Saturday, October 1, 2011

Historical Sign

On the hill above the Verde Valley TT park is National Forest land with 14 day camping. Good location with great views to the Red Rocks of Sedona in the distance, good cell phone coverage and hiking. Before my TT membership and on weeks out of the park, I have dry camped there.

Even though I have hiked the area numerous times in previous visits to TT or parked there, I always manage to find something new. This time it was historical evidence of a one time "Stock Driveway".

Curiosity is what drives me. What does that sign mean. After decades of weather wear, the sign was hard to read. With the help of Photoshop and Topaz plugins, it was easier to read. The sign reads "BOUNDARY STOCK DRIVEWAY  SIGNS FACE TRAIL". The National Forest logo appears on the lower part of the sign.

Then it was onto the internet to research the story. There were stock driveways all across mountain west. Found several "Stock Driveways" identified on those searches. Today the few "driveways" that remain are used for biking, hiking and horse riding. Why was this one named "Boundary". I thought Boundary defined the boundaries of the trail. Not so. It was the name of this stock driveway.

Many years ago, unfenced land was usually forest service or BLM land. To control access across the lands,  the signs were erected. There may have been similar wording in some Federal law creating the sign I saw. Here is an exerpt from Alaska Administrative Code that define the reason for the signs: "In the event that an individual with livestock must cross the grazing lease of another, the livestock must be kept within the bounds of the stock driveway. The stock driveway will be adequately marked on both exterior boundaries."

Wondering how wide the defined trail was, I searched in the other direction for more signs to mark the other side of the driveway. No luck. Based on the location of the found signs, the driveway would lead over the escarpment and down arroyos to the Verde River below. Does it cross or follow the river. Don't know.

The found historic references about stock (sheep and cattle) driveways indicated that most were used into the 1930 to the 1950s. The Magdelena Stock Driveway appears to be the last used in 1970. The source for the story is from an enjoyable read: The Dave Farr Oral History -- The Magdalena Stock Driveway (PDF file).

Cattle and sheep drives are part of the west's agrarian past when the world seemed to move slower. Today, the stock is herded onto a truck and at market or the new pastures in just a few hours.

Hope you enjoyed the background for the found historical sign.


  1. Your eagle eye blog always informitive!

  2. Lloyd, is the National Forest land you are on a bona fide campground or dispersed camping? Does it have a name?


  3. Chris, It is dispersed camping. National Forest is the land. Trees. Not too many. There may be a few stunted juniper here and there. Name? Turn north off AZ 260 onto Thousand Trails Road. About a 1/4 mile down the road take the dirt road on the left to the dispersed camping area. Lots of open space between the cactus and creosote. Pick a spot anywhere.