By Mila Besich-Lira
On Saturday, hikers and those who enjoy the outdoors flocked to Superior to participate in the Legends of Superiors Trails Eco Tourism Festival. The festival featured eight different hikes, a history luncheon and the dedication of the Historic Pinal Cemetery.
Hikers were able to take a guided hike to the Tunnel on the Canyon segment, the cross, Arnett creek, the Arizona Trail and there were also guided history, geology and photography walks. The Backcountry Horsemen of the East Valley attended the event and also rode their horsed to the tunnel.
Hikers on the Arnett Creek walk were treated to the opportunity to seeing Big Horn Sheep during their hike.
This year, the history luncheon featured three segments ASU Geology Professor Dr. Steve Sempkin who spoke about the geological history of Superior. Sempkin explained how the ashes from volcanos millions of years ago formed the mountains surrounding Superior.
Scott Wood, archeologist for the Tonto National Forest, spoke about the history of Pinal City and how the community grew and eventually died.
David Lira, a native Superior resident and 47-year employee of BHP and Magma, spoke on the history of the mine and Superior. Lira was able to provide the timeline for how the mine started and how the community of Superior grew around the mining operations.
The afternoon hikers met much better weather conditions from the morning hikes. In the morning, the hikers at the event met high winds which added challenges to some of the hikes.
The afternoon ended with the LOST Committee, along with representatives from the Tonto National Forest, dedicating the Historic Pinal Cemetery. For many years the historic cemetery was open on the forest and was becoming a target for vandals and abuse.
With the partnership of the Pioneer Cemetery Association and the True West Magazine Foundation they were able to provide range fencing, entry gate, signage and gravemarker for Mattie Blaylock Earp.
In his welcome address, Mayor Jayme Valenzuela thanked the partnership for helping to preserve a piece of history.
Attending the event was the Guzman family. Family matriarch Mary Guzman explained that the cemetery was an important place to their family as her they had a grandmother buried in the cemetery.
Guzman spoke of the importance of preserving the cemetery. “I am so proud of my family for keeping the tradition of caring for her grave here and in our family at the cemetery in Superior,” she said.