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postheadericon You Decided to Ride Where?

I have different reasons to take rides to different places. Sometimes I read about about a certain road that is fun to ride. Sometimes I hear or read about a particular landmark. This time it was a bit different.  I was scanning Google Maps around the Coolidge area and saw a peculiar design made by a couple of roads near someplace called 11 Mile Corner. The roads made a pair of “nesting” hexagons (i.e. one inside the other.) Weird, right?

This is what I saw.

     I then went to satellite view and saw a couple of buildings, but couldn’t really make out what this place was. I tried street view and only half the streets were viewable (I know, “viewable” isn’t actually a real word, but you knew what I wanted to say.) and even then, I couldn’t see enough to tell me what is here. I could tell that it is currently inhabited, as there were quite a few cars around.

A couple a friends and I were planning on taking a ride on that Friday, but we hadn’t decided where to go. I sent John a text with a link to the map location and said “Let’s ride here.” He replied with an understandable “What is it?” I said that I had no idea, to which his response was “Okay, let’s go.” And so, it was settled.

Had it been later in the year, we probably would have left early and had breakfast somewhere on the road, but the low temp that night was in the high 30’s so we decided to meet for breakfast and ride out a bit later. We met at the venerable “Hungry Fox” for some tasty breakfast. If you like S.O.S. theirs is very good.

After eating the temperature has warmed up to the mid-40’s, so we donned our cooler weather gear and hit the road. There are 2 basic options to get to the Coolidge/Florence area from Tucson. One is to go north on Highway 77 (aka Oracle Rd) then take Highway 79 to Florence then Hwy 287 to Coolidge. Traffic on 77 and 79 tends to be a bit busy and fast on both roads, so we tend to avoid them. The other route is to take the I-10 access road (aka the Casa Grande Highway) through Tucson, all the way to Picacho, where we briefly hopped on to Highway 87, then a quick left on to the Casa Grande-Picacho Highway (aka Frontier St.) Three miles later we go to the tiny burg of Eloy, where we turned north on 11 Mile Corner Rd. Now all we had to do was to ride until we go to the mysterious hexagon.

Our Route to The Hex

     I knew that there was a large skydiving complex somewhere around Eloy, but had never seen it. Well, no sooner did we make the turn on to 11 Mile Corner Rd, that the sky was filled with parachutes of many colors. We watched them float toward the ground as we rode along. We also saw a lot more houses than I expected to see in this rural area.

     We continued north and I almost stopped at the 11 Mile store and Post Office, but decided to continue to the Hex. Oddly enough, we arrived at the hexagon approx 11 miles after turning on to 11 Mile Corner Rd. We turned on to Sheppard Dr and immediately saw the long, low building I had seen on the Google street view. They look as if they have been plucked from a Soviet block housing complex and dropped here.

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This closed up building sets in the middle of the hexagon. I wonder what it was.

We weren’t sure where to explore first but decided that since it was the hexagonal roads that brought us here, we should probably ride them. we made a left and started around the “loop.”

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Section 8 Housing in 11 Mile Corner

      When we got to the end of the second section of the hexagon, we saw why some of the streets weren’t available on street view. There are no longer any buildings there and the road has been encroached by desert shrubs. The asphalt has degraded and is now little more than a trail. So, naturally, we rode through a gap in the brush and took off. We didn’t ride 65 miles for a hex ride and stop after 2 sides.

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Riding Through the Gap

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We found that the sewer system is still there, but the manhole covers aren’t. Watch out!

     We dodged the open manholes and made it around all six sides. Just before finishing it, we got a good view of the front of that big building in the middle of the hex. This looks like it was the front.

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The front of the center building. There are a lot of concrete pads to the right of this photo.

As Sean said, “Curiouser and curiouser.” We really didn’t know what kind of place this originally was. There are no Historical Markers present, either. We decided to ride over to Yandell’s New Camp Store and Post Office and see what they could tell us.

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Yandell’s. John is on the left of the pic on his Vespa.

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Sean and his Kymco with a shot of the mural on the side of the building. We aren’t sure why the last 2 digits of the zip code are missing.

    We walked in to the Camp store and were impressed with the presence of the old post office in the front of the store. There were 2 ladies working the counter. We asked them to tell us a bit about 11 Mile Corner, the store and the weird hexagon. The were quite friendly and told us a lot of interesting stuff. The store has been in the same family for almost 50 years. The post office parts came to 11 Mile from Red Rock, AZ, but they were told that Red Rock had gotten it from Tombstone.

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Beautiful Old Post Office

We were told that these post office boxes may have come from Tombstone and they date from the 1880's.

We were told that these post office boxes may have come from Tombstone and they date from the 1880’s.

11 Mile Corner got its name because the nearby intersection is 11 miles north of Eloy, 11 miles east of Casa Grande and 11 miles southwest of Coolidge. It is now an unincorporated part of Casa Grande. We asked about the strange hexagonal road pattern. That, they said, was probably part of the 11 Mile Prisoner of War Camp from World War II. I did a bit of research when we got home and did confirm that there was, in fact, a German POW camp in 11 Mile Corner. It housed approximately 300 prisoners. I couldn’t find any pictures of it.

The ladies also told about the upcoming gourd festival. They said that if we wanted to get a taste of what it would be like, we could drop by Wuertz Farm. They raise gourds there and have a small gift shop / gallery containing some gourd art works. That sound interesting, so we said good-bye and headed southeast and prepared for “the Wuertz.”

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Admiring the Gourds

 

Some people get too close when admiring the gourds.

Some people get too close when admiring the gourds.

Some gourds are serious art

Some gourds are serious art

Some are whimsical

Some are whimsical

Some are funny

Some are funny

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There are even musical gourds

We had a great time checking out the gourds. Mr Wuertz was a great host and showed us around. We didn’t have time to look around, but there are Burros and miniature horse there as well. Oh, if you are interested, you should go to the “13th Annual Running of the Gourds” coming up February 12-14.

We finally turned around and rode back to Tucson. The trip back was uneventful, but riding is good. Riding with friends is better. I noticed when we got home, that I had ridden 10 miles of mostly straight, mostly flat roads and still had an absolute blast.

Cairne General Hospital, 11 Mile Corner, AZ. Circa 1950's

Cairne General Hospital, 11 Mile Corner, AZ. Circa 1950’s

 

 

 

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