Scottsdale’s Planet Ranch a Costly Goof

Q: We were exploring some back roads in western Arizona when we came to a locked gate with a sign reading, “Planet Ranch, City of Scottsdale.” What is Scottsdale doing in La Paz County?

A: Ah, Planet Ranch.We’d forgotten about that, and there probably are a lot of people in Scottsdale who wish they could forget about it, too. It is one of those “seemed like a good idea at the time” things, the type of thing, we must admit, that checkers the careers of many Valley 101 staff members.

Mining the Past at Castle Dome City

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There was a time when Castle Dome City was bigger than Yuma, but those days are long gone. So is most of Castle Dome City.

Fortunately, Allen Armstrong and his wife, Stephanie, are collectors, and what they collect is history in the form of old buildings. As a result, Castle Dome City lives on. In a way.

The Armstrongs have collected and restored more than 20 old buildings that were once part of the Castle Dome Mining District, a former major silver producer. The mining began in 1862 and was productive until 1978, when the last mine closed. The Armstrongs bought what was left of the town and began collecting artifacts that related to mining.

Lieutenant Amiel Whipple’s Good Deed Saved 47 Lives


On a hot afternoon in 1849 not far from the Yuma River Crossing, a small party of Army Topographical Engineers came upon a young Indian girl wandering in the desert. She was nearly dead from exposure, hunger and thirst. Many would have left the youngster to her fate. It was a tough, unforgiving land where the strong survived and the weak perished.

The officer in charge was a kind, thoughtful man from Massachusetts, named Amiel Weeks Whipple. He’d only been in the Southwest a short time but had already devel­oped a deep respect for the customs and culture of the native residents.

The Big, Bad Bulldog of Winslow

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Dog parks are not unusual in Arizona, but there’s one in Winslow that takes the concept up to a higher level. It’s called Bulldog Park because it’s home to what may be the world’s largest bulldog. The site is on a strip of land that covers no more than 150 square feet and was formerly a weed-filled boulevard. But a local committee cleaned it up and installed what appears to be a giant guardian to make sure nobody messes around with the park. Or in it.

Why Do Sun City Folks Put Rocks On Mailboxes?


Q: We recently moved here from Pittsburgh, and we have an extremely important question about Sun City West: Why do residents put stones on their mailboxes?

A: We have heard of stones on roofs and stones on lawns, but we have to admit that stones on mailboxes was a new one to us. Of course, here at Valley 101, almost anything is a new one to us.

We considered examining this phenomenon firsthand, but the Valley 101 mobile research lab was in the shop, so we set hand to telephone and called the Sun CityWest Visitors and Information Center, reasoning that we were, in a sense, visiting and in need of some information.

And we quickly had an answer, thanks to the exceedingly helpful Kay Johns, who works there.