A short history of Jerome
Arizona’s mining towns frequently went up in flames
Jerome burned. And burned and burned. Three years in a row, the town burned, and merchants rebuilt the tents and shacks that sheltered saloons and cathouses. It was a mining town, where men dug furiously by day and drank away the night. Jerome ran on whiskey, dreams and laissez faire capitalism, a shining lie that has a certain appeal if you didn’t ask too many questions, but its limitations became clear each time the town burned.
Canyonlands National Park
A walk on the wild side
I don’t know what I can tell you, other than don’t go, or think about it, or, take a friend and make sure you stop frequently for a map check. Getting turned around in The Maze is easy to do, and it’s not much fun. Trails are few and hard to follow. Water is scarce. The Maze District is a remote section of Canyonlands National Park where every canyon leads to some other canyon, and some other canyon after that.
The border, a history
Everything was up for grabs. For three centuries, England, Spain and France sent soldiers, trappers and merchants to plant flags, move goods, build forts. They drew maps to mark territory, signed treaties abused the natives, but their hold on North America was weak. All that time, Americans had put down roots along the eastern seaboard, streamed over the Appalachian Mountains and settled the Ohio Valley until that, too, began to get crowded.
Hiking Aravaipa Canyon
Eddie thought we were crazy. He thought that all that wading on a cold day would end in disaster once the sun went down, but we didn’t listen. The canyon was calling.
The forecast called for colder and getting colder, clear to partly hypothermic at night. It was December, and someone, I think it was Jason, had a permit for Aravaipa Canyon.
For four centuries, the continent never seemed to run out of anything. No matter where colonists built, or settlers plowed, or soldiers rode, or trappers roamed, there was something new to discover and exploit. Tribes were slaughtered, then domesticated, money changed hands and maps were redrawn. Mines played out but new ones were found. Timber grew in the uplands and there was good ground in the heartland. The land was a collection of resources, a thing to consume, but sometime in the late 19th century that we began to look in the rearview mirror at the American wilderness, the hills covered in bison, the tribes in control of their destinies – all of it gone. It was not until then that we began to consider limits.
Hiking Soap Creek
Decades ago, I backpacked into a place Soap Creek, tributary of the Colorado River in northern Arizona. It’s possible that just about everything about our trip was illegal – our dogs, our campfire on the beach, our feasting like Viking lords on a fat rainbow trout, howling at the moon. We did not have a permit.
The local fishing guides who put us onto the place were short on details. They said something about shimmying down a rope ladder, but nothing about permits. So we went, took advantage of the campfire ring that was already there and nature’s bounty. It is possible that all of this rogue woodcraft was legal back then. I have no idea.
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