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Author Topic: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)  (Read 1864 times)

Max Rockatansky

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Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« on: April 28, 2023, 11:43:36 PM »

Today's activity was visiting the original alignment of US Route 60 through the Claypool Tunnel in Queen Creek Canyon. The Claypool Tunnel can be found east of the town of Superior and is easily accessible near the east portal of the modern Queen Creek Tunnel.

The Claypool Tunnel is 300 feet long and was constructed during 1926. The Claypool Tunnel was part of a project to provide replacement to the Apache Trail (modern Arizona State Route 88) as the primary highway between Phoenix and Globe. The Claypool Tunnel and Queen Creek Canyon Highway reportedly cost $1,000,000 which led to it becoming known as the "Million Dollar Highway."

The Claypool Tunnel was assigned as part of the original US Route 180 upon the commissioning of the US Route System during November 1926. US Route 60 was extended to California during 1931 and multiplexed US Route 180 through the Claypool Tunnel. US Route 180 was deleted during 1934 and replaced in Arizona with newly extended US Route 70. US Route 60 and US Route 70 would multiplex through the Claypool Tunnel until the opening the Queen Creek Tunnel during 1952.

(Photo 1 Claypool Tunnel facing east)

0 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 2 the Queen Creek Tunnel facing east on modern US 60)

IMG_1733 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 3 facing west towards into Queen Creek Canyon)

IMG_1737 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 4 facing west towards the Queen Creek Tunnel and abandoned US 60-70)

IMG_1739 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 5 trailhead gate for the Legends of Superior Trails/abandoned US 60-70)

IMG_1740 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 6 retaining wall on abandoned US 60-70)

IMG_1747 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 7 facing east back towards modern US 60 through Queen Creek Canyon)

IMG_1750 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 8 facing west at another abandoned retaining wall)

IMG_1754 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 9-11 the east portal of the Claypool Tunnel)

IMG_1756 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_1758 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_1760 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 12 facing east towards the western Claypool Tunnel portal)

IMG_1766 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

(Photo 13-14 facing west along abandoned US 60-70 into Queen Creek Canyon towards Superior)

IMG_1768 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_1771 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr
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Max Rockatansky

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DJStephens

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2023, 11:06:05 AM »

Passed through there numerous times.  Never knew that older tunnel existed!  Definetly looks like a single lane job!  guess motorists and trucks there had to wait their turn.  Thanks for posting, neat!   
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2023, 11:20:18 AM »

Passed through there numerous times.  Never knew that older tunnel existed!  Definetly looks like a single lane job!  guess motorists and trucks there had to wait their turn.  Thanks for posting, neat!

Apparently twenty feet wide, some of the older photos even show a center stripe.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2023, 11:43:51 AM »

I never would have thought that tunnel was once part of US 60 and US 70 (or US 180 ).
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JKRhodes

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2023, 10:35:22 PM »

My grandmother rode a bus through the old clay pool tunnel when she was younger; said the driver joked about keeping his eyes closed to make it through the scarier sections of the old route.

One of my favorite drives. Rugged, but plenty of spot improvements in the last 10-15 years have made it a breeze to drive with little chance of getting stuck behind a truck or RV for long. Down the street, I got  to watch construction crews fly and set the massive steel girders on the new Pinto Creek Bridge two years ago.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2023, 10:36:45 PM »

Shame the old Pinto Creek Bridge wasn’t retained.  I always thought it was a looker and would have made a nice pedestrian bridge.
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Sonic99

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2023, 12:27:16 AM »

Shame the old Pinto Creek Bridge wasn’t retained.  I always thought it was a looker and would have made a nice pedestrian bridge.

The Queen Creek Bridge replacement is in the works. Really hoping they don't repeat the Pinto Creek deal and build a generic Phoenix freeway flyover in its place and tear down the old one.
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JKRhodes

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2023, 12:35:53 AM »

Shame the old Pinto Creek Bridge wasn’t retained.  I always thought it was a looker and would have made a nice pedestrian bridge.

The Queen Creek Bridge replacement is in the works. Really hoping they don't repeat the Pinto Creek deal and build a generic Phoenix freeway flyover in its place and tear down the old one.

ADOT’s answer on Pinto was maintenance would have diverted funds from other needs in the state, and that no other entity was willing to pick up the tab.

Frankly, given the lack of flat ground, lack of need for a rest stop, and ADOT’s track record of attempting to cut off access to anything recreational (devil’s canyon picnic area, the popular rock climbing spot near the tunnel, etc) along this stretch, my advice would be to take plenty of pictures while it still exists!

I stand corrected: queen creek canyon bridge will be maintained, and fenced off, following the new bridge construction:

https://azdot.gov/projects/southeast-district-projects/queen-creek-and-waterfall-canyon-bridge-projects
« Last Edit: July 18, 2023, 12:50:49 AM by JKRhodes »
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Sonic99

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Re: Abandoned Claypool Tunnel (Old US 60-70)
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2023, 02:51:02 AM »

Shame the old Pinto Creek Bridge wasn’t retained.  I always thought it was a looker and would have made a nice pedestrian bridge.

The Queen Creek Bridge replacement is in the works. Really hoping they don't repeat the Pinto Creek deal and build a generic Phoenix freeway flyover in its place and tear down the old one.

ADOT’s answer on Pinto was maintenance would have diverted funds from other needs in the state, and that no other entity was willing to pick up the tab.

Frankly, given the lack of flat ground, lack of need for a rest stop, and ADOT’s track record of attempting to cut off access to anything recreational (devil’s canyon picnic area, the popular rock climbing spot near the tunnel, etc) along this stretch, my advice would be to take plenty of pictures while it still exists!

I stand corrected: queen creek canyon bridge will be maintained, and fenced off, following the new bridge construction:

https://azdot.gov/projects/southeast-district-projects/queen-creek-and-waterfall-canyon-bridge-projects

ADOT isn't completely clear on the ultimate fate of the old bridge. One page says it will be fenced off, yet this one says it will be deconstructed after completion of the new bridge.

https://azdot.gov/projects/southeast-district-projects/us-60-queen-creek-and-waterfall-canyon-bridge-projects/historic
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