Yuma Territorial Prison

July 2, 2011

On July 1, 1876, the first seven inmates entered the Territorial Prison at Yuma and were locked into the new cells which they had built themselves. At Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park the visitor
has a chance to walk through the strap iron cells and solitary chamber of Arizona Territory’s first prison. A total of 3,069 prisoners, including twenty-nine
women, lived within the walls during the prison’s thirty-three years of operation. Twenty-six successfully escaped but only two of these were from within the prison confines and eight prisoners died from gunshot wounds. The youngest prisoner was 14 years old and the oldest was 88. No executions took place at the prison because hangings were a function of the county sheriff’s office.

An exhibit in the Visitor Center along with photographs introduces the visitors to territorial prison life. Other displays include original cellblocks, water tank, guard tower, sally port (entrance gate), library room and the dark cells. Interpretive panels are located throughout the historic site. The 3600 sq. ft. museum houses a video presentation and original prison artifacts. A large mural painting of Arizona Native Americans and by a World War II Italian prisoner of war graces one of the walls.

Despite its infamous reputation, largely put forth by films such as 3:10 to Yuma, the prison was a model institution for its time. Early pioneers such as John Cady referred to the prison as the “country club on the olorado.” Punishments included the dark cells for inmates who broke prison regulations, and the ball and chain for those who tried to escape.

Crimes ranged from murder to polygamy, with grand larceny being the most common. Most prisoners served only portions of their sentences. One hundred eleven prisoners died while serving their sentences, most from tuberculosis. Prisoners worked but during the free time they hand-crafted many items which were sold at public bazaars held at the prison on Sundays after church services. Prisoners received regular medical attention, and many convicts learned to read and write in prison. The prison housed one of the first “public” libraries in the territory, and the fee charged to visitors for a tour of the institution was used to purchase books. An early electrical generating plant furnished power for lights and ran a ventilation system in the cellblock.

By 1907, the prison was severely overcrowded, and there was no room on Prison Hill for expansion. When the prison became overcrowded, as many as ten prisoners were packed into a cell, which measured 8 feet by 10 feet. The convicts constructed a new facility in Florence, Arizona and the last prisoner left Yuma on
September 15, 1909. The Yuma Union High School occupied the buildings from 1910 to 1914 and the football team was known as the Crims. Empty cells provided free lodging for hobos riding the freights in the 1920s, and sheltered many homeless families during the 1930’s Great Depression. Townspeople used the complex a
source for free building materials which along with plus fires, weathering, and railroad construction,  estroyed the prison walls and all buildings except the cells, main gate and guard tower.

While it was active the prison kept excellent prisoner records. The boxes are at the Arizona State Archives, 1700 West Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Those prisoners who died while incarcerated and were not claimed by family were buried in the graveyard just outside the penitentiary. A shallow grave was dug where a wooden casket containing the body was lowered, covered with the soil and then overlaid with rocks. Since 1950, most of the grave markers have been taken by souvenir hunters or deteriorated under the weather. Only the grave marker of J.F. Floyd has been found and it is now on display inside the prison
museum. Grave markers were typically made into a slab of wood, with the prisoner’s name, number, and date of death.

Prison T-shirts, baseball caps, key chains, handcuffs, and books about the prison are available in the gift shop inside the Visitor Center.

Yuma Territorial Prison, 1 Prison Hill Road, Yuma, AZ 85364

Tel: 928-783-4771

Web Site: www.azstateparks.com


Fort Huachuca Museums

May 31, 2011

Established in 1877, a time when army forts were generously sprinkled over southeast Arizona, Fort Huachuca is the only one which survived to the present day as an active military post. Established during the Indian Wars, the fort was the headquarters of the 4th Cavalry patrols that pursued Geronimo and his band and brought about their surrender to General Nelson Miles in 1886. It also was a site of the use of the heliograph for communication during the pursuit of Geronimo in the Indian wars.

Huachuca has served as home of the famous Buffalo Soldiers, who chased Pancho Villa in Sonora, Mexico in 1916 after his attack on Columbus, New Mexico and Agua Prieta, just across the border from Douglas, Arizona. In World War II two Black infantry divisions, the 92nd and 93rd, were trained on Fort Huachuca’s ranges and served valiantly in the Pacific theater and in northern Italy. Today Fort Huachuca is an important military intelligence and communications center.

The museum re-creates the story of the U.S. Army in the Southwest, displaying uniforms of various periods, early equipment and weapons and model rooms, which present the daily life of the soldiers and their families. There is a museum store which sells books on many topics and mementos. The museum is housed in a building which was first used as bachelor officers’ quarters, then a chapel, and officers’ club and a headquarters building.

Exhibits include pioneer life on the post up thorough recent wars.  Helmets and breastplates from the era of the conquistadores are showcased along with miniature wagons. Fully furnished period rooms show how officers’ wives made life on the frontier attractive.  The kitchen features a butter churn, wringer washer, and a sewing machine. Don’t miss the Buffalo soldier statue located at the traffic circle at Winrow Road and Smith Street. Several exhibits are
dedicated to the role of the Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Huachuca and the American West. In the museum annex, visitors can see more displays, a diorama of a
cavalry camp scene, wagons and an artillery gun.

Because of the Fort’s active military status it is necessary to stop at the gate before entering to visit the museums. The visitor will be asked to show a picture ID such  as a driver’s license, as well as vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

B Troop, 4th US Cavalry (Memorial) commemorates the history of the U.S. Army’s participation in the Indian Wars in the Southwest. B troop is not connected to the museum. Established at Fort Huachuca, Arizona on July 4, 1973, B Troop dresses in authentic uniforms of the U.S. Army in the 1880s. The group participates in military ceremonies, parades, and mounted cavalry demonstrations across Arizona and the nation.

The first soldiers at Fort Huachuca ensured the protection of the first Anglo settlers in the San Pedro Valley and later were responsible for protecting the border with Mexico. As soon as the first permanent houses were completed, soldiers began sending for their families. The first to arrive was Caroline
Whitside, the wife of Captain Samuel Whitside, the post’s founder and first commander. Their 20-month-old son Dallas died and was buried in the camp’s
first graveyard and was later relocated to the current post cemetery which may be visited. Many who served at Fort Huachuca earned distinguished  eputations in the world including the father of Fiorello LaGuardia, an ardent social reformer who would become mayor of New York. Malin Craig, the son of the post’s first quartermaster and a member of Whitside’s troop, would become Army Chief of Staff just before World War II. In the museum the traveler will find everyday household utensils, books, quotes from diaries and journals, flags, and photographs.

The U.S. Army Intelligence Museum

            This museum acts as a central repository for historical artifacts which put the military intelligence mission into perspective. In addition to being of general interest, it provides a teaching tool for the U.S. Army Intelligence School. Although military intelligence gathering has existed since the dawn of warfare, the craft gained a vital role in the Army during the Civil War and has grown during each conflict. Its role is now recognized as a formal Army organization the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps. The first aerial photography was taken from a hot air balloon but on display is an early drone which was used to remotely photograph and survey an area. General John “Blackjack” Pershing took the lessons he learned from chasing Pancho Villa to World War I.

Visitors will see surveillance and espionage tools from the Civil War, the notorious Enigma Machine coding device used by the Germans during WWII, one of our Cold War espionage jeeps, a surveillance drone and a 12’ x 10’ section of the Berlin Wall, replete with graffiti political statements.

US Army Intelligence Center Fort Huachuca Museum Boyd & Grierson Fort Huachuca AZ 83613-6000 Tel: 520-533-3638


Grand Canyon Skywalk

May 16, 2011

Walk where eagles dare to fly. Carved by the Colorado River more than million years ago, the Grand Canyon captures the hearts of visitors with its magnificent splendor. Located at the canyon’s west rim, the Grand Canyon Skywalk allows visitors to “Walk the Sky” on its unique glass bottomed observation deck that spans 70 feet (21.34 M) over the canyon’s rim and sits 4,000 feet (1,219 M) above the Colorado River. A construction masterpiece, the glass deck, which is the only element that
separates visitors from the canyon floor, weighs 1.2 million pounds. Completed in 2007, the Skywalk is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in northwest Arizona.  David Jin envisioned the idea of extending a glass bottom observation deck directly over the edge of the Grand Canyon, and presented his idea to the Hualapai Tribe. As a result, the Skywalk was developed and allows for a bird’s eye view of the tribe’s sacred canyon formation known as Eagle Point or Sa nyu wa, which means “eagle” in the Hualapai language. The bridge deck, constructed with diamant low-iron glass and structural  nterlayer glass consisting of six layers, is ten feet-two inches (3.11 M) wide. Bridge glass railings were made with the same glass as the deck but with three layers bent to follow the walkway’s curvature. The glass railings are five feet-two inches (1.58 M) tall and have been designed for high wind pressures. The bridge was assembled on top of the canyon wall in line with its final placement. The Skywalk bridge deck was designed for a one hundred pound per  square foot live load along with code required seismic and wind forces. Design aspects included wind loading and pedestrian induced vibration analysis. Two tuned mass dampers inside the outer box beam as well as one inside the inner box beam at the furthest extension of the bridge were installed to reduce vibration induced by pedestrian footfall. The bridge weighs a little more than one million pounds (454,545 kg) without counterweights but including the tuned mass dampers, railing hardware, glass rails, glass deck and steel box beams. The walkway can carry 822 people that weigh two hundred pounds (91 kg), but maximum allowed occupancy at one time is 120 people. Skywalk engineer, Kenneth Karren discussed Skywalk glass with St. Gobain (Germany), who claimed that it could stop a bullet. Karren requested a sample of the glass be sent to Las Vegas for him to test. St. Gobain obliged, and Karren took the glass into the desert outside Las Vegas and shot the glass with his rifle from one hundred yards. The glass stopped the bullet and the overall structure of the glass remained intact.  Adjacent to the Skywalk, the Hualapai Tribe provides tribal song and dance performances in an outdoor amphitheater, as well as handcrafted arts and jewelry. Visitors can dine at the Skywalk café. Future plans for the Grand Canyon Skywalk complex include a museum, theater, VIP lounge, gift shop, and a restaurant where visitors will be able to dine outdoors at the canyon’s rim.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Mailing Address Administrative Offices 5985 W. Wigwam Ave Las Vegas, NV 89139

Tel: 702-220-8372 Fax 702- 220-8517 Web site: www.grandcanyonskywalk.com

The Petrified Forest National Park

April 25, 2011

The Petrified Forest National Park is located on the Painted Desert in the southern part of the Colorado Plateau. The Chinle Formation of Late Triassic Period (more than two hundred million years ago) constitutes the main geological formation of the Painted Desert. Thus, the visitor has the option of visiting two outstanding museums in the area: the Painted Desert Visitor Center and Rainbow Forest Museum. Sites within the area include the Painted Desert Inn, a National Historic Landmark, and two ancestral Pueblo sites; Puerco Pueblo and Agate House, each of which represents the rich human history of the park. Many Late Triassic Epoch fossils discovered in the park are showcased at the Rainbow Forest Museum. The museum Placerias is a resin cast of an individual found near St. Johns. Forty Placerias were identified in the St. Johns area. This creature, which must have resembled a hippopotamus, was not a dinosaur, but a dicynodont or “two-dog tooth” so called because it had toothless jaw margins with only the two canine teeth. Placerias was a sturdy animal with tusks for rooting through the soil in search of vegetation and a beak for uprooting plants. Fossil evidence from the tusks of other dicynodonts show wear patterns of alternate deep grooves and a smooth polishing effect.

             Newswspaper Rock petroglyphs — ancient symbols pecked into the surface of rock — can be found throughout the park. The petroglyphs of Newspaper Rock are etched into dark rock varnish to expose the lighter color of the rock beneath. Rock varnish is made up of a thin natural veneer of manganese, iron and clay that covers the exposed surfaces of the rocks. Newspaper Rock sandstone is very fragile. Beneath the sandstone are mudstones that erode easily and the sandstone fractures increases and the sandstone falls away from the cliff.

            The most popular feature of the park is the petrified wood. Several trails wind amidst the beautifully colored and fascinating petrified logs, including Crystal Forest whose logs contain beautiful crystals; Long Logs which has one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in park, and Giant Logs which features some of the largest and most colorful logs in the park. The brilliant colors in the petrified logs come from trace minerals: pure quartz is white, manganese oxides can form blue, purple, black, and brown, carbon is black and iron oxides provide hues from yellow through red to brown. Each year, tons of petrified wood are removed illegally from Petrified Forest National Park.

            Theodore Roosevelt created Petrified Forest National Monument on Dec. 8, 1906. Petrified Forest was designated as a national park on Dec. 9, 1962. There are 93,533 acres (about 147 square miles) within park boundaries, with a recently expanded boundary increasing the acreage to 218,533 acres, authorized in 2004. Intermountain Basin semi-arid steppe and grassland (short grass prairie) constitute the main environment of Petrified Forest National Park. Hundreds of species of plants and animals can be found in Petrified Forest National Park. Residents include pronghorn, Gunnison’s prairie dog, coyote, bobcat, bullsnake, Arizona tiger salamander, meadowlark and golden eagle.

            There are more than thirteen thousand years of human history in Petrified Forest National Park, which includes more than eight hundred archeological sites. Puerco Pueblo, built by ancestral Pueblo people, was occupied between A.D. 1250 and 1380. Agate House, occupied about A.D. 1100-1150, was built out of pieces of petrified wood.

            Herbert David Lore built Painted Desert Inn by 1924. Using designs by National Park Service architect Lyle Bennett, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) reconstructed the Painted Desert Inn in the late 1930s and hand painted the inn’s sky light. Recently, the building had an extensive rehabilitation, returning the inn to its 1949 appearance. Don’t miss the Buffalo dance mural by Hopi artist Frank Kabotie. This work was commissioned by Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter, Grand Canyon architect and interior designer, who worked on design elements of the inn between 1947 and 1949. Originally, the Painted Desert Inn served as a restaurant and hotel for travelers on Route 66. Today the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Petrified Forest National Park is the only national park site that contains a segment of the historic Route 66 alignment. Part of the National Old Trails Highway also passed through the park. During the summer Native American silversmiths, dancers, weavers and potters provide cultural demonstrations. It is all very good to probe the causes of the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, but it is also good to just enjoy the wonderful splendor of places such as this.    

Petrified Forest National Park, PO Box 2217, Petrified Forest Az 86025

Tel: 928-524-6228, Web site: http://www.nps.gov/pefo

Valle of the Planes

April 5, 2011

The Valle of the Planes is located near the Grand Canyon in Arizona at Grand Canyon-Valle Airport, an old Trans World Airlines (TWA ) base and the former  Grand Canyon Airport. The museum houses a collection of more than twenty rare aircraft in one hangar and an outdoor park. The pride of the collection is a Lockheed C-121A, the military version of the famous Constellation airliner of the forties and fifties. This aircraft, built in 1949, has a distinguished history, starting with service during the Berlin Airlift in 1949-50.

            Following the end of the airlift, the aircraft was fitted with a deluxe interior for service as a VIP transport. It was issued to General Douglas MacArthur and was called the “Bataan,” after the infamous Bataan Death March which troops under MacArthur had endured in 1942. MacArthur used the Bataan during the Korean War, when he was Supreme Commander of Allied Powers. This airplane carried him to his famous meeting with President Harry S Truman on Wake Island, and to the United States after his dismissal by Truman for making political statements about the conduct of the war. In 1966, the Bataan was stripped of her interior and flown to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. Later acquired by NASA, the airplane was fitted with computers and telemetry equipment and used in support of the Apollo moon program. Retired once again upon the drawdown of the space program, the Bataan was flown to Fort Rucker for display at the Museum of Army Flying. The aircraft was kept on outdoor display there, and was acquired the Grand Canyon Air Museum and restored to flying condition, it arrived in Arizona in April 1995. The Bataan represents the days when the Constellation was the “Queen of the Skies.” Visitors can take a guided tour of the interior of this historic aircraft.

            Another exhibit is a 1929 Ford 5-AT Trimotor, one of just three still flying in the world. Built by the Ford Motor Company, the Trimotor introduced new standards of luxury and speed. The aircraft on display at the Grand Canyon Air Museum served with various airlines in Central America, returning to the United States in the sixties for promotional work with TWA. This Ford Trimotor was used by Scenic Airlines for tourist flights over the Grand Canyon until Federal noise regulations forced its retirement.

            The museum is famous for its vintage fighter aircraft collection. The P-51A on display is one of the oldest Mustangs still flying. The F-86A is a Korean War veteran.

The Messerschmitt Bf109G-10 was captured in Germany at the end of World War II. This aircraft was flown from its base on the Eastern Front to surrender to the American forces near Munich in May 1945 because of the poor treatment of German fighter pilots by the Russians.

            During World War II, the United States alone produced more than three hundred thousand military aircraft. When the war ended, most of these airplanes were scrapped at vast disposal centers.

Tel: (520) 635-1000, Web Site: http://www.planesoffame.org/valle

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

March 15, 2011

Fort Bowie provides insight into a clash of cultures between a young nation in pursuit of manifest destiny and the Apache society fighting to preserve its existence. For more than thirty years, Fort Bowie was a focal point of military operations which eventually culminated in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. It was the site of the Bascom Affair, a wagon train massacre, and the battle of Apache Pass, where a large force of Chiricahua Apaches under Mangus Colorados and Cochise fought the California Volunteers. Hostilities were triggered by the Bascom Affair which began on January 27, 1861, when Apaches raided John Ward’s ranch, stealing livestock and kidnapping Ward’s twelve-year-old stepson Felix Ward. Ward complained about the raid to Lieutenant Colonel Pitcain Morrison, the commandant of Fort Buchanan, Arizona, who directed Lieutenant George N. Bascom and a party of infantry to attempt to recover the boy. Bascom determined that the raid was done by Chiricahua Apaches and Morrison ordered Bascom to use whatever means necessary to recapture the boy. Bascom, Ward, and fifty-four soldiers arrived at Apache Pass on February 3, 1861. Bascom convinced Cochise to meet with him. Cochise brought several members of his family to the meeting where he claimed he knew nothing of the affair. Bascom tried to imprison Cochise and his family, but Cochise slit the tent and escaped with a leg wound. On February 5, 1861, Cochise pleaded with Bascom to release his family, but Bascom told Cochise that they would be set free when the boy was released. The next day, Cochise and his Apaches attacked a group of Americans and captured three hostages, offering them in exchange for his family. Bascom insisted that he would accept nothing other than the return of the boy and cattle. On February 7, 1861, Cochise and his men attacked Bascom’s soldiers while they were watering their mules. Cochise fled to Mexico. On the way, he killed his American prisoners and several days later, Bascom hanged Cochise’s brother and nephews.

            The historic hike to the Fort Bowie Visitor Center from the trailhead is one and a half miles and crosses the Butterfield Overland trail, passes the post cemetery, the remains of the Chiricahua Apache Reservation Indian Agency building, the Apache Pass Battle site and Apache Spring. Interpretative plaques explain the historic events that took place along the way.

            Until Fort Bowie was designated as a national historic site, visitors scavenged the site for relics. In 1958, two brothers from Arkansas searched for relics with their metal detectors and found a rusty cannon ball near the building which once served as a residence for the hospital steward. In 2002, one of the brothers sent it back to Fort Bowie with a letter saying that he had it for forty-four years and that it belonged back at Fort Bowie. The cannon ball, probably fired during the Battle of Apache Pass in 1862, is on display at the Visitor Center. It is the only unexploded cannon ball that was fired during the historic battle between General James Carleton’s California Column and the Chiricahua Apaches led by Cochise. A mountain howitzer typical of the type used in the Battle at Apache Pass is on display on the porch of the visitor center.  Other items on display include a copper water pitcher, a dental molar extractor, a bayonet, pistol, padlock, historic uniforms guns and a dress helmet plate. The walls of the visitor center feature photographs of military personnel who served as Fort Bowie and images of Apache scouts.  Memorabilia of Apache life include a cradle, moccasins and a wickiup.

Fort Bowie Historic Site 3203 South Old Fort Bowie Road Bowie, AZ 85605 Tel: 520-847-2500 Fax: 520-847-2221 Web Site: http://www.nps.gov/fobo/contacts.htm

Show Low Historical Museum

February 15, 2011

Show Low began as a ranch claimed by Marion Clark and Corydon E. Cooley. This is where the legend of a town named by the turn of a card begins. Around 1876, the partners knew that one of them would have to leave, but could not decide which one. A card game would settle the issue. The game believed to be “7 Up” began and lasted through the night and into the early morning. Clark told Cooley, “Show low and you take the ranch!” Cooley turned over the Deuce of Clubs and won a reported 100,000 acres, cattle, crops and building. Today later Show Low’s main street is called Deuce of Clubs.

            Route U.S. 60 came through Show Low because of the influence of several Show Low community leaders. George Woolford’s property was cut in half as a result of the highway’s right of way. George and his wife, Lillie, were among the first to operate a café on Route 60 in Show Low. The Show Low Historical Society Museum consists of fifteen rooms, one of which is dedicated to the Woolfords. Their room exhibits George Woolford’s old roll top desk, which he during his service to the community as Justice of the Peace from 1912 to 1916 and 1941 to 1948, Navajo County Deputy Sheriff from 1921 to 1933, and Judge from 1933 to 1936. Lillie Woolford gave away more food than she sold at their café. The visitor can see examples of vintage souvenirs that they sold to early tourists, along with a table and ice cream dishes, sugar dispenser and butter dishes that were used in the café.

            In the heart of the museum is a 1912-2012 exhibit which celebrates Arizona’s 2012 Centennial. The exhibit “Show Low Past, Present and Future” features items that have been donated by the City of Show Low, local quilters and a photographer who has taken recent photographs of buildings that were in Show Low in 1912.

            The Silver Creek Railroaders model train club built a replica of the “Last Train to Maverick.” McNary was the main town in the White Mountains for years up to the 1980’s. The logging industry was the economic base for the region. The Apache Railroad brought the timber out of the mountains to the mill in McNary, which produced molding that was shipped by rail all over America.

            In June of 2002, Show Low experienced the worse scare in its history. The Rodeo Chediski Fire began to bear down on the community. The museum honors this event and the men and women who worked tirelessly to save our town.

            A room celebrating Eb Lewis was presented to the museum by his family in 1996. This is a favorite place for children who tour the museum. Among Eb’s treasures are his famous black derby, the skin of the mountain lion which he killed with a homemade spear and a homemade miniature brass canon. The famous Fourth of July Parade entry, the independently traveling Maytag automatic washing machine can also be seen.

            Corydon Eliphalet Cooley memorabilia is on display in the main Show Low room. Also, Show Low’s early days are featured in the people and places photographs that adorn the museum walls. A wooden aqueduct found under East Cooley, as well as a telephone switch board, similar to the one used by Jenny Stock, triggers many smiles and some memories.

            Don’t miss the old post office. As part of the 100th birthday of the State of Arizona, the museum’s post office will become a United States Post Office Centennial Station. The museum will have a cache cover with a special postage stamp and special cancel to mark the event.  The U.S. Postal Service used the museum’s post office exhibit as a Celebration Station on May 2, 2003, the same year Show Low celebrated fifty years of incorporation. Because the museum building was formerly used as a police department headquarters, it housed a holding cell. Walking down “Memory Lane” you encounter the Angie Borrego kitchen. Angie, the first person to donate to the museum, said her old wood cooking stove, “Just the right size for her.”

Show Low Historical Museum, 561 E. Deuce of Clubs, P.O. Box 3468, Show Low, Arizona 85902

Tel 928-532-7115, Web Site: http://www.showlowmuseum.com

Afro-American Heritage Museum

February 2, 2011

Time was when there were several ethnic communities in Tucson, each with their own cultural heritage of foods, arts, and religions. While there was much of historic value in these neighborhoods, they were formed from the prejudice which forced them to live in segregated areas. Tucson’s cultural environment of prejudice supported the establishment of black communities along Meyer Street, South Park Avenue and “A” Mountain. Tucson possesses a long, rich black history, which Charles Kendrick and cofounder Standman Blair have gathered  in the form of photographs and artifacts in their Afro-American Museum which also serves soul food. Kendrick and Blair formed this museum. Kendrick, after forty-two years as a Tucson pharmacist founded Mr. K’s Barbecue. He was the first Tucson black to graduate from the University of Arizona college of pharmacy in 1955.

            Pioneer blacks, who settled in Tucson as homesteaders, buffalo soldiers, cowboys, educators and medical professionals, worked to bring an end to prejudice. Their contributions have been documented by the Arizona Historical Society, the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society – Tucson Chapter and the University of Arizona. These pioneers included Sergeant Frank Reed, a Buffalo soldier; Dr. Floyd Thompson, dentist and first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Dental Corps. Blanche Johnson; beauty shop owner; and pilot Roy Comeaux. Janet Harmon Bragg, who braved racism and sexism to become one of the first Black women to earn a full commercial pilot’s license, lived in Tucson in the 1960s.

            The Paul Lawrence Dunbar School where many black children received their early education resulted from the segregationist barrier which was broken down because of the efforts of the NAACP in Tucson.

            A great place to learn about Tucson’s black history is Mr. K’s Barbecue and Afro-American Heritage Museum on South Park Avenue. The building was once a grocery store and one of several Black owned businesses along South Park in the 1960’s. Today, it draws a culturally diverse clientele from all over Tucson. Kendrick and Blair collected black memorabilia over the years including photos, Buffalo Soldier artifacts, old-time general mercantile and pharmacy items, early school items, a slave whip, books, black postcards, black face minstrel art and more. Black face minstrel art was an important tradition in the American theater for about one hundred years starting around 1830. It became popular in Europe, where the tradition could be seen on prime time television as late as 1981. White blackface performers used burnt cork and greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips. They wore woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation. The unique postcard collection is both humorous and sad, reflecting life under the bondage of segregation. The museum has a small but important book collection, many of which are out of print, documents Black heroes. Their education collection has been gathered into a schoolroom setting.

            Perhaps the most striking artifact is the slave whip which Kendrick obtained in Texas along with a picture of a man who felt the sting of the cruel whip on his scarred back. The main method used to control the slaves’ behavior was the threat of having them whipped. The number of lashes depended on the seriousness of the offence. Austin Steward wrote that on his plantation thirty-nine was the number for most offences. Francis Fredric ran away and after he was captured he was given 107 lashes.

            Don’t miss Mr. K’s barbecue business which supports the museum. For those who love barbecue and who doesn’t?  Mr. K’s ranks at the top with homemade soul food specialties.

Afro-American Heritage Museum Mr. K’s Barbecue 1830 S Park Ave Tucson, AZ 85713 Tel: 520-792-9484

Penske Racing Museum

January 15, 2011

The Penske Racing Museum showcases a collection of cars, trophies and racing memorabilia and chronicles the career of one of the most successful sports dynasties. Roger S. Penske, a winning racer in the late 1950s, Penske was named 1961’s Sports Car Club of America Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated. After retiring from driving, he created one of the most successful teams in IndyCar Series and NASCAR racing. Penske racing has more than forty years of racing experience and more than 250 major race wins highlighted by Fifteen Indianapolis 500-mile race victories. The museum features a collection of Indy 500 winning cars surpassed only by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. The tops of several cars are open so car lovers can linger over the high-tech interior.

            On display in the museum is a replica of the 1963 Pontiac Catalina which Roger Penske drove to victory in the 1963 Riverside 250 along with the 2006 Dallara Honda which Sam Hornish Jr. drove to win the 2006 Indy 500. Several legendary race cars are on display. The 1974 Penske PC-1 was driven by Mark Donohue. This car was designed by Geoff Ferris and built at the Penske Cars, Ltd. shop in Dorset, England. The Hurst/Olds Cutlass 1972 Indianapolis 500 Pace car is also on display.  The 1985 Penske March 85C 1985 Indianapolis 500 Winner was driven by Danny Sullivan. The “Spin and Win” car, driven by Danny Sullivan in 1985, won Penske Racing’s 5th Indy 500. The Penske PC-17 1988 Indianapolis 500 winner was driven by Rick Mears. The 1973 Porsche IROC RSR was driven by Mark Donohue and the 1963 NASCAR Pontiac Catalina (replica) was driven by Roger Penske. The 1977 Penske PC-5, driven by Tom Sneva, is the first car to hold the single lap qualifying record of more than 200 mph at the Indianapolis 500 and the first time Penske Racing campaigned their own chassis at the Indy 500. The 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner was driven by Al Unser Jr. The 2002 Dallara IR2 Indianapolis 500 winner, driven by Helio Castroneves, was Penske Racing’s 12th Indy 500 win and Castroneves’ second. It marked the first time a driver won the Indianapolis 500 in his first two Indy 500 starts. The 1991 Indianapolis 500 winner was driven by Rick Mears.  

            The Museum’s Boutique offers Penske Racing merchandise including die cast cars and books as well as apparel for women, men and children. T-shirts, pens and one of a kind car parts, signed by Penske Team drivers, are available for purchase. The Turn 4 Café offers a variety of breakfast and lunch options ranging from bagels and breakfast sandwiches to freshly made salads and hot or cold sandwiches. Visitors can enjoy meals inside the café where Penske Racing displays their winning trophies from over the years or on the mezzanine overlooking the test track and the Land Rover off-road course.

Penske racing Museum 7125 E. Chauncey Lane Phoenix AZ 85054 Tel: 480-538-4444 Web site: http://penskeracingmuseum.com

Border Air Museum

January 1, 2011

Douglas, Arizona was the first international airport of the Americas. Aviation was an important part of the evolution of Douglas and was almost lost if it were not for Richard and Irma Westbrook. Richard, a 1949 Douglas High School graduate, worked for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA.) Westbrook was inducted in 1993 into the NASA Hall of Fame. The Border Air Museum was a gift to the City of Douglas by the widow of the late Richard Westbrook in 2002. Richard died before the museum was completed. The Border Air Museum houses Westbrook’s collection of air history.  

            The museum exhibits a Trojan airplane which was made in Douglas in the 1950s. Other exhibits include displays of American Airlines memorabilia, a wall of history of the Douglas Army Air Field with artifacts, an in-depth history of Douglas aviation, history of the Mexican Revolution and aviation in Douglas, Women’s Air History, and a history of Hollywood making films using the Douglas airport. There is a letter from the President Roosevelt declaring the Douglas airport “The First International Airport of the Americas.” It was the first airport in the state to have night flights.

            Douglas had the first airplane in the state of Arizona. In 1908, a group of Douglas men formed the Douglas Aeronautical Club and built a glider from mail order plans. This glider was pulled into the air by a two horse buggy equipped for release with an aerial hitch, from behind the YMCA building. A year later they added a motor and propeller and they had motorized airplane.

            By 1913 this airplane was famous locally as The Douglas Bomber. General John “Black Jack” Pershing, who led the U. S. expeditionary force to capture the notorious Pancho Villa, recruited Charles Ford and his Douglas Bomber to fly over the border and drop bombs south of Agua Prieta on the railroad tracks to stop supplies flowing into Villa’s troops. The bombs were made from lard buckets filled with dynamite, scrap metal and concrete.

            After World War I and the Mexican Revolution, Douglas became a take off point for barnstormers. These stunt pilots and aerialists–or barnstormers as they became known–performed amazing tricks with airplanes. Barnstorming was the first major form of civil aviation.  By the 1930s, the Douglas Airport was a stopping point for American Airlines, traveling from San Diego to San Antonio.

Border Air Museum,  East 10th Street & Airport Road, Douglas AZ 85607, Tel: 520-417-7344