Q: My grandpa and grandma live in Tucson, and when we visit them, I always wonder why are Phoenix and Tucson so different? A: This is an excellent question. The answer would fill a volume or two, but the short explanation is: History, dear child, it’s all about history. In the great scheme of things, Phoenix is a fairly young city. Granted, the Hohokam and other Native Americans lived around here for centuries, but a permanent European presence was not established until the Army opened Fort McDowell in 1865.
One of the most colorful ladies who ever rode the old West was Sarah Bowman of Yuma. She didn’t fit the common frontier stereotype woman—calico dress, sunbonnet and a youngster hanging on each arm with another tugging at her skirt. In fact, there wasn’t anything common about Sarah. They called her the Great Western, after the biggest sailing ship of her day. Since she stood 6′ 2″ that didn’t seem to bother her; in fact, she liked the comparison.
The red-haired lady with blue eyes was a Southwestern legend in her own time. She could literally sweep men right off their feet (and did on more than one occasion). Because of her bravery during the Mexican War at the battle of Fort Texas, the soldiers affectionately dubbed her the American Maid of Orleans.
Q: I recently moved to the area of 40th Street and Camelback Road and my new neighbors tell me it’s the Cudia neighborhood, but I can’t seem to find out the origin of the name. Can you help?
A: Here at the gleaming research laboratories of Valley 101, teams of white-coated technicians pored over your question night and day for weeks before reaching the conclusion that maybe we should just ask somebody else.
So we asked the estimable Gus Walker, a Republic artist and student of Valley history, who soon produced a tattered copy of The Golden Days of Theaters in Phoenix by one Jerry Reynolds in which we found the answer to your question.
The Southern Pacific railroad stretched its steel ribbons across Arizona in the late 1870s, reaching Tucson in March, 1880. The rail station nearest Phoenix was 35 miles to the south at Maricopa. From the beginning, local citizens began clamoring for a railroad. Despite the fact that thousands of miles of track were being laid across the nation each year, seven railroad companies were organized and went broke in a 10-year period before a line was built from Maricopa to Phoenix.
During that time the stage line of Gilmer, Salisbury and Company ran a daily from Maricopa to Prescott, passing through Phoenix. A proposed railroad followed the same route, the old Woolsey Road, north to New River, then up through Black Canyon, hugging the Aqua Fria River most of the way before veering off to the territorial capital, nestled picturesquely in the Bradshaw Mountains. A tri-weekly stage also ran north to Prescott via Wickenburg.
Q: Help! My house is overrun with scorpions, and I hate them.
A: How ungracious of you. First of all, the scorpions were here first, and secondly, they absolutely adore you.
And what do they get from you? The back of your Reebok.
And, in a way, it’s your fault there are so many of them in the first place. Well, not your fault personally, but our fault collectively.
There are about 35 species of scorpions in Arizona, but only five or six in the Phoenix area, including our personal favorite, the giant hairy scorpion.
All are venomous. That’s their stock-in-trade. But according to Marilyn Bloom, a microbiology research specialist at Arizona State University, there is only one species that really needs concern us: the bark scorpion.