People who enjoy the RV life are often possessed of an adventuresome spirit. And that is one reason why Crazy Horse Campground on the lake in Lake Havasu City, Arizona is so popular. This full service campground with deluxe cabin rentals, fully stocked general store, RV spaces and tent sites is located at the heart of an adventurers paradise.
Recrational opportunites on the water are only limited by the imagination. But if you want adventures that will last a life time, perhaps the search for plane wrecks, train wrecks, or forgotten cemeteries in the picturesque deserts that embrace Lake Havasu City will be your inspiration.
During WWII the Kingman Army Airfield in Kingman, Arizona was one of the largest flexible gunnery schools in the county. The airfield was also a school for navigators, and auxilliary fields were constructed throughout Mohave County. One of these was Site Six, now the island in Lake Havasu City.
After the war the air base was transformed into a vast storage depot. New planes were flown direct from the factory and mothballed in the desert. But so were badly damaged warbirds. Scattered throughout the desert are wrecks and remnants, silent memorials to tragedy.
One of these wrecks is a B-25, number J s/n 44-31401, that crashed approximately 25 miles south-soutwest of Yucca, Arizona on August 11, 1945. The plane crashed and burned, so after the crash site was investigated by the US Army Air Corp the remnants scattered across the rugged desert were largely forgotten until they were rediscovered by Aviation Archeology in the 1990s.
East of Lake Havasu City, the Franconia Road exit on I40 is a portal to some fascinating historic sites. Follow the graded gravel road to the south, and under the 1920s railroad trestle to follow in the tracks of Edsel Ford. This is the National Old Trails Road, predecessor to Route 66, that Edsel followed in the summer of 1915.
Follow the road north, and then through the deep sand along the railroad tracks to the forgotten site of Franconia. Located here was a siding, depot, railroad construction camp and mining supply center that is today maked by concrete slabs, and a forlorn cemetery. It was here on August 22, 1945 that, resultant of a signal error, a westbound passenger train was struck by an express train.
About two miles west of the siding, just after 5:00 in the morning on November 20, 1901, Santa Fe Flyer Number 3 collided head on with Santa Fe Flyer Number 4. It was a horrendous collision. At the time it was also the worst accident in Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad history. A weathered and forlorn marker stands in mute testimony at the site today.
When exploring remote sites in the desert there are important rules to keep in mind. Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints or tire tracks. In the months of summer plan your adventures for the cool hours of morning about sunrise.
Always carry water. If you don’t need it there is a chance someone that you meet along the way does, and water can be a literal matter of life and death. Be sure your vehicle is in good repair. Last but not least, let someone know where you are going and when plan to return, sort of like filing a flight plan.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America