Group Seeks Historic Trail Designation for Route 66

Mindy Montoya | Historic Route 66

A national nonprofit group is traveling the country this summer to bring attention to its goal: having America's most famous highway designated a National Historic Trail.

Historic Route 66, which passes through Arizona and seven other states on its way from Chicago to Los Angeles, is the focus of the trip by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, KTAR radio in Phoenix reported. 

The tour is scheduled to be in Arizona July 26-31, although details of the stop had not been worked out. You can visit the National Trust's website for updated information.

It's up to Congress to decide whether something should get the designation. Currently, there are 19 designated National Historic Trails, including the Lewis and Clark route and Alabama's Selma to Montgomery march, KTAR reported.

There's plenty to celebrate about Route 66 in Arizona, as we noted in the May 2015 issue of Arizona Highways. The Grand Canyon State has several surviving segments of the trail that are in use today, including the route from Seligman to Kingman and the drive from Kingman to the Colorado River (via Oatman). Additionally, Petrified Forest National Park is the only National Park Service site that includes a portion of the Mother Road.

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Krazy for Arizona: George Herriman and Monument Valley

Krazy Kat and friends discuss a Monument Valley landscape. | Illustration by George Herriman | Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art

Monument Valley: the setting for epic films, the subject of breathtaking photographs, the cover of our December 2017 issue ... and the inspiration for a laugh?

Yes, for cartoonist George Herriman, the valley's landscape served as both background and comic fodder for his series Krazy Kat. Herriman drew and authored newspaper funnies from roughly 1901 to 1944, but he's best remembered for Krazy Kat, a strip that starred its carefree namesake feline and Ignatz, an angry mouse prone to hurling projectiles at Krazy Kat’s head. Publishing giant William Randolph Hearst was so enamored of the comic, he provided Herriman a handsome lifetime salary to draw the strip for his newspapers.

In 1905, after paying his dues in New York City, Herriman settled in Southern California. From there, he became a frequent visitor to Arizona, especially Northern Arizona and Monument Valley. The trips soon influenced Krazy Kat, and the strip became populated with towering rock spires, Navajo symbols, the word "Coconino" and long, vanishing horizon lines.

While in Arizona, Herriman often lodged with Louisa and John Wetherill in Kayenta. He joined an impressive list of other well-known guests, such as Zane Grey, Maynard Dixon and Dorothea Lange, who had stayed there. During one visit, Herriman embellished the Wetherills' guest registry with a drawing of Krazy Kat and a caricature of (presumably) John Wetherill. The text read, in a typical Krazy Kat mash-up of syntax and spelling: "Back again, Hey? Sure, I are, ain't that a hebit among us 'kets.'”

Herriman enjoyed meeting Navajo families and become closely attached to their communities, generously funding the installation of a movie theater for tuberculosis patients in a Kayenta hospital. In return for his companionship and charity, Herriman received a handmade book of photographs by Josef Muench, one of Arizona Highways' earliest contributors, and a rug with “GEO. HERRIMAN” woven in a newspaper's colors of gray, black and white.

Herriman drew Krazy Kat almost to the end of his life. The last strip was published June 25, 1944, only two months after his death. Foreshadowing his passing, the final comic depicts Krazy after being plucked from a lake, either dead or unconscious. With a wink, no doubt, Herriman added a very narrow panel at the bottom with Krazy floating away. Not wanting to be too far from his beloved creation, Herriman requested in his will that his ashes be spread around Monument Valley.

Unlike some strips that outlived their creators, Krazy Kat ceased after Herriman’s death. Hearst felt no one else could continue the series, which was cited as an influence by cartooning legends such as Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and Calvin and Hobbes’ Bill Watterson. Fellow mouse cartoonist Walt Disney also acknowledged Herriman’s contribution to the field.

The appeal of Krazy Kat, for those who can decipher the topsy-turvy language, is the cat’s often innocent but astute observations of life. Herriman, when interviewed, said the Arizona landscape was very important to the strip. Sure, he would occasionally go for the sight gag, like Monument Valley’s Mittens clapping, but spend some time savoring the irreverent depictions of mesas and mountains, and you’ll get more than a chuckle out of the strip.

For a quick overview of Herriman’s life, check out the YouTube video on author Michael Tisserand’s website. His book on Herriman, Krazy, was published in 2016.

— Keith Whitney, Art Director

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Nine Decades of History at the Circle Z Ranch

Horseback riding is the focus of the Circle Z Ranch near Patagonia. | Mark Lipczynski

A stay at the Circle Z Ranch, on State Route 82 southwest of Patagonia, lasts only a week but stays with you for a lifetime. Lucia Nash is proof.

In the 1930s, the Nash family traveled from Ohio to visit the dude ranch, and Lucia, then a child, rode horses there. Later, she returned with her own children, and in the 1970s, when she heard the property might be sold to a developer, she and her husband bought it.

The family has kept the Circle Z running ever since — it's the oldest continually operating dude ranch in Arizona, and last year, it marked its 90th anniversary. Lucia's son, Rick, and daughter-in-law, Diana, run the ranch now, and they spend most of the Circle Z's season, late October to early May, at the ranch.

"We've always been centered on riding," Diana says. And it's easy to see why: With access to hundreds of miles of trails, there's always something new to see. And the Circle Z has long been known for its horses, which are bred, raised and trained on the ranch. And in 2013, the Circle Z parterned with the Arizona Land and Water Trust to create a 3,265-acre conservation easement to permanently protect the ranch's open space.

The dude ranch is only the most recent part of the property's history. It began as a sheep ranch in the late 1800s, then was purchased by the Zinsmeister family of Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1920s. They built the ranch's cottages, and while some have burned down, the others are still in use today (the family's home is now the ranch lodge). The property then changed hands several times before the Nashes bought it.

Over its history, the Circle Z has hosted several Hollywood productions, including Spencer Tracy's Broken Lance and Lee Marvin's Monte Walsh. But the focus has always been on the guests. A weeklong stay (Sunday to Sunday) includes numerous opportunities to get on horseback and explore the landscape, along with hiking and birding. The ranch also hosts nature walks, astronomy nights and plenty of delicious food. Shorter stays (Sunday to Thursday) are available, but the ranch's managers note that most people who book those stays end up wishing they'd sprung for a longer one.

With 91 years of happy guests in the books, the ranch clearly has a winning formula — one that's brought the Circle Z a lot of repeat customers, including former guests visiting with their kids, as Lucia Nash did. When they arrive, they find not much has changed — and that's by design.

"We're going to keep doing what we're doing," Diana Nash says. "We have a traditional, laid-back feel to our place, and that's the way we're going to keep it."

— Noah Austin, Associate Editor

The Circle Z Ranch is located on State Route 82 southwest of Patagonia. For more information, call 520-394-2525 or visit

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From Our Archives: A War Story

Arizona Highways Archives

Veterans Day is tomorrow, November 11. In that spirit, we'd like to share this letter and photo. They appeared in the June 1966 issue of Arizona Highways, during the Vietnam War.

As if you didn't know, your magnificent magazine gets around, although even you must be surprised now and again by the latest evidence of its universality.

The other day, while hitching a hop and passing the inevitable extra hour in the quonset hut terminal of the Cam Ranh Bay airfield, I came upon the scene preserved in the enclosed negatives.

Outside the F-4's were screaming in and out, to and from strikes both north and south of the dividing line of the tortured little country of Vietnam. The room was filled with 101st Airborne vets, all reading paperback novels bearing bosomy blondes on their slick covers, and over to one end of the rows of wooden benches, a dozen Korean marines in camouflage fatigues sat chattering and perspiring. Everyone was miserable in the close, humid airless tropical heat. All — save one.

He was Capt. Yong Il Shin, medical doctor for the Republic of Korea Marines. Dr. Shin was cool and preoccupied, lost in a land 8,000 miles away, where pyracanthia berries glisten in the tinselled night, and snow flocks the firs of the peaceful days. Dr. Shin was reading your Christmas edition of Arizona Highways, a copy of which somehow had found its way halfway around the world to exactly an opposite climate.

Congratulations to you and Highways, the only thing in history to make the Vietnam climate bearable!

Don Dedera
Saigon, South Vietnam

(At the time, Don Dedera was a columnist covering the conflict for The Arizona Republic. He later served as editor of Arizona Highways.)

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Prescott's Hotel Vendome Celebrates 100th Birthday

Courtesy of Hotel Vendome

A historic hotel located in the heart of downtown Prescott is celebrating its centennial this year.

Hotel Vendome got its start in 1917, when rancher J.B. Jones bought a plot of land in Prescott and built a two-story, red-brick hotel there. As Arizona Highways reported a few years back, the hotel has been through a dozen owners since then, and for a while, it was even considered a flophouse — "the kind of place people crossed the street to avoid."

Now, though, the hotel is a sought-after lodging destination and point of pride in Prescott. It's also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To celebrate its 100th birthday, the hotel is hosting an open house Sunday, November 5, from 1 to 5 p.m. The event includes a tour of the historic hotel's rooms and bar, along with a reception featuring light refreshments, drinks and live entertainment. A food drive at the event will benefit the Salvation Army.

To learn more, visit

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The Southwestern Legacy of Sara Lemmon

Sara Plummer in 1865, before her marriage to John Lemmon. | Wynne Brown/Original at the University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley

By Wynne Brown

As Sara Allen Plummer waved goodbye to her family from a wooden sidewheel steamer, she wondered what lay ahead for her. It was 1869, she was 33 years old, and she was hoping to save her own life by moving — alone — from New York to California.

She probably never imagined that she would one day be hailed as “one of the most accurate painters of nature in the state.” Or that Mount Lemmon, the highest peak in Southern Arizona’s Santa Catalina Mountains, would be named for her.

How did a young woman born in Maine leave such a long-lasting legacy in the Southwest?

Sara’s early education was as a teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts. She then moved to New York City to become certified in chemistry and physics while supporting herself by teaching calisthenics (gym) and giving art lessons.

In her spare time, she nursed wounded Civil War soldiers. Ironically, her own health was terrible, and after barely surviving pneumonia, she realized her life depended on escaping the bitter Northeastern winters.

After moving across the continent, she settled in Santa Barbara, where she became intrigued by Western plants. It wasn’t uncommon for 19th century women to be knowledgeable botanists, and Sara, a skilled observer and gifted illustrator, soon was among them. She also started Santa Barbara’s first library and established a lecture series, which attracted a certain Civil War veteran in 1876.

John Gill Lemmon, born in Michigan in 1832, was a teacher and school superintendent before he enlisted in 1862. Thirty-six military engagements later, he was captured and sent to Georgia’s infamous Andersonville Prison. After the war, he was released — emaciated and traumatized — and moved to Northern California to recuperate. He had always liked natural history and collected a few odd-looking plants that turned out to be new species.

By the time John met Sara, he was considered an important Western field botanist. They soon became “botanical comrades,” fell in love and married on Thanksgiving Day, 1880.

Where would two frail botanists spend their honeymoon? Sara wrote her family March 20, 1881:

Tomorrow at 4 p.m. Lemmonia and I start for Arizona and New Mexico on a botanic exploring expedition. …  I have long desired to see the far-off land of the Apaches and then to go with Mr. Lemmon exploring, and gathering the rare and perhaps new species of flora will be sufficient delight to more than balance the fatigues consequent upon such a trip.

These two were definitely not armchair botanists:

I wish you could see our rough outfit of two gray/rubber blankets — old flannel vests and drawers, old boots and hats, a big lunch basket — filled with corned beef, crackers, cheese and three or four jars of nice currant jelly, brought in by good, thoughtful friends. We have a little alcohol lamp to make tea and cocoa over a wash dish, soap and towels. An umbrella tent, a lot of botanical books and traps. The whole outfit and occasion brimful of interest and enthusiasm if you will allow the expression.

She also brought her watercolor supplies.

After three attempts to scrabble up the Catalinas’ south-facing side, the Lemmons were introduced to Emerson Oliver Stratton, who owned the Pandora Ranch on the range’s north side. Stratton knew a better route: “We went to the highest peak of the Santa Catalinas,” he wrote later, “and christened it Mount Lemmon in honor of Mrs. Lemmon, who was the first white woman up there.”

From Tucson, the couple took the train to the Chiricahua Mountains, staying at Fort Bowie until the June heat drove them away. Two months later, they returned, and Sara wrote her family from Teviston (now Bowie) on August 24, 1881:

On Sunday at 8:30 a.m. went on to Tucson about 250 miles farther, a tedious trip, hot, dusty in some places the roadbed washed all out. Spent one night there and at noon the next day started for Bowie Station, 100+ more miles out. This place was reached between 9 and 10 p.m. The inhabitants of about a half dozen houses in bed — a saloon was open. Four or five men came to our rescue, as we were landed by the side of the track, all dark except when the lightning flashes revealed the distant mountains across the wide open plains. It was a desolate scene to us tired mortals.

Four days later, she wrote from Fort Bowie:

This morning at 5 o'clock as the first sounds of the horn are heard, we rose and with botanic press started for the ravine and the site of the Indian scouts who were encamped last season at the Fort. … Just beyond this place is the graveyard in which are buried about 60 people, most of them bearing this touching notice on the wooden headboard: “Killed by the Apaches,” “Killed by the Indians” — “Unknown,” or “Supposed to be.”

One of the many plants they collected was a new genus, and Harvard’s Dr. Asa Gray named the plant Plummera floribunda, honoring Sara’s scientific work — and her maiden name.

A week later, still at Fort Bowie, she described the Apaches:

We have been deeply anxious here for the past week owing to the Indian troubles. Of course with you the news from so great a distance sounds like a myth, but with the dwellers in the midst, it is a solemn reality. Nothing that prowls over the earth is probably more to be dreaded than the Apache Indians. They are sly, treacherous, revengeful, cruel and love to shed the blood of the white man as much as we take pleasure in killing rattlesnakes.

On September 19, 1881, the Lemmons were finally allowed to go to Fort Rucker, a closed post 40 miles away. They camped in a primitive cabin belonging to Dr. Robert Monroe, the “Hermit of the Chiricahuas,” who was convivial — at first. He even trusted them to show off the tunnel he’d hand-dug behind his cabin. The passage zigzagged through the ridge for about 125 feet, with a central room, 8 by 6 by 4 feet, especially “for occupation when Apaches were expected.”

The pièce de résistance was a fuse leading to a hidden half-keg of gunpowder. John reported:

The eyes of the inventor gleamed wickedly … as he disclosed this device and declared that by the simple possession of one match he “could blow the whole Apache Nation into shoe-strings and jumbled bones!”

Privately, John and Sara laughed about the “demented” miner and his ridiculous plan. The hermit grew increasingly moody until, one evening, he suddenly threatened the Lemmons with a rifle, accusing them of intending to rob him. John faced him down by pretending he, too, had a gun, and the hermit subsided into his customary good nature.

One day, as Sara was alone in camp, working on plant illustrations, Fort Bowie’s commander sent word that the Apache leader Juh had escaped from the San Carlos reservation — and was headed their way. 

Suddenly, the refuge tunnel no longer seemed ridiculous, and Sara quickly moved all their supplies into its central room. John wrote:

How glad were we now, that we knew of its existence! How ashamed that we had ever spoken of it, slightingly, to each other, or doubted the sanity of the miner who excavated the long channel.

Their enthusiasm for the cramped, dank refuge wore off until, 11 days later, the cavalry rode to their rescue.

Yet, even with all the excitement, the couple discovered dozens of new species, including a fern named Woodsia plummerae, again in Sara’s honor.

Despite the scares they’d experienced, the Lemmons returned to Southern Arizona the following year. This time, they camped at Fort Huachuca, because Apaches were still a worry. The Huachucas turned out to be a botanical heaven, with 40 species new to science. At least a dozen of Sara’s exquisite paintings from that 1882 trip have survived.

In 1884, they traveled to Northern Arizona, and in 1892, they returned to the Chiricahuas. When revisiting the Rucker Canyon tunnel, Sara commented, “How did we live in here so long — 11 days! I couldn’t stay an hour now!”

In June 1905, they returned to Tucson, and, reunited with Stratton, they retraced their route up Mount Lemmon to mark their 25th anniversary. Sara was 70, John 74.

When not collecting plants from Alaska to Mexico, the Lemmons lived in their Berkeley-based herbarium, eking out a living by selling specimens to collectors and producing several books, all illustrated by Sara.

From 1888 to 1892, John was the state botanist for the California Board of Forestry, and Sara shared his salary as official artist. She also held positions in the Women’s Federated Clubs, the California Press Women and the local Red Cross chapters. As an early activist, she gave talks around the West on the importance of forest conservation.

Californians might claim Sara’s most lasting legacy was her successful effort to make the California poppy the state flower in 1903. However, Arizonans could contest that claim: The Lemmons discovered, described and named 110 species, or 3 percent of the state’s vascular plants.

John died of pneumonia in 1908, and Sara had a nervous breakdown in 1913. She moved into the Stockton State Hospital, dying in 1923.

How fitting that the two of them are buried together. Their gravestone reads: “Partners in Botany.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Wynne Brown traveled three times to the University and Jepson Herbaria Archives at the University of California, Berkeley, to photograph all 1,200 pages of Sara Lemmon's letters with her iPhone. She’s now in the process of transcribing Lemmon’s letters from 1856 to 1908, and she’s done enough of them, she says, “that I walk around contemporary Tucson with her voice in my ear.” She hopes to turn Lemmon’s story into a book, and her proposal is making the rounds with publishers and agents. To learn more, visit

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On the Market: Once a Train Depot, Now a Hilltop Home

This house on a Phoenix hilltop has a colorful history that includes Arizona Highways. | Courtesy of HomeSmart

A Phoenix home that used to be a railroad depot — and was repurposed by a former Arizona Highways editor — is now on the market for just north of $1 million.

In 1962, as The Arizona Republic reported recently, author and editor Don Dedera purchased a shuttered train depot, built in 1898, in Mayer, located north of Phoenix and just southeast of Prescott. He then had the 750-square-foot depot trucked down the freeway — a trip that included getting permission to haul it across a Deer Valley Airport runway to avoid telephone lines.

Two huge cranes then hauled the depot up a mountain near State Route 51 and Northern Avenue, near what today is the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. It became the centerpiece of a nearly 2,700-square-foot house, designed by architect Fred Guirey in 1963, that has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a rock-wall fireplace and other amenities.

The home was renovated in 2010 and 2011 but still includes fir hardwood and other materials from the depot, The Republic reported. It's been put on the market for $1.05 million. To see the listing and more photos, visit this link.

Dedera was Arizona Highways' editor from 1983 to 1985. He's written more than 20 books on a variety of topics, plus thousands of journal and newspaper articles. To learn more about Dedera, click here.

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2018 Documentary Will Examine the Lost Dutchman Myth

The Superstition Mountains have yet to reveal their biggest mystery: the location of the Lost Dutchman gold mine — if it exists. | Gerry Groeber

Treacherous, rugged trails have long been a thorn to countless souls who have passed through the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. The mountains are home to many tales of gold and treasure in which men have lost their lives looking for the hidden gem of the area — the Lost Dutchman gold mine.

Now, a new documentary looks to revisit the Lost Dutchman’s purported $200 million treasure — and the myths and tales of the Superstitions. 

A portion of the documentary, by New York City-based SenArt Films, will be similar to the History Channel show Legend of the Superstition Mountains and will explore the story of the lost treasure. The film, which has the working title of The Last Expedition, will be written and directed by Robert May; it's expected to be released in 2018. The film will focus on treasure hunters and include cast members of the History Channel show. 

May was executive producer for the 2003 Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. He was also the writer and director of Kids for Cash, a film that covered a Pennsylvania judicial scandal. “We are a character-driven production company,” May said. “We look for character-driven stories that place regular people in extraordinary circumstances. They can be funny, they can be sad. If it’s a documentary, then they are real-life situations, and basically, we journal what happens in people’s lives — just like a journalist would. It’s not reality television.”

May said he found out about the Lost Dutchman story through a collegue and that he's “fascinated” by treasure hunters. As of mid-2017, he and his crew had spent about 30 production days in and around Apache Junction. So far, they've filmed at locations that include the Treasure Hunter of the Year Awards, held at Apache Junction’s Mammoth Saloon in March, and at Goldfield Ghost Town, an attraction that features a zip line and live staged gunfights.

“I think we really wanted to find the real people and the journey they have in finding this treasure and how it gets into their blood,” May said. “They go through an evolution of excitement and euphoria.”

He said the subjects — who include Wayne Tuttle, a cast member on the History Channel show — are hardworking people who know a lot about the subject matter. And he called the documentary “a journey of people” — some of whom, especially in the Lost Dutchman case, have spent upwards of 40 to 50 years of their lives seeking treasure. 

“They happen to be treasure hunters, for the most part,” May said. “But you could debate whether this is really about treasure hunting or this is really about reconnection of people who connected once before. Or a camaraderie or a community of people who admire each other and some who have had a difficult life. I think it’s much more about an Americana that we rarely see.” 

Jacob Waltz personifies the danger of the mountains as much as his likeness gives treasure hunters promise and hope of finding his desert jewel. Legend says he left a $200 million gold mine in the Superstition Mountains before his death in October 1891.

Waltz, a German-born prospector, arrived in La Paz in Arizona Territory in the early 1860s, according to James Swanson's book Superstition Mountain: A Ride Through Time. According to the book, Waltz filed a mining claim in the Walnut Grove District south of Prescott. 

Waltz also worked digging irrigation ditches on the north bank of the Salt River near Phoenix for a company operated by Jack Swilling, a key figure in Arizona’s history. The Waltz homestead was near Buckeye Road and 16th Street in Phoenix.

The prospector became a well-known miner who supposedly became rich off of gold he carried out of the Superstitions. There are stories of him selling small quantities of gold in the 1870s in the Florence area, and he's said to have given out mysterious clues as to the location of the mine.     

There are rumors that Waltz prospected gold from mining claims owned by the famed Peralta and Gonzales families. Or that the Lost Dutchman mine is really an existing mine with a different name. Still another story claims the buried treasure was from ancient Jesuits, who are said to once have occupied the mountains.    

The German, according to legend, prospected every winter from 1868 to 1886. He died in 1891, and if he left a treasure in the Superstitions, his friends and acquaintances were unable to pinpoint it.

No one has ever come up with ore that matches that of the Dutchman, Tuttle said. He and a team of “Dutch hunters” searched for the treasure for about six consecutive weeks on the show, which ran for six episodes in 2015. He's spent 40 years looking for the gold mine, which he believes exists in the western half of the Superstitions.

But Ron Feldman, a local historian, said the mine is on the opposite end of the mountains, to the east, and is an existing mine called the Silver Chief. 

Feldman owns Mammoth Mine Gift and Rock Shop, and his sons operate O.K. Corral Inc., a horse rental business on the same property. He's written two books about the legend and owns several mines in the area — including the Black Queen, which his family still operates. 

“I followed everybody’s footsteps that led you nowhere,” Feldman said. “The first 25 years, I became an expert on where the Lost Dutchman was not. It was the next 25 years of my life that I got into information that took me to the east side, and I explored the east side.”

Feldman moved to the area in 1968 and said there was a time when he took “a steady stream” of people into the mountains to search for the gold. But those numbers have dwindled since a 1984 moratorium that prohibited mining in the Superstitions. 

 He said that unlike the west side of the range, the east side has “perfect geology” for gold.

“Most of the information on the Lost Dutchman mine is bogus — except for what I have written,” Feldman joked. 

Over the years, the folklore of the mine has grown via events such as Lost Dutchman Days and the construction of Goldfield Ghost Town.

Tuttle said he and the “close-knit” group help host the Treasure Hunter of the Year Awards and the Dutch Hunter Rendezvous, an annual camping event held to pay homage to Waltz. He said the group does its best to protect the legacy of the mountains.  

“We value what’s in the mountains,” Tuttle said. “We don’t always want to just share everything, because we worry there are people out there that are just going to go out and ruin it.” He said there are artifacts in undisclosed locations, such as a copper cross wedged in rock in a cave. 

Tuttle said there isn’t yet a way to protect similar items left in the mountains, other than mines that have been intentionally dynamited shut. “There’s nothing we can do, and the biggest shame in the world is to go up there and find it’s gone,” he said. “Because that’s what’s going to happen. There’s no way to protect it.”

Feldman said area historians and Dutch hunters alike have done their best to not reveal every tidbit they know — such as the whereabouts of a famed matchbox said to contain a small portion of gold ore from the Dutchman’s treasure.

About 48 pounds of gold ore was found underneath the Dutchman’s deathbed, according to legend. After Waltz’s death, the legend goes, gold ore from that location was sent to an out-of state jeweler who made items such as cuff links, earrings, the matchbox and other jewelry out of the treasure. Those items were given to different individuals as gifts; the matchbox is now owned by a local historian and is one of the last surviving objects said to contain Dutchman gold.  

“(Not everything is revealed because of) the history behind it,” Feldman said. “It’s because it’s the most publicized, famous mine in the world. ... I can probably dig more gold out of the Black Queen than I could’ve today out of the Dutchman. Why is [the Dutchman] more important? It’s more story. The Black Queen has a story. But it’s not as famous. It’s not as well-known.”

— Brent Ruffner

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50 Years Ago, Two Iconic Films Featured Monument Valley

Monument Valley has graced movie screens many times over the past century. | Coral C Coolahan

Half a century ago, and just months apart, two celebrated movies were shot in Monument Valley, and they couldn't be more different.

Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, both released in 1968, used the Navajo Nation landmark as a backdrop for filming in 1967 and 1968.

For Leone, the landscape gave him an opportunity to pay homage to a legendary director. John Ford, best known for his collaborations with John Wayne, put Monument Valley on the national map with his 1939 film Stagecoach. Other directors and film stars had taken notice of the formations over the decades as they drove past to work in the region, but none put their lens on Monument Valley. Ford changed that as he returned to the area with nine other films, including one of the finest Westerns ever made, The Searchers.

In Ford's wake, scores of films have featured Monument Valley, which straddles the border between Arizona and Utah. They include Forrest Gump, Mission: Impossible 2, Easy Rider, Back to the Future Part III, National Lampoon's Vacation and the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger. But perhaps none of the directors involved in these projects were as dedicated to the Ford tradition as Leone.

Leone was so keen to shoot in the area that he changed his standard set of practices. Once Upon a Time in the West was actually the first of the "spaghetti Westerns" to be filmed outside Europe. Typically, these projects were shot in Spain or Italy.  But Leone was set on honoring Ford. In fact, on the initial scout of Monument Valley, Leone is said to have memorized all the spots used in Ford films and pointed them out to his crew.

Matching Monument Valley to Italy proved to be something of a challenge. The red dirt in Italy looked darker on camera than the light brown soil of Monument Valley. The crew brought in bags of red dust to fake it. In one scene, they used fans to blow this false dirt into a saloon, at the eye level of the cast.

Turning Monument Valley into an alien landscape was easier. The valley is briefly visible in 2001, during a surreal exploration sequence toward the end of the film. The telltale features of the Valley are discernible but faint, with a bluish tint.

The location work at Monument Valley harked back to an older tradition of filmmaking, but much of 2001 was experimental and groundbreaking. Widely regarded now as a classic, 2001 is also a bleak warning about the future and the perils of artificial intelligence. The film grew out of The Sentinel, a short story written by Arthur C. Clarke, and was shot mostly on a soundstage in London. Filmmakers needed a massive stage space to experiment with new technologies, including an oversized "centrifuge" used to replicate the effects of gravity during spaceflight.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is open to visitors and managed by the Navajo Nation. Many visitors see it on a scenic drive through the park. Fittingly, one of the stops along the way is John Ford's Point.

— Jason Strykowski

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Find an Old Arizona Highways Issue at the Arizona Memory Project

Arizona Highways World Headquarters in Phoenix. | Noah Austin

One of the most common reasons our readers email us is to ask for help finding a story in an old issue of Arizona Highways. We're happy to help, of course, but you might not know that most of our previous issues are now available online — free.

A few years back, we partnered with the Arizona Memory Project, a division of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. The reason? As you may have noticed, paper magazines don't last forever, and the issues of Arizona Highways printed several decades ago are starting to show their age. We wanted a way to make sure our 90-plus years of history were preserved digitally — hence the Memory Project partnership.

The added benefit to this partnership is that the old issues are available to the public, at no charge, via a searchable archive. With a few clicks, you can download a complete PDF of each issue.

We're still in the process of adding all our old issues to the database, but as of this writing, everything from the mid-1950s to 2013 is available online. We anticipate scanning and uploading all the back issues — all the way back to 1925 — by the end of 2018 or so.

Of course, if you use the archive and still can't find what you're looking for, feel free to get in touch with us.

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