By John Cappa
If you've owned a pickup truck for any amount of time, then you probably have an ingrained adventurous side and enjoy road trips. If you're like us, then you probably prefer avoiding beaten paths and often travel down old country roads looking for abandoned, vintage pickups parked in driveways and overgrown fields.
On a recent trip to test drive the 2014 Ram Power Wagon we drove through historical Jerome, Ariz., where we had the chance to wander around the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. It's perhaps the coolest and largest collection of pseudo-abandoned vintage iron that we have ever seen. Proprietor Don Robertson has spent more than 30 years finding, collecting, and dragging trucks and equipment from all over the U.S. to the old mining facility. True die-hard truck enthusiasts will be so drawn in by the vehicles and equipment that they'll hardly notice the ghost town the vehicles are parked in.
Robertson spends his day entertaining guests by firing up and toying with the different vehicles, including a monstrously loud 10,154-cubic-inch three-cylinder gas engine built in the 1930s.
We only had a limited amount of time at the mine, so stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town in the coming months. For now, we'll let the old iron we did photograph whet your appetite. One word of caution, if you do visit Robertson, don't offer to buy any of his vehicles or equipment. The only things for sale are in the gift shop.
Cars.com photos by John Cappa
The lower area of the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town features many older heavy-duty trucks. They each have a story of how they came to the mine. If you have the time, Robertson can tell you all about how he used come-alongs, Hi-Lift jacks, winches and whatever else he had on hand to get each one onto a trailer.
The Ghost Town has an auto parts store. It's stuffed with vintage parts and packages. We assume this is the belt isle.
This Cummins generator/welder sat on the back of a truck powered by (presumably) the oldest still-working Cummins diesel engine. The truck looked like more of a hodge-podge driving platform than an actual vehicle.
This 1949-1956 Studebaker truck hasn't moved in years. These trucks were originally powered by an 80-horsepower, 169.6-cubic-inch Champion L-head inline six cylinder. It had a road weight of 2,840 pounds with a maximum payload of 1,760 pounds, which was 620 pounds more than the comparable Chevrolet of the era. In 1950, an optional 245.6-cubic-inch Hy-Mileage inline-six-cylinder engine became available.
This Studebaker E Series was offered between 1955 and 1960 with multiple engines, including an optional 130-hp, 212-cubic-inch Detroit diesel for the one-tons and up. A gas inline-six and a V-8 were the other engine choices. Four-wheel-drive was also available on half- and three-quarter-ton models beginning in 1957. Northwestern Auto Parts Co. supplied the components for the 4x4 conversions, which were similar to the NAPCO parts used on Chevrolet and GMC trucks.
There is a lot going on in the rear end of this old rig. The suspension looks fairly complex for a truck with wooden wheels and solid rubber tires.
The 1961 International Harvester Travelette was the first six-passenger, four-door truck of the era. This appears to be a 1965-1967 model.
This 1930s 10,154-cubic-inch three-cylinder Chicago Pneumatic engine was originally used to run a generator that powered a town and a mine. Imagine a 14-inch bore and 22-inch stroke. It runs on propane, but Robertson uses air pressure to get the huge engine started.
Based on the door badging, this 1955-1956 International Harvester S-Series 4x4 wrecker originally came from Desert Shores, Calif., on the Salton Sea coast. We're not sure why you would need tire chains in the desert where it never snows. Perhaps the truck was used to pull boats up a mossy boat ramp.