Best and Biggest Things Come in Small Packages

Arizona’s iconic Saguaros respond to the seasons as do other Sonoran Desert plants, but they have a unique system for coping with desert heat and uneven moisture.  During the rainy season their accordion-pleated sides expand to hold as much water as possible for the dry times ahead.

Lots of spines protect the Saguaro from hungry animals

The expansion areas run between columns of spines

Once the desert temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the mature Saguaros begin to produce abundant waxy white flowers.

Blossoms crown the saguaro stem and arms

Blossoms crown the saguaro stem and arms

The Saguaro flowers open at night and are pollinated by bats, then birds and insects the next day.

The Saguaro flowers open at night and are pollinated by bats, then birds and insects the next day.

Three-inch-long fruits quickly form where the flowers were.

Three-inch-long fruits quickly form where the flowers were.

Sometimes hungry birds accidentally knock the fruit from the cactus

Sometimes hungry birds accidentally knock the fruit from the cactus.

Birds peck open and eat the fruit.

Birds peck open and eat the fruit.

The fleshy interior of the fruit is a rich red when ripe.

The fleshy interior of the fruit is a rich red when ripe.

The largest cacti in the world come from these tiny unassuming seeds.

The largest cacti in the world come from these tiny unassuming seeds.

 

 

Slidefire in Oak Creek Canyon

Smoke filling the Flagstaff sky today from the Slide fire. Photo by Amy Dryden

Smoke filling the Flagstaff sky today from the Slide fire. Photo by Amy Dryden

Two weeks ago we camped with our tent trailer at beautiful Cave Springs Campground in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona.  We have lived for decades in the area, but never actually camped in the canyon previously.

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 20, a devastating wildfire started in the canyon south of the Cave Springs Campground, and has been whipped along by high winds. Twenty-four hours later it is estimated at 4500 acres and has topped out of the canyon and approaches Flagstaff, Arizona. ABC News 15, reports at this time the fire is zero percent contained. (Air15 fire photos at the link)

Work of Art

Work of art or Art of Work

What does art mean to you?

A beloved statue from Bisbee Arizona’s past is more than just a metal image of a mine worker.  To many who grew up in Bisbee it embodies the hard-working father, husband, brother, son or friend who spent his life underground in the local mines. It is a tribute both to those who survived and those who did not.

Bisbee's Iron Man, now painted copper, for the mineral wealth of the mines.

Bisbee’s Iron Man, now painted copper, for the mineral wealth of the mines.

Iron Man

The plaque at the foot of the Copper Miners Statue at the top of this page.

Built of Stone

Built of Stone Moenkopi exposed

Moenkopi Formation mudstone and sandstone

About 237 million years ago theMoenkopi Formation rocks were deposited in a coastal plain that covered what is now northern Arizona and surrounding states. The plain ended at the shoreline of a sea in Utah. Seasonal stream beds crossing that plain deposited thick sheets of sand. Over millions of years, “another 10,000 feet of Mesozoic sedimentary rocks accumulated.”

 

Stone Landmarks,Flagstaff's Geology and Historic Building Stones

Quote and details from Stone Landmarks,Flagstaff’s Geology and Historic Building Stones

 

 

Built of Stone lava flow and cinders

A lava flow and black cinders in the San Francisco volcanic field.

Exposed Moenkopi sandstone with overlaying cinders

Exposed Moenkopi sandstone with overlaying cinders

All of these sedimentary layers have been warped, twisted and eroded, ending up being uplifted by molten lava between 70 million and 30 million years ago as a huge chunk of thick crust. This was the origin of the Colorado Plateau, a 130000 square-mile block.  In time, that molten base began to erupt in the San Francisco volcanic field, creating thousands of cinder cones, long lava flows, the stratovolcano known as San Francisco Mountain, and lava domes like Mount Elden near present day Flagstaff. Volcanic activity continued, with the most recent eruption occurring in AD 1064. At that time, the Sinaguan people found that the loose cinders made a good mulch for growing crops, and they created Wupatki. They used the red Moenkopi sandstone exposed in the area along with Kaibab limestone and black basalt from the volcanic field to build substantial buildings.

Built of Stone Wupatki and Moenkopi

Wupatki and the surrounding Moenkopi sandstone building material

Built of Stone Wupatki

Wupatki was built directly on the exposed layers of Moenkopi.

Centuries later, when the railroads necessitated the creation of the town of Flagstaff, the buildings were made of wood.  However, over the years the citizens learned the same lesson that many cities of the day learned, as fires consumed the town.  When reconstructed, the materials of choice were identical to those of the ancients, Moenkopi sandstone, Kaibab Formation limestone and volcanic basalt.

 

Built of Stone Babbit Bldg p 42

The Babbitt Brothers Building was constructed in 1888 of Moenkopi sandstone.

 

Built of Stone - Coconino County Courthouse

The landmark Coconino County Courthouse was constructed in 1895 of “Arizona Red” Moenkopi sandstone.

The Bank Hotel 1886

The Bank Hotel 1886

The Bank Hotel  completed in is built of a combination of local sandstones of different colors.

The Bank Hotel is built of a combination of local sandstones of different colors.

The David Babbitt Building was built in 1907 of split-faced blocks of volcanic rock.

The David Babbitt Building was built in 1907 of split-faced blocks of volcanic rock.

The Raymond Building was built in 1907

The Raymond Building was built in 1911.

The Raymond building uses carved Moenkopi Sandstone.

The Raymond building uses carved Moenkopi sandstone.

The ornate 1906 wall that used to surround the grand home of Charles J. Babbit, which was destroyed by fire. Wall is 265 million year old limestone.

The ornate 1906 wall that used to surround the grand home of Charles J. Babbitt, which was destroyed by fire. Wall is 265 million year old limestone.

The Nativity Chapel was built in 1929 of basalt chunks collected by parishioners from local lava flows.

The Nativity Chapel was built in 1929 of basalt chunks collected by parishioners from local lava flows.

 

New offices occupy Flagstaff's old Ice House, built in 1946 of Limestone filled with impressions or molds of fossilized shells.

New offices occupy Flagstaff’s old Ice House, built in 1946 of limestone filled with impressions or molds of fossilized shells.

Molds and casts of fossilized clams, snails, brachiopods and sea  urchins are found in the limestone chunks of which the old Ice House was built.

Molds and casts of fossilized clams, snails, brachiopods and sea urchins are found in the limestone chunks of which the old Ice House was built.

 

Used copies of the Stone Landmarks are available for purchase at various booksellers.  Photos are my own.

 

 

Varied

T is for Texas Canyon, Tombstone and The Thing

If you drive a car on I10 in southern Arizona, you will undoubtedly see sign after sign asking “The Thing?”  In fact, a miracle in advertising, the first signs begin near El Paso, TX, traveling west. By the time you arrive at exit 322, in the middle of the desert between Willcox and Benson, Arizona, your curiosity should be aroused.  For a whole dollar, you can find out just what The Thing, the Mystery in the Desert, is.  And you can buy an ice cream cone, or other tourist delights.

In the same southeastern corner of the state you will encounter beautiful Texas Canyon, rich in the history of Arizona Territory, the Butterfield Stage Route, ranching, and Apache country.

Entrance to the historic Adams Ranch in Texas Canyon

Entrance to the historic Adams Ranch in Texas Canyon

Fascinating rock sculptures in Texas Canyon

Fascinating rock sculptures in Texas Canyon

Mesquites in Texas Canyon

Mesquites in Texas Canyon

Balanced rocks in Texas Canyon, Arizona

Balanced rocks in Texas Canyon, Arizona

Texas Canyon, Arizona

Texas Canyon, Arizona

A few minutes driving will take you to famous Tombstone, Arizona. In 1877 Ed Schieffelin announced to cavalry stationed in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, that he intended prospecting in the valley of the San Pedro River.  He was warned that he would only “find his tombstone there.” It was a dangerous time in Arizona Territory because this was Apache country.  But he persisted, found silver and staked the Tombstone and Graveyard claims.  Soon other rich deposits were discovered and more prospectors came and the town of Tombstone blossomed. It was a rough, tough boomtown until 1886 when fire destroyed the pump works and the mines flooded.  Tombstone remains as a thriving tourist attraction, complete with shootouts in the streets, busy saloons, stagecoaches and people dressed in the best of western wear.

Tombstone gunfighters

Tombstone gunfighters

Tombstone retains some of its rough and tough attitude

Tombstone retains some of its rough and tough attitude

Last stage to Tombstone

Last stage to Tombstone