Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Centennial’

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:


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:

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:

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:

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:

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

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

Kartchner Caverns

November 2, 2010

It all began with a drop of water. More than 330 million years ago, a shallow inland sea covered part of Southern Arizona and deposited layers of sediment that eventually hardened into limestone. This limestone, along with other rock layers, rose up to form southern Arizona’s Whetstone Mountains. Kartchner Caverns’ modern story began in 1974 when two cave explorers barely out of their teens, Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen explored the Whetstone Mountains. When they felt warm moist air rise from a tiny sinkhole, they knew they had found a cave.

Tufts and Tenen climbed down the hole through tunnels and discovered a series of amazing caverns. Four years later they shared their secret with the property owners, James and Lois Kartchner. Tufts and Tenen spent the next two years exploring the caverns which they called Xanadu, a place of great beauty, was taken from Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan. They knew that Kartchner Caverns required protection and for twelve years they kept their secret from the public. Both the owners and the discoverers realized that they could not develop and preserve the caverns on their own.

They needed the Arizona government. They lowered Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt down into the rattlesnake infested sinkhole. During several clandestine tours, trusted government employees were blindfolded and taken into the caverns. Through quiet legislative work, Arizona State Parks purchased property and Kartchner Caverns State Park development began in 1988.

Not only did the underground need development but there had to be an above ground discovery center. The Kartchner Caverns’ Discovery Center features museum exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, theater, and educational information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater, and a hummingbird garden. The exhibits describe the important paleontological finds including an 80,000 year old Shasta ground sloth, a 34,000 year old horse’s head and an 11,000 year old bear, but no human remains.

Inside the cave, two large galleries present the visitor with a kaleidoscope of color displaying 100-foot ceilings dripping with multi-hued stalactites and stalagmites jutting up from the floor. Kartchner Caverns is a “living” cave, whose formations are still growing. Dainty white helictites, translucent orange bacon, and shields of white calcite adorn this natural wonder. Rare quartz needles form “birds nests” nitrocalcite “cotton” these are two separate formations birdnest quartz needles and nitrocalcite cotton and array of (brushite moon milk always) during the cooler wet seasons. Kartchner Caverns has the -4th longest in the world is the recorded longest in the United States. This extraordinary thin stalactite hangs tenuously for twenty-one feet sand two inches from the cave’s ceiling. The soda straw grows one/64th of an inch in a year and it took 16,500 years to achieve its length. Besides the unique Xanadu and soda straw, Kartchner Caverns features the world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk, this is located on the top of rock calcite moonmilk is on the ceiling (should a drop fall on you it is a fairy kiss and you will have good luck), the first –described by Carol Hill in Cave Minerals of the World occurrence of “turnip” shields, and the first cave occurrence of “birds nest” needle quartz formations

Then staff at the park developed a Natural History Curriculum in honor of its discoverers, with a view of children becoming stewards of the environment. Many exhibits in the Discovery Center will appeal to young people. A “caving wall” allows children to create the experience of crawling through narrow cave passages. Animal displays introduce kids to the unique creatures that live in and around the cave. Having their picture taken with the Giant Sloth is a favorite activity. Through activities and lessons, it is hoped that students in grades K through 6 will develop an appreciation of the geological and biological forces that have created such a magnificent cave as Kartchner Caverns. These lessons are also intended to promote an understanding of the relationship between humans and their environment. Students will be encouraged to think about their choices the consequences of their actions. 

There are two tours: the Rotunda/Throne Tour and the Big Room Tour. The Rotunda/Throne Room tour, opened in 1999, is available year-round.   During the tour the visitor learns about the role that water plays in creating the cavern, while seeing the discoverers’ original trail, 45,000 year-old bat guano, delicate formations and “Kubla Khan,” the magnificent fifty-eight-foot column.  The Big Room Tour, which opened in 2003, is available from mid-October to mid-April when there are no bats. During the summer months, the cave’s Big Room serves as a nursery for more than 1,000 female cave bats Myotis velifer. The pregnant females return to Kartchner Caverns around the end of April, where they give birth to a single pup in late June. The babies remain in the roost each evening while their mothers forage for insects in the surrounding countryside. During the summer the colony consumes about half a ton of insects, consisting of moths, flying ants, beetles, mosquitoes and termites. Mothers and their offspring will leave mid-September, to begin their migration for their winter hibernation roost.

After returning to the bat roost from their nightly forays, the bats excrete waste, forming large guano piles. Most life forms in the cave depend on these guano piles for their food. No items such as bags, purses, packs, bottled water, etc are allowed into the cave. The cave has an average temperature of -70° Fahrenheit (22° Celsius) and 99% humidity year-round, so it will feel very warm and – humid. Most areas are =-gently lit and some passages may pass through narrow or enclosed areas. 90% of the tour has handrails. All of  the trails are wheelchair, and scooter accessible and are barrier free. If a person has mobility issues we have wheelchairs available to accommodate them. This may be difficult for persons with mobility, respiratory or claustrophobia issues. Young children may become uncomfortable in the cave environment. In these instances, the child and parent will be allowed to leave the cave tour for their well being and safety. Extraordinary precautions have been taken during its development to conserve the cavern’s near-pristine condition

Kartchner Caverns State Park,,PO Box 1849, Benson AZ 85602, Tel No. 520- 586-4183, Web Site:

Ash Fork Historical Museum

October 18, 2010

            Prehistoric humans found their way into the Ash Fork, Arizona, area and left behind pottery shards, arrowheads, and pictorial writings. Spanish conquistadors and fur trappers also passed near Ash Fork. After the Mexican-American War in 1848, Congress sent a number of exploration expeditions to the Southwest. Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves and Lieutenant Amiel W. Whipple, United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, surveyed the 35th Parallel for a proposed railroad in this area. It was in the Ash Fork area that Edward Fitzgerald Beale as a member of the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers and a retired Navy Lieutenant experimented with twenty-two camels loaded with supplies and tools for himself and his road crew. Local mule skinners found the camels to be “foul-smelling, evil tempered, and ugly.” The camels trudged across northern Arizona while Beale’s crew cleared a ten-feet wide track to allow wagons to travel on the track.

            In 1881, construction began on the transcontinental railroad across Northern Arizona. A year later Ash Fork was founded with the arrival of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Marshall Trimble, Arizona State Historian, wrote that the railroad built the line with a peavine of switchbacks and lazy loops which ran to Phoenix and the southern mainline and more kinks than a cheap lariat. Trimble grew up in Ash Fork during its golden years of the rails and Route 66. He began his career as an Arizona folk singer during the 1960’s, and today he is the official Arizona State Historian and the author of more than 20 books. Trimble has taught Arizona history for more than thirty-five years and his letter sweater is one of the museum’s exhibits.

            The museum celebrates the railroad with train exhibits and the Fred Harvey restaurant, Escalante, which was built in 1907. The Escalante was one of the classic Fred Harvey hotels. The museum exhibit was constructed from old photographs and people’s memory of the hotel. Harvey’s meals were served with sumptuous portions that provided a good value for the traveling public and pies were cut into fourths, rather than the industry standard of sixths. The Harvey Company established a series of signals that allowed the dining room staff to feed an entire train in just thirty minutes. Harvey Houses served their meals on fine China and Irish linens. With the decline in train travel and the bypassing of the town by I-40 along with several disastrous fire in the business district the town went into decline. Ash Fork’s economy was helped when it became the Flagstone Capital of the World. Flagstone was quarried for the railroad to build bridges and private industry began shipping the stone for public buildings, churches and office buildings.

            The longest original, uninterrupted stretch of Route 66 still in existence, approximately ninety-two miles long, is between Ash Fork, Arizona, and Kingman, Arizona. Road. Route 66 boosted the town’s economy in the 1950’s, but construction of the divided highway through the town resulted in the destruction of many storefronts, sidewalks and residential streets. Part of the old Route 66 running directly through Ash Fork, is now known as Lewis Avenue.

            Outdoor exhibits at the museum include 1950’s Allis Chalmer Grader #284 donated by the Arizona Department of transportation, farm Equipment and a cultivator from Schucking Homestead, a dump hay rake from Schucking Homestead, a wagon frame from Schaeffer Ranch a fresno from Schaeffer Ranch donated by Roy Hume, a main water meter from the 1930’s donated by Ash Fork Water Service. The 1946 fire truck was donated by the volunteer Ash Fork Fire Department.

            Interior exhibits include Ash Fork building models which reflect the town and railroad life. At the museum you can visit the Golden Slipper saloon and step into if only briefly, the Ash Fork jail. The Ash Fork School exhibit dates from the 1800’s to the new school in 1915. In 1959 a new high school was built.

Ash Fork Historical Society Museum, 901 West Old Route 66, P.O. Box 1234, Ash Fork, Arizona 86320

Phone: (928) 637-0204, Fax (928) 637-0394, Web Site:

Tucson Children’s Museum

September 14, 2010

Where else can you hear the roar of Tyrannosaurus Rex and jump into the jaws of the great white shark in complete safety except at the Tucson Children’s Museum? At the Ocean Discovery Center, children visit the Sea of Cortez while sitting in the shark jaws. In the underwater environment, kids hear whale songs, learn what fish looks like on the inside and discover which everyday products come from the sea! Emily, an eleven-year-old scuba diver, tells them about life under water. The Sea of Cortez, that body of water in the Gulf of California and its flora and fauna, are featured in the Ocean Discovery Center exhibit. While having loads of fun, kids learn about careers in oceanography and marine biology.

In Dinosaur World the highlight is the robotic animation of three life-sized dinosaurs: a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Kentrosaurus, and a Protoceratops. Their movements are orchestrated to a video giving background information about their respective behaviors and physiology. Additional exhibit components include a Deinonychus, Utahraptor and a replica fossil bed with preserved dinosaur eggs and older animal skeletal remains. The dinosaurs represented were chosen to accurately represent size while exposing visitors to a wider range of species than just a handful of popular dinosaurs.

            At the Museum’s electricity exhibit during a guided group tour, guides demonstrate “hair raising” experiences with static electricity, explain safety precautions and help children understand how electricity works. Learn what Jacob’s ladder is and how to prevent a power outage. A Jacob’s ladder or a high voltage traveling arc, is a device for producing a continuous train of large sparks which rise upwards. The spark gap is formed by two wires, almost vertical but gradually diverging away from each other towards the top.

            At the Enchanted Rain Forest preschoolers can check out the textured tree entrance and fun hieroglyphics that lead toddlers into their own tropical rain forest play space. The Mind Your Own Body exhibit is where fun and wellness go hand in hand. Here children explore hip hop, yoga, and tai-chi classes, and practice their medical skills in the Children’s Medical Center, or do some healthy shopping in the Farmers’ Market before cooking in the Play Cafe. The Música de las Americas exhibits feature congas, drums, shakers, and xylophones. Parents take comfort in knowing that acoustic panels have been added to the room to absorb children’s musical creations.  In the Public Safety exhibit, children wear a firefighter’s gear, climb into a fire truck and learn about fire safety. They can also take a “drive” in the fire truck!  The Museum has a special Light Writer room where children can write with light. Don’t miss the Heat Wall, where your temperature changes the colors of the wall. Toot, toot into the Whistle Stop gallery where little engineers get behind the “wheel” of a fun-filled train engine and imagine themselves steering a locomotive. Whistle Stop passengers also get an engineer’s point of view with the on-board train camera that rolls along above the exhibit.

Tel. No. 520-792-9985, Web site:,, Tucson Children’s Museum 200 S 6th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701