PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It is one of the most popular hiking areas in the Valley.

The Dreamy Draw near Piestewa Peak has a name that makes you think of dreamy Valley views, but the story behind it runs much deeper.

“I think we have a real privilege to have these parks in the city like this,” one hiker said on a sunny fall morning.

But long before hikers and bikers came here to soak up the sun, rugged miners were on the hunt.

“They were looking for copper deposits, right over this way,” Marshall Trimble, Arizona's state historian said.

Trimble said instead of copper they found mercury and started to mine it.

But what the gritty miners, and much of the country, didn’t know, was that mercury is a neurotoxin that affects the brain.

After some time working in the mines, the men would go into town or return home acting strange.

"It was like they were drugged out, crazy,” Trimble said. “And you could go crazy with it.”

Locals said the miners seemed dreamy, which eventually lead to the name Dreamy Draw.

The mines are long gone, but there are still plenty of signs of their existence around the area.

Mercury Mine Elementary School sits on one of the now abandoned mine shafts along with the 51 freeway many of us take to work each day.

The mines eventually closed in the 1940s because of health concerns working with mercury.

Bit hikers roaming the trails today say it is interesting to imagine the people who worked with Arizona's elements in the past.

“Those people were very brave, you had to have quite a sense of adventure and endurance to do that,” Carol Hendershot said.

Even phrases we use today are throwbacks to when people worked with mercury.

The term "Mad as a Hatter" refers to hat makers who worked with mercury, some whom eventually went a little bonkers from inhaling fumes.Copyright 2016 KPHO (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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