Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shoot out at the Yuma Territorial Prison

Just as they did when the Old Spanish Trail crossed the Colorado River at Yuma Crossing in the late 1800s, gunfighters will gather at the infamous Yuma Territorial Prison, now a State Historic Park, on January 12 - 13.

Old West re-enactment groups from around the Southwest ride into town for this annual showdown, but instead of hot lead, what’s flying is fightin’ words – and acting!

Groups are judged on skits and whether their get-ups, gear, and firearms are authentic to the 1876-1909 era. And though they didn’t really have shootouts in the prison, the historic setting adds flavor to the fun. Click here for more info or call 928-783-4771.

Visit the Yuma Territorial Prison website to learn its fascinating history and if you are camping near or traveling through Yuma, visit the prison at 1 Prison Hill Road or call (928) 783-4771 for more information.

Watch the video below to learn the fascinating history of the prison.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lost Dutchman State Park: Will 2013 be your lucky year?

The Lost Dutchman Legend is the inspiration for the name of this Arizona State Park east of Phoenix. It has lured gold seekers that sought to find the hidden gold spoken of by myth, legend, and Twitter posts. No, sorry that came later. But the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine persists.

The Superstition Mountains (name inspired by Pima Indian legends) have been a source of mystery and legend since early times. The area is dotted with ancient cliff dwellings and caves built by pre-historic inhabitants, however, the name "Apache" came to be closely associated with the Superstitions, and the mountains became an Apache stronghold in the 1800s.

During the 1840s the Peralta family of northern Mexico supposedly developed rich gold mine(s) in the Superstitions. Their last expedition to carry gold back to Mexico occured in 1848. According to legend, the large party was ambushed by Apaches, and all were killed except for one or two Peralta family members who escaped into Mexico. This area is known today as the Massacre Grounds.

A number of other people were supposed to have known the mine's location or even to have worked it, but over the years men who claimed to have found the Peralta mine were unable to return to it or some disaster occured before they could file a claim, all adding to the lore of a "lost mine."

In the 1870s Jacob Waltz, "the Dutchman" was said to have located the mine through the aid of a Peralta descendant. Waltz and his partner, Jacob Weiser worked the mine and allegedly hid one or more caches of gold in the Superstitions. Most stories place the gold in the vicinity of Weaver's Needle, a well known landmark. Weiser was killed by Apaches, or according to some, by Waltz himself.

In failing health, Jacob Waltz moved to Phoenix and died some twenty years later in 1891. He supposedly described the mine's location to Julia Thomas, a neighbor who took care of him prior to his death. Neither she nor dozens of other seekers in the years that followed were able to find the "Lost Dutchman's Mine." Subsequent searchers have sometimes met with foul play or even death, contributing to the superstition and legend that surround these mountains.

Maybe 2013 will be your lucky year, and you can start it off by attending the January 1: First Day Hike at the park. Meet at the park at 9 AM in the Saguaro day-use area to hike the Treasure Loop Trail, learn about desert flora and fauna, the history of the Superstition Mountains, and the Lost Dutchman Mine. This moderate hike has an elevation gain of 500 fee and is 2.5 miles round trip. Carry water, dress in warm layers and wear sturdy trail shoes or hiking boots. In case of rain, hike will be cancelled.. Learn more about Lost Dutchman State Park.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Camp Verde a must see for early Arizona history buffs

Experience life through the eyes of a frontier soldier at Fort Verde State Historic Park. The fort was a base for General Crook’s U.S. Army scouts and soldiers in the 1870s and 1880s. From 1865 – 1891 Camp Lincoln, Camp Verde and Fort Verde were home to officers, doctors, families, enlisted men, and scouts.

The park is the best-preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort in Arizona. Several of the original buildings still stand and living history programs are scheduled periodically, giving visitors a glimpse into Arizona’s history.

December programs include:
Dec. 8 - Jan. 3: Victorian Decorations Displayed. Visit the park decorated for the holidays!
Dec. 14 & 15: Candlelight Tours of the Fort 5 pm - 8:30 pm. Come join park personnel a they host candlelight tours through the historic homes along Officer’s Row. Living history presentations bring the period to life and light refreshments will follow.

Today visitors can experience three historic house museums, all furnished in the 1880s period, that are listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. The former Administration building houses the Visitor Center with interpretive exhibits, period artifacts from military life, and history on the Indian Scouts and Indian Wars era. The park offers picnic tables, restrooms, RV and tour bus parking, and is ADA Accessible.

The New Territory
In 1863 the New Mexico territory was divided, creating the Arizona Territory. The new territorial Capitol was established at Prescott in 1864. As Anglo settlers entered the rich bottom lands near the Verde River at West Clear Creek, they came into conflict with the Tonto-Apache and Yavapai Indians who were already established in the area.

Farms were raided by the Indians for crops and livestock. The settlers fought back bringing about an escalation of hostilities. In May 1865, the settlers demanded military protection. You can read more of the history of Camp Verde here and watch the park introductory video below.