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  • Writer's pictureSuperior, Arizona

Tracing History: Exploring Wagon Tracks

Wagon Tracks in Stone: A Glimpse into Arizona's Mining History

Wagons, mules, miners and silver ore! Credit Superior Tour Company

Wagon tracks and mule footprints carved in stone.

Nestled within the rugged terrain of Superior and the Superstition Wilderness Area lies a hidden treasure from Arizona's mining past - mysterious wagon tracks etched in stone. These tracks, embedded into the earth's surface, bear witness to the toil and determination of the early pioneers who ventured into the untamed wilderness in search of riches.


Unearthing the Legends

The tales of the wagon tracks have been a part of local lore for generations. Over 60 years ago, a captivating narrative was shared about stone carreta tracks located south of the Superstition Wilderness boundary. The carreta, a robust two-wheeled cart from Spanish colonial times, was capable of bearing immense loads. According to local legend, these tracks were believed to be the imprints left behind by two-wheeled carts laden with precious gold and silver bullion. These carts, so the story goes, once journeyed from the bountiful mines surrounding the Superstition Mountains all the way back to Mexico, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape.


Hear the stories of the past with Superior Tour Company. Credit Kirk Rasmussen/Visit USA Parks

Echoes of the Past

As you stand over these weathered stone tracks, a sense of nostalgia envelops you. Close your eyes, and you might almost hear the crack of the teamster's whip and the rhythmic trudging of mules hauling their valuable cargo. The tracks, an enduring testament to the days of yore, evoke vivid images of a bygone era.

Weathered stone tracks bring the history to life.

Rumblings of Doubt

When the story of these remarkable tracks reached the ears of Thomas J. Kollenborn's father, skepticism loomed. Could it be possible that these stone tracks were indeed remnants of a grand procession of wealth-laden carretas? To settle the matter, conversations with local ranchers Jimmy Herron and Billy Martin Sr. were essential. Their insights provided invaluable clues about the tracks' true origin and purpose.

Dramatic view of Picketpost Mountain. Credit Kirk Rasmussen/Visit USA Parks

Unveiling the Truth

According to the accounts of Billy Martin Sr., the wagon tracks were not the result of Spanish carretas transporting precious metals. Rather, they were a product of the bustling mining activity that defined Arizona's territorial days. The tracks emerged from the arduous journeys of ore wagons carrying silver ore from the Silver King Mine to the Pinal Mill, situated west of present-day Superior. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, the Pinal Mill operated as a vital hub for processing the region's silver ore, contributing significantly to the economic prosperity of the area.


Ore wagons from the Silver King mine at the Pinal mills, circa 1885 with Picketpost Mountain as the backdrop.

The wagon wheels, laden with heavy loads of silver ore, traversed a challenging path that crossed a vast expanse of welded volcanic tuff. Over time, the unyielding nature of the rock left its mark, etching two distinct ruts into the ground. These enduring imprints are a testament to the countless journeys made between the Silver King Mine and the Pinal Mill, a visual representation of the rich mining history that once thrived here.

Superior Tour Company from above. Credit Kirk Rasmussen/Visit USA Parks

Preserving a Legacy

The legacy of the wagon tracks in stone is one that deserves recognition and preservation. While the remnants of the Silver King Mine have faded with time, these tracks remain as a poignant reminder of Arizona's mining heritage. Located approximately halfway between the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and Historic Downtown Superior along Highway 60, the turnoff to view the wagon tracks serves as a gateway to a bygone era. As we stand beside these historic tracks, let us reflect on the labor, perseverance, and ingenuity of those who carved a path through the wilderness, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape and the history of the Superstition Mountains.

Wagon tracks to the left! Credit Superior Tour Company

The wagon tracks offer us a glimpse into the past, a tangible connection to the pioneers and miners who once shaped the landscape with their ambitions and dreams. As we continue to explore the stories of Superior's past, let's not forget the stories embedded in the very stones beneath our feet, reminding us of the enduring spirit that defines the heart of Arizona's history.

Superior Tour Company's 1973 M561 "Gama Goat" that you can tour on. Credit Kirk Rasmussen/Visit USA Parks

Take a Guided Tour of the Wagon Tracks

For a one-of-a-kind off-road jeep tour with a friendly guide you can check out Superior Tour Company. They provide historical off-road and in town tours with either lifted off-road jeep or a golf cart. Take in the sites and history of Superior and get up close and personal with the beauty of the landscape. Choose from one of many packages around Superior learning about these wagon tracks, the Silver King Mine, Picket Post Mountain, Oak Flat, or you can mix and match to see exactly what you want! Also available are night time tours to go ghost hunting or see celestial events or perhaps a whimsical, nostalgic, adventurous, quiet, peaceful, spontaneous, romantic, star gazing type of night tour.


Open: Daily

Location: 424 Main Street, Superior, AZ

Phone: 480.892.5505

Reservations: Required, please call to book.



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