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Little-Known Facts about Arizona

Monday will be Arizona’s 93rd birthday. On Valentine’s Day, 1912, Arizona Territory became the 48th state.

Arizona’s history is a bit longer than that, however. Tucson was established as a Spanish Presidio in 1776, at the time of the American Revolution. The presidio replaced Tubac, now a tourist colony, which dates back to 1752.

But you can read those things in history books. Here are some facts about the state that you might have missed:

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More than 500 colors of dirt have been identified in Arizona.

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Susan S. of Globe has been playing computer solitaire nonstop for 2 1/2 years. Finally, her worried children converged on Susan’s home to find out why they had not heard from their mom.

Daughter Becky burst into tears at the sight of her mother sitting in her bathrobe, hair uncombed, surrounded by fast food containers.

“Oh, Mama,” Becky cried. “Play the red eight on the black nine!”

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Corkscrew Creek in Apache County is so crooked that it crosses itself six times on its way to join Black River.

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The Southwest was taken from Mexico in a war that started in 1845. After the war ended in 1848, President Zachary Taylor asked Captain William Tecumseh Sherman to survey the newly acquired lands–New Mexico, Arizona, California.

When Sherman returned to Washington, the conversation went something like this, depending on which source you read:

“Well, captain,” the President asked, “will our new possessions pay for the blood and treasure spent on the war?”

Sherman answered, “I fear we’ll have to go to war with Mexico again.”

“What for?” President Taylor asked, not pleased.

Sherman answered, “To make her take back Arizona.”

It now appears that a war will not be necessary.

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The highest point in Arizona is Humphreys Peak, tallest of the San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff.

For many years, it was claimed that the peak was 12,672 feet tall. In 1986, however, the U.S. Geological Survey informed us that Humphreys is actually only 12,643 feet tall. No one has yet explained what happened to the missing 29 feet of mountain!

The mountains are called the San Francisco Peaks because the Franciscan missionaries who named them in 1629 thought they were in California.

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The lowest point in Arizona is August 9.

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Adventuresome people climb Gunpowder Mountain in Cochise County to see what’s on the other side. Bears go over the mountain to see what they can see.

All are startled to find that there’s nothing on the other side–absolutely nothing. A void to avoid. Director John Ford built the mountain as a backdrop for his 1937 movie, “Gunpowder Moon.”

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At the remote commmunity of Blue Tongue on the Arizona Strip, e-mail is delivered by UPS. (For the benefit of our readers in Thailand, we’ll explain this one more time: The Arizona Strip is that peculiar area north of the Colorado River and south of Utah.)

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Hang gliding was discover accidentally near Tucson in 1911. Nature photographer Sally Forth tried to pitch a tent on the south face of the Santa Catalina Mountains while a spring breeze was blowing.

Clutching the corners of her tent as it scooped up the wind, Ms. Forth landed in Oracle, on the north side of the mountains. Her descent into that community beguiled some gold miners, and scared the devil out of others.

Returning to the south side of the Catalinas, Ms. Forth tried once again to pitch her tent, with the same result. In her memoirs, she wrote that the second trip was no more fun than the first.

Ms. Forth was tired of inventing a sport. She also did not enjoy being the messiah of a new religious cult. She soon began a lifelong study of the flora and fauna of Sonoma County, California.

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The Villas at Stucco Shores, a gated community southeast of Phoenix, was built in just one day last July. It is now home to 37,000 people, many of them employed in the homebuilding industry.

(Horse properties in that area are called “gaited communities.”)

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A Phoenix inventor, Emily Dee Frost, patented a steam-powered refrigerator in 1897. She died penniless.

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The largest tumbleweed ever recorded was 38 feet in diameter. The giant Russian thistle grew on the east bank of the Colorado River near Ehrenberg in the spring of 1963.

By the time spring winds had tumbled the giant ball to Wikieup, 92 miles northwest of Ehrenberg, it had worn down to 19 feet in diameter. An enterprising businessman hollowed it, plastered it, painted it orange, and turned it into a juice stand alongside U.S. Highway 93.

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Gunsmith Ottmar Klempfer, an immigrant from Trenton, New Jersey, moved to Tombstone in 1881 and soon patented a bullet that would make a 90-degree turn, enabling gunfighters to shoot around corners.

During a demonstration, Klempfer successfully fired two .44 caliber rounds around the corner of a brick building. But his third round may have been over-engineered. It turned and headed back whence it had come. Klempfer was disappointed, but not for long.

Last 5 posts by Jim Cook

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