Friday, December 25, 2009

Population: 6

"And what is there to do in Tortilla Flat?" I asked the host at the Visitor Center in Apache Junction (AZ).

"Well, it is the only authentic stagecoach stop to survive the 1900's along the Apache Trail," was the somewhat evasive reply. "There's a store and a restaurant there," added the host.

It was unfortunate, we would later learn, that we had just finished lunch at the Feed Bag in Apache Junction, so we headed off with an uncertain objective in mind.

Once we passed the Lost Dutchman State Park, about 4 miles north of Apache Junction, we began a 17-mile stretch of curves as we ascended and descended the mountains on our approach to Tortilla Flat. We thought that if a stagecoach had traveled the same route as this highway (AZ 88) it would have been easy pickings for robbers because of the slow rate of travel.

Along the way, we passed Canyon Lake and its marina with a surprisingly large number of boats, given the rather isolated location of the marina.

Originally a camping ground for the prospectors who searched for gold in the Superstition Mountains in the mid to late 1800s, Tortilla Flat was later a freight camp for the construction of Theodore Roosevelt Dam.

Today Tortilla Flat is made up primarily of a small store, a post office/gift shop, and restaurant, which were constructed in the late 1980s after a fire consumed the existing store and restaurant on the same site.

The town asserts a population of six. All are employees of the town's stores. The ice cream shop is located in the Livery Stable today. The walls of the ice cream shop are covered with U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars, and Mexican pesos. Here ice cream and some other snacks are sold.

The gift shop also functions as the post office for the (literally) handful of area residents.

Since we had just eaten, we did not stop at the Superstition Saloon.

Although the Harness and Buggy Repair shop was closed, it reminded us of the early days of the town.

The name "Tortilla Flat" originated from the cowboys who used to drive cattle from Globe (about 60 miles east of Tortilla Flat) to Phoenix. While in Phoenix, rancher Mr. Cline and his fellow cowboys celebrated their sale, and, having a little too much to drink, forgot to get supplies while they were in town. They ended up with only flour to make tortillas when they camped at the flat and were stranded.

This mountain seemed to be watching over the six hearty souls who were maintaining this small piece of history.

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