Since 1870, when stories about the Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains became a standard item in Arizona folklore, some 40 people have either disappeared or been found dead in and around the suspected location of the mine. The stories about the fabulously wealthy cache of gold supposedly hidden in the mountains are many and varied, but there’s always once constant — Weavers Needle.
Q: Why are sticks of butter sold here not the same as butter sold in the East? The Arizona kind is shorter and fatter. It doesn’t fit on the butter trays I bought years ago in Connecticut. A: We have to confess that sometimes, in our darker hours, we sit alone under the light of a single naked bulb here at the shabby but genteel headquarters of Valley 101 and pull a bottle of root beer out of our battered desk and wonder if it’s time to give it up. Have all the great questions been asked? All the great mysteries solved? Are there no mountains left to climb?
Paula, an Arizona Oddities reader, recently inquired about the history and creation of Roosevelt Dam. While that’s quite a long story with several sides, we’ve done our best to summarize a few key points in a short blog post.
Whenever I have questions like this about Arizona history, I go to Arizona Oddities contributor and all-around-AZ-expert Marshall Trimble. I asked him for the story behind Roosevelt Dam, and this is what he told me:
Roosevelt Dam was the first major Reclamation Project in the West and was probably the most significant event in the entire history of the Salt River Valley because it provided a reservoir of life-giving water that would make it possible for people to live here. Up until then, the settlers would have to leave during times of drought.
The old West was fading from reality into the realm of myth by the mid-1920s. Most of the bonafide gunfighters were gone and Hollywood took up the chore of telling how it really was. Tom Mix was earning over $17,000 a week performing super-human feats from atop his famous horse, Tony, and the public loved it. Nobody seemed to care much for the way it really was out in lotus land, so Americans were fed a heavy dose of tight-trousered, fast-drawing, hard-riding heroes.
Seven new residents have moved (or been moved) into Wickenburg and they’re permanent in the strictest sense of the word. They stand along the main thoroughfares as reminders of the city’s heritage as one of the last vestiges of the Old West. They never move, never blink, never mind posing for tourist cameras. They can’t because they’re bronze sculptures, strategically installed in front of business places and tourist attractions.