From Black Hills Mine Road, near Ventana Tank, a side road leaves to the south and takes you down to the bottom of Alder Canyon to the Ventana Windmill.
The Ventana Windmill is still where the map marks it – but now it lays in the canyon bottom watched over by the solar panels that replaced it – the solar pump is working well judging by the overflowing tank attracting swarms of insects.
Up a side canyon bees hang from the canyon wall – I feel lucky to see them, and lucky to have seen them before I was closer. Still in the side canyon an open sluice gate seems to suggest there was more water here at some point – but it is so dry, and hot, that it is hard to imagine. The old structure makes me think about a piece of the canyon’s history – from GOLD PLACERS AND PLACERING IN ARIZONA by Eldred D. Wilson:
ALDER CANYON PLACERS
Placer gold occurs in Alder Canyon, on the northern slope of the Santa Catalina Mountains, from near the National Forest boundary to within a few miles from the San Pedro River. These placers have been known and intermittently worked in a small way for many years. The gold-bearing gravels are reported to occur as dissected bars or benches along the stream and to some extent on the spurs between tributary gulches. The gold is coarse, flat, and ragged.
During 1932-33, a maximum of fifteen or twenty men carried on rocking, sluicing, and dry-washing operations in this field. Most of them were transients who remained only a short while and won but little gold. J. W. Lawson, postmaster at Oracle, purchased approximately $45 worth, near 936 in fineness, during the year. The Alder Canyon placers were credited with a placer gold output of $704 during 1934-40.
From the windmill a rough road heads up Alder canyon and another climbs steeply up the other side of the canyon and continues thru a gate out onto Davis Mesa.