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The Washington Elm

Daughters of the American Revolution plant a tree on the Arizona State College campus in Flagstaff.  Left to right:  Dr. Grady Gammage, Naomi Dinsmore, Katherine Ormond, Mrs.V.M. Slipher, Alma Acker Bunch, Mary Spencer, Bertha Kennedy and Mrs. Louis Benedic. The two other women are not identified.

On a rainy Wednesday, April 22, 1931, members of the Coconino Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution gathered together with Dr. Grady Gammage, president of Arizona State College (now Northern Arizona University) to plant an elm tree in honor of the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth.

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‘I shall never come back to Arizona’ – Zane Grey

The Painted Desert, a frequent locale in Zane Grey’s books.

Western novelist Zane Grey (1872-1939) wrote this dramatic sentence to his wife, Dolly, in a bitter letter penned from his Tonto Basin cabin. He complained about other things, as well, and the above statement was followed with : “…the country has been ruined by motorists. The Navajo are doomed. The beauty and romance of their lives dead.” Dolly and Zane had honeymooned at El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in 1906 and knew Arizona well. He returned as often as possible, particularly to hunt.

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Rifleys — Father and Son

William John Rifley is pictured with his son, William Frank Rifley, in the early 1920s.

This photo, showing father and son in boxing gloves, was taken in Phoenix about 1922. It reflects Jack Dempsey’s dynamic effect on American culture. A comparatively small man, Dempsey electrified the nation in 1919 by winning the heavyweight championship, knocking out the gigantic Jess Willard in just three roundsc — an event that launched America’s Golden Age of Sports.

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Flagstaff’s Tree-Ring Study Pioneers (access required)

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Within the small scientific circle in Flagstaff in the 1920s were three men who combined their expertise to develop the science known today as dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating: astronomer Dr. Andrew E. Douglass (1867-1962); forester Gustaf A. Pearson (1880 -1949) and zoologist Dr. Harold S. Colton (1889-1970). Each man would become well-known and respected for this project and other scientific achievements in northern Arizona during their tenures.

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Fort Grant

The Fort Grant Band in rehearsal.

In 1885, when Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches were raiding in southern Arizona, the 10th Cavalry was transferred from Texas to Forts Grant, Thomas, Apache and Verde in the Arizona Territory. (The 10th was one of the cavalry regiments organized with black troops after the Civil War. Indians called the men Buffalo Soldiers after their short curly hair.) The men of the 10th sent to Fort Grant had been given one of the most desirable postings in the Arizona Territory.

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A Bisbee First: Birdman Fowler (access required)

A biplane parked at the Bisbee Country Club where Birdman Fowler would land on his cross-country trip.

In November 1911, R.L. “Birdman” Fowler made a stop at the Bisbee Country Club on a cross-country air trip and became the first man to fly into the copper mining camp (Didier Masson, whose plane appears in this photo, was the first to fly out of Bisbee in February 1911, but his biplane was shipped into Bisbee by railroad.) Fowler had only been flying for three months, but already had broken records. On the Yuma to Maricopa leg of his trip, he flew continuously for four hours and 26 minutes, longer than any other aviator to that date.

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Transitioning Tucson (access required)

Tucson in the early 1880s was changing from an old-world Spanish-Mexican village to a typical American town.

Looking northeast toward the barely visible Santa Catalina Mountains is Tucson in the early 1880s. The photograph, probably taken from the lower steps of Sentinel Peak, shows an evolving Tucson.

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