Yavapai county

Black Canyon City


Black Canyon City is a relatively small town located in Black Canyon along the I-17. It sits near Rock Springs and Bumble Bee, about 40 miles north of Phoenix.

In 1875, a stage station was built near Black Canyon City’s present location, where the Agua Fria River crosses the I-17. In 1894, a post office was established and was called Cañon. Cañon was sometimes referred to as Goddard, after the postmaster Charles Goddard.

Black Canyon City has a few of its own local legends, one being the Lost Pick Mine. In the 1870’s in a small town called Phoenix, two prospectors were in a general store. They saw an Indian paying for his supplies; not with cash but with gold nuggets! Brown and Davies, the two men, quickly learned from the store owner that the Indian was Yavapai and that he lived about 50 miles to the north. He came to Phoenix only once a year; always having enough gold.


With lots of curiosity, Brown and Davies decided to follow the Indian. It appeared that the Indian did absolutely nothing to lose his followers. They ventured into the “malpais”, meaning bad country or badlands, north of Phoenix. The 3 crossed three sources of water; first Skunk Creek, then the New River, and finally the Agua Fria River. All of a sudden, the Indian turned into a side canyon and vanished. Gone; no trace of anything. As the two men looked for him, they happened upon an arroyo, a small tributary of the Agua Fria. In this arroyo, what did they find? Gold; and lots of it!

Brown and Davies worked round the clock mining the gold-filled area. It is estimated that they gathered $80,000! However, focused on the gold, the two men forgot where they were; the badlands. A small band of Indians opened fire, killing Davies right off the bat. Brown managed to get down and hide, waiting for them to leave. After they did so, Brown grabbed the gold stash and took off west.

Brown left his mining claim, absolutely sure he could re-find it. But, old age caused him to forget exactly where it was. Browns last words told of a rich strike somewhere in Black Canyon. One has claimed to see an old pick among the rocks; bud didn’t think anything of it and keeping the Lost Pick hidden. The Lost Pick is thought to be one of the richest “lost” mines in Arizona, ranking among the Lost Dutchman.

On an interesting side note, at mile marker 249, just after the Bumble Bee/Crown King exit, sits a cactus, just to the west. This final cactus marks the end of the Lower Sonoran Desert and the start of the Upper Sonoran Desert.



  1. Trimble, Marshall. Roadside History of Arizona. 2nd edition. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2004. 197-198. Print.