Ram Trucks hasn’t been afraid to prove the off-road prowess of its 4x4s. For the past several years the company has used the Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona, as the jumping off point for backcountry adventures with journalists. This year, the company invited us to pilot the 3/4-ton Power Wagon and 1/2-ton Rebel on a dirt trip through the Arizona desert, hills, woods, and backroads to the historic Gold King Mine Ghost Town in Jerome, Arizona. The 2017 route wasn’t overly difficult. Most of the year, a stock 4x4 could traverse all of the trail, so we packed our Magellan TRX7 to track the entire route. You can see the map and follow our path here http://bit.ly/2pslv29 on trxtrailhead.com.
To the untrained eye, the Gold King Mine Ghost Town is just a collection of rusty hulks, but to industrial Americana addicts and vintage truck and 4x4 enthusiasts, it’s a treasure trove of history. Here you will find all sorts of cool old and oddball trucks and machinery including a vintage chainsaw collection, a massive 10,154ci three-cylinder engine, and the longest running Cummins engine housed in a ’39 Diamond T truck, among other spectacles. For more info about the Gold King Mine Ghost Town, go to goldkingmineghosttown.com.
Most of the trail features a lot of jumbled and loose rocks. Airing the tires down will provide more traction and a much smoother ride. We dumped the tire pressure in our Power Wagon down to about half of the recommended street pressure.
There are a couple of great view spots that you’ll find on our Magellan TRX trail map. Also, watch out for cattle on the road; it is an open range so you don’t want to go blasting around corners blindly.
If you were wondering about modifying a Power Wagon, Barlow Adventures (barlows.us) managed to stuff 35-inch tires on a mostly stock truck with no lift and only a slight bit of inner front fender rubbing at full stuff. This truck sees regular 9,000-pound towing and trail duty.
This is only a portion of the Gold King Mine Ghost Town. The original (now deceased) owner Don Robertson claimed to have 20 acres worth of goodies packed into the six-acre town. We can attest that it’s not an exaggeration.
Once you pay your entry fee, the proprietors allow you to wander the premises. You’ll find many cool old parts and machinery tucked away between vehicles.
Some of the vintage machinery at the Gold King Mine Ghost Town would cause an OSHA official to have an aneurism. We were fascinated by how someone designed and operated this power shovel gearbox decades ago.
Many of the old vehicles and equipment are still operational. Don Robertson did a great job of keeping them running by operating them regularly for everyone to see. The current proprietors are developing a plan to take over where Don left off.
So what does the truck with the longest running Cummins engine in it look like? It’s about as industrial as you would expect. The ’39 Diamond T truck and Cummins HB400 diesel engine were used by four different commercial freight hauling fleets until the frame broke in 1966. It was then reconstructed into the truck you see here.
After our self-guided tour of Gold King Mine Ghost Town we headed west up to Flagstaff. The route from the mine up is mostly well-maintained graded road. Watch for cattle.
Our ride for the day was a ’17 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Crew Cab. Base price is $51,695, but our truck was well-optioned up to $62,610. However, the real bargain is the Tradesman edition of the ’17 Power Wagon Crew Cab, which is available for slightly more than $44,000 including destination.