Along the Ajo Scenic Loop, I saw what appeared to be an old homestead.
Going west on Darby Well Road, almost to Scenic Loop Road, there was a fenced off area on the right. Although there was a fence, there weren’t any “No Trespassing” signs, and there was an opening in the fence (more like a purposefully made entrance than like a place where fencing had fallen or been pulled down) where an adult could easily walk through. Near the entrance opening, there was a sign. I interpreted this sign to mean, you can be in here, but don’t touch, damage, or destroy anything. Ok. I knew I could handle that.
A brochure about the Ajo Scenic Loop I got from the Ajo Historical Society Museum says,
Junction of Darby Well Road & Scenic Loop Road. This intersection is unmarked but it is obvious. Parts of deserted buildings are on the right–this is Darby Well.
I walked around and didn’t see any signs naming this place or any evidence of a well. What I did see was a lot of rusty metal and a lot of broken glass, much of it green.
This site looked more like a dump than a homestead. There wasn’t a trash pile, no single area where broken glass and rusty metal was heaped. Broken and rusty things were spread out all over the place.
In New Mexico, people love to make “art” from rusty metal. I call this “tetanus art.” This place would have been a jackpot for a “tetanus art” artist, if all of this rusty metal had been up for grabs.
It was a bit hard for me to imagine any of this junk being “fragile or irreplaceable.” I suspect I felt this way because this trash was relatively modern. I know trash can tell archaeologists a lot about a society, but because this trash didn’t look terribly old, it was easy to think there was nothing going on here more than this was a place where people who didn’t pick up after themselves lived.
The remains of an old car (truck?) sat on the property. I thought this old automobile body was interesting. We can see from the dashboard that this vehicle was made by Chevrolet. Anyone have any ideas about the model or the year?
As I do whenever I walk through abandoned places where people once lived, I wondered about the people who had lived here. Who were they? Why did they leave? Where did they go? Are they dead now? Where are their descendants? Do those descendants ever come here and look at the trash of their ancestors and think, My grandfather may have drunk from that bottle of Sprite. Did my grandmother wear that shoe?
It was easy to forget–when I didn’t see or hear another human being–that this had once been a place where people lived and worked and laughed and cried and sang and cooked and loved and hated.
Someone built the house that was now only a wall, probably several someones, probably without power tools or other fancy equipment. What was left of the house held the sweat and probably the blood and the tears too of the people who built it and the people who lived there.
Who’d lived in that house? Had people made love there, birthed babies there, died there? Who’d cooked dinner on the stove now sitting in the sand, slept in a bed whose springs were now abandoned and rusty, awoken in this place each morning?
How much longer will the house stand before nature reclaims the land?
I called a few BLM offices, trying to find out more information on this site. The first office I called said this site was not in their area and gave me the phone number of another office. The woman who answered the phone in the second office said she didn’t know anything about the site, but connected me to a fellow’s voicemail. I left a message for that guy, and he did call me back to say this BLM land was not in his area. He gave me a number to a third office. The woman who answered the phone in that office was neither friendly nor helpful. She acted like my call was a great bother to her. She connected me with a woman’s voicemail, and I left a message. The woman never called me back. Thanks for nothing, BLM.