The gathering of material for Route 66 Ghost Towns has really sparked a flood of reflection about my long association with this highway and how it seems to be a consistent thread throughout most of my life beginning at the age of one. Perhaps that was the catalyst for this past Sunday mornings adventure.
One of the stops was the site of Fig Springs station. In the classic guide penned by Jack Rittenhouse in 1947 it is noted the station was abandoned.
With the passing of each year the site becomes harder to locate as the desert reclaims the property. For me one of the landmarks are the corrals and water tank a few hundred yards to the north. This was where we filled the water truck some forty plus years ago.
The pipeline that fed the tank ran from a spring in the foothills of the Black Mountains. One of my chores was to once a month walk the entire path of the pipeline, about four miles each way, and repair leaks with pieces of inner tube and bailing wire.
The station was a Bonelli family enterprise. This pioneering family played a very large role in the development of Mohave County and the Bonelli House in Kingman is a fascinating and often overlooked museum.
The family also had a ranch at Fig Springs in the Black Mountains. The springs have a cloudy but storied history.
Aside from the spring there the primary claim to fame was several towering fig trees that were reportedly the tallest in the world. Further fueling the mystique of the springs were a series of archaeological expeditions in the Black Mountains conducted by the Smithsonian Institute in the late teens.
Their goal was to prove or disprove Spanish with several sites in those mountains. Two of the primary locations examined were extensive stone corrals in the Warm Springs Canyon area and Fig Springs where legend had it the fig trees were planted on the Graces expedition of 1776.
The findings were inconclusive. The oldest verifiable remnants at both locations was 1830, plus or minus 20 years.
When I first visited the springs there was a tumble down ranch house and barn, fruit cellar, pond and three towering fig trees. After a major storm one of the trees blew down and the following winter was cut up for fire wood.
On my last visit the road was closed and marked as private property, no trespassing. This was about twenty years ago.