Cave Dwellings

Buckhorn Creek, Lake O' The Pines, Jefferson, TX

Sunday, January 3, 2010


  It is 8:30AM here, and I am doing this blog in sections...I now have a little history of this area....First of all, a bit about the Tohono O'Odham Nation that this RV park is sitting on. To put it in perspective, their nation is about the size of Connecticut, 2.8 million acres. The capital of their nation is a town called Sells. You can see that on the Atlas if you want to play at home. It (and we) are in the Sonoran Desert in Southwest Arizona. They are called "Desert People", and are a federally recognized tribe in Southwest Arizona. They do farming, raise cattle and the women are know for the wonderful woven baskets.( I need to check that out!!)
 According to my meager research, people have lived along the Santa Cruz River near Tucson for at least 3,000 years. Putting that in perspective with the rest of the world history, that means that Tucson is older than the Roman Empire and much older than the Sphinx of Egypt..I find that fact fascinating..The ancient tribe of the Tohono O'Odham stretches back thousands of year or more. They are known to be expert desert dwellers and have lived in the Sonoran Desert for 6,000 years...or....4,000 years before Christ...hard to imagine..
 I really found this intriguing....They believe that I'itoy (pronounced E-E-toy),created the universe in 4 days. I'itoy resides in a cave at the summit of Baboquivari Peak, the large granite dome found in the mountains located 40 miles Southwest of Tucson. Baboquivari Peak cave is regarded by the Tohono O'Odham  as the navel of the world, the opening in the earth from which they emerged after the world flood.
 From the early 18th century through to the present, the O'Odham land was occupied by foreign governments. With the independence of  Republic of Mexico, they fell under Mexican rule. Then, in 1853, through the Gadsden Purchase, their land was divided almost in half, between the US and Mexico. The earliest white man to visit them was thought to be a Spanish Missionary, Father Eusebio Kino, on his expedition in 1694. In the early 1800's their tribe suffered depreciation from their enemy, the Apache.  Then in the 1860's the O'Odham were joined with the Pima and Maricopa in helping the US force a peace with the Apache.  By an execution act of 1874, the US created a reservation for them in Southern Arizona. Another was created in 1917. Today they live on Pima and Maricopa reservations as well.
 When we came here, we drove South out of Tucson on Rt 19 to Rt 86 and all the way through their nation. I mentioned the Casino here is owned by their nation..We sit right on the Western edge of their nation where we camp. I would like to visit some of their shops and see their baskets.
  And now, on to the town of Ajo, 12 miles North of us on Rt85.....Population about 4,000..elevation 1798 ft above sea level..Ajo is reported to mean garlic in Spanish.
 Native Americans, Spaniards and Americans have extracted mineral wealth from ore deposits here for years.  In the early 19th Century, there was an early Spanish mine nicknamed "Old Bat Hole".( nice nickname).  It was abandoned due to Indian raids.  The first "Anglo" to pass through this area, Tom Childs Sr. discovered the deserted mine, complete with a 60' shaft, mesquite ladders and rawhide buckets. He didn't stay long at that time because he was on his way to the Silver mines in Sonora.  Three and 1/2 decades later he returned with his son and a friend, Washington Michael Jacobs. In 1884, the mine camp was almost abandoned, there wasn't a soul in camp. They began to work the camp and made it a permanent mining camp.
 High grade native Copper made Ajo the first copper mine in Arizona. Ajo boomed and in 1911, Col John Greenway, a Yale athelete and former Rough Rider, bought the now New Cornelia Mine. He became the general manager and expanded the mine immensely, (More about him later).
 In 1921, Phelps Dodge, the nation's largest copper company, bought the New Cornelia Mine and it became a branch of Phelps Dodge.  For several decades more than 1000 men worked for Phelps Dodge in the mines open pit. I had a photo of it in a previous blog. The mine was eventually closed in 1985, following a bitter labor dispute and depressed copper market...for more click on this link... Ajo is also the only place in the US where the mineral papagoite is found, discovered in 1960. It can also be found in South Africa and Namibia.It is distinguished by it's bright blue color.
  I mentioned John Greenway...He was very well loved in the town of Ajo.  As I mentioned he was a Yale graduate and athlete and distinguished himself as one of  Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. He helped develop the Mesabi iron ore range in Northern Minnesota in the early 1900's, and began copper operations in Ajo, AZ in 1912, forming the New Cornelia Mining Company.  He had a wife named Isabella, and it was with her inspiration that the downtown "plaza" in Ajo was built, complete with train depot. I had a photo of that in a previous blog, too.  John Greenway built a lovely mission style home for his wife up on the hillside overlooking Ajo. (I will post a photo of it in a future blog...). John Greenway died shortly after completion of this home. After his burial, his wife, Isabella, took a large floral cross that hundreds of mine employees had made and had it encased in concrete and carried to the top of the highest mountain in Ajo.  I could be viewed from their home and is still visible for miles. We can see it easily as we get into town.
  OK, enough lessons. About 10:30AM we took a walk into the desert in search of the illusive burros. I told Dennis I had a theory about them. I believe they are "stage" burrows. By that, I mean that they are brought in here in the middle of the night by truck, they do their braying and leave their poops, then get back into the truck and go back to town....ya think??  Here is a photo of the burro printed trail Tonto and I were following....

  There were some tiny little hoofprints and Tonto told me they were from a baby burro...hey, he convinced me he knows what he's talking about!...This next photo is a Barrel Cactus...they are really pretty, kind of pink and they always lean toward the South..I kid you not!!...

I'm not sure what this little bush is, but it has itty bitty puffs, like a dandelion in seed....

...I need to find out what these are because they are everywhere here. One thing we noticed is that there are hardly any Saguaro cactus on this North side of the park..not sure why..but there were way more on the trail to the South .....I decided I needed to pose again....I want to document the fact that I actually am here,....still cannot believe it....

..OK, I know the ball cap is lame, but believe me, you need something on your head and some kind of eye protection.....I asked Tonto when the snakes wake up here in the Sonoran Desert ..I wondered if they have a "snake" calendar and go, "OK, it is March now, let's get outta this hole, Mable, and get some sun"...or if they just go."OK, even though it is only Jan. 3rd, it is warm enough to get out of this hole and get some sun".  I was hoping for the first choice....Here is my trusted guide, Tonto, A.K.A. McGuyver, who spins tales that I totally believe.....

...You can see the campground in the distance, so he still hadn't succeeded in losing me in the desert..I know you wonder why he may want to pretend he doesn't know me. But, you haven't seen my alternative "uniform" I use for sunbathing..

.....ah, yes, I am a woman of many outfits...some more outrageous than others, but all of them very "unique"....Poor Den....he had no clue 40 years ago, (when I was always "foxed up" for him ) just what he was getting into...the old "bait and switch" every time...!
OK, I have finished this blog for today...As you can see the weather is fantastic..and from what I hear we are missing some global warming temps in Illinois....ha ha....More later!!

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