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Blazing the General Crook Trail (access required)

Today, we travel across this diverse landscape on paved roads, in air-conditioned comfort and with radios blaring, unaware of the early pioneers who braved Arizona’s roughest land to lay trails. In remote and untouched areas of Arizona, the old trails remain, where the history of the pioneers’ experiences are remembered.

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The Lore of Charleston (access required)

On an outing from Fort Huachuca, this trio of unidentified soldiers hiked through a dense mesquite bosque to a clearing overlooking the San Pedro River near the crumbling remains of Charleston.

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The New Mills House (access required)

Susie and Ernest Mills came to Arizona in 1881. Ernest was a Canadian who ran away from home to join the American Civil War. He served three years with an Ohio regiment and was wounded in battle. After the war, he settled in Kansas, married Susie and worked in a variety of governmental jobs — U.S. marshal, county coroner and justice of the peace.

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Gilmore and Salisbury’s ‘custom’ smelter (access required)

Benson was established in June 1880 by the Southern Pacific and became an important maintenance center for the railroad and the shipping point for the Bisbee and Tombstone mines, neither of which was served by rail. The town was less than three months old when, according to the Tucson Citizen, “the first shipment of copper bullion from Bisbee (arrived) in Benson, where it (was) shipped to San Francisco.” It was transported to Benson by mule-drawn wagons, weighing 43,003 pounds.

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Flagstaff’s Chapel Car (access required)

Rev. Peter Vanderhoof and his wife in founded Glad Tidings Baptist Church in 1926 in a Pullman rail car. The car, which was divided into a living space and a sanctuary, included an organ, a pulpit and a few benches. The makeshift church referred to as “The Chapel Car” allowed the Vanderhoofs to preach in the remote areas of northern Arizona.

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Surviving the frozen Colorado, 1931 (access required)

Eighty years ago this month, two intrepid would-be entrepreneurs spent a harrowing 12 days traveling upstream on the ice-choked Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Rainbow Bridge, battling frigid waters and the elements in a wooden boat they had found while testing their own steel boat.

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Arizona’s Snow Bowl (access required)

Skiing was introduced to Flagstaff in 1915, probably by a pair of Norwegian immigrants, brothers Ole and Pete Solberg. The Solbergs made skis and started downhill runs on Observatory Hill where the Lowell Observatory was located, very nearly in the center of town.

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A Territorial Christmas (access required)

Christmas time in the 1860s in the Arizona Territory was similar to Christmas in the state of Arizona in 2010. People had feasts, decorated large Christmas trees, children ate candy and townspeople spread cheer by caroling.

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