Shaffer Spring, or the Gold Fish Bowl, worth exploring

Shaffer Spring, just below Sitgreaves Pass, can be reached by stone steps.

Herberta Schroeder/Special for the Miner

Shaffer Spring, just below Sitgreaves Pass, can be reached by stone steps.

KINGMAN – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration May 6, 1933. It was a “New Deal Agency” that got out-of-work Americans back to work, by building infrastructure across the country.

The WPA was responsible for building along Route 66, and the characteristic stone and concrete mortar can still be seen today along our longest stretch of Route 66.

During the WPA construction of the “Gold Road Section” from Gold Road Mine to Kingman, sources of water for animals, cars and humans alike were hard to find.

A man named Shaffer found water seeping from cliff walls and built a basin made of indigenous rock and concrete. He set it where the springs could drain into it.

Locals kept gold fish, snails and plants in it to help keep the water fresh and algae free. Many local residents call it the Gold Fish Bowl.

The spring has frozen over or gone dry, but someone always restocks it with fish. The only hint of its presence is a column of stone stairs built up the cliff wall to the basin.

Can you imagine what a site this was? In a dry, inhospitable climate of the desert, a tall set of stone steps led up to a basin oasis to rescue the weary and the overheated automobiles following the road to California, as in John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” escaping the wrath of their own desert during the years of the Dust Bowl.

The views from the foot of the stairs and the basin are quite remarkable and suitable for panoramic photography. It is located just a few twists and turns lower than Sitgreaves Pass at this week’s GPS address.

Directions can be requested on google maps, but a good hint is to watch for those stairs after mile marker 31 heading up to Oatman.

The water source is a strong one, so you may see wildlife stopping by for a drink. There are a lot of bees that buzz around the water and the frequent blooms of the Monkey Paw Orchid. So, if you are afraid or allergic, please exercise caution.



Shaffer Springs is just one of the amazing sights to explore near our Route 66 Jewel of Kingman.