hot Springs which was a small ranch house, where “Tuffet” paused briefly for station identification, and the mail. She also took our blood pressure and pulse, and asked whether we would like to leave our car there and the entire party proceed onward in her car. As she offered to repeat the suggestion immediately before undertaking the last mile, the signal to advance was given and we really began a mile that closely resembled the rollercoaster at an amusement park, only minus all the guard rails. Charles was doing a splendid job of driving, and if he had known the road and had been more familiar with the way it ducked around the corners, I could have relaxed, settled back and taken a deep breath. As it was, I felt it incumbent upon me to help him diagnose the probable future course of the road although at times we had diametrically opposite solutions for this, and also I began to wonder about the technique of bailing out on the open air side of the road!


Well we finally came to the Rubicon, in this instance a cattle gate high up on the mountain side. “Tuffet” repeated her offer of speaking now or forever after holding our peace. She looked quizzically at Charles seemed reassured by his solidity and stability and with a word of caution to take it easy, climbed into her car and was off around a shoulder of the mountain. I didn’t see how any mile could be much worse than some we has already traversed, as Charles slid the gear shift into low, and Mother prepared for the worst. This we knew was to be a downhill mile into the canyon of the Humbug. We came to the corner around which “Tuffet” had disappeared. I muttered to Charles, “For Heaven’s sake ease her into this one” for the road itself seemed to disappear from the fact of the earth, leaving nothing in its place but a vast quantity of extremely thin air. Charles who was on the inside of the left turn fortunately discovered the road in time running down a shelf along the mountain side to the valley floor, to the picturesque home of the Hydes, where all the unexpected guests received a royal welcome, and it goes without saying that we were glad to be there. In fact, the only fly in the ointment, to my mind, was how we were even going to get out again but that is another story.


After the Nimicks had somewhat recovered their equilibrium and were breathing in a more normal manner, suggestions were made about going to the mine at the top of the mountain. Frank Hyde explained that the road up to the mine was only a little steeper and more breeze-kissed than the last mile in. Just at the moment I couldn’t even feign wild enthusiasm, so I asked if one of us could be expected to drive our car, with the unmistakable implication that if such were the case all bets were off right there. Frank said “Oh no”, and that he would drive us all in his station wagon.


View from road to the mines - Photo by: Neal Du Shane


It proved to be a most interesting and exhilarating ride with Mother and Eleanor clutching the bench seat of the station wagon and Charles and I trying to be nonchalant in the front seat. When invariably we came to places in the road where the width was narrowest and the spacious view on the outside most unobstructed, Mother would begin asking question about the flora and fauna of the region, and Frank would politely turn his head to answer. I longed to kick her shin under the seat, to indicate that she stop talking to the driver when I next dared to look around the altitude must have gotten to work for she appeared to be riding in a sort of trance, and remained quiescent for the rest of the journey. Perhaps by this time we were all becoming more or less used to the idea of vast space both horizontal and vertical and could settle down to thorough enjoyment of the delightful hospitality of the Humbug. Elizabeth Hyde had a wonderful dinner prepared for us on our return from the mountain, to which we did full justice, totally demolishing everything is sight. After dinner there was a general catching up on family news and Frank related some wonderful anecdotes about life at the Humbug each of which would make a letter in itself.


After dinner Frank showed us many rock samples, which he had collected in the mountains, containing gold, silver, tungsten, vanadium, lead, mica asbestos and many other elements, and minerals. Making the room totally dark, he then went over them with what is called a “blue light” that is a short wave, ultra violet ray, and demonstrated how beautifully the different ones fluoresced under this light, in many vivid hues and color, indicative of the various elements contained.


In every way it was a most exciting and interesting day and we were all very glad to have had the opportunity of making the trip and visiting the Humbug, and again seeing the Hyde family.


The following morning just to add a new touch and keep the trip out from growing dull, a snowstorm hit us after we had made the first ten miles. I might mention in passing that we gratefully and graciously accepted Frank Hyde’s offer to navigate the Plymouth over the first few miles.


Love and best wishes to all,


Dad (Francis B. Nimick)



By: Neal Du Shane


March 4 – 5, 2006 marked the first Humbug Potluck and Open House. Dave Burns was instrumental in organizing this get together with the goal of a fun filled weekend. His efforts were right on the mark. At one time the count was approximately 50 people attending. It is speculated that it has been a few decades since this many people walked the streets of Humbug.


Many that attended Saturday stayed over Saturday night and were delighted with a tour to the La Paro Bonito Mine with its 500’ adit on Sunday morning. Dave reports much of the equipment is just as it was left the day they stopped mining this mine.


The Open House was a great opportunity for newcomers and old timers to rub elbows and share interesting facts regarding this area.


Dave gave tours of Humbug and shared his knowledge of this Historic Arizona Ghost Town. Great food, good times and fun facts were the highlight of this exceptional event. Many thanks to Dave and Theresa for their kindness and hospitality they extended to everyone attending. 


Dave Burns giving tour to guests at "Humbug Open House" March 4, 2006



Humbug 2006, Photo by: Neal Du Shane


Adobe “Melt” Wall - Humbug, AZ 2006, Photo by: Neal Du Shane

(1) To keep with authentic historical spelling and punctuation as written by the author.


DAVE BURNS caretaker of Humbug, can be reached at: 1-480-899-3717




A special thank you, to all that contributed


Darrell & Barbara Steffen, Philip Varnie, Arizona Bureau of Mines, Dave Burns, Gary Grant, Clair Champie Cordes, Larry & Betty Gill,

Gene Simonds, Cathy Cordes Cloin, Joyce Du Shane, Dave Nimick



Transcribed, Compiled and Edited by: Neal Du Shane

All Rights Reserved © – 2016


Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 040416-2


 Copyright ©2003-2016 Neal Du Shane
All rights reserved. Information contained within this website may be used
for personal family history purposes, but not for financial profit or gain.
All contents of this website are willed to the Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project (