February 8th 2020
It’s Saturday! And we are going to the Desert Bar! We started out to go to the desert bar two years ago with Paul and Lorena from “The Motothome Experiment” and as we were loading into their vehicle some more of their fans pulled into the spot in La Posa West that we were sharing. George and Jean they were travelling in their Oliver tag a long, and while not yet full timers they do take extended trips from their home base in Phenix-City Alabama. But today we are going for sure…in fact there are seven of us going, I will introduce all the gang members with a photo a little later on.
History of the Desert Bar
Ken Coughlin, founder of this saloon, built the Desert Bar at the site of an old copper mining camp in 1975. Although all remnants of the original camp are gone, its spirit lives, its parking lot is located directly on the site where the mining camp once stood. At first, the saloon was a three-sided enclosed room, not much bigger than a small storage shed. Today, while maintaining its Old West character, Coughlin has expanded it substantially. The original bar portion still exists with the bar and a few tables, and is now also home to the souvenir store that sells a variety of shirts and beer can cozies, it occupies the area I suspect was the kitchen area of the original bar. With new construction going on at a number of different areas…the bar is growing again, now mainly open to the elements the structures are mainly steel and concrete, but every thing just seem to fit.
“Quirky, rustic watering hole, built on the site of a former mining camp, open weekends Oct–Apr” that is one of the descriptions online for the Desert Bar…what it didn’t say was that it is best accessible by four wheel drive, down five miles of twisting turning rough road, the bar is off the grid, no cellular or data, CASH only, kind of place. Only open Saturday and Sunday only except long weekends, and only during from noon till 6 pm, they boast of live music, cold beer, good food in an open air atmosphere totally run on solar…there you go I said it but I held off mentioning it for three paragraphs.
Now the Nellie E Saloon is not a place you are going to go every weekend, the road into and out of it jars you to that reality quickly, but for sure it’s a once a season kind of a place, in fact it is almost a must see if you are anywhere near. None of the write ups really do it justice so I thought I would try to do a better job of explaining the Nellie E Saloon but as I tackled it is much more difficult that you would think, as it’s such an eclectic collection of number of items and structures.
This structure known as the church is a solid steel structure with a copper roof to honour of the old copper mine on which it stands on, this solid steel structure is only around three feet (one meter) wide and has a massive set of concrete steps leading up to it, and is little more that a photo opportunity. Here is our group counter clockwise from the bottom right: Bob, Shari, Larry, Laurie, myself, Francine, and Gilles
Every direction you look, opens a whole new bunch of questions. The large tower in the center is a huge swamp cooler, the roof line to the right of the umbrellas is actually the original Nellie E Saloon, the roof on the left covers the horse shoe pits.
This photo shows the large steel structures that support huge solar arrays but are designed more to provide much needed shade from the Arizona sun, the rusty one in the middle was the one that our group was under, as we enjoyed lunch, the band, and a few cold (solar chilled) beers.
The bar offered a number of options for lunch, all where pub food, the fare on the main area with the band offered burgers (no cheese ever), hot dogs and such but we had been told to get our food downstairs and there was about twenty item variety on an extensive menu, this is a sample of our selection.