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Maricopa Historical Society

Lon Orlenko works with one of the jacks used to lift the 116,000-pound Silver Horizon railcar. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Within hours of the California Zephyr train’s Silver Horizon railcar being placed at its new home in January, there was speculation it might be off-kilter.

Measurements proved that was so, and the vintage 1940s car was leaning just slightly to the south because parts were not settled properly. Monday, railcar expert Lon Orlenko was on hand to direct City staff in tweaking its placement.

“When they brought it over here and set it down on the tracks, things were a little bit askew,” said Orlenko, who lives in Los Angeles, California. “We’re going to lift it up, take the weight off of it, make some adjustments and set it back down.”

The Silver Horizon belongs to the Maricopa Historical Society. When members learned an adjustment was needed, Society President Paul Shirk was hooked up with Orlenko.

Orlenko has been in the business of rebuilding, repairing and moving railroad cars for 37.5 years. He has made many post-move adjustments to railroad cars.

“We’re not normally out here in the rocks with this kind of timberwork,” he said. “We have big electric screw jacks that we use in our shop.”

As it was, the Society needed favors from a couple sources for air jacks and timber. That included more railroad ties. When Shirk reached out to members and other families, they quickly came up with the heavy timbers required.

The work was methodical to get all air jacks in place to make the small shifts. Orlenko and the crew started in the morning, and, by afternoon, the Silver Horizon stood a little straighter next to Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Maricopa Historical Society will also have crossing lights at the site as part of the story of the railroad. Shirk said they need approval for some electrical work before they can have fully functioning air conditioning. That will allow them to host events in the Silver Horizon again.

The railcar is near Maricopa Veterans Center on the former site of the old swimming pool. In the future, after the city’s library moves to a new as-yet-unbuilt location and the Maricopa Veterans Center moves to the current library building, the historical society will make the current veterans center into a Maricopa museum.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Some history stories, a silent auction, and catered meal and more drew a crowd to Maricopa Historical Society’s first Tales & Treasures supper at Leading Edge Academy Saturday. The afternoon event raised funds for the Society’s activities, such as readying for a future museum and continued preparation of the Silver Horizon railcar for public opening. During the supper, members strolled from table to table sharing historical tidbits from Maricopa.

What: Tales & Treasures
Who: Maricopa Historical Society
When: Oct. 26, 3-6 p.m.
Where: Leading Edge Academy, 18700 N. Porter Road
How much: Advance tickets $40/member $45/nonmember; at the door $55
Info: MHS50.com

Let’s talk history. The Maricopa Historical Society is introducing a new fundraiser this year to combine local history, silent auction and dinner.

The “Tales & Treasures” supper event is scheduled for Oct. 26 at Leading Edge Academy.

“We’re excited to present our first annual fundraising supper that demonstrates the goal of presenting our history in a fun and informative format,” said MHS President Paul Shirk.

A social hour will begin at 3 p.m. with appetizers and beverages, displays of historical items, bidding on silent auction items and the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for drawings of a handmade lap quilt and the unique table centerpieces.

Supper will be served at 4 p.m., after which each table will be treated to short stories from Maricopa Historical Society “Tale Blazers,” who will share their knowledge and experiences about Maricopa’s history and events.

Maricopa Historical Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving history and artifacts.

Did you know?
• Snake Town was the earliest known settlement in the area, seven miles east of Maricopa Wells and occupied by the Hohokam (Huhugam) until around 1200 AD.
• John Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company had its first stagecoach run through the area in 1858.
• The population of Maricopa in 1900 was 160.
• A bond was passed to build Maricopa High School in 1956.

To enjoy a night of history and lore, you can purchase tickets online at MHS50.com or by mail at Maricopa Historical Society, P.O. Box 902, Maricopa AZ 85139. Online reservations (no paper tickets) purchased before Oct. 12 are $45 per adult or $40 per Maricopa Historical Society member. Admission at the door is $55.

Brenda Campbell, 520-705-0890

This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Years of Joan Koczor's documentation of recent Maricopa history was turned over to the Maricopa Historical Society Monday.

Now with the confidence of having future storage and display space for their many items of historical significance to the community, Maricopa Historical Society was happy to accept a collection from Joan Koczor.

The historical compilation of articles, clippings, photographs and programs tells the story of recent Maricopa since the 1980s through incorporation.

Koczor was an early member of the Society, working alongside historian Patricia Brock and Mary Lou Smith. The organization had been busy collecting stories and items from long-time residents but realized the community was growing and changing fast.

“Mary Lou said, ‘We need someone to take the more current history,’” Koczor said. “Then I said, ‘I like history.’ All of a sudden, I started getting these things. Mary Lou game me some stuff she had in her basement. Shirley Ann Hartman had some stuff in there, too. I went into the archives of InMaricopa. It was one thing after another.”

The evolution of the post office, the library, the fire department and Copper Sky all became catalogued by Koczor, who writes a senior-advocacy column for InMaricopa magazine.

The opening of the current library, for instance, brought a who’s who of important guests, and Koczor made a point of talking with them and taking photos. She carefully compiled the information in massive binders.

Board member Dorothy Charles said everything Koczor turned over to the Society would be digitally copied, so the information can be generally available, and the originals will be safely stored.

Koczor said compiling the donated items took “hours of research, attendance at events and presentations,” with husband Ray showing nothing but support and patience while “schlepping” her around.

The events they attended would become Maricopa history through photographs and newspaper articles.

“A lot of this will help us with our event coming up,” said Society President Paul Shirk, referring to the new Tales & Treasures supper coming up Oct. 26. “We want to encourage people, if they got stuff, bring it in.”

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Believed to have been taken between 1900 and 1920, this photo of a train at the pumping station with the iconic water tower nearby is so typical of Maricopa at that time it served as a postcard. For 40 years, Maricopa was a junction for the Southern Pacific Railroad where passengers bound for Phoenix could catch the Doodlebug into town. Just like the train, they could stop for a little refreshment in Maricopa before continuing on their journey. The east-west tracks now belong to Union Pacific, and the northbound spur was torn up.

Library of Congress

This item appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Jim Headley

Ever see a Zephyr fly? Thursday, one actually did in Maricopa.

Maricopa’s vintage California Zephyr streamline passenger car was moved down Casa Grande-Maricopa Highway to make room for the new State Route 347 overpass in the center of the city.

GoPro footage:

Shortly after 10 a.m., two large cranes carefully picked up the Zephyr and gently placed it onto a large semitrailer. It was chained down and driven about three blocks down the highway. Again, the cranes picked it up and placed it on its new rails, beside the former Rotary swimming pool.

The Maricopa Historical Society purchased the Zephyr from Pinal County for the sum of $1.

“They were interested in cooperating with us, the City and ADOT, so that this could be put here and be a community centerpiece going forward,” said Paul Shirk, president of the Society.

Funds for moving the Zephyr came from county funds garnered through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s purchase of the property where the railcar previously sat.

“Because of the overpass, we had to move the Zephyr,” Shirk said. “The county was the owner of the Zephyr at that time, so they put that fund up, so the citizens of Maricopa did not have to incur any expense to do this. Now we’re working with the City, and with the generous contribution of the land by John and Marylou Smith, the City can have a park here and we can have a place for the Zephyr.”

Moving a large train car might be a stressful operation, but Shirk disagreed.

“It was a blast. There is no tense, this is just fun.  Too many people say history is boring. Too much memorizing names and dates. We don’t do that. We tell a story in a fun way. Our meeting is every first Monday of the month over at the library. We spend a little time on business and then spend an hour-and-a-half on fun,” he said, adding, “We have a lot of history to tell.”

Shirk, who was a little teary-eyed when the car was lifted off its rails, said he arrived for the move at 5 a.m. and city personnel had everything organized and in place for the 10 a.m. move under Mike Riggs’ leadership.

“Everything just went according to plan. It just clicked,” Shirk said.

Riggs, assistant director of public works for Maricopa, has been putting together the Zephyr’s move over the past 30 days. He said the entire move went without a problem.

“It’s been a great experience,” Riggs said. “It’s great how the City all participated –  the police department and all the divisions jumped in to help. It has been an awesome 30 days.”

Riggs said the crane company that moved the Zephyr, Southwest Industrial Rigging, also moved it to Maricopa in 2001 and will “swing the bridge girders into place over the highway this weekend.”

Friday and Saturday night, the highway will be closed in that section from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the installation of the bridge girders.

“It was imperative that we move the Zephyr today,” Riggs said. “We have a great spot for the Zephyr to sit now for years to come.”

Mayor Christian Price said watching the Zephyr fly was truly an event.

“It was amazing to see it come off the track where it’s been sitting for the past decade plus,” said Price. “It was amazing to watch them thread the needle with that train between the two cranes.”

Price said Maricopa has great things ahead as the overpass takes shape to ease transportation.

“We have been working so hard for the past decade on trying to get through the recession and put things in place that will allow for quality of life. Now we are entering the next phase. That next phase is the explosion of Maricopa, from the standpoint of businesses, commercial and retail. That is what we are working towards,” Price said.

In its new home, near Maricopa Veterans Center, the Zephyr will “be a mainstay that represents Maricopa is welcoming to the community and to people who are visiting. We are going to welcome newcomers in and we’re going to make sure that we have a lot of good events for the people who live here,” Shirk said.

Mike Kemery of Maricopa’s VFW post was among veterans who turned out to watch the railcar move next door. He said the historical society was making its future parking around the Zephyr available to veterans for special events.

Rick Horst, Maricopa city manager, said moving the Zephyr in a safe and organized fashion represents the entire community’s structure.

“Many communities are so divided on so many issues. You just don’t sense that here,” Horst said. “That’s what makes this place feel like home. The future is whatever we want it to be. Our goal is to make sure we create a place where everyone can be successful, whether it is a single parent, a family, a business, a nonprofit, the educational system – whatever it is we want to create the environment that the true values of hard work will pay off in this community.”

Crews prepare the rails to be the new home of the Zephyr. Photo by Jim Headley

Placing rails from 1946-47, city crews prepared for next week’s moving of the Silver Horizon California Zephyr Friday morning to the former Rotary Park.

The Zephyr railcar has been in place next to the Amtrak station since 2001. Maricopa Historical Society purchased the car from Pinal County in 2017. The construction of the State Route 347 overpass across the Union Pacific tracks hastened the removal of the car.

Society President Paul Shirk said the Zephyr would be removed by crane on Jan. 10. The railcar, which weighs 116,000 pounds, will be hoisted onto a truck and driven east to its new home next to the old swimming pool. There, the cranes will again lift the car and place it on the newly installed rails.

By coincidence, the rails are the same age as the railcar. The California Zephyr ran the Burlington Northern route from Chicago to Los Angeles starting in the ’40s and retired in 1970. It appeared in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor.

The removal of the Zephyr on Thursday morning will cause traffic restrictions on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and parking restrictions around the area. At 86 feet in length, it fits in the space of a basketball court, Shirk said.

“I went out there and measured to make sure,” he said.

The removal is slated to start around 10 a.m.

The Zephyr does not have electricity, a situation that will soon change. Shirk said the Society expects to have historical information on display inside and eventually use it to host events again.

The Zephyr needs to move now while there is still space for the required cranes next to the site of the overpass construction. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Concept for future landscaping at the home of the Zephyr. (City of Maricopa)

The California Zephyr being lifted into place in Maricopa in 2001. Photo courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

The City of Maricopa and the Maricopa Historical Society have partnered to relocate the iconic California Zephyr railcar Silver Horizon to a new location at the site of the former community pool adjacent to the Maricopa Unified School District Offices.

The Zephyr railcar came to Maricopa in 2000 and was utilized as the Amtrak ticket station for the community from 2001 to 2003 before a larger ticket station was built closer to the railroad tracks. The Maricopa Historical Society then opened the car for public tours and history exhibits.

Originally owned by Pinal County, following the restoration efforts of Mike Ingram of El Dorado Holdings, Inc., the Silver Horizon was purchased by the Maricopa Historical Society In 2017.

“This makes so much sense to transfer the ownership to the non-profit, Maricopa Historical Society,” Pinal County District IV Supervisor Anthony Smith said at the time of the sale. “We are pleased to help keep alive this symbol of an era when Maricopa played an important role for rail travel in the United States.”

With construction of the State Route 347 Overpass taking place near the Silver Horizon’s current home, relocation was determined to be the best course of action to preserve the historical railcar.

The land that will now hold the Silver Horizon was donated to the City of Maricopa by John and Mary Lou Smith.

“We are extremely thankful to the Smith family for their generous donation of the land upon which the Zephyr will now sit, for our partnership with the Maricopa Historical Society, and for the ability to preserve and display this part of Maricopa’s proud history for generations to come,” City of Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said.

Upgrades and added features are expected to be built around the railcar’s new location.

“We are looking forward to upgrading the car, building displays that can be interchanged, add a research library along with holding special events and open houses for the public to see the railcar,” President of the Maricopa Historical Society Paul Shirk said. “We wish to acknowledge and thank Supervisor Anthony Smith, Mayor Christian Price, City Manager Rick Horst, and their staffs for the support and assistance in bringing this process to a successful conclusion.”

The Silver Horizon is currently projected to be relocated in January.

Oliver Anderson, 88, moved to Maricopa in the 1950s. Photo by Mason Callejas


His story begins less than a month after Black Tuesday, America’s economic disaster that incited the Great Depression.

“He’s always served without fanfare, under the radar, wanting no recognition – just wanting the pure joy and knowledge that things will be better.” Kelly Anderson

Oliver Anderson, 88, was born a Phoenician on his family’s farm near Southern and 19th avenues in 1929. Life for all Americans then was a challenge. But the effects of the Wall Street crash were less noticeable to those who worked the ground.

“We grew our own food, and what you didn’t grow, you traded with your neighbors,” Anderson said.

From farm to island, Anderson later spent two years in Japan on a U.S. Air Force base.

In July 1954, the young cosmopolitan moved to Maricopa in the sweltering heat to work on a farm co-owned by his father and a business partner. Anderson-Palmisano Farms, started in 1949, grew cattle, cotton, grain and alfalfa.

Services in the dusty community were primitive – there were no residential phones and roads were paved with dirt. The 25-cycle electricity pumped currents so low, utility customers were bathed in beams of blinking lightbulbs.

“Maricopa was out in the country, but if you’re working seven days a week, time goes pretty fast – very rapidly,” Anderson said.

The rural town was inhabited with working people spread far from each other by the agriculture industry that provided most of them a living.

Townspeople saw each other once a week, usually at school functions or Headquarters Café.

Newsprint didn’t cover the happenings in the town yet, either. Residents visited Postmaster Fred Cole or the barber to stay informed.

“The haircut you received depended on his mood of that day,” Anderson said. “When you went in to get a haircut, that’s where you got the scoop.”

Those who made their mark in the early days didn’t do so without challenges, according to longtime Maricopa resident and farmer John Smith. Settling the rugged, desert land and transforming it into fertile ground was not always simple for many working in the often unforgiving agribusiness.

“Oliver has been successful out on that farm when very few people were,” Smith said. “Things got tough, but he managed to wade through — a few of us did — most didn’t.”

The Andersons made their contributions to the activities and culture in Maricopa, too.

Hermina, Anderson’s wife of 62 years, employed her musical prowess while directing dinner theaters at the school in the 1980s. She provided piano lessons to children and served on the school board.

With a small populace and no formal government, Maricopa pioneers, like Anderson, began a life of service to the community that would span decades.

With the Maricopa Rotary Club, Anderson helped the community in its effort to build a swimming pool. The annual Stage Coach Days celebration was launched to help fund it.

For 10 years Anderson served on the Maricopa School Board, before it became a unified district.

The Anderson family dressed for Stagecoach Days. Submitted photo

In the early 1980s, Anderson was asked to serve on an advisory committee to the University of Arizona dean of the burgeoning Maricopa Agricultural Center.

Anderson has served on the Pinal County Active Management Area Ground Water Users Advisory Committee for 45 years; the board of directors for the Arizona Cotton Growers Association for 35 years; the Pinal County Farm Bureau Board of Directors; the Arizona Farm Bureau Board of Directors and many more.

It’s a service to others he can’t seem to stop. “When I get on, I can’t get off,” he said, eyes glimmering.

Leadership seems to run in the Anderson family.

Anderson’s son Kelly was the first publicly elected mayor in 2004 and has himself served on many boards and committees, including a six-year appointment to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s State Transportation Board.

The eldest son of Anderson’s four children, Kelly Anderson attributes his civic success to his father.

“He’s always served without fanfare, under the radar, wanting no recognition – just wanting the pure joy and knowledge that things will be better,” Kelly said.

The quiet management style of the Anderson clan has lent well to their business.

Kelly is the third generation to manage the family farm.

The 600-acre operation on Farrell Road has evolved to specialty crops – producing dry flower products for big-name brands like Hobby Lobby, Pottery Barn and Michael’s.

Oliver and Hermina’s three other children – Troy, Lynn and Wendy – specialize in the arts, electronics and medical care.

It’s that kind of success of his own children and other Maricopa schoolchildren that routinely has Oliver steeped in pride, according to Kelly.

“A lot of (students) come back to Maricopa to have a career and do something. It’s a nice return on your time invested,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s wife, Torri Anderson, has served as president and board member of the Maricopa Unified School District for years.

Maricopa’s legacy is embedded in the souls of its people – who as Oliver Anderson said – consistently come together for the good of the community through flood, fire and fundraising.

“It’s the folks that came here initially and said, ‘Hey, by golly, regardless of if it’s dusty, regardless of it’s hot, regardless of if it’s a long way from town, this is my home, I want to live here,’” Oliver said.

This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

Decades before Maricopa incorporated, the center point of the community was the school. Some of these fresh faces may still be familiar to long-time residents.

Front row: Frances Brown, Trini Sanchez, Linda Miller, Roberta Tow, Alice Fay Suiter, Edna Farrell, Rosemary Peters, Kathy Conner. Middle row: Goldie Mullins, Jean Thornhill, Norma Ruth Blackwood, Mollie Norris, Dean Green, Jimmy Matheny, Ray Hernandez, Vern Rhoton. Back row: Harry Goodman, Dorothy Reed, Gerlene Sadler, Carrol Hamon, Billy Tow, Marvin Enos, Craig Cooper, Henry Bandin, Johnny White.

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Building on far right was the Wander Bar where Ruth and Leland Easley worked after working on a cotton ranch. Maricopa floodwaters posed problems for the cotton workers. Photo courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

By Patricia Brock and the Maricopa Historical Society

Bertha Anderson Easley and her husband Jay Easley came to Maricopa in 1947.

“We lived on Porter Ranch, and Jay worked for the Porter family,” Bertha said. Several members of her husband’s family were already living in Maricopa and working for E.K. Porter, who lived east of Maricopa on Porter Road. Family members included Jay’s brother Leland (wife Ruth) Easley, Richard Easley and Rufus (wife Rene Easley) Cooper working in the area.

Bertha was born in 1922 in Seamore, Texas, where she spent her childhood living in tents and following the oilrigs. Her father, Dee Anderson, worked as a driller for an oil company. However, this did not prepare her for life in a small farming community in the middle of the Arizona desert.

“We moved to Maricopa after the war when my husband came home from the service,” she said. “My first impression of Maricopa was I thought it was a hellhole. All the roads were fine dirt and gravel. The businesses in Maricopa consisted of a couple of bars, one store, a post office located in the train depot, one gas station located on one street (Maricopa Highway) and a small school.”

During cotton-picking season, the Easleys went to Oklahoma and hauled people into Maricopa to pick the cotton.

Living in a cabin and a boxcar, Bertha ran lunch wagons for cotton pickers. She served stew or beans, making trips once a week to Phoenix to get groceries. They also served dinners at night for the pickers.

“We ate meat, potatoes and vegetables, and for dessert we had cake or cookies,” she said. “We had no refrigerator, just an icebox. Nor did we have indoor toilets or showers … just outside toilets and bathtubs. I picked some cotton, but not much. I helped cook and served. We paid in cash to the pickers.

“While in Maricopa, we had flash floods that washed our roads out. We couldn’t get out unless we walked through water…which we did.  Sometimes, Mr. Porter would take us through the water on a tractor to get our groceries at Casa Grande, or we would walk to Maricopa along the railroad tracks.  We would take the kids’ wagon to bring back ice and whatever else we needed until the water went down.”

Ruth Easley, who was married to Jay’s brother Leland, said, “My family and my husband’s family were part of the ‘Dust Bowl’ migration to California in the 1930s. I met George Leland Easley in Modesto, California, and married him June 29, 1947.

Ruth and Leland moved to Maricopa in 1949 to work on the Porter cotton ranch, which was located just east of town on the way to Casa Grande.

“On weekends, the camp could get pretty rowdy,” Ruth said. “There would be gambling, drinking and fighting. My niece, Bobbie Honeycutt Stewart, reminded me of an incident where my husband suffered an injury to his hand, when he attempted to break up a fight and was cut by a knife. Just one more Saturday night on the farm.”

They later moved to a small ranch owned by Bruce Wing and Jack Wright, where Leland worked as a farmhand and ran a harvesting crew. After the birth of their second child, they moved into Maricopa and ran the Wander Bar, built by Jack Burkett, a Maricopa pioneer. That property, just north of present-day Napa Auto, later became La Roca, which has since been demolished.

“I remember there was a post office, two grocery stores; hotel and restaurant combined in Maricopa,” Ruth Easley said. “There were two bars, one service station, some Southern Pacific railroad houses along the railroad tracks. Possibly some others I’ve forgotten.”

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Pecan groves in Maricopa in 1990s. Photo courtesy Maricopa Historical Society

By Patricia Brock, Oliver Anderson and the Maricopa Historical Society

Maricopa lost its importance as a railroad junction when the railroad redirected a line through Picacho into the Phoenix area in the mid-1930s.

Maricopa people found the desert lands ideal for farming and began cultivating rows of green plants offering up snowy white blossoms of cotton (1940-60s) that lined the roadways and earned the Maricopa/Stanfield area the title of having the highest cotton yield average of any large area in the world. Throughout the years, farmers experimented with and grew a variety of other crops that included pecans.

More than 20 years ago, Farmers Investment Company planted over 700 acres of pecan trees in the Maricopa area. In 2005, Maricopa had a groundbreaking for Pacana Park, named in honor of the one-time pecan grove.

In the mid-1900s, John Cobb lived in Mobile. He was a hard worker in the pecan groves and took care of his money. He worked in the pecan trees on Pat Murphree’s farm when he was 92 years old. He frequently brought his savings to the post office and asked postmaster Fred Cole to store it in his safe.

John Smith experimented in the early 1970s with growing pecan trees and converted his cotton and wheat fields to mainly a pecan farm.

Have you been down Murphy Road to see the pecan trees getting a light trim? A severe tree trimming is done every few years to keep stems strong to ensure continued good harvests. “Skipper” Hall owns most of these trees and the custom maintenance has been done by the Ed Shappell family for decades.

The Murphy Road and other area pecan trees will soon leaf out and produce pecan nuts. The harvest begins after the first frost in October or November when the epicarp, the outer covering of the nut, begins to crack. The harvesting begins when equipment shakes each tree so the nuts will fall.

The nuts are gathered in rows for collection. Then leaves are removed from the nuts. The harvest is finally taken to Farmers Investment Company in Tucson.

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Dorothy Charles in her former ranger hat. Photo by Mason Callejas

When Dorothy Shally Charles started working for the National Park Service, singing was a job requirement.

What: The History of Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley
Who: Dorothy Charles and the Maricopa Historical Society
When: April 2, 5:30 p.m.”
Where: Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
How much: Free

“I told my boss I couldn’t sing. He said, ‘No, that’s what we do.’”

Still in college, Charles was a seasonal naturalist at Grand Canyon National Park in 1965. The naturalists told visitors what was going on, sang them campfire-style songs and then presented nature programs. Being a rookie, Charles was already petrified without suddenly learning she had to lead some songs, but she did it through the summer.

That job requirement, along with the dresses, low-heeled pumps and nylons necessary for female staff, eventually went away during Charles’ 25-year career. Besides Grand Canyon, her work took her to Badlands National Monument (which later became a national park) in South Dakota and Death Valley National Monument in California.

Her time specifically at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley culminated in co-writing a book about the historic hacienda. April 2, she is scheduled to talk about Scotty’s Castle in a presentation to the Maricopa Historical Society.

Dorothy and her husband Kent Charles have lived in Tortosa since 2011. About a year after her introduction to the city, Dorothy Charles became an important part of the society’s archival work.

“I’d work with Dorothy on any project and know that it would be well organized and a project well worth doing,” said Joan Garrett, who has been a cohort in making sure the historical society’s assets are managed correctly for future generations.

Growing up the San Francisco Bay area, Charles credits her mother with her love of the outdoors. The family commonly did a lot of hiking and camping and spent summers with grandparents in the Sierras. When her father had his annual two weeks’ vacation from New York Life Insurance Company, he would drive up to meet them and take them camping at even higher elevations.

Dorothy Charles (second row, third from right) with Grand Canyon staff in the late 1960s. Submitted photo

Dorothy’s first job was clerical work as a teenager for New York Life. While attending Humboldt State College (later university) majoring in outdoor resources, she started working summers at Grand Canyon, despite being uncomfortable with heights.

“When nobody was around I’d hang onto the rails,” she said.

Her work involved “point duty,” during which rangers were placed at locations along the rim where visitors typically parked. They would explain what they were seeing, direct them where they needed to go, pick up trash, butts and diapers and even have some latrine duty.

Charles was giving a presentation at Grand Canyon Village in 1969 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

“I had them bring me a radio, and the moon was coming up behind me, and we talked about this man walking up there on the moon,” she said. “I’ll always remember where I was then. It was sort of anticlimactic saying, ‘Well, now we have some nature walks you can go on.’”

In her early years at the canyon, she spent the winter months working at Death Valley National Monument. Her title was park technician.

National Geographic published a lengthy feature on Death Valley in its January 1970 issue. Dorothy can be seen in two of David Hiser’s photographs – one in her skirt and flats directing hikers in Mosaic Canyon and one bundled up and hiking through snow on Telescope Peak.

Her work in Death Valley included research and fact-checking to give visitors a true history of Scotty’s Castle. In 1973, she and maintenance leader William Bolton wrote the 40-page book “Scotty’s Castle,” published by Flying Spur Press.

The “castle,” which was under construction 1922-1931 and never quite finished, averaged 100,000 visitors a year before a devastating flood in 2015. It is not expected to reopen until 2020, so the closest most can get to understanding the unique hacienda is through books like “Scotty’s Castle.”

“We tried to not only make it fun but to tell the true story of Scotty’s Castle,” Charles said. “He had stuff brought over from Germany and Italy, Majorcan rugs throughout the castle made special for it.”

In his introduction, former Superintendent Robert J. Murphy said Dorothy “researched facts pertinent to the text or guide script; checked on paintings and other historical items in the Castle; interviewed former workers and visitors who know [Albert] Johnson and Scotty [Walter Scott], or knew of events at the Castle when they were living there. She also assisted in identifying and preparing items for shipment that were in need of restoration, as well as finding qualified specialists for the purpose of cleaning and repairing delicate Castle furnishings.”

That job description would come to sound very familiar to members of the Maricopa Historical Society 40 years later.

Dorothy’s career path changed when she met a new procurement clerk named Kent Charles in Death Valley during a “long, hot summer.” She married Kent in 1975 after she completed ranger school. She continued working with NPS part-time until they followed Kent’s career to Seattle for a year and then to Denver for 31 years.

She said her years at Scotty’s Castle peaked her interest in history. When the Charleses moved to Maricopa, she decided joining the historical society was the best way to get to know the background of the area.

At the time, Mary Lou Smith needed help putting together historical displays in the library. Dorothy Charles put her past organizational and display knowledge to use and was soon the MHS archivist, working closely with Judi Shirk and Joan Garrett, who calls Dorothy “absolutely one of the most organized people I have ever known.”

They gather, list, tag and organize items donated or acquired by the historical society.

“The listing of these items has been tedious but with the three of us working together and using Dorothy’s organized listings, it’s also been educational for us,” Garrett said. “We are pleased that the items that people have entrusted to us are now carefully listed and we know exactly where they are and all the information we have concerning each one.  She never seems to tire and, with a little banter back and forth, the hours have flown by and we’ve accomplished more and more each week.”

Charles said her past work with NPS has helped her prepare information from the historical society, research and manage the collection.

“My background has helped with adapting to the desert and adapting to the things that need to be done with the historical society, which is also newer, so we were starting at the bottom,” she said. “So, I guess I like the challenge.”

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Death Valley. Submitted photo


Maricopa Historical Society is hosting its seventh annual golf tournament May 5.

Come have a fun time with Maricopa Historical Society. Meet on May 5 for the seventh annual Golf Tournament at The Duke Golf Course.

Whether you are a golfer or non-golfer, we will have something for you— golf, lunch, raffle items, and silent auction. CHECK OUT THE PACKET HERE

The golfer lineup is off to a good start, as are the new youth golfer sponsorships. Young golfers have expressed an interest in participating and community members are already donating to help provide this opportunity. Heads-up, look out on the longest drive competition…some of these kids can hit!

There are several ways you can join in the fun:

Golfers will play golf, including a couple of contest holes, awards luncheon and door prizes.
·        Individuals can sign up for $125.
·        Gather a foursome for golf – $100 per person.

Not a golfer?
·        Nominate and/or sponsor a youth golfer to participate for $100 per youth
·        Join us for lunch, raffle and silent auction for $25

Hole Sponsorships are available starting at $200. See the Registration packet. Registration packets are available at website MHS50.com or call Paul Shirk at 909-260-3020.

We look forward to your support of the Maricopa Historical Society in another fun morning!

This fund-raising event will help the Maricopa Historical Society be closer to having a permanent location to tell the history of transportation, farming, and important people who have helped make Maricopa what it is today.

Photo of Pierre and Daniel Deck courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

By Patricia Brock and the Maricopa Historical Society


Mobile is a small community located about 15 miles west of Maricopa on State Route 238 (Mobile Road), and north of what was the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. It is in Maricopa County and bordered by two majestic mountain ranges – the Estrella Mountains to the east and the Maricopa Mountain Range to the west.

In the 1800s, this little settlement was named Mobile when the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks were laid across southern Arizona and a siding and section house were created to provide water for steam engines.

Today, not much remains to indicate that at one time Mobile might have developed into a thriving town. In 1988, it was the proposed site for the Superconducting Super Collider and considered by the ENSCO Hazardous Waste Facility, but neither of these projects took root. However, against the wishes of many of its residents, the Butterfield Station Waste Management Facility did locate at Mobile.


First Homestead

Edison Lung, a white man who first carved out a life in Mobile, homesteaded the area around 1921 and continued to live there for the rest of his life. Lung worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad pumping water for the steam engines. When the railroad transferred him to Yuma, he absolutely refused to go, quit his job and laid down stakes at Mobile catering to railroad personnel and travelers.

Records show Lung filed an application to enlarge his homestead in 1922 and received a title to that land in 1925. His homestead consisted of a frame and stucco house, a store located downstairs and a post office with sleeping quarters on the second floor. The homestead had a gas station, a cow barn, a chicken coup and a storeroom. His wife ran the post office and made a living by providing services to travelers and railroad employees.

Edison Lung raised cattle, hogs and chicken on his homestead. Around 1935, he decided to modernize the property and bought a Delco electric generator that provided the family with lighting and the use of a few appliances. Records also show he and his family motored to Maricopa to dances at the Maricopa Hotel and to other recreational events throughout the 1930s.


An African American Community

During the late 1920s and early ‘30s, Mobile became an African American settlement as people began to homestead the land. According to Mark Swanson (An Archaeological Investigation of the Historic Black Settlement at Mobile, Arizona), the population in the 1930s was between 100 and 150 and consisted of mainly black settlers. Most of these early settlers did not work for the railroad but came from Oklahoma or Texas by way of Phoenix.

The first of the successful African American homesteaders were Lee Elliot Williams (homestead awarded in 1933); Richard Cobb Williams (homestead awarded in 1933); Homer Abraham Williams (homestead awarded in 1933); and Willis Thomas, Hezekiah McGriff, Eli Weddington, James Manor, and the Israel Nelson families.



The first school in Mobile contained grades 1-8 and consisted of two railroad cars placed end to end. White children went to school in one car and black children went to school in the other car. Later, the white children were transferred to a wood frame schoolhouse that was moved from Rainbow Valley (1936-37) and placed near the home of Edison Lung. It continued to educate these children up to the 1960s.

The black residents of Mobile built a small schoolhouse, Nelson Elementary School, for their children. When the community started to grow and needed a bigger school, the government built a much larger one in the same location. After eighth grade graduation, children were bused to Percy L. Julian or South Mountain High School.


Growing up in Mobile

In an oral history interview with the Deck brothers, Pierre and Daniel, and their lifelong friend Fezel Adams, Pierre Deck recalled what it was like growing up in Mobile: One thing about Mobile, I don’t care who you were, you were family. If you needed something, you got it. I don’t care how it came to you, you got it, you didn’t have to pay it back. It was just one big family.”

Pierre Deck said, “I watched my grandfather come from nothing to having something … to be proud of who you are. You just do the right thing and that’s how I was raised. In Mobile everybody stood out.”

Daniel Deck said, “Nobody had running water or electricity. They hauled the water. No electricity, dirt floors, no windows, a potbellied stove you stuck wood into. My grandma and grandpa, they worked pretty hard. When sand was dumped out there, snakes would just lay down and sleep. You had to walk out to the outhouse; you didn’t have a bathroom. If you encountered a snake, you would just jump it or go around. There was not an animal around that the snake would back up from! You live here and they live over there. You had to look under the covers and under the bed and everywhere. You might get out of bed and they would be sleeping right next to you.”

Today, Mobile has a population of less than 100 people who are mostly white. Besides the Butterfield Waste Management Facility, there is a private airport, Lufthansa, located to its north that is used for training pilots.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Arizona sheep in southwest Arizona.

Sheepherding for wool and meat has been an Arizonan occupation since the mid-1800s, and if the Native Americas are included, the date can be pushed back to the early 1600s when sheep were pilfered from the pueblos in New Mexico.

What: “Where have all the sheep gone?”
Who: Maricopa Historical Society
When: March 5, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
How much: Free
Info: MHS50.com

Historical geographer Barbara Jaquay will visit Maricopa to talk about the history of sheep and sheepherding in the state and how it still survives today.

Her presentation is hosted by Maricopa Historical Society March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library. All are invited, and the event is free.

Sheep were one of the many livestock breeds Father Kino introduced into the Pimería Alta. He taught the local southern Arizona Native Americans sheep husbandry in order that they would have a constant supply of wool and meat.

At the height of the industry there were approximately 150 sheep owners, consisting of Basque, Americans, Mexicans and Canadians men and women who came as owners and some as sheepherders who eventually became owners themselves. Today, two families still graze sheep in the traditional method of moving the animals from the desert ranges to mountain pastures every year in the cyclical rhythm of the land. This is the story of the many sheep owners.

Jaquay has traveled extensively to all seven continents and has traveled to more than 50 countries; hiking the Andes Mountains and the Bhutanese Himalayas in her understanding of the many mysteries of the people of both regions. She has written on Cuba, Costa Rica and Arizona Native Americans as well as a book on the sheep industry in Arizona, “Where Have All the Sheep Gone: Sheep Herders and Ranchers in Arizona – A Disappearing Industry.”

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt visiting the Japanese Internment Camp on Gila River land near Maricopa.


Winston Churchill once said, “history is written by the victors,” alluding to a reality in which often only self-serving histories are memorialized. Despite criticisms over the implications of such a statement, Churchill believed the subjective nature of history tends to bend in favor of a conflict’s winner, sometimes excluding controversy and atrocity.

What: Gila River Japanese Internment Camp presentation
When: Feb. 5, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
Who: Maricopa Historical Society
How Much: Free

One such American story is that of World War II Japanese and German internment camps.

To aid in telling the controversial tale of these camps, one of which happened to be in Maricopa’s backyard, the Maricopa Historical Society is hosting a speaker Monday who will shed light on what many consider to be a dark time in American history.

“[The presentation] focuses on this challenging period in our history when, due to fear and other issues, we lost our way a bit and incarcerated people, two-thirds of which were American citizens, because they looked like the enemy,” said Jody Crago, director of the Chandler Museum.

The political and social atmosphere that spawn this fear of invasion and defeat, Crago said, is relative to today and deserves revisiting.

“If your livelihood or your community seems like it’s being supplanted by some other group, it’s natural to be afraid of what the future holds,” Crago said.  

But in this instance, he said, that fear, whether warranted or not, became so great the government began to extensively deprive citizens of their rights.

The question being, Crago said, “is this important to think about today?”  

Crago’s presentation will also have a secondary component.

He hopes to highlight some of the new improvements at the Chandler Museum including a new “expanded” museum near the Chandler Fashion Center, which, he said, will include exhibits on Japanese internment camps in Arizona.

He also said, soon after the museum is open it will feature an exhibit on Chandler boxing legend Zora Folley, who once challenged Muhammed Ali for the heavyweight title but was defeated.

Crago has more than 25 years working in small museums focusing on community interaction. He co-created ChandlerpediA and is co-founder of the East Valley Cultural Heritage Coalition in Phoenix. He serves on the American Association for State and Local History National Leadership Awards Committee and was president of the Museum Association of Arizona.

His presentation on the Gila River internment camp will be held at the Maricopa Public Library, Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Pinal County Supervisor and former Maricopa Mayor Anthony Smith (left) presents a Bill of Sale for the Zephyr railcar to Maricopa Historical Society president Paul Shirk (right) at a ceremony Saturday, July 15. The official cost of the icon was a modest $1. Photo by Mason Callejas

A Maricopa icon officially became part of the Maricopa Historical Society’s inventory Saturday. 

The famed Zephyr railcar was added to the Maricopa Historical Society’s list of assets at a breakfast ceremony July 15 where Pinal County officials handed over the key and an official bill of sale for the $1 purchase

Pinal County Supervisor and former Maricopa Mayor Anthony Smith presented historical society president Paul Shirk with the documentation to make the transaction official. 

The historical society took control of the icon, which holds a storied service history, even finding mild fame in retirement when it appeared in the Hollywood blockbuster Pearl Harbor.

The historical society is now in the process of determining the fate of the Zephyr

Maricopa Historical Society members hope it will become a museum, showcasing Maricopa’s history. However, a new home must be chosen before any serious renovation can occur. 

The Zephyr’s current location will be affected by the SR 347 overpass project, which is scheduled to commence this fall. 

Shirk said the historical society is working hand-in-hand with the City to find an appropriate location. 

The Maricopa Historical Society meets at the Maricopa Public Library the first Monday of every month at 5:30 p.m.

CAD instructor Patrick Ramirez (left) shows the scanning program to Maricopa Historical Society's Paul Shirk and Dorothy Charles. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The California Zephyr railcar received a serious scanning Friday.

Maricopan Patrick Ramirez, a journeyman plumber and a computer-aided design (CAD) and laser-scanning instructor with UA Local 469, brought fellow instructors and high-tech equipment to the historic car next to the Amtrak station to give it a three-dimensional scan.

Using Faro software and equipment – a portable laser scanner and a laser scanner on a tripod – Ramirez, Dustin Baker and Michael Trask took several minutes to record the Zephyr 360 degrees, inside and out, from the dome to the wheels. That work will create a 3D model like those they create of buildings for plumbing and other utilities.

So, why the Zephyr?

“I’ve always been interested in it,” said Ramirez, who has lived in The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado for three years. “I love trains. Every time I drive by this thing, I’d love to go inside.”

Ramirez brought his idea to Paul Shirk, president of the Maricopa Historical Society, which recently acquired the railcar from Pinal County. The Society is mulling relocating the car once the land lease runs out, and the 3D modeling could be helpful in a move and setup.

Shirk said Ramirez is a “founding member” of what is becoming the Zephyr Guild, imagined as a collection of local skilled workers willing to donate their talents and knowledge to improve the railcar and fit it for historical displays.

Ramirez wants to use it as a teaching tool for the apprenticeship program at the Pipe Trades Training Center. He said the scanning process “allows the student to get hands-on, real-life data.”

“If it takes something that we just looked at, and we walk around and we talk about it and propose different ways of gathering information about this and what’s around it, that’s a talking point. I don’t like talking points,” he said. “I like showing points. I like things that convey information.

“So, when I talk about this, I’m over here on the computer and bringing up the file and I’m telling the students you can walk around and get information. And sometimes it’s six months later that you need this little bit of information, and you can drive four hours or you can pull up the file on your computer.”

In pipe trades, Ramirez said, the accuracy level of laser scans must be between an eighth-inch and a half-inch.

Shirk said the equipment is enhancing the typical blue-color trades of plumbing and steamfitting to make them high-tech careers. He said the laser-scanning instructors would like to bring students to Maricopa to see the Zephyr and compare the 3D renderings.


The California Zephyr being lifted into place in Maricopa in 2001. Photo courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

The Maricopa Historical Society is seeking public input to help determine the fate of one of their recently acquired icons – the California Zephyr railcar.

At their meeting on June 5 the historical society presented a history of the Zephyr, following it from its birth in 1949 through its service on the Burlington Northern route from Chicago to Los Angeles, its retirement in 1970, its temporary homes in Texas and Los Angeles, its short acting carrier in films such as “Pearl Harbor” and ultimately its arrival in Maricopa in 2001.

After the detailed presentation, however, discussion turned toward the icon’s future.

“Do we consider restoration, or do we go the museum route,” Maricopa Historical Society President Paul Shirk posited to the group.

Most in attendance agreed that a museum was the best option, though some suggested that a partial restoration of the railcars upper deck would be nice to give visitors a glimpse into the Zephyr’s glory days.

There are many steps to take before the Zephyr can become an operational museum, the most important of which will be the installation of air conditioning.

Other items on the to-do list include updates to the interior and exterior of the car, all of which the historical society hopes will be facilitated by the formation of a “Zephyr Guild” comprised of craftsmen, artisans and technicians who will help maintain the site.

A permanent home for the Zephyr was also discussed. Though mostly unaffected by the eventual construction of the State Route 347 overpass, its current location near the Amtrak station is questioned by some who doubt if it’s the appropriate location.

At this point, however, no alternative location has been proposed.

The historical society recently took ownership of the railcar after purchasing it from Pinal County for $1. For the past few years, the society was allowed access to host tours and open houses in the railcar.

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Photo courtesy Maricopa Historical Society

City of Maricopa Fire/Medical Deputy Fire Marshal (and former Maricopa Fire Department chief) Eddie Rodriguez shows off the department’s 1940s Ford/Howe pumper truck. The then-volunteer fire department was started in 1959 by Don Pearce and others, and the pumper was its first fire truck. It served for nearly 30 years before being retired in 2005. It has since been put into working order for special events.

This item appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

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Courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

The last of three massive water towers that marked the Maricopa area on the railroad tracks in the 1880s, the 60-foot water tower has become an architectural symbol of the town. One of its early brothers was apparently in old Maricopaville two miles west of the current city. Its better-remembered twin collapsed during a 1973 storm. No one knows when the surviving tower was constructed, but it existed when the first train left Maricopa in 1887. It held 50,000 gallons of water, and is now empty. These days, it is one of the most photographed sites in Maricopa.

This item appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Jack Jackson

Maricopa photographer Jack Jackson took photos by drone for the Maricopa Historical Society to capture the appearance of the city around the State Route 347/Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway intersection before construction of the overpass. The photos include a topside view of the iconic water tower. The photos will be considered “historical” within a couple of years as the overpass transforms the appearance of that part of the city, and the Society wanted a photographic catalogue of the area. MHS President Paul Shirk presented the photos at an April 3 meeting of the Society at Maricopa Public Library. Arizona Department of Transportation will present an informational update about the project on Wednesday.

The Buffalo Soldiers of Arizona told fascinating stories of the 9th and 10th Cavalry from the Plains Wars to World War II. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Historical Society hosted its annual symposium “A Morning of History” Saturday at City Hall, with diverse presentation from Ak-Chin Indian Community, the Buffalo Soldiers of Arizona and State Historian Marshall Trimble, who also provided some ballads of the West (see below).

Marshall Trimble, Arizona's official state historian, will be one of the speaker's at Saturday's Morning of History at Maricopa City Hall. Submitted photo by Brendan Moore

During one of Marshall Trimble’s visits to Tombstone, a family came over to him and said, “The next gunfight isn’t for 45 minutes. What do people do in Tombstone when they’re not having gunfights?”

If You Go
What: A Morning of History
When: March 11, 9 a.m.-noon
Who: Maricopa Historical Society features Elaine F. Peters, director of Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Him-Dak EcoMuseum, Chaz Jackson, president of the Buffalo Soldiers of American Arizona Chapter, and Marshall Trimble, Arizona state historian
Where: Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
How Much: Free
Info: MHS50.com, Contact@MHS50.com

That struck Trimble’s considerable funny bone.

It has inspired a comic riff on what people really did in Tombstone when they weren’t in a shootout and what visitors can do today. He uses facts and music and some tall tales as the moment strikes him during a performance.

Trimble is Arizona’s first, and so far only, official state historian.

Often called Arizona’s Will Rogers, he has performed around the state for decades. For the first time he is bringing his knowledge and humor to Maricopa.

Trimble is the keynote speaker at “A Morning of History,” presented by the Maricopa Historical Society, on March 11. The event is 9 a.m.-noon at Maricopa City Hall.

The morning will also include presentations by Elaine F. Peters, the director of the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Him Dak EcoMuseum & Archives, and Chaz Jackson, president of the Buffalo Soldiers of American Arizona Chapter.

Trimble, 77, taught history at the high school level and then at Scottsdale Community College for 47 years. Though he retired in 2014, he is still in his SCC office most days, usually prepping for his next gig. Retirement did not mean he stopped doing what he loved: Sharing Arizona’s history.

Trimble calls the state “a land of anomalies and tamales.” The first white man in Arizona was a black man. And the Lost Dutchman was German, and he wasn’t lost.

When it comes to the Maricopa area, he said he has always been fascinated by the Butterfield overland stage trail.

“Old Maricopa was a very important place on that trail,” Trimble said. “It was a long, dry spell to get to Gila Bend.”

But don’t expect him to deliver a detailed lecture on Maricopa’s history.

“The only thing I’m leery of is going into somebody else’s neighborhood and trying to tell their story,” he said.

He has a wagon-load of trivia to share involving Grand Falls, the movie Oklahoma and “zany gunfights” and a lot of real-life characters. Though born in Mesa, he grew up in Ash Fork, a small town and frequent target of his humor.

“I like to entertain, to give them something to learn,” he said. “I started teaching at 21. I love to teach and I love to hear people say, ‘I didn’t know that.’”

Trimble is as anomalous as the state he calls home. His path to teaching history was as winding as a diamondback in a whirlpool.

Though he enrolled in Phoenix College, he played semi-pro baseball. Then he dropped out to join the U.S. Marines. He taught himself to play guitar and entertained his military buddies with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash songs.

He went back to school, earning his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 1961. He coached some high school baseball. He took up with a local folk music group called the Gin Mill Three, traveling the country to keep entertaining.

He did some cowboying in Montana, where he picked up on a lot of details of western history he had never heard before.

“I said, ‘This stuff is fascinating. Why didn’t they teach this in school?’ Then I found out all our textbooks were written in New York or Boston or Philadelphia, places I’d never been to and probably would never go to.”

When he returned to Arizona and started teaching at Coronado High School, he wanted to bring the history of the West to life. That was no easy task in high school, especially during the Vietnam War.

“They needed something to relate to, to be entertained by. They weren’t exactly pro-American, and I’m a former Marine,” he said. “Not everything’s right, but we got a pretty great country here. I’d be afraid if I believed in reincarnation, I might come back born in Afghanistan or something.”

To show them how folk music can tell a country’s history, he brought in his guitar and sang some Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan songs. “So I had the hippies and I had the cowboys,” he said.

In 1972, Trimble created a course on western history for Scottsdale Community College, and 300 students signed up. “I never taught anything else again,” he said.

He wrote his first book, “Arizona: A Panoramic History of a Frontier State,” in 1977. During book-signing tours, he played his guitar and sang. That developed into an act. He has written 15 more books, and the act keeps going as long as people like their Arizona history delivered with a humorous twist.

Gov. Fife Symington appointed him official state historian in 1997.

“It was my duty to go wherever I was needed and tell the history of Arizona in my own way,” he said. “I’ve spent 20 years working without pay, but as a teacher I’m used to that sort of thing.”

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Santa and Mrs. Claus chat with kids at the tree lighting. Photo by Mason Callejas

Mayor Christian Price lighted the Christmas tree at City Hall Dec. 6 as Santa and Mrs. Claus mingled with children, a choir from Sequoia Pathway Academy performed, Maricopa Arts Council unveiled a new gallery and Maricopa Historical Society unveiled its new permanent display.

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Courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

A 1998 aerial photo of the Maricopa High School campus, looking northeast. At the bottom of the photo is the junction of Honeycutt Avenue with Taft Avenue. Can you name the school buildings? Note John Smith’s pecan groves north of the tracks.

This photo appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

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How people entered Maricopa from the south in 1913. Note the different fencing styles along the road. (Photo from Pratt family courtesy Maricopa Historical Society)

This photo appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

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Photos courtesy of Maricopa Historical Society

The changing skyline of Maricopa is evident in historic and modern photos of the same stretch of railroad tracks. In 1911, the depot was much closer to the water tower than today’s Amtrak station. Also note the hotel immediately south of the tracks. This is a section of the city’s skyline that will look very different in the near future with the planned overpass.

This appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

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North of the tracks, 1950s Maricopa. Photo courtesy Maricopa Historical Society

At the intersection of Maricopa Road and the future Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in the 1950s was the business district north of the tracks. At left are the Texaco Station, Woods Apartments and Headquarters. At right are Valley Auto (now Napa Auto), Jessie Estep’s Diner, Black Diamond Bar and Maricopa Mercantile. In 1956, Maricopa Road was paved between Maricopa and Phoenix. In 1995, Maricopa Road (State Route 347) was restructured to a divided road. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway was completed in 1956 and paved in 1959.

This photo appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.