Pay Dirt

Ed Schieffelin finds his tombstone.   By Marshall Trimble The tall, lanky prospector brushed back his thick, matted, unkempt hair and looked out across a jumble of high mesa hills, scanning the rough terrain east of the San Pedro River. Somewhere out there he reckoned, lay the vast riches he had long sought. It was a well-known fact that this virtually uninhabited area, some 60 miles southeast of Tucso ...

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Raúl Castro: The Kid From Pirtleville

Raúl Castro: The Kid From Pirtleville  By Marshall Trimble It’s been more than a 100 years since Arizona gained statehood, yet in all that time only one Latino has managed to be elected to the state’s highest political office. But he was one hell of a man. Raúl Castro was born on June 12, 1916, in Cananea, Sonora, one of 14 children. When he was 10, the family legally immigrated to Pirtleville, a small Mexi ...

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Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble on the westernmost battle of the Civil War

The Battle of Picacho Pass  Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble on the westernmost battle of the Civil War. By Marshall Trimble For a brief time in early 1862, cavalry troops from the Texas Confederate Army occupied Arizona. This was part of a grand Confederate plan to occupy New Mexico and open a path to California. The so-called westernmost battle of the Civil War was fought here on April 15, 1862, w ...

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Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble recounts the tale of Senator Henry Fountain Ashurst

Five-Syllable Henry Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble recounts the tale of Senator Henry Fountain Ashurst. By Marshall Trimble Arizona has been blessed with a remarkable assemblage of U.S. Senators including Carl Hayden, Barry Goldwater, Ernest W. McFarland, Paul Fannin, John McCain, and Jeff Flake that any other state would be proud to claim as their own. Henry Fountain Ashurst, one of the baby stat ...

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The dental profession was a back-street horror show for hundreds of years, details state historian Marshall Trimble

Frontier Dentistry  The dental profession was a back-street horror show for hundreds of years, details state historian Marshall Trimble.   I’ve often said, “The good old days really weren’t all that good.” Recently, Professor Joanna Bourke wrote, “Agonizing toothache, horrifying extractions and barbaric tools have cast a large shadow over our dental past.” No truer words were ever spoken. Trained denti ...

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Fighting Words: Newspaper folk in territorial Arizona were an irrepressible bunch

Fighting Words Newspaper folk in territorial Arizona were an irrepressible bunch. By Marshall Trimble Wherever folks wandered in the rugged wilds of the West during the second half of the 19th century there remained a desire to keep up with the happenings "back in the states." Local events such as the latest political shenanigans were always a curiosity too. Many took their politics serious to the degree th ...

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Tombstone’s legendary “two-fisted minister” left a lasting impression

Preacher Tombstone’s legendary “two-fisted minister” left a lasting impression. By Marshall Trimble During the early days of life in Tombstone the main diversion was playing cards but that soon changed as the business district developed. Folks drank, gambled, frequented bordellos, lied, bragged, and fought. And they went to church. Nobody was shunned from attending church. Even the so-called Shady Ladies re ...

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For a brief period of time, a lush Arizona valley was a utopian paradise

Shangri La For a brief period of time, a lush Arizona valley was a utopian paradise. By Marshall Trimble When one imagines pristine Arizona’s dry, desolate, sunbaked deserts in the 1850s, it’s difficult to picture any of it as being a utopian Shangri La. But, for a brief period, in a beautiful green valley at the foot of the majestic Santa Rita Mountains, there was just such a place. In his twilight years, ...

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The Nifty 50s: State historian Marshall Trimble looks back at a decade worth remembering

The Nifty 50s  State historian Marshall Trimble looks back at a decade worth remembering.  The Nifty ’50s spawned bomb shelters, drive-in movies, Hula Hoops, rock and roll music, car hops, McDonalds, Little League baseball, and Elvis. In 1950, Arizona had a population of 750,000 residents; the city of Phoenix covered only 17 square miles and had a population of 107,000. Scottsdale’s residents numbered 2,000 ...

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The Great Escape: The largest prisoner of war escape in America during World War II happened right here in the Valley

The Great Escape The largest prisoner of war escape in America during World War II happened right here in the Valley. By Marshall Trimble The largest prisoner of war escape inside the United States during World War II occurred at Papago Park during the Christmas holidays of 1944. Camp Papago housed some 1,700 German naval personnel sent to the Arizona desert to get them as far away from water as possible. U ...

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Kit Carson: State historian Marshall Trimble debunks the lies surrounding one of America’s great explorers

Kit Carson State historian Marshall Trimble debunks the lies surrounding one of America’s great explorers.   In recent years, a few modern-day revisionists have done much to malign the great soldier, scout, and explorer, Christopher “Kit” Carson. Kit Carson was the real deal and it’s a travesty to the memory of a great American that lies, distortions, and misinformation has cast a dark shadow on his ri ...

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Fires were always a menacing threat to frontier towns, explains state historian Marshall Trimble

Firefighters Fires were always a menacing threat to frontier towns, explains state historian Marshall Trimble.   The boomtowns of Prescott, Bisbee, Jerome, and Tombstone all burned to the ground several times during their heyday. With all those coal oil lamps and candles it took only one careless mistake and it was Katy-bar-the-door. The first generation of buildings and houses in those western towns w ...

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Route 66: America’s storied highway

Route 66  State historian Marshall Trimble on America’s storied highway in its heyday.   Of all America’s great highways, none epitomized Americana during the 20th century more than storied Route 66. Stretching across the heart of the country from Chicago to Los Angeles, it rambled nearly 2,500 miles through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Route 66 has inspired writers, poets, songw ...

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Cornish Miners and Tommyknockers

[caption id="attachment_1958" align="alignleft" width="198"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption] Cornish Miners and Tommyknockers The perils of gold mining led to the stuff of legends––some real and some imagined. By Marshall Trimble The rocky wilderness of the American West turned out to be the richest treasure trove of natural resources in the history of the civilized world. And the chance to get rich quick ...

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The Irish in Arizona

The Irish in Arizona State historian Marshall Trimble on the indelible mark the Irish made on the history of the West. There’s an old saying, “He had the luck of the Irish,” referring to a person who struck it rich in the mining camps of the West. For a few Irish immigrants that was true. Others made it through pure hard work and honest determination. Take Nellie Cashman for example. She was a real-life dim ...

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