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Steve Bowser

Greenie
Sep 5, 2023
12
56
Ahwatukee, AZ
In 1966 the US Forest Service purchased the Tortilla ranch from Floyd Stone the owner for $70K.
Not long afterward the FS closed FR123 the only access to the ranch and trailhead. After a long battle with the public the FS grudgingly reopened FR123 with a bad taste in their mouth.
The ranch barn and corrals were continued to be occasionally used as a collection site for cattle and horses during roundups on the Superstition Range grazing allotments.
By 1980 most of the cattle were off the Tortilla portion of the allotment and the FS had vigorously began their dismantling of the Tortilla ranch.
In the 1970's one could still easily drive a family station wagon automobile the 4 miles to the Tortilla Ranch on FR123.
Then, almost overnight the beginning of the ranch road just off the Apache Trail became impassable for anything other than a high profile 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Al Reser a good friend of Floyd Stone the former ranch owner, drove that road many times in his family car said the road did not suddenly "wash out," as that part of the road was solid rock. The only way the road became the condition it is in was that dynamite had to have been used to create what is today called the "stairstep" portion of the ranch road.
Speaking of the "stairstep" on FR213, Jack Carlson and I were on FR213 to meet Greg Davis at Tortilla Ranch for a couple days of exploring the nearby Miller Mines and as I tried to climb the stairstep in my Jeep Grand Cherokee my front drive shaft malfunctioned and I couldn't get up the ledge. I parked just below the stairstep in a little turnout and hiked in to get Greg and he came out with his Jeep and brought us and our gear into Tortilla Ranch.

A few days later Greg brought us back to where my Jeep was parked and I had a ticket on my windshield for using a motorized vehicle in a Federal Wilderness. I understood FR213 was not in the Wilderness so I prepared my case to fight the ticket in court. I went to the Mesa Ranger Station and talked to the ranger there who said that FR213 and related turnouts were not in the Wilderness and the public can operate a motor vehicle there.

My next stop was the Tonto National Forest Supervisor's office in Phoenix to get a copy of the legal description of the Wilderness Boundary as it relates to FR213. The legal description stipulates the Wilderness boundary is basically 33ft from the centerline of FR213 on either side.

I went to court with my evidence and was ready to argue my case. The Sheriff's Deputy that wrote the ticket was at court as required and testified in another case that preceded my case. Shortly, my case was called but the Deputy had disappeared so the judge dismissed the case.

Over the years people have used cement, piled rocks and even used concrete blocks to mitigate climbing the stairstep but somehow these things were removed. I believe what Al said about someone using dynamite to blast out that ledge.

Here are a couple of photos to go with my story:
Feb 14e 002.5.JPG

Feb 14e 003.JPG
 

Cubfan64

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Speaking of the "stairstep" on FR213, Jack Carlson and I were on FR213 to meet Greg Davis at Tortilla Ranch for a couple days of exploring the nearby Miller Mines and as I tried to climb the stairstep in my Jeep Grand Cherokee my front drive shaft malfunctioned and I couldn't get up the ledge. I parked just below the stairstep in a little turnout and hiked in to get Greg and he came out with his Jeep and brought us and our gear into Tortilla Ranch.

A few days later Greg brought us back to where my Jeep was parked and I had a ticket on my windshield for using a motorized vehicle in a Federal Wilderness. I understood FR213 was not in the Wilderness so I prepared my case to fight the ticket in court. I went to the Mesa Ranger Station and talked to the ranger there who said that FR213 and related turnouts were not in the Wilderness and the public can operate a motor vehicle there.

My next stop was the Tonto National Forest Supervisor's office in Phoenix to get a copy of the legal description of the Wilderness Boundary as it relates to FR213. The legal description stipulates the Wilderness boundary is basically 33ft from the centerline of FR213 on either side.

I went to court with my evidence and was ready to argue my case. The Sheriff's Deputy that wrote the ticket was at court as required and testified in another case that preceded my case. Shortly, my case was called but the Deputy had disappeared so the judge dismissed the case.

Over the years people have used cement, piled rocks and even used concrete blocks to mitigate climbing the stairstep but somehow these things were removed. I believe what Al said about someone using dynamite to blast out that ledge.

Here are a couple of photos to go with my story:
View attachment 2118068
View attachment 2118069

Can't imagine you would have lost that case even if the deputy stayed (maybe that's why he left - knowing he'd lose and hoping you wouldn't have shown up?).

Roger and I took my rental SUV years ago up there when he and I wanted to explore Peter's Mesa for a couple days. We ended up tearing off a piece of the fender or quarter panel (can't remember which) and I also payed to get the desert racing stripes buffed out as best as possible before I returned it.
 

deducer

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Jan 7, 2014
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Speaking of the "stairstep" on FR213, Jack Carlson and I were on FR213 to meet Greg Davis at Tortilla Ranch for a couple days of exploring the nearby Miller Mines and as I tried to climb the stairstep in my Jeep Grand Cherokee my front drive shaft malfunctioned and I couldn't get up the ledge. I parked just below the stairstep in a little turnout and hiked in to get Greg and he came out with his Jeep and brought us and our gear into Tortilla Ranch.

A few days later Greg brought us back to where my Jeep was parked and I had a ticket on my windshield for using a motorized vehicle in a Federal Wilderness. I understood FR213 was not in the Wilderness so I prepared my case to fight the ticket in court. I went to the Mesa Ranger Station and talked to the ranger there who said that FR213 and related turnouts were not in the Wilderness and the public can operate a motor vehicle there.

My next stop was the Tonto National Forest Supervisor's office in Phoenix to get a copy of the legal description of the Wilderness Boundary as it relates to FR213. The legal description stipulates the Wilderness boundary is basically 33ft from the centerline of FR213 on either side.

I went to court with my evidence and was ready to argue my case. The Sheriff's Deputy that wrote the ticket was at court as required and testified in another case that preceded my case. Shortly, my case was called but the Deputy had disappeared so the judge dismissed the case.

Over the years people have used cement, piled rocks and even used concrete blocks to mitigate climbing the stairstep but somehow these things were removed. I believe what Al said about someone using dynamite to blast out that ledge.

Here are a couple of photos to go with my story:
View attachment 2118068
View attachment 2118069


The stairstep has plenty of scrapes, gouges, and if you look carefully, oily stains from where it busted many an oil pan cover.

I have gone to TR plenty of time, mostly with a friend who has an ATV. He gets around the stepstone by steering up on the side.
 

Cubfan64

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The stairstep has plenty of scrapes, gouges, and if you look carefully, oily stains from where it busted many an oil pan cover.

I have gone to TR plenty of time, mostly with a friend who has an ATV. He gets around the stepstone by steering up on the side.
That's the way to do it - last couple times I've gone out there I have to park at the trailhead and hike to the old Ranch site to camp for further exploration :)
 

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