E SC A P E . EX P LOR E . EX P E R I ENCE
Eat at Joe’s: He Makes the
Best Barbecue in Wikieup
Why Tanya Tucker Prefers
Hank Jr. Over Burt Reynolds
Globe: Where to Hike,
Where to Spend the Night
+PROTECTING ARIZONA’S JAGUAR POPULATION
MEET RATTLESNAKE BILL & CRAZY WILLIE
Baby Mummy Cave
and Why . . .
to name a few
OF THE STATE’S
AND WHERE THEY
2 j a n u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 1
2 EDITOR’S LETTER 3 CONTRIBUTORS4
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
5 THE JOURNAL
People, places and things from around the state, including
a Q&A with country-music legend Tanya Tucker, the
best place in Wikieup for barbecued beef brisket,
and a B&B in Globe that’ll knock your socks off.
44 SCENIC DRIVE
Tucson to Buenos Aires: State Route 286, as a name,
doesn’t sound like much. But don’t judge a road by its
moniker. This scenic stretch is simply beautiful.
46 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Pioneer Trail: There are several ways to explore
the mostly unexplored Pinal Mountains near
Globe, and this trail is at the top of the list.
48 WHERE IS THIS?
14 What’s With the Names?
Bloody Basin gets its name from either a pile of dead
sheep or violent showdowns between white settlers
and Indians. Or something else entirely. Bisbee’s less
nebulous. It was named after a miner’s father-in-law.
When it comes to place-names and their origins,
Arizona has some real doozies — Gripe, Klondyke,
Nothing — and we have the convoluted explanations
for them. Sort of.
BY LAUREN PROPER
24 See the Light
Randy Prentice is one of the top landscape photogra-phers
in the Southwest. He also plays a mean guitar.
But for this month’s portfolio, which features the best
of Arizona in various stages of sunlight, the only instru-ment
he needed was a camera. And maybe a tripod.
A PORTFOLIO BY RANDY PRENTICE
34 Alone on the Hill
The mining region of Rich Hill isn’t what it used to
be. Today, it’s mostly made up of retirees with metal
detectors, but not so long ago, the mountain was
a haven for a different kind of prospector. The “old
boys” were reclusive, eccentric and sometimes vio-lent.
They had names like Rattlesnake Bill and Crazy
Willie, and Elly Loftin knew them better than anyone.
BY KATHY MONTGOMERY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID ZICKL
40 Emerald Isle
In Arizona, it’s known as the Tumacacori Highlands. In
Mexico, it’s the Emerald Mountains. To scientists and
Mother Nature, the mile-high environment is simply
a sky island, a unique area of biodiversity that’s home
to a variety of species, including jaguars. It’s a special
place, to be sure. That’s why scientists on both sides
of the border are working so hard to preserve it.
BY TERRY GREENE STERLING
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACK DYKINGA
◗ Late-afternoon sunlight warms the west face of Grapevine
Mesa in the Joshua Tree Forest. PHOTOGRAPH BY RANDY PRENTICE.
FRONT COVER This composite image evokes the desert skies
and untouched grasslands that are hallmarks of the Central
Arizona region that, in the late 1800s, earned its gruesome
moniker: Bloody Basin. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JOEL GRIMES
BACK COVER Sunset presides over a rainbow arc and saguaro
cactuses in Saguaro National Park near Tucson. PHOTOGRAPH
BY RANDY PRENTICE
02.10 Grand Canyon
• POINTS OF INTEREST IN THIS ISSUE
GET MORE ONLINE:
In this month’s issue, Associate Editor
Kelly Kramer takes you on a spectacular drive
through Southern Arizona. For more getaways,
as well as the best bets for hiking, lodging, din-ing
and so much more, visit our home page.
Vote for your favorite entries in our second-annual
online photography contest.
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Show, in the Events Calendar.
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To order a print of this photograph, call 866-962-1191 or visit www.arizonahighwaysprints.com.
2 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
Writer Kathy Montgomery’s closet is bigger than the stone
powder house Rattlesnake Bill shared with a slew of snakes. Bill
is just one of the characters Montgomery writes about in Alone
on the Hill (page 34), a story about the community of Rich Hill
and the tiny ghost town of Stanton. “I initially intended to write a
story about Stanton, the town at the base of Rich Hill that is now
owned by the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association,” Montgom-ery
says. “Then I attended Elly Loftin’s talk at the Peeples Valley
Schoolhouse. The stories she told and the characters she described were so colorful and
interesting that I realized the better story was that of Rich Hill as a whole and the people
who had lived there. It was also clear these people represented a way of life that was
mostly gone.” In addition to Arizona Highways, Montgomery also writes for Stratos, The
Arizona Republic and The Christian Science Monitor.
When photographer Joel Grimes was a kid, he and his
family would pass by the town of Dudleyville en route to
fishing trips in the White Mountains. “We used to laugh
and say, ‘That town was named after someone who was
a dud.’” Probably not, but it’s a theory, just like the mean-ing
behind the name Bloody Basin, which Grimes shot for
this month’s cover. When it comes to quirky places and
their unusual names, Grimes counts Jerome as one of his
favorites. “I remember coming across Jerome when I was on a photo shoot,” he says. “I
was absolutely blown away as I drove down the streets. This was back in the early ’80s,
and it was still somewhat undiscovered. I felt like I was driving through a movie set.”
Grimes also photographed Jay Gammons for this month’s Journal (page 6). bloody Basin Road isn’t what it used to be. Despite the foreboding nature of its name,
it’s not any different than any other desert drive in Central Arizona. Saguaros,
arroyos, rocks, rattlesnakes ... that’s what you’ll see out the window. There’s nothing to
suggest that this was the site of a violent showdown between white settlers and Native
Americans. Or perhaps multiple showdowns. Either way, there would have been enough
bloodshed to inspire the name. That is, if a battle even occurred. Some historians believe
the name actually comes from a pile of dead sheep — sheep that died while crossing a
bridge that collapsed underneath them.
There are probably other theories, as well. History, Old West history in particular, is
often blurry at best. We were reminded of that when putting together this month’s cover
story. It was a real test for our writer and fact-checkers. And yet it sounded so simple:
“Bloody Basin Road ... that’s a peculiar name. Let’s have the intern figure out what it
means. And while she’s at it, ask her to check out the origins of Gripe, Klondyke, Noth-ing,
Monkey Springs, Tortilla Flat and 25 other unusual names. It’ll make an interesting
And it does. It’s interesting, especially the section on Monkey Springs, but this story
should be read more for entertainment value than historical record. That’s because there
are multiple explanations for almost every name on the list, and the theories are based
more on lore and legend than facts and figures. We know there are several versions of
history here, and we’re expecting e-mails with alternate explanations. Send them in —
we’d love to hear from you — but try to enjoy this for what it is: a lighthearted look at
some of Arizona’s quirkiest place-names.
Stanton, as you’ll see, isn’t among those places. The name is unexceptional, and the
story behind it — it was named for Charlie Stanton, the town’s unpopular storekeeper
— isn’t all that interesting. Some of Stanton’s residents, however, have had names that
rank right up there. Rattlesnake Bill, Crazy Willie ... you don’t forget names like that,
especially if you knew the men personally, as Elly Loftin did.
A character in her own right, Elly is the de facto historian of Stanton, a ghost town
that sits at the base of Rich Hill, about 13 miles north of Wickenburg. Like so many old
mining areas in Arizona, this one has assumed mythical proportions over the years. As
ROBERT STIEVE, editor
Kathy Montgomery writes in Alone on the Hill: “In
1863, members of a scouting party were said to have
found gold nuggets the size of potatoes just lying
exposed on the hilltop.” The legends of prospectors
such as Rattlesnake Bill and Crazy Willie have
grown as well.
In her story, Kathy will introduce you to these
two men, now dead, along with some of the other
“old boys” of Rich Hill, most of whom were reclu-sive,
eccentric and sometimes violent. She’ll also
tell you about Elly and her efforts to preserve the
legacy of Rich Hill. It’s not unlike what a group of
scientists and ranchers are doing in the Tumacacori
Highlands of Southern Arizona.
Sergio Avila is the lead biologist. He runs the
Northern Mexico Conservation Program, which
is sponsored by the Sky Island Alliance, a Tucson-based
group that works to protect the biodiversity
of the borderlands, an area that’s home to a wide
variety of species, including jaguars. As Terry
Greene Sterling writes in Emerald Isle, “Biologists
and cowboys have teamed together to fight almost
insurmountable odds to save something greater
than themselves that could be lost forever.”
She’s referring, in part, to the jaguars, mammals
that are rarely associated with Arizona. They’re
elusive and mysterious, and like the origin of Bloody
Basin, there’s a lot we don’t understand. But this
much is certain: The jags are out there, and thanks
to Sergio and his colleagues, we’re learning more
every day. Here’s hoping
those lessons help secure
a healthy future for this
In case you haven’t heard,
Arizona Highways recently
won 12 international mag-azine
awards for writing,
photography and design,
including a gold medal for
Man vs. Wild, a feature by
Kelly Kramer, and another gold for the September
2008 cover (pictured). The awards were given by
the International Regional Magazine Association.
In addition to those honors, our sisters at Arizona
Highways TV recently added six more Emmys to
their growing collection. Hats off to everyone
involved; you’ve made us all very proud.
F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 0 V O L . 8 6 , N O. 2
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Arizona Transportation Board
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Follow Robert on Twitter: www.twitter.com/azhighways
Artist Kevin Kib-sey
is all over the
map. That is, he’s
responsible for the
maps that appear
in each issue of
as well as the spot
accompany each one of them. An Arizona
native, Kibsey realized his boyhood dream
of becoming a cowboy as ranch manager
for Eagletail Ranch, west of Phoenix. But
when it comes to his current gig as Arizona
Highways’ resident illustrator, Kibsey says
he’s struck gold. “I get to combine my two
passions: Arizona history and art. They’re
a great fit.” In fact, he can only recall one
major frustration — venturing out on a
back-road adventure for research, only to
find that the road led to a brand-new gated
subdivision, and not to a heavy dose of
nature. To see more of Kevin’s work, visit
If you like what you see in this
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4 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 5
letters people > dining > lodging > photography > history > nature > things to do > > > > THE JOURNAL
JOHN HENDRICKSON/LARRY ULRICH STOCK
DINERS, HOGS & ROUTE 66
Thanks for your invitation to sug-gest
our favorite diners [November
2009]. You’ve spotlighted
the Snow Cap Drive-In
at least once before,
but whenever I ride to
Arizona, I always plan my
route through Seligman so
I can stop for a meal at the
other end of town, at The
Road Kill Café. I also stay at
the Route 66 Motel, one of
my favorite mom-and-pop
motels. Seligman and Route
66 are favorite stops for people
touring on Harleys. I have
an Arizona Highways screensaver on
my computer, and Arizona was part
of my territory when I worked for
Denny’s Restaurants years ago. The
bottom line: I like Arizona.
FRED FINKE, CANYONVILLE, OREGON
AXE THAT PHOTO
I really like your magazine; however,
I was highly amused at the photo on
page 38 of the July 2009 issue. With
her hands in that position on the ax
handle, the woman would not have
enough leverage to cut hot butter, let
alone a piece of wood.
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
I enjoyed reading your Hike of the
Month featuring the Weatherford
Trail [September 2009]. I drove up
the old Weatherford Road to Doyle
Saddle in 1960 in an old pickup. The
road was OK then. And free. I’ve
since hiked it several times, and I’ve
saved every one of your hikes since
the first one came out — so far I’ve
hiked most of them.
AL WHEELOCK, PEORIA
THE LAST STRAW
My wife and I subscribed to your
magazine for 25 years. We didn’t
renew our subscription for a couple
of years, in part because of a move to
a new state, and in part because of
your ceasing Gene Perret’s Wit Stop
column. During the period that we
didn’t read your magazine, the size
was decreased dramatically, the sto-ries
became very amateurish, and the
quality of the photographs became
very poor. All of these factors have
greatly detracted from the quality of
your publication. Your editor’s ram-blings
in the November 2009 issue
about Walter Cronkite was the last
straw. It’s interesting that Cronkite
couldn’t even remember who was
considerate enough to pay for his
Arizona Highways subscription for
many years, but he did manage to con
the editor out of a new free subscrip-tion!
Chances are, when America’s
least-trusted liberal told this story
to someone after this incident, he
couldn’t remember what sucker paid
for his new Arizona Highways subscrip-tion
HOWARD E. MOYERS, CHILLICOTHE, MISSOURI
JUST ANOTHER TOURIST
The September 2009 edition featur-ing
photographers prompted a mem-ory
of one of your early contributors:
Josef Muench. It was a late afternoon
during the Memorial Day weekend of
1954. The site was the trail up Moro
Rock in Sequoia National Park. In
his hand was a 35 mm Leica. In
mine was a 35 mm Exakta. As I
approached him, I asked where
his view camera was. He replied:
“Today I’m just another tourist.”
JOHN L. BANKS JR., ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA
GIFTS FROM AFAR
It was almost overpowering read-ing
your magazine’s response to
Sergeant Montgomery of First
Platoon, B-Company, who wrote to
you from Afghanistan [Letters to the
Editor, October 2009]. He asked for
old issues of Arizona Highways for his
men. I see that you and your staff
responded by sending the platoon
not only a stack of old issues, but
also a collection of Arizona-made
products and other “goodies.” This
generous gift from your staff will be
remembered by those men, as well as
your readers, for a lifetime.
MARK MURRAY, RESTON, VIRGINIA
CASTLE IN THE SKY
Attached is a
in late spring
1938 with a
climbing the ladders shown in the
photo. Although it was getting warm
and nearing midday, people could be
seen climbing the ladders.
DIXIE HOFFPAUIR, EL PASO, TEXAS
If you have
we’d love to hear
from you. We can
be reached at
by mail at 2039
W. Lewis Avenue,
85009. For more
Although you won’t get the spec-tacular
bird’s-eye view of a red-tailed
hawk, there’s plenty to see from the
ground at Chiricahua National Monu-ment
in Southeastern Arizona, includ-ing
an 8-mile scenic drive. Information:
www.nps.gov/chir or 520-824-3560.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. Hoffpauir sent this photograph
along with her entry in our Where Is This? contest
in September 2009. Although we can’t reply
personally to every entry, we do read them, and we
greatly appreciate your commentaries.
6 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 7
As Joe Heslin prepared to open Eat at Joe’s Barbecue in Wikieup, he set his sights on a
rare J & R Oyler smoker. The guy who owned it never stood a chance.
“I was buying restaurant supplies in Phoenix and saw this big, beautiful smoker
hidden in the corner,” Heslin recalls. “It was from the ‘60s and they just don’t make ‘em like
that anymore. I asked the price, but it wasn’t for sale. So I kept shopping and dragging things
out and I kept coming back to the smoker, but the guy was adamant. Finally, after three hours,
I told him, ‘I’m going to Walmart, buying a sleeping bag, and I’m going to camp out here until
you sell it to me.’ ”
If you’re wondering how the test of wills came out, walk around back of Eat at Joe’s and
admire the Oyler. The moral: Never try to outlast a pitman. Someone who customarily preps
meat for 16-24 hours doesn’t lack patience.
“I’ve been barbecuing since I was a kid,” Heslin says. “And I’ve tried barbecue from across
the country, seeing what worked and what didn’t. What I do here is simple: I use the best
meats I can get my hands on and throw it in the smoker with locally
cut mesquite and nothing else.”
Eat at Joe’s dishes up meaty racks of baby back ribs that are tender
but not helpless. They offer just a hint of resistance, refusing to sur-render
without a bite. That texture makes them all the more delicious.
In addition to hearty pulled pork shoulder and melt-in-your-mouth
It’s in His Bones
Joe Heslin is a patient man, especially when it comes to prepping
his barbecued ribs. Indeed, good things come to those who wait.
That’s why people are flocking to Eat at Joe’s in Wikieup.
By ROGER NAYLOR
OUR “SHORTCUT” TO ORACLE via the tiny town of
Pomerene might be serendipitous — what with the
cloudless cerulean sky, wide-open above the cotton-woods
and willows along the banks of the lazy San
Pedro River, all framed by the Little
Rincon Mountains. Curiosity has led
us to Gammons Gulch and our chance
discovery of six feet of restless energy: Jay Gammons.
Here, we meet him and see his dream, a replicated Old
West town and mining camp known as Gammons
Visitors are rare midweek, but Gammons volun-teers
a tour. Outside the saloon, a hitching post stands
ready, and an old ginger cat peers down at me from the
roof. Across the street in the filtered shade of a mes-quite
tree is a water trough and pump.
As our guide leads us down the boardwalk, the
hollow echo of my boots taps out the rhythm to the
lyrics of Gammons’ commentary, an intimate anthol-ogy
of his artifacts and buildings. Not just a gaggle of
false storefronts, each building is filled with authentic
items, the result of 30 years of foraging.
Our tour starts at the saloon, which boasts a carved
mahogany bar Gammons discovered in Jerome. At the
adobe blacksmith shop, antique tools stand ready to
shoe a horse or mend a broken wagon wheel. The back-door
of the jail has been recycled from the old Tomb-stone
jail; the cell lock is from the Yuma Territorial
Prison. And through the rear window, the view of a
lone mesquite bush banishes any idea of escaping into
this forbidding terrain. The mercantile, apothecary,
barbershop and telegraph office are all painstakingly
staged with period artifacts, including a water-stained
letter that carries the Pony Express logo.
Back at the saloon after our tour, Gammons enter-tains
us with a rousing rendition of Stephen Foster’s
Ring, Ring the Banjo. The metallic sound of piano conjures
bawdy images of Saturday night in Gammons Gulch.
The only things missing are whiskey and women.
Clearly, the streets aren’t paved with gold, but Gam-mons
is living his dream. “The place is getting more
popular since they paved the road,” he says. “One day I
did the tour 37 times. That was a Budweiser night, and
I don’t even drink.”
Gammons Gulch is quirky, a labor of love and a
unique replica. But more than that,
Gammons’ enthusiasm and pas-sion
are inspiring — he embod-ies
the ideals and drive upon
which the West was founded.
Jay Gammons is into replicas. That’s
why he’s spent 30 years working on
Gammons Gulch, which is a dead ringer
for an Old West town and mining camp.
By MAGGIE KIELPINSKI
beef brisket, the menu offers some surprises,
such as Boudain, a Cajun specialty, and
Mojoes, a full pound of exquisitely seasoned
and slow-smoked pork sausage.
Heslin serves everything with
sauce on the side. Customers
have a chance to savor the qual-ity
of the meat itself and the smoky notes
that permeate it.
“Barbecue joints that drench their food
with sauce are hiding something,” Heslin
His place is simple and inviting, operated
solely by Heslin and his wife, Rose. A dining
room that’s not much more than a screened-in
porch is lined with picnic tables built by
a neighbor. Instead of napkins, washcloths
adorn the tables. Because if all you require
after chowing down is a dainty dab, you
didn’t have real barbecue.
“I’m determined to serve barbecue that
people always remember,” Heslin says.
And we know how things turn out when
the man puts his mind to something.
Eat at Joe’s Barbecue is
located at 17809 Highway
93 in Wikieup. For more
information, call 928-
765-2287 or visit www.
THE JOURNAL > people THEJOURNAL > dining
W I K I E U P
Having spent part
of your childhood in
Willcox, what was
your favorite place
If you were trying
to convince Willie
Nelson that Arizona
is one of the most
beautiful places in
the country, where
would you take him?
I’d take him on a
pack trip to look for
Cochise’s burial site.
We’d go horseback
riding and have fun
the most fabulous
and rugged areas of
Maybe we’d end our
week by hitting the
at Lava Falls. Willie
is hard to shake, but
that might stir him!
Is there an Arizona
flavor or food that
you miss most?
Yeah, sure. We used
to get chiles by the
toe sack when they
were in season.
Where in Arizona
might an “outlaw”
artist like yourself go
to get inspired?
The Grand Canyon.
Say you were
stranded in the
desert. Who’d be the
better survival guide:
Burt Reynolds or
Hank Williams Jr.?
Hank Williams Jr.
He’s an avid hunter,
so we wouldn’t go
hungry, and God
knows, “A country
boy can survive!”
— Dave Pratt is the
author of Behind the
Mic: 30 Years in Radio
P R A T T ’ S Q&A
Gammons Gulch is lo-cated
in Pomerene, just
north of Benson. For
information, call 520-
212-2831 or visit www.
P O M E R E N E
8 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
LIFE IN ANY METROPOLITAN area can get a little redundant. Especially when it comes
with bumper-to-bumper traffic and ridiculously high temperatures — the kind that compel
even Hell’s inhabitants to head for the hills. Fortunately for city slickers in Phoenix and
Tucson, there exists a respite so remote yet so easily reachable that neither heat nor haze
can touch it. This otherworldly haven is known as Dream Manor Inn, and it’s an ideal stop
for those seeking refuge in the worldly town of Globe.
When Dream Manor owners and former Las Vegans Carl and Rebecca Williams purchased
the ’60s-built property in 2005, it was meant to be a hilltop château where
the couple could retire on two-and-a-half acres of sequestered bliss. But
all of that changed when the Williamses, who had plenty of extra rooms,
untouched land all around and an affection for entertaining, were hit with a vision: Let’s cre-ate
an intimate B&B with a distinct desert feel. So, with Rebecca’s hospitality background and
Carl’s aptitude for engineering, they gave the compound a facelift — updating with Tuscan
décor — and opened for business as Dream Manor Inn in the summer of 2006.
At first glance, the idea of opening an inn in Globe might seem a little risky, but the Wil-liamses
knew better. Globe’s location on U.S. Route 60 is a kind of middle ground between
Arizona’s two largest cities, Phoenix and Tucson, and it’s ripe for business meetings and
nuptials. Plus, away from the inn, the Globe area offers plenty of opportunity for exploring
Arizona, including hiking, biking, white-water rafting, boating, golf-ing,
antiquing, a casino and, even more novel, a vintage yet fully
functional drive-in movie theater, which is located just down the
hill from the inn. If you ask Rebecca, she’ll tell you the drive-in is a
charming attribute that’s representative of the town’s appeal.
Like a Dream
Luxury lodging in Globe. It’s not the first thing that usually comes
to mind, but the Dream Manor Inn is very real. And it’s very nice.
By MARYAL MILLER
Regardless of what you do away from
the inn, at some point, you’re going to want
to kick back and relax, and that’s where the
inn’s accommodations come in. With four
rooms (all with private baths) located in the
main house, two rooms that can be booked
as one in the 1,200-square-foot guesthouse,
which has a four-story observation tower,
and five villas with kitchenettes and living
areas, the options go well beyond a typical
B&B. For heavenly views, the main house’s
Sunrise and Sunset suites offer perfect bal-cony
seats for watching their namesakes
over the Pinal Mountains.
Beyond the bedrooms, the grounds are
perfect for banquets, midsize weddings and
receptions, thanks to a gorgeous oleander-bordered
lawn, a flowing waterfall and a vast
Sonoran Desert backdrop. Carl even had the
road along the villas paved so that brides
won’t dirty their dresses. Genius.
For such a soirée, plan on booking several
months in advance — the inn typically func-tions
at 98-percent occupancy. Whatever
your reason for visiting the inn, chances are,
you won’t be disappointed. One guest liked
the place so much he stayed for two years.
How’s that for customer satisfaction?
Dream Manor Inn is located
at 1 Dream Manor Drive in
Globe. For more information,
call 928-425-2754 or visit
GET INTO SHAPES
know that scene
composition is always
and patterns that
are defined primarily
with light and dark
tones. But some
beg to be shot that
way — ghost towns,
for example. The his-tory
and grit of these
places is brought to
life by using shapes
and textures rather
than being dependent
on saturated colors for
impact. Think about
making digital photos
in color and then con-verting
them to black
and white with com-puter
work with film, digital
software allows much
more control over the
EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for
Arizona Highways Pho-tography
at bookstores and www.
Q&A: Joel Grimes
He’s colorblind, which might seem a little unusual for a
photo illustrator, but take one look at the work of Joel Grimes,
and you’ll see that his creations are a perfect 20-20.
By JEFF KIDA, photo editor
You became interested in photography in high school,
when you met your sister’s boyfriend, a photographer.
Were you already making photos, or did he inspire you?
I was already taking a photography class, but I was
also young and impressionable. Seeing someone a bit
older with two Nikons hanging around his neck was
cool, man — that’s the phrase I would have used back
then. I was pretty convinced I wanted to pursue pho-tography,
but I had no real sense of what that meant.
Any other influences?
During my first semester in college, I was working at
Peace Surplus in downtown Tucson. In walked Lou
Bernal, the head of photography at Pima Community
College. We struck up a conversation, and the next
thing I knew I was signed up for his introductory
photo class. I ended up working under him for three
semesters, and I wish it had been more. We kept in
touch until he died tragically in a traffic accident.
Many of your recent images have muted tones. The col-ors
aren’t overly saturated, but the lighting is very crisp.
Has this always been your style?
It’s no secret that I’m colorblind. I’ve often said this is the
ace up my sleeve, because being colorblind forces me to
not only look at the world differently, but also to place
importance in other things, like tonal range and composi-tion.
For me, the way light strikes a subject is paramount.
You do a lot of postproduction work with your digital
images. What’s your take on technology versus artistry?
We often put the cart before the horse. The cart is the
technical process, and the horse is the creative process.
The minute we let the cart pull the horse we become
technicians, and that’s boring. The argument that a
photograph ceases to be a photograph if you apply too
much postprocessing doesn’t hold up because we all
draw a different line as to when we have gone too far. I
look at myself as an artist first, and I happen to use the
photographic process to fulfill my vision as an artist.
Where to draw that line is of little interest to me. If
you put the cart before the horse, you’ll spend a lot of
time talking about where that line is drawn.
Do you consider yourself a storyteller, a documentary
photographer or an illustrator?
I love capturing the essence of people, to make them
larger than life. That’s the story for me. It makes no
difference if they play professional basketball or they
sit on the back of a tractor all day long. The story is in
their faces, in the way they stand or in the shoes they
wear. I believe I illustrate during the entire photo-graphic
THE JOURNAL > lodging THEJOURNAL > photography
O N L I N E
For more photography
tips and other informa-tion,
highways.com and click
G L O B E
In this photo illustration, Joel Grimes uses his signature
lighting style to create a studio image of cowboy Roman
Ruiz set against a separate image of Empire Ranch.
10 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 11
THEJOURNAL > nature
You might hear them scamper away,
but they won’t hear you. Greater
earless lizards, which have the
distinct advantage of lightning speed, have
no ear openings. None. Instead, these 1.5- to
3.5-inch reptiles most likely hear ground
vibrations, as opposed to air vibrations, like
most other living creatures.
Surprisingly, experts say this works to the
lizards’ advantage, because it allows them to
burrow deep beneath the scorching Arizona
desert to escape predators and heat with-out
damaging their eardrums. Furthermore,
despite their name, they do, in fact, have
ears inside their heads, although it’s unlikely
they hear as well as lizards with outside ear
Like many lizards, greater earless lizards
are frequently seen perched on rocks in the
deserts of Arizona, California, Texas and
Mexico. When they spot a predator, they run
with their black-striped tails curled above
their bodies, a move also used by their rela-tives,
zebra-tailed lizards. The move helps
All greater earless lizards have a dull yel-low
color on their backs, with orange spots
near their upper bodies. Two black bands
paint their bellies. Turquoise underbellies
easily distinguish males; the females’ under-bellies
have a salmon tint.
The lifespan of greater earless lizards,
which live on insects, including caterpillars,
ants, spiders, bees and wasps, tends to be
short — most live for only two to two-and-a-half
In Arizona, hikers often spot greater
earless lizards below the Mogollon Rim,
although binoculars are sometimes neces-sary
to see them sitting on the boulders that
line the area’s wash beds. Walk slowly if you
hope to get a close-up view. These lizards
will dash off and be gone in less than a sec-ond,
disappearing almost magically into
Good Vibrations Greater earless lizards are ... well, earless.
They hear through the ground, not the air. So, as much as you might want to
sneak up on one, you’re not going to be able to. BY MARK CRUDUP
BRUCE D. TAUBERT
Leaders of the Pack
As far as euphemisms go, “white-throated
wood rat” is definitely
a kinder, gentler name for what
amounts to a packrat. These notori-ous
hoarders are widespread in Ari-zona
— creating middens in rocky
and grassy areas alike — and can
often grow up to 13 inches in length.
They are differentiated from non-native
rats by their hairy, bicolored
tails and white throats and bellies.
BRUCE D. TAUBERT
A STAGECOACH RUMBLES INTO town, and clouds of dust billow
around it. The driver tugs the reins and pulls the horses to a stop
— just long enough to drop off and pick up bags of mail, load and
unload passengers, eat a meal, replenish water and change horses.
It reads like a scene from a John Wayne Western, but in 1858,
the stagecoaches of the Butterfield Overland
Mail were real, and they provided the best
means to move letters, packages and passengers
westward from the Mississippi River.
Several things led to the establishment of the route: The Mexi-can
War and the Gadsden Purchase, Manifest Destiny and the
discovery of gold in California. As a result, the United States
If you think snail mail is slow, imagine
what it was like in the days of the
Butterfield Overland Mail route. Some
of those checks are still in the mail.
By SALLY BENFORD
Congress authorized a contract for over-land
mail service from Missouri to Cali-fornia
via horse-drawn conveyances and
awarded it to New York businessman John
Butterfield. That was 1857.
It took a year to work out the details,
and when the Butterfield Overland Mail
was finally ready to roll, it used a southern
route to avoid bad weather. In addition,
Butterfield refused to carry gold or silver
in an effort to cut down on attacks by
highwaymen, but that didn’t mean the
trail was trouble-free — especially in Arizona.
The 139 relay stations along the 2,795-mile route stood about 20
miles apart, and in Arizona, the most infamous stop was at Apache
Pass. It was built there because of access to fresh water at Apache
Spring. Later, the station was the site of the 1861 Bascom Affair,
during which Lieutenant George Bascom had words with Cochise,
the Apache chief. The event set off a chain reaction (including
the only attack on a Butterfield stage) that pitted Apache Indians
against Arizona settlers for the next 25 years.
In 1860, with the Civil War looming, the Pony Express began
carrying the mail over a central route to avoid the violence in the
South. The next year, the Butterfield Overland Mail route was
discontinued and the Pony Express
joined forces with Wells Fargo to
deliver the mail.
Though the Butterfield operation
lasted only two-and-a-half years, its
existence helped stitch together a
growing country and open the West
A P A C H E P A S S
■ The February 18,
1896, edition of The
Arizona Gazette ran
a Phoenix dentist’s
silver fillings for
$1.50, gold fillings
for $2 and extrac-tions
for 50 cents.
Having a tooth
pulled on Saturdays
cost only 25 cents.
■ On February
22, 1856, after five
years of captivity,
Olive Oatman was
ransomed by the
U.S. Army and re-turned
to Fort Yuma
in Western Arizona.
■ Francisco Vazquez
de Coronado left
on February 23,
1540, and headed
Arizona with a
contingent of more
than 300 European
soldiers, 300 Indi-ans
African and Native
American slaves in
search of the famed
Cities of Cibola.
Cowboys have always known their horses come
first. Our February 1960 issue was a nod to cow-boy
culture and featured Arizona’s traditional
rodeo fare, from barrel-racing to calf-roping. Of
course, a rodeo isn’t a rodeo without country
music. Songs of the Old West also had a place
in this issue.
50 years ago
I N A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S
THEJOURNAL > history
ARIZONA STATE LIBRARY
This month, the Hashknife Pony
Express rides from Holbrook
to Scottsdale to commemorate
the mail riders of the Old West
and to deliver the mail as they
have for more than 50 years.
The group arrives in downtown
Scottsdale at noon on Friday,
February 5. Information: www.
A Butterfield stage arrives in an unidentified Arizona town.
12 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
THEJOURNAL > things to do
Arabian Horse Show
F E BRUA RY 1 1 -2 0
S C O T T S D A L E
The Arabian Horse Show cele-brates
its 55th anniversary this
year. The show, which takes
place at WestWorld, gathers
the world’s top owners, train-ers
and breeders to compete in
hundreds of different classes.
Seminars, demonstrations, a
stallion auction and an oppor-tunity
to visit with the stars of
the show round out the event.
Information: 480-515-1500 or
F E BRUA RY 1 0 - 1 4 T UBAC
This festival is the largest annual event in Tubac, one of the most art-centric
towns in Arizona. Showcasing the work of hundreds of artists
and craftspeople from around the United States and Canada, the
festival offers fine art and whimsical arts and crafts. Information: 520-
398-2704 or www.tubacaz.com.
F E BRUA RY 1 -2 8
F L AGS TA F F
Winterfest features more than 100 events,
including cross-country and downhill skiing,
ice-skating, a snow sculpture contest, snow
softball, concerts and art shows. Information:
928-774-4505 or www.flagstaffchamber.com.
F E BRUA RY 5 - 7 CA S A GR AN DE
Sponsored by Wuertz Farm, this unusual
weekend exhibition is devoted to the glorious
gourd. Head to the Pinal County Fairgrounds
to view gourd art from more than 100 artists
and vendors. Additional festivities include a
sailing “regourda,” gourd games, mini-gourd-ster
races, Flash Gourdan and the annual
Running of the Gourds. Information: 520-723-
4432 or www.wuertzfarm.com.
M A R C H 1 5 - 1 8
TOMB S TONE
Travel to the “town
too tough to die” for
a unique workshop
expert Steve Burger
and award-winning portrait photographer J. Peter Mortimer. During
this three-day workshop, participants will capture the interesting per-sonalities
that make this town quintessentially Wild West. Information:
888-790-7042 or www.friendsofazhighways.com.
F E BRUA RY 2 6 -2 8 FOUN TA I N H I L L S
This juried art fair features 480 artists and artisans who line the
Avenue of the Fountains. The event also features food booths and live
musical entertainment, as well as a hot-air balloon rally on Sunday
morning. Information: 480-837-1654 or www.fountainhillschamber.com.
Mind If We
The state of Arizona gave us our own license plate,
and we’d like you to take us for a ride.
To order an official Arizona Highways license
plate, visit www.arizonahighways.com and
click the license plate icon on our home
page. Proceeds help support our mission of
promoting tourism in Arizona.
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 15
S Curve | A long exposure captures
a trail of tail lights along State Route
88 at Tortilla Flat. JEFF KIDA
Bloody Basin gets its name from
either a pile of dead sheep or violent
showdowns between white settlers
and Indians. Or something
Bisbee’s less nebulous. It was named
after a miner’s father-in-law. When
it comes to place-names and their
origins, Arizona has some real
doozies – Gripe, Klondyke,
Nothing – and we have the convo-luted
explanations for them. Sort of.
14 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
By Lauren Proper
baby mummy cave
Fool holloW LAKE
16 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
Known to many stu-dents
as “The Dean,” the late
University of Arizona profes-sor
Byron Cummings played
an integral role in unearthing
the convoluted cultural past of
the American Southwest. His
specialties were archaeology
and anthropology, so, naturally,
he took part in many excava-tions
during the early part of
the 20th century. During one
particular dig in Cottonwood
Wash, he discovered the mum-mified
corpses of two infants.
Choosing to keep the name
accurate and descriptive, as sci-entists
often do, he named the
cave for its tiny residents.
When John Lawler
bought the mining claim
here in 1883, he decided to name
it after the setting of one of his
favorite books. In the book The
Thousand and One Nights, Baghdad
was the majestic, magical capi-tal
of the Abbasid Empire in the
Middle East. No one knows if
Lawler intended to misspell the
name to Westernize it or if it
was a simple mistake, but it has
remained — sans h — for more
than 125 years.
Sheep and humans have
little in common, except when
traveling through this section
of the Mogollon Rim. Both shep-herds
and their flocks stopped
there for haircuts while trek-king
across the state. Dick Hart,
who owned the land, had a crew
that included shearers for the
sheep and a barber for the men.
EDITOR’S NOTE: History is a tricky
thing. Some of it is well-documented,
some is word-of-mouth and the rest
is somewhere in between. For this
piece, we used a wide range of sources,
including the de facto bible on the
subject, Arizona Place Names, by Will
C. Barnes (University of Arizona Press,
1988). Turns out, there are multiple
explanations for almost every name
on the list. In all likelihood, there will
never be a definitive answer for some of
these places. That’s why it’s important
to note that we’re presenting this story
more for entertainment value than for
the historical record. We know there
are several versions of history here, and
we fully expect a barrage of e-mails and
letters with alternate explanations. Feel
free. We’d love to hear from you.
Initially staked out for a mining claim, all activity in
Bisbee was centered on the prolific Copper Queen Mine.
It was meant to rival the Silver King Mine east of Phoenix, and
it did; 8 billion pounds of copper ore left the Copper Queen in
its nearly 100-year existence. When Phelps Dodge & Co. sent
Dr. James Douglas to buy up copper prospects in 1880, he
purchased land next to the mine. The two ventures merged,
resulting in the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co. A
couple of brothers who served as promoters for the company
decided to name the town after shareholder Judge DeWitt
Bisbee, the father-in-law of one of the men.
It’s one of the most unus-ally
named exits along
Interstate 17 between Flagstaff
and Phoenix. Adding to the
area’s eeriness is the lack of
an official explanation for its
out-of-the-ordinary name. At
least two gory theories exist,
but no one knows for certain.
Some people believe the name
originates from a violent clash
(or clashes) between settlers
and Indians; others attribute it
to a bridge collapse that killed
an entire flock of sheep passing
through the Verde Valley.
Most people know
that where there are
beehives, there is honey. And
an abundance of stingers. The
prospectors who came upon
this area, however, either didn’t
know or didn’t care. Accounts
say that they found a hive full
of honey near a creek and dis-turbed
the bumblebees inside.
Many were stung badly, and,
in recognition of their experi-ence,
the prospectors named
it Bumble Bee Creek. When
a post office was established
there about a decade later, the
small town officially adopted
No one is sure who was
responsible for stripping
the stately ponderosa pine
tree near Old Town Spring in
1876. What most historians
can agree on is that the bare
tree was used as a flagpole,
and that it stood, flagless,
for passersby on their way to
nearby Antelope Spring. The
flagstaff stood for more than
10 years before being cut down
and used as firewood at a local
saloon. Shortly thereafter, the
town was named in honor of
the once-prominent landmark.
This small unincor-porated
Sedona is not known for
its corn. In fact, the only
place you’re likely to find
any would be at the local
grocery store. Originally,
the town was supposed to
be called Cohnville, after a
family named Cohn. The
Cohns applied to have a
post office at their store,
but when the paperwork
came back from Washing-ton,
D.C., it read “Cornville.”
Some locals have disputed
the family’s name, with vari-ations
of Cone and Coane
also noted, but despite
all the disagreements, no
one has ever bothered to
change the name.
CORNVILLE | NICK BEREZENKO
FLAGSTAFF | TOM BEAN
barbershop canyon | RANDY PRENTICE
BISBEE | JEFF KIDA
2 6 5 8
• • •
18 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 19
Is the word Arizona still a mystery? Not
according to Donald Garate, chief inter-preter
at Tumacácori National Historic
Park, who wrote two Journal of Arizona History articles
about the name after exhaustive archival research.
Garate says the word first appeared in a May 8,
1736, letter referring to a lush valley 18 miles south-west
of Nogales, Mexico. Five varieties of oak thrive
there, so the popular conjecture of “Arid Zone” does
not fit this climate. Additionally, nouns and adjectives
are reversed in Spanish, so the name would be Zona
Ali Shonac — a Tohono O’odham phrase scholars
propose as an origin for Arizona, based on its sound
— appeared on Father Kino’s detailed 1690s maps.
But by 1735, dozens of Basque herders lived in the
area, including Bernardo de Urrea, owner of a ranch
named Arizona. In Basque, aritz means oak and ona
means good; combined they become Arizona, “place
of the good oak trees.”
The name became legendary in October 1736,
when a Yaqui Indian named Antonio Siraumea stum-bled
on a one-ton chunk of almost pure silver in the
mountains, 12 miles from Urrea’s ranch. Hundreds of
prospectors rushed to mine the rich bolas y planchas
de plata (balls and plates
In order to decide
whether the silver was
ancient treasure, an ille-gal
smelter or a natural
deposit, Manuel Sosa,
Juan Bautista de Anza’s
scribe, took depositions
and mailed dispatches
to Mexico City from the
ranch, making Arizona
world famous for its con-nection
to the discovery.
After Garate wrote
his article Who Named
Arizona? The Basque
Connection, he found a
dozen places named
Arizona in Central and
South America. There
were no Pima or Tohono
O’odham Indians in
other countries, but there were Basques there. So, is
Arizona a Basque word meaning “place of the good
oak trees?” Probably. At least that’s what Garate
believes. — Jim Turner
In Alaska, the frigid
Yukon was the source
of a great gold rush in the late
1890s. About a decade later, a
couple of Yukon prospectors
made their way into the area near
Aravaipa Canyon and decided to
stay. They chose to commemorate
their time in Klondike, Alaska,
by naming their new homestead
after the place. There was just
one problem — they couldn’t
spell very well. No one held it against
them, though. The town once boasted
nearly 500 residents.
One of Tom Hughes’ men
wasn’t exactly the sharp-est
tool in the shed. In fact, his lack
of intelligence was widely known to
nearby cowboys who took pleasure in
taunting him. They started a rumor
that Hughes had trained a monkey
to serve as a farmhand, and though
the ranch was named “Pennsylvania,”
after Hughes’ home state, its name
was changed to Monkey Springs by
the next owners. A newer theory sug-gests
that the title was bestowed by
American settlers who mispronounced
the name of Captain Manje — a
Spanish explorer who traveled through
the region with Father Kino in 1694.
Two buildings, four people,
one gas station/rock shop.
That’s what Nothing had when it was
something. In recent years, Nothing
was abandoned, then revived by own-ers
who sporadically make wood-fired
pizzas in a trailer-mounted oven. The
former residents put up a sign inform-ing
drivers on U.S. Route 93: “Through
the years, these dedicated people had
faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing,
worked at Nothing, all for Nothing.”
Time will tell if that’s what they’ll get
in the end.
Before agreeing to name the
future Arizona capital after
the mythological bird, the founders
tossed around several alternative ideas
back in the late 1860s. Jack Swilling, a
Southern man, suggested “Stonewall”
after the Confederate general. Another
man thought “Salina” would be appro-priate,
since they intended to use
water from the Salt River in irrigation
canals. But Darrell Duppa had other
ideas, basing his name on the evi-dence
of past civilizations in the area.
Phoenix, he said, would rise from the
ashes of the old city. And indeed it has.
10| Got Its Name
MOGOLLON RIM | NICK BEREZENKO
Poor Thomas Adair’s
neighbors weren’t the friendliest
folks in town. The prop-erty
he bought was apparently
unsuitable for farming, and the
local residents called it Fools
Hollow because nothing would
grow there. One story says that
after a dam was placed where
Show Low Creek and Fool
Hollow Wash converge, the
town was covered by the 150-
acre lake that bears the same
Cotton farming and
tires don’t go hand-in-
hand, but in the late 1900s,
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
purchased a large plot of land
along what is now Interstate 10,
west of Phoenix, with the intent
of growing the white fluff. By
1944, however, Egyptian cot-ton
was no longer a priority for
the tire manufacturer, so the
land was sold. Today, Goodyear
is notable for many things —
including a wooden cutout of a
giant baby with dolls that’s vis-ible
from the freeway.
the definition of “gripe” is to
complain with grumbling. The
definition according to the
men who were stationed at
the Arizona state agricultural
inspection point in the area:
What they did a lot of while
they were there. Eventually,
folks willingly settled nearby
and enjoyed it enough to stay
— without any objections.
Imagining the Grand
Canyon as a desolate respite
for those seeking solitude is
difficult today, considering
its 5 million annual visitors.
But that’s just what attracted
a French Canadian miner and
reclusive prospector. He kept
holdings at the Canyon during
the late 1880s, although he never
made a living off the mines.
Even so, the solitary prospector,
Louis Boucher, remained in the
area for more than 20 years and
contributed to the development
of the Canyon. The man known
as “the Hermit of the Grand
Canyon” built several trails
— Boucher, Dripping Springs
and Hermit — and his tourist
business earned him a reputa-tion
as a gracious host. Several
Grand Canyon features bear
his nickname today, including
Hermit’s Rest, Hermit Rapids
and Hermit Basin.
Many early settlers
in Arizona were
Mormons in search of religious
freedom or looking for poten-tial
converts in the sparsely
populated Wild West. Jacob
Hamblin was no exception.
After marrying his first two
wives in Utah, he developed a
close relationship with local
Indians. However, with the
passing of antipolygamy laws
and a warrant for his arrest,
Hamblin was forced to move
his family to Northern Arizona,
New Mexico and even Mexico.
By the time he died in 1886, he
had taken four wives, fathered
24 children and left his name on
a handful of locations through-out
the Territory, including this
shallow body of water.
Wagons and cliffs
don’t mix well, so early pioneers
had to get creative while pass-ing
through this canyon on the
Mogollon Rim. Instead of finding
another way, many chose to brave
the drop-off. To get to the valley
below, travelers would unload
their wagons and tie them to a
tree. Hand-over-hand, the wag-ons
were lowered to the bottom.
Luckily, the route was a military
road between two forts, so strong
men were likely abundant.
GLOBE | The Cobra Valley Art
Center, formerly the courthouse
Before Arizona was part of the
United States, the land was over-seen
by the royal crown of Spain. The king
appointed governors to certain areas in the
New World, and Don Juan Ignacio Flores
Mogollon, the governor of New Mexico,
was in charge of this area during the early
part of the 18th century. By the time the
land was acquired by the United States,
the name “Mogollon” had appeared on
maps for 100 years and, so, the decision
was made to keep it. Several decades later,
the Board on Geographic Names had a dif-ficult
time distinguishing between several
geographic features in the area carrying
the name “Mogollon,” so it combined them
under the more general term Mogollon Rim.
Like the history
behind several towns,
this town’s name is a mixture
of legend and fact. Some
say the most likely story is
that early visitors to the area
stumbled upon a silver mine
they described as being as
round and large as a globe.
Local lore attributes the name
to a large ball of pure silver
shaped exactly like a perfect
sphere. While the latter ver-sion
might not be the origin of
the name, the silver ball did in
fact exist — but probably not
until well after the town was
• • 10
20 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
This town wasn’t
big enough for both
of its founders — Corydon E.
Cooley and Marion Clark —
so they decided to gamble for
control with a game of poker.
Winner got to stay; loser had to
leave. It was nearly dawn before
the last hand was dealt, and
Cooley needed only one more
point. “Show low and you win,”
Clark said to him. Cooley’s
next card was the deuce of
clubs, and Clark left town
almost immediately for the area
Erastus Snow plus
Flake equals Snowflake. Or
Snow Flake, as it was originally
spelled. The two men met after
Snow and several other families
ended up on Flake’s land fol-lowing
a migration from their
failed camp in Taylor. Both
men were Mormon settlers, so,
naturally, Flake let them stay
and the two groups became
happy neighbors. About 100 of
the original buildings from the
turn of the 19th century have
been restored and some are
part of the Snowflake Historic
Homes Walking Tour.
Some settlers got
creative with the
names they gave their new
towns. And some did not. Take,
for example, this town on the
Mogollon Rim. The weather
is perfect for growing ... you
guessed it, strawberries. When
the first residents came across
a nearby creek, they found an
abundance of the tasty red fruit
growing along the banks. So,
they decided to keep it simple
and named the town without
much more thought.
Bones greeted travel-ers
along the path through this
valley following a massacre in the
1800s. The abundance of skulls
was described by some as the
result of a battle between Indian
tribes, while another story attrib-uted
the skulls to white men who
were murdered by hostile Indians.
Another skirmish between explor-ers
and natives in the 1860s led to
the deaths of dozens of Indians,
who were left where they fell with-out
23| 24| 25| 26|
sedona | A biplane flies over the red rocks of Sedona | KERRICK JAMES
skull valley | ROBERT MCDONALD
used to frus-trate
the U.S. Postal
Service, so it rejected
for post offices, citing
name length as the
reason. After “Oak
Creek Canyon Camp”
fell into this category,
the Schnebly broth-ers
went back to the
drawing board. Ells-worth,
in a gracious
move, suggested they
name the settlement
after his sister-in-law
Sedona. In 1902, The
request was approved
by the Postal Service.
26 2•4 25
Historians rarely get recognition for their hard work, but the men who settled
near Fort Whipple offered acknowledgment when they named Prescott. Wil-liam
Hickling Prescott was widely known for his book, History of the Conquest of Mexico,
and other works. The residents honored the historian at a public meeting on May 30,
1864, naming the town for him. Unfortunately, he never knew; he died in 1859, five years
before being honored by the town.
Courthouse Plaza IN PRESCOTT | RICHARD MAACK
22 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
“You’ll only find your
Ed Schieffelin’s companions.
They warned him of the hostile
Apaches he was sure to encoun-ter
while exploring the San
Pedro Valley. Alone, Schieffelin
set out in search of mining
prospects among the Indians in
late 1877. Instead of finding his
tombstone, he discovered an
area rich in silver that yielded
millions of dollars’ worth of ore
in just six years.
Jacob Hamblin had a hard time
pronouncing Hopi Chief Tivi’s
(or Tuvi’s) name. In the mid-
1800s, Hamblin and his cohorts
came upon the tribe and devel-oped
a friendly relationship.
They called the chief “Tuba,”
and named the place for him
when Mormon settlers estab-lished
a post office there in
1884. Less than 20 years later,
they were forced to leave after
the government purchased
their holdings for Indian use.
not college students, used
to inhabit the area near the
Sentinel Mountains in Southern
Arizona. They called the moun-tains
schookson, which means “at
the base of the black hill” — for
obvious reason. When Spanish
missionaries arrived in the area
during the late 17th century,
they clashed with Indians while
trying to convert them. By the
time the Civil War occurred,
the area had been incorporated
as the Arizona Territory. From
1867 until 1877, Tucson was the
This place near
Truxton Canyon has
nothing to do with Cupid.
Most people there had prob-ably
never even heard of St.
Valentine. That’s because the
land, initially designated for an
Indian school, was set aside on
660 acres by the Colorado River
Agency in May 1900. Because
the school was on agency land,
the Indian agent also became
the postmaster. When the
school was closed less than a
decade later, the post office and
the township were renamed
to honor Robert G. Valentine,
then-Commissioner of Indian
Both stories about
how this town got
its name sound reasonable,
although one might be more
interesting than the other.
According to the Arizona
Office of Tourism,
it comes from a
— the Y-shaped
junction of nearby
state routes 85 and
86. The other story,
courtesy of original
settler Peggy Kater,
is that the name was
inspired by a com-mon
asked while passing
through: “Why are
you living way out
Mexican-food lovers, this isn’t
where you can find the deli-cious
staple. What you will find
is an abundance of rocks —
really flat, circular rocks. Some
accounts attribute this town’s
name to the oddly shaped
rocks, but Connie Phelps recalls
a different story. Phelps, a co-owner
of the town in the late
1940s, said that John Cline, a
cowboy, told her about being
stranded there during a cattle
drive. Having just purchased
some land, Cline and his cow-boy
pals celebrated as cowboys
often did, but they drank too
much and forgot to stop for
supplies before continuing on to
Phoenix. A flash flood made the
trails impassable, and the men
ran out of food while waiting
for the water to recede. They
did, however, have some flour,
which they used to make tortillas
while they camped on the
rocks for several days.
tombstone | MOREY K. MILBRADT
the barrio in TUcson | KERRICK JAMES
tortilla flat | NICK BEREZENKO
24 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
See the Light Randy Prentice is one of the top landscape photographers in the Southwest. He also plays
a mean guitar. But for this month’s portfolio, which features the best of Arizona in various
stages of sunlight, the only instrument he needed was a camera. And maybe a tripod.
a p o r t f o l i o b y r a n d y p r e n t i c e
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 25
26 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 27
reflect on the calm,
cool Blue River in the
Winter storm clouds
collide with the
intense hues of dusk
over the mesquite-covered
Canyon (right) in
To order a print of this photograph,
call 866-962-1191 or visit
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 29
Within the Grand
Canyon, the amber
walls of National
Canyon give an
iridescent glow to a
28 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
30 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 31
Sunlight provides a natural
spotlight for a lone ocotillo
among a meadow of wildflowers
in the Santa Rita Mountains’
Box Canyon (above).
A stream painted with golden
sunlight punctuates the scarlet
rock within Aravaipa Canyon
Day’s last light
blushes pink on a
Mountains, as century-plant
stand against an
32 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
To order a print of this photograph,
call 866-962-1191 or visit www.
Alone on the Hill
The mining region of Rich Hill isn’t what it used to be.
Today, it’s mostly made up of retirees with metal detectors, but
not so long ago, the mountain was a haven for a different kind
of prospector. The “old boys” were reclusive, eccentric
and sometimes violent.
BY KATHY MONTGOMERY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID ZICKL
34 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
They had names
like Rattlesnake Bill and Crazy
Willie, and Elly Loftin knew them
better than anyone.
36 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 37
Elly Loftin stands in the front of the classroom like a patient teacher
waiting for her unruly charges to settle down. The dusty black cowboy
hat that is her trademark corrals shoulder-length silver hair. The laugh
lines around her eyes deepen as she smiles. The room grows quiet.
Loftin begins by apologizing that she is the one who will be deliver-ing
the lecture. After a mere 30-odd years on Rich Hill, she calls herself
the new kid on the block. “I’m not the history of Rich Hill,” she says.
“I just try to keep track of it.” For the next two hours, Elly entertains
the group with photos of the mountain’s rocky, desert landscape and
stories about eccentric prospectors with names like Rattlesnake Bill
and Crazy Willie who eked out a living on the gold they found there.
For more than 100 years, tales of Rich Hill, located in the Weaver
Mountains about 13 miles north of Wickenburg, have assumed mythi-cal
proportions. In 1863, members of a scouting party sent to retrieve
pack animals were said to have found gold nuggets the size of potatoes
just lying exposed on the hilltop. Since then, the population and law-lessness
of the area have risen and fallen with the price of gold.
These days, most of the prospectors on Rich Hill are recreational
club members who camp in luxury RVs and wield metal detectors.
The Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association led the way when it bought
the ghost town of Stanton, at the base of Rich Hill, in 1978. The LDMA
restored the three historic buildings there — a hotel, an opera house and
a store — and opened the town as a campground for members to use for
recreational gold prospecting. It was a new idea.
In the mid-1980s, Elly Loftin started her own club, which became the
24 K Gold Hunters. Several other clubs followed. But Loftin owned claims
on Rich Hill long enough to know the “old boys.” She collected their sto-ries
and photos, and has become an unofficial keeper of the lore.
When Loftin arrived at Rich Hill in 1977, a surge in gold prices con-tributed
to a general lawlessness, and rival factions were at war.
“I got down to what is now Decision Corner, and the open pit mine
had guards on it,” she remembers. “They looked like the Aqua Velva
man, with black turtlenecks and black caps, and it was hot, but there
they were. And Uzis! I went back and took a turn north, and I just got
on that road when there was gunfire in front of me, whiz, whiz, whiz.
“I slammed on my brakes and thought, I’m going to get out of here. Then
someone rode over from this side with a horse and went [Elly gestures
someone waving her on], and someone rode over from this side and
went [she waves her hand again], and I thought, well, I don’t see white flags,
but I guess it will be OK. I drove through and the minute I got through, the
gunfire resumed. That was my introduction to Rich Hill.”
Elly thought once she got out, she’d never look back. But after a few
days on the mountain she decided it was so beautiful she never wanted
to leave. She bought the historic Devil’s Nest claims, located at the heart
of Rich Hill, and lived on them for three years.
Being gregarious and curious, Elly got to know most of her neigh-bors.
One of her favorites was a man the locals called Rattlesnake Bill,
who lived in a stone powder house not much bigger than a walk-in
closet. He claimed to share it with 14 rattlesnakes. Bill eventually
moved to Wickenburg, where he died. Elly likes to say he was struck.
And he was. By a car.
Then there was Crazy Willie. “When I first came out here, every-body
told me to stay away from Crazy Willie ’cause he’ll kill ya,” Elly
remembers. “So I went right over to meet him. It was toward evening
and the sun was getting low. The screens in his house were dusty and I
could see his face behind it and it looked cadaverous; he was very thin,
and it looked like a skull was talking. He called me by name and said,
‘Elly, are you going to just stand there or come in and have coffee?’ ”
lyde Thomason is one of the “old boys.” A small
man with narrow eyes and a warm handshake,
Clyde’s parents were placer miners who lived on
Rich Hill. Clyde is old enough to have known
the Lucero brothers, who were celebrated for
killing Charlie Stanton in 1886. Stanton was the
unpopular storekeeper for whom the town was named. When he knew
the Luceros, Clyde was very young and the brothers were old enough to
suffer from failing eyesight. Clyde used to trail behind them, returning
the nuggets they had dropped.
Clyde left Rich Hill at age 15, after an accident with a mule took
his leg, though his parents remained until their deaths. He inherited
their claims, but sold them years ago. Now he lives in nearby Congress,
where he runs a karaoke business with his wife, Jacquie, whom he
married in 2008.
On a warm fall day, Elly picks up Clyde for an errand. Johnboy, a
man who once worked for Clyde, had recently died. Clyde paid for
the cremation and agreed to scatter his ashes where Johnboy lived on
Elly drives her green Jeep, easily spotted with its 24 K Club emblem
and license plate that reads “AU BUGGY,” AU being the chemical des-ignation
for gold. Word had reached Elly that Clyde had gotten into a
scuffle with a 68-year-old man named Ray. Clyde threw the first punch.
Although Elly is the younger of the two, the news of her friend picking
a fight against a much younger opponent roused her maternal instincts.
The tiny Peeples Valley schoolhouse quickly fills to
capacity, even though a steady rain has turned the
parking lot into mud. The unexpected size of the
crowd has momentarily unnerved the historical
society organizers of today’s lecture. But the topic,
nearby Rich Hill, proves as irresistible as the lure
of the gold that made the mountain legendary.
“All up there was Wild
Willie’s private vineyard,
where he made his wine.
He got me high a lot
of days passing by his
house. If I could slip past
his house going up that
way prospecting, I was
in great shape. If he
saw me, though, he was
hollerin’, ‘Come here.’ ”
38 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 39
“At 85, you might want to hang up your boxing gloves,” she scolds
him. “I told Ray if he ever knocked you down again, I’d come after him
with a ball bat, and I would, too.”
The Jeep bounces jarringly past the ruins of the old stone house
Clyde’s mother and grandfather built in 1917 and comes to a rest in
front of a small area covered with debris. It’s hard to imagine that a
home once stood there. It looks as if the shack were lifted Wizard of
Oz-style, leaving nothing but a small, square footprint, flanked by a
pair of paloverde trees and marked with rock, sun-bleached wood and
Clyde stands uncertainly clutching a plastic bag between calloused,
tobacco-stained fingers. Then he punctures the bag and pours. The
wind blows the ashes like a comet’s tail as he picks his way around
When he’s done, Clyde and Elly stand together in silence. Elly sug-gests
“I don’t say prayers,” Clyde says.
“That’s OK. We’re going to say one anyway.”
Clyde begins with the only prayer he knows.
“No, that’s a table grace,” Elly corrects gently.
“Dear Father,” Elly says, “it’s Clyde and Elly, saying goodbye to
Clyde’s friend and helper, Johnboy. We pray that he is peacefully at
sleep, waiting for you to come and get him.”
“Lord, take care of John,” Clyde adds.
“Amen,” Elly says. “See, you can pray.”
Clyde shakes his head wonderingly as he climbs back into the Jeep.
“I worked with him for 14 years, and didn’t know a thing about him.”
t wasn’t unusual for people on Rich Hill to keep to themselves.
Crazy Willie did. His solitude and otherworldly appearance
contributed to wild rumors about the prospector. He was crazy,
people said. He was a killer. But Elly and Dan Edwards knew
better. Originally from Alabama, Dan lived on Rich Hill off
and on since the mid-1950s. Dan is tall and lanky, with a gun
perpetually attached to his hip and a voice that retains the molasses-slow
cadence of his youth. He lived across the creek from Willie before
Willie lost his battle with cancer.
On a clear day, Elly and Dan ride out to see what’s become of Willie’s
place. Dan’s shack is gone. Just the border of four stone walls still stand.
Willie’s cabin remains, though Elly and Dan shake their heads at the sight
of it. It doesn’t look like the same place. The little wind generator that used
to be on the roof is gone, Elly notes. So is the entire front porch.
“Do you remember he had a preacher’s license on the wall?” Dan asks.
“I tell you what I think. Personal opinion. I think wild Willie ordered
that out of one of those magazines or something.”
“He did,” Elly says, chuckling. “It said, ‘Universal Life.’ ”
Elly points to several refrigerators lying tipped over on the ground
outside. They were full of oozing dynamite, she remembers. The bomb
squad almost burned the place to the ground getting rid of it.
“Coolerator,” Elly says, reading the chrome script. “How long do you
think since they made those?”
Gesturing up the hill, Elly points out where Willie’s orchard stood.
“This was the garden,” she says. “He had little chairs out there. We’d go
out there and sit and drink coffee and visit. The garden had wires over it.
Willie said, ‘I don’t want to kill the rabbits,’ so he’d just kick them out.”
Dan points to another area and chuckles. “All up there was wild
Willie’s private vineyard, where he made his wine,” he says. “He got
me high a lot of days passing by his house. If I could slip past his house
going up that way prospecting, I was in great shape. If he saw me,
though, he was hollerin’, ‘Come here.’ ”
Inside, Willie’s tiny cabin looks like it’s been ransacked. A dirty
tatter of a curtain hangs from a dusty window. A boot lies orphaned on
the floor, next to a wreck of a couch with rusted springs.
“Oh, boy,” Elly says. “What a trashy mess.”
“Yeah, well, every time you move out, you know, they’ve got to look
for the gold,” Dan says.
“Tore his bed apart, threw his clothes on the floor, looking for gold!”
Elly says. “What a bunch of greedy, dummy people.
“When he lived here this cabin was so neat. His stove was there,
remember? It was so old and pretty. They took that little table and
chairs, too. He had curtains on the windows. Even his little light bulb
is gone. It came right down into the middle of the room, and he’d read
there by that light.”
“He started playing the lottery when it came out,” Dan recalls.
“Every week he had the same numbers, I mean religiously. He didn’t
miss a time. He never won.”
“I don’t think he would have lived differently,” Elly says. “Willie was
a good, good person — just different, is all.”
“Hell, if he wanted to be rich, he wouldn’t have been a prospector.”
“Right,” Elly agrees. She stops and turns to Dan. “It would be nice to
see Willie one more time, wouldn’t it?”
n New Year’s Eve at the Arrowhead Bar in Con-gress,
Elly wears a paper tiara in place of her
trademark hat. She’s come in hoping Clyde is
working, but he’s not. AC/DC blares from the
Patrons file by Elly’s table in a steady stream. Some
sport 24 K Club ball caps. Others are locals. Everyone gets a hug. Elly
takes a club member’s hand in both of hers and says she hopes this is
his best year ever.
She points to a spot in the wall. “There’s a bullet hole there,” she says.
In the old days, she explains, there was a sign that said to check
your weapons at the bar. And, mostly, people did. But every now and
then, someone would keep a gun hidden and there would be shooting.
Nothing too serious. It’s a lot calmer these days, she says, but that’s not
to say there aren’t fights from time to time.
A year earlier, Elly watched a young cowboy get jumped by seven
men she’d never seen before. When she couldn’t get anyone to intervene,
she jumped in herself. In the confusion that followed, she walloped a
man with her sandal only to find out that he was “one of the good guys,”
who was trying to help. Elly chuckles at the memory of it.
A few minutes later, the guitar player in the band that night walks
in. Elly reminds him of the incident and they share a laugh. “I wish I
could remember what I was playing,” he says.
Elly smiles and sips from her drink, Baileys on the rocks. In a few
hours, she will be 70.
“It bothered me for a while,” she says of her impending birthday.
“But not anymore.”
Meanwhile, the old boys continue to slip away, taking with them
their way of life. Just a month ago, another of the old boys was found
unconscious. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support. In
a few days, her good friend Angel Morales, whose family homesteaded
a ranch near Rich Hill, will undergo heart surgery.
In a few weeks, even Elly will sell her claims and disband her club.
Dan Edwards insists the old ways were better. Elly isn’t so sure. “It’s
a lot calmer and nicer out there,” she told the group at the schoolhouse
the previous summer. “The adventurous side misses the old days, but
the common sense side says this is really better, and it is.
“There have been some sad moments and some happy moments,” she
concluded. “But what a wonderful thing to be here.”
When You Go
DIRECTIONS: From Wickenburg, take U.S. Route 93 approximately 6 miles
to State Route 89. Continue north on SR 89 for about 10 miles to Congress.
Turn right at Stanton Road (Yavapai County Road 109) and continue for
about 6 miles to the ghost town of Stanton.
TRAVEL ADVISORY: Stanton Road, which runs from Congress to Stanton, is
a heavily graded dirt road, drivable with a passenger car, but washboarded
in spots. Beyond that, roads can become rough and conditions vary. Aside
from Stanton, there are no restroom facilities. The privately owned town
of Stanton welcomes visitors, though only LDMA members are allowed
to camp there. Much of the land around Rich Hill is owned by the Bureau
of Land Management, though there are pockets of state land and private
property. Most of the BLM land is open to the public, though the mineral
rights are privately owned. You must have permission from the owner of
the mining claim to remove rocks or minerals. An MVD off-road decal is
required for ATVs and other off-road vehicles.
INFORMATION: Bureau of Land Management, 623-580-5500 or
www.blm.gov; Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association, 800-551-9707
40 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 41
In Arizona, it’s known as the Tumacacori
Highlands. In Mexico, it’s the Emerald
Mountains. To scientists and Mother
Nature, the mile-high environment is
simply a sky island, a unique area of bio-diversity
that’s home to a wide-ranging
variety of desert, mountain and sub-tropical
species, including jaguars. It’s
a special place, to be sure. That’s why
scientists on both sides of the border
are working so hard to preserve it.
by terry greene sterling
photographs by jack dykinga
Late-afternoon sunlight casts a glow on a dense stand of yuccas that grows in the foothills of the Emerald Mountains, south of the Arizona-Mexico border.
42 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 43
moke-hued clouds break over the highlands
of northern Sonora, Mexico. Two Tucson
biologists and two Mexican cowboys hurry
their sure-footed ponies up a rocky trail,
hoping to beat a storm. Clumps of red asters
cling to the side canyons; yellow daisies and
tangerine-tinged poppies grow in the flatlands. The air smells of rain
and horse sweat.
The horses navigate through grass that grows so high it slaps their
undersides. An occasional misfit from the Sonoran Desert — a lone
saguaro, an isolated organ-pipe cactus — peers down from the slopes
at yawning canyons of giant oaks and sycamore trees. Mexican blue
jays, startled by the unexpected clink of horseshoes on stone, scold
Any jaguars, ocelots, mountain lions or bobcats hiding nearby
must also be surprised by the offbeat posse scrambling up the moun-tainside.
The horses climb for perhaps a half-hour, then snort with heart-felt
gratitude when their riders rein them in and dismount. The four
equestrians stretch their legs, drink from water bottles, shade their
eyes, and gaze directly northward into Arizona, which lies just 5
miles away. From there, at 5,200 feet, it’s easy to see that Arizona and
Sonora share this one delicate sky island. In Arizona, it’s called the
Tumacacori Highlands. In Mexico, it’s Sierra Esmeralda, the Emerald
Today, border turbulence and population pressures threaten this
once-isolated landscape and all the creatures and plants that live in it.
The biologists and the cowboys have teamed together to fight
almost insurmountable odds to save something greater than them-selves
that could be lost forever.
sergio avila is a 36-year-old Mexican biologist who spe-cializes
in the study of wild cats in the borderlands. He’s an out-wardly
cheerful, inwardly intense fellow with lively eyes and a thick,
shoulder-length ponytail. Avila saw his parents, both medical doc-tors,
pour their energies into raising him and his brother. Now Avila
has decided not to have children because raising a family, he fears,
will distract him from his life’s work of conservation and grassroots
He could have chosen an easier life, but he yearned for a connection
to the land and rural people. Avila now heads the Northern Mexico
Conservation Program sponsored by the Sky Island Alliance, a pri-vately
funded Tucson-based grassroots group formed in 1991 to protect
and restore the sky islands of the American Southwest and northern
Mexico. The region’s biodiversity is the stuff of legend — home to a
stunning variety of desert, mountain and subtropical species. Like
Although jaguars reportedly once roamed as far north as the Grand
Canyon, recent jaguar sightings have occurred in the Tumacacori
Highlands. Avila has discovered that ocelots also wander in northern
The Sonora side of the sky island is largely held by private ranchers,
so it’s more isolated than most of the public lands on the Arizona side.
Mexican ranchers, eager to learn new ways of using their lands in the
face of declining cattle-ranching revenues, have welcomed Avila and
his fellow scientists onto their spreads.
The ranchers are particularly keen on a project called Cuatro
Gatos (Four Cats). The unique scientific study, which falls under
the umbrella of the Northern Mexico Conservation Program and is
funded by groups as diverse as the Phoenix Zoo and Turner Founda-tion
Inc., seeks to identify the international travel corridors of wild
cats by capturing their photographs with motion-detector sensor
cameras strategically placed on the Sonoran side of the borderlands.
It’s not an easy task.
Avila begins his hunt for cats with satellite maps, identifies can-yons
and mountains where cats might live, interviews local ranchers
and cowboys, then hikes with them looking for clues — a bit of cat
hair caught in a fence, probable bedding places, scat, tracks, dead prey.
Using this detective work, he has mounted several cameras on trees
near water holes, streams and other secluded places where a shy cat
His cameras have captured the rare ocelot, the bobcat and the
mountain lion. His cameras have yet to capture photos of jaguars,
although he’s seen their tracks. The photographs help Avila map out
possible travel corridors that must be preserved on both sides of the
border if the wild cats are to survive in this remarkable biome.
Back in Arizona, Avila shares his data with conservationists study-ing
animal corridors on the American side of the border.
By learning more about wild cats and their travel routes, Avila
and his colleagues can gauge the health of the mountains on both
sides of the border. Healthy predators require good water, their own
territories, abundant prey that has ample forage, and clear pathways
from one sky island to another. If the biome thrives, cats thrive. If the
biome suffers, cats suffer.
like so many cattlemen who struggle to keep their
land on both sides of the border, Roberto Corella has a side job. The
55-year-old Mexican rancher owns a company that sells and installs
solar panels. Years ago, his family’s Rancho La Esmeralda supported
a thriving cattle business. In the 1960s, profits from the sale of 30
Mexican calves could buy a new pickup truck. Now, 100 or more calves
must be sold to fund a new pickup. Stagnant cattle prices, drought and
increased expenses all threaten this traditional way of life in Sonora.
Corella’s family has owned Rancho La Esmeralda for almost a
century. It’s said that in the mid-1700s, a Yaqui Indian found a 2,500-
pound slab of silver in nearby Planchas de Plata Canyon. Hoping to
draw bird-watchers and ecotourists, Corella built an elegant solar-powered
lodge flanked by a pink-cliffed canyon and a clear creek.
Groups rent the lodge for secluded retreats.
Just down the road, Corella’s friend John Ochoa has built a com-fortable
tin-roofed house in an oak-lined valley where exotic birds are
almost as common as sparrows. Arizona may have received its name
from pioneering Basques who settled the area in the early 18th century.
In the Basque language, the word “arizona” reportedly means “place
of the good oak trees.”
Ochoa’s home is decorated with antique saddles he has found on his
land — he often wonders what happened to the riders — and maps
that show that the ranch is situated at the tip of the Sierra Madre. His
many guests have left lists detailing the diversity of birds, mammals
and insects they’ve sighted here, and he sometimes pulls those lists
out of a drawer and reads them with pleasure.
Ochoa is an American citizen with Mexican residency, a Tucson
contractor who grew up in Sonora and Arizona. He says he descends
from Basque settlers, and one ancestor was an early mayor of Tucson.
He grew up understanding that Sonora and Arizona share the rich
biome, where man-made borders are not understood by wild cats and
other animals that must navigate from one sky island to another in
order to thrive.
the horses are refreshed and the riding party
remounts. The peaks of Arizona disappear as the equestrians descend
into a rocky canyon in Roberto Corella’s Rancho La Esmeralda.
Sergio Avila and his fellow biologist, Jessica Lamberton, have many
questions for the two cowboys, Remolino Noriega, who works for
Corella, and Sergio Garcia, who works for Ochoa. Both men under-stand
this wild, threatened land in ways that will help Avila and
Lamberton search for cats.
All four riders know they must bridge an unspoken gap; cowboys
have traditionally been at odds with environmentalists.
Cowboys view mountain lions as
threats to livestock and often kill them.
It’s Avila’s job, as a community organizer
and biologist, to help the Sonoran
cowboys see wild cats differently. Avila
notes, for instance, that killing one lion
does not preclude others from moving
into the territory, and that big predators
may benefit ranchers by keeping other
animal populations in balance.
A day earlier, Avila and Lamberton
had hiked into remote areas of Ochoa’s
ranch with Garcia’s son, Alex, to inspect three cameras strapped to
sturdy tree trunks. They’d checked the batteries, removed and coded
the used film, replaced it with new film, scribbled abundant field notes
and interviewed Alex about the animals and plants in the area. Before
leaving, Avila sprinkled the dirt in front of the camera with bottled
bobcat urine, hoping to stop a cat long enough for the camera to take
Now the two biologists survey Corella’s ranch on horseback, descend-ing
into a creekbed lined with sycamore trees. In one tree, a tropical
bromeliad-like plant, a tropical refugee, hangs from the branches.
The horses drink the clear creek water, scattering tiny red-spotted
toads. The two Mexican cowboys sit in the shade, surveying the
biologists as they perform the routine camera-check and bobcat-urine
If the cowboys have reservations about the biologists pouring bob-cat
urine onto the sand, they won’t express them. They understand
that cowboys and conservationists must set aside their differences
and join together to fight for something greater than themselves — the
wild cats that roam this fragile, wild place that knows no borders.
OPPOSITE PAGE: Biologist
Sergio Avila rides into the
remote, forested canyons
of the borderlands to study
the big cats that inhabit the
ABOVE: Sky Island Alliance
Lamberton reloads a cam-era
trap in an effort to catch
area wildlife on film.
FAR LEFT: A rare Montezuma
quail resides in the under-brush
on the Rancho
Avispas in Sonora, Mexico.
LEFT: Sergio Avila leads a
small group through a wil-low
thicket to study wild
cats and their travel routes
in Southern Arizona and
44 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 45
“good things come to those
who wait.” It’s adage No. 17 in
the book of mom proverbs, but in
the case of the scenic
drive between Tucson
and the Buenos Aires
National Wildlife Ref-uge,
it is, admittedly,
The 160-mile loop
begins at Exit 99 on
Interstate 19 in Tucson.
You’ll drive west along
(State Route 86)
through the saguaro-speckled
of Tucson proper before
hitting a stretch of
ahead, you might
notice a dome-topped
ridge. The domes house
the telescopes of Kitt Peak National
Observatory. Cat Mountain looms to
After 21 miles, you’ll come to
Robles Junction, also known as
Three Points. There, you’ll turn left
(south) onto State Route 286. But
be forewarned: Cindy Lou’s II Café
and the gas station there are the last
services until Sasabe, some 46 miles
Once you turn onto SR 286, the
waiting game turns quickly into a
game of I-Spy, particularly if you’re
cruising with someone — maternal
or otherwise — who has a keen eye
and/or eyes in the back of their head.
You’ll pass an old VFW post and the
Three Points Memorial Park before
the buildings move out of focus,
and the expanse of the surrounding
Altar Valley moves in.
Peppered with mesquite and sit-ting
in the shadow of the Quinlan
Mountains, Altar Valley is cut with
a patchwork of washes that flow
after a heavy rainfall. Baboquivari
Peak, sacred in Tohono O’odham
teachings as the home of I’itoi, the
Creator, is visible to the right. And
don’t be surprised to spot predatory
birds along the route. You might even
have to slow down to avoid a gaggle
of turkey vultures that have stopped
in the road for a midday meal.
The highway enters the Buenos
Aires National Wildlife Refuge
approximately 20 miles south of
Three Points. However, the turnoff
for the visitors center is another 15
miles down the paved, easily naviga-ble
road. That is where your patience
pays off and you can silently thank
your mother for a lesson learned.
Established for the protection of
the masked bobwhite quail in 1985,
the refuge provides a safe haven for
more than 200 bird species, as well
as wolves, foxes, coyotes, cotton-tails,
javelinas and countless Coues
deer and mule deer. A glimpse of
a doe and her fawn might inspire
another quiet thank you — this time
to Mother Nature.
After visiting the refuge, return
to SR 286 and backtrack approxi-mately
5 miles to the turnoff for Ari-vaca
Road. The winding, potholed
route meanders for 12 miles through
wildflower-lined ranch land to the
tiny town of Arivaca. Former home
to Pima and Tohono O’odham Indi-ans
and later settled by the Spanish,
the area was known in its early days
as L’Aribac, but was abandoned after
an Indian uprising in 1751. In 1916,
President Woodrow Wilson signed
Arivaca’s township deed. Today, a
few small restaurants, a post office
and roadside fruit stands lend Ari-vaca
some serious old-school charm.
You’ll complete the loop by con-tinuing
northeast on Arivaca Road
for approximately 23 miles to its
junction with Interstate 19 for the
return trip to Tucson.
ABOVE: A male
rests in the crook
of a tree and a
scaled quail finds
a pleasant perch
in the mountains
frame a crisp
azure sky and dis-tant
Peak, which is
sacred to the
State Route 286, as a
name, doesn’t sound
like much. But don’t
judge a road by its
moniker. This scenic
stretch is simply
BY KELLY KRAMER
B U E N O S A I R E S
N A T I O N A L W I L D L I F E
R E F U G E
T O H O N O O ’ O D H A M
N A T I O N
A L T A R V A L L E Y
north S T A R T H E R E
Santa Cruz River
Note: Mileages are approximate.
LENGTH: 160-mile loop
DIRECTIONS: In Tucson, from
Interstate 19, take Exit 99 (Ajo
Way) and drive west on State
Route 86, also known as the
Ajo-Tucson Highway. After 21
miles, turn left (south) onto
State Route 286 at Robles
Junction. Continue for 35 miles
to the turnoff for the Buenos
Aires National Wildlife Refuge.
Drive for approximately 2
miles to the visitors center.
Leaving the refuge, turn right
(north) onto SR 286 and drive
5 miles to Arivaca Road and
turn right (east). Continue for
12 miles to Arivaca, then for an
additional 23 miles to Arivaca
Junction and Amado and I-19.
Accessible to all vehicles;
however, roads may not be
navigable following a heavy
rain. Heed all flash-flood
WARNING: Back-road travel can
be hazardous, so beware of
weather and road conditions.
Carry plenty of water. Don’t
travel alone and let someone
know where you are going and
when you plan to return.
INFORMATION: Buenos Aires
National Wildlife Refuge, 520-
823-4251 or www.southwest.
Travelers in Arizona can
visit www.az511.gov or dial 511
to get information
weather and more.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more scenic drives, pick up a
copy of our book, The Back Roads. Now in its fifth
edition, the book ($19.95) features 40 of the state’s
most scenic drives. To order a copy, call 800-543-
5432 or visit www.arizonahighways.com.
46 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 47
month OF THE
the Pinal Mountains are not in Spain. Or Central
America. Or Argentina. They’re about an hour’s drive
from Phoenix, and not much farther from
Tucson. That said, they might as well be
on another planet. Ask hikers in either of
those cities about their favorite trail in
the Pinals, and most will look at you as if
you’d just asked to borrow their deodor-ant.
There’s a universal “huh?” when you
talk about this quiet mountain range
near Globe. For whatever reason, people
rarely venture into it, and that doesn’t
make any sense. For several reasons.
There’s the proximity to the masses, of
course, but more importantly, there’s the
solitude and the scenic beauty. The Pinal
Mountains are among the state’s handful of sky islands
— high-elevation zones surrounded by desert — which
means a 95-degree day among the saguaros in Phoenix can
easily become a 65-degree adventure among the pondero-sas
of the Pinals. Geographically, it’s not all that different
from a trek in the White Mountains or the Catalinas.
The high point of the Pinals is Pinal Peak, which tops out at
around 7,800 feet. This is where most of the trails are headed,
and there are several to choose from: Icehouse, Bobtail, Tele-phone.
The best introduction to the area, however, is along the
Pioneer Trail. It’s rated moderate, and the trailhead is located
just south of the Pioneer Pass Recreation Area, which, like
the mountain range itself, is another hidden gem. Built by
the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the rec area is a
perfect place for a family picnic or a post-hike hootenanny.
Getting back to the hike, one of the first things you’ll
notice is that the sign for the trail reads: “Squaw Springs
Trail.” For obvious reasons, the name has been changed,
but the signs have not. Nevertheless, it’s the same trail,
and it kicks off with a series of switchbacks that cut
through a forest of stately ponderosas and Flintstone
boulders. After about 15 minutes, look to the right. The
panorama to the northeast is sensational. A few minutes
later, you’ll come to a grove of manzanitas that rivals any
grove on any hike in Arizona. As you’ll see, the trail serves
as a tunnel through the thicket. It’s almost primeval.
From there, the route continues its uphill climb — in
and out of the forest — to a long series of well-built steps
that lead to even more rocks and trees, including maples.
Beyond this point, the trail is overrun at times by thorny
bushes that seem to laugh at hikers who attempt the
trail in shorts — do yourself a favor and wear long pants.
Eventually, after an hour or so, you’ll arrive at a place
where the trail is blocked by a fallen ponderosa. The route
is a little tricky to find at this point, but if you look 90
degrees to the left of the log, you’ll see where to go.
A few hundred yards later, you’ll pass through a cattle
gate and come to a forest road, which services the sur-rounding
radio towers. To the right is a cluster of boul-ders,
some of which are bigger than a bread truck. Walk
that way and check them out. The views from their tops
are out of this world. You can’t quite see Phoenix, but rest
assured, it’s only about an hour away.
LENGTH: 4.6 miles round-trip
ELEVATION: 6,156 to 7,800 feet
DIRECTIONS: From Globe, follow the signs to
Besh-Ba-Gowah Pueblo Ruins. Just past the
turnoff, turn right onto Icehouse Canyon Road
and continue 1.7 miles to the intersection of
forest roads 112 and 55. Veer left onto FR 112
and continue 6.9 miles to the Pioneer Pass
Recreation Area. The trailhead is another 1.5
miles to the south.
USGS MAP: Pinal Peak
INFORMATION: 928-402-6200 or www.fs.fed.
• Plan ahead and be prepared.
• Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
• Dispose of waste properly and pack out
• Leave what you find.
• Respect wildlife and minimize impact.
• Be considerate of others.
◗ The trails in the
offer flora, includ-ing
branches of a
(above) and pon-derosa-
PIONEER TRAIL There are
several ways to explore the
mostly unexplored Pinal
Mountains near Globe, and
this trail is at the top of the list.
BY ROBERT STIEVE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MOREY K . M ILBRADT
O N L I N E For more hikes in Arizona, visit our “Hiking Guide” at www.arizonahighways.com.
trail guide F
P I N A L M O U N T A I N S
T O N T O
N A T I O N A L F O R E S T Besh-Ba-Gowah
T R A I L H E A D
48 f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 0
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The West had
won, but these
a time when
boots, spurs and
hats roamed the
For more than
this place has
seen its share
by a couple
to its former
glory after years
of neglect, it’s
now a place to
meet and greet
the Old West.
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