Monday, March 30, 2015

Timeworn Arizona UFO Stories

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Arizona has had millions of UFO sightings all over the state for decades.  While researching some of the areas where most of the reports were witnessed, I came across these old stories from the 1940’s to the 1960’s.  I found them interesting and decided to share them with you.

On July 7, 1947, a Phoenix man, simply called Rhodes, was walking in his yard and heading to his garage when all of a sudden he heard the roar of a jet.  It sounded like it was traveling towards him, but when the 30 year old gazed to the sky a few seconds later; he noticed a gray disc hovering over the horizon in the northeast section of the city.  He described it as being “elliptical in shape, 20 to 30 feet in diameter, and appeared about 5,000 feet in the air.  The disc seemed to have a cockpit and a tail.”  He noticed thingamajig had swirled towards Earth to approximately 2,000 feet, and then shot straight up at a rate of 400 to 600 miles per hour.  Rhodes did manage to snap off a couple of pictures of the object as it zig-zagged in the sky.   After only 60 seconds, the disc-shaped flying saucer vanished in the western skies.

On April 28, 1949, a Tucson florist and a couple of friends, witness a “sausage-like object” above the edge of the Catalina Mountains.  It was dusk and the sun was bright so the florist could see the silver tint off the body from the item.  The form appeared to be a sausage with no wings, windows or notable gaps where a being could get in or out of the object.  It gave the impression that it was revolving, or as they put it, “a hot dog cooking at Circle K” and hurried along at a speed of 500 miles per hour while hovering about 5 to 10 miles over the ground.  This episode lasted roughly 12 minutes.

On May 9, 1949, a Tucson Air Force sergeant, saw not one but two unexplainable silver discs in the sky while relaxing at his home located in the northeast portion of Tucson.  He reports that “the objects were flat, silver, reflective and perfectly round” and figured them to be about “10,000 feet in the air”.  They moved towards the northwest, then zipped left, quickly right, and then disappeared over the Catalina Mountains.  He also reported them flying at speeds of 750 to 1,000 miles per hours, all with no visible haze and in dead silence.  He has labored with all types of planes for many years and has never seen anything like this.

On January 27, 1953, a Cottonwood man was standing outside his house and observing a plane flying above.  As the plane vanished in the east, he saw something a bit unusual.  He noticed a bright yellow-orange light appear in the dark skies.  He was curious to see what it was so he went in the house and retrieved his binoculars to get a closer look.  The object was moving south and created of two lights, the more brilliant one in front and dimmer light in the back.  “It moved too fast for a blimp and emitted too much light for a jet”, he said in his letter.  “The lights never blinked, and he never heard a noise.”  He followed the object for 5 minutes before it disappear in the darkness.  Air Force conclusion: probably an aircraft. (Previous to this report, the Air Force did not include conclusions about the possible origins of the sightings.)
On April 8, 1958, two 20 year old men witnessed an UFO hurtling across the sky from north to south while they were cruising through Mesa.  This disc shape object had a strange orange light shining from the windows.  Their first thought was it seemed to just be a falling star, and from their viewpoint appeared to be the size of a grapefruit.  It moved at an incline of 1,500 feet, ascended at a sharp scale straight up and continued to increase its speed.  This show lasted about 10 seconds before it disappeared.  Air Force conclusion: It may have been a military aircraft on a classified mission, according to a report.

On November 26, 1965, a husband, wife and son in Phoenix noticed what they thought was a flare-up in the sky.  They equated it as “Fourth of July fireworks”, but with a “perfect circle of blue star-like objects”.  Shortly afterwards, they spotted a collection of 30 to 50 objects headed south over Phoenix.  They then witnessed, around 10 to 15 seconds later, an assortment of lights started.  They described it as “swarming like bees, resolving into two undulating ‘V’ formations”, before merging into one V shaped object while moving south and vanishing in the night.  The husband was an astronomer and a teacher of aircraft identification during World War II.  His qualifications helped him to summarize the events of the night.  Air Force conclusion: The officer submitting the report wrote "Other (BIRDS)" in the conclusion box on the record.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tubac, AZ

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The minuscule settlement of Tubac in southern Arizona was established in 1752 and the initial European settlement in Arizona.  The town is situated in the Santa Cruz River Valley and contains a 250 year old Spanish past with Juan Bautista de Anza has its first Presidio.  Father Kino followed him and was the one who engineered the numerous missions built adjacent to the river.  One of the best well-kept structures, Mission de Tumacacori, is a short distance away.

Today when you visit Tubac, you will find several things to do to keep you busy.  It has 80 galleries and shops with amazing sculptures, paintings, clothes, Arizona items, and much, much more.  You have lots of choices of restaurants from casual burgers and BBQ to chic dining.  The town has several places for you to stay from B&B’s to fine hotels.  Some of the other activities that a found around Tubac are hiking, off-roading, mountain biking, golf, bird watching, and tours to the many historic sites. 

I am going to Tubac at the end of March and will have a few posts on what I see, and to show the many photos I will be taking.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ancient Boulder Writings

Petroglyphs have been found on rocks and boulders all over the southwest. A petroglyph is an ancient drawing carved by primordial man. They are pictogram and logogram images done by wearing down or chafing impressions in solid rock. Some say they are astronomical markers, maps, or some type of symbolic communication telling stories of life many centuries ago. This ancient rock art is one way to study how the pre-Columbian civilizations may have once lived and where they mysteriously disappeared to.

These rock carvings can be found all over Arizona as well as other places.  I have seen some of the writings and pictures and am fascinated by what the symbols possibly mean.  I am sure they tell fascinating stories of how life was like for the ancient Native American people and the unusual things they encountered.  Here are just some of the Arizona sites:

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site
Painted Rock Petroglyph Site is one of the many sites found in Arizona and is 18 miles west by northwest of Gila Bend on the Painted Rock Mountains. This site has over 800 images which are engraved in basalt boulders. Many of the imprints can be found on the eastern side of the mountain’s rim. Other people who came upon this site have left their mark on the boulders too. Along with the petroglyphs and dotted throughout the landscape are traces of ancient Hohokam ruins. Some historical and famous events happened in close proximity of the site such as Juan Bautisa de Anza’s expedition. He originated the city of San Francisco. In 1989, the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site was now under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management.

One of the most prevalent sites with petroglyphs is located in the Verde Valley between Sedona and Flagstaff. The V-Bar-V Heritage Site is well preserved and was obtained by the Coconino National Forest in 1994. The location has approximately 1,032 etchings on 13 panels and is a wealth of information about the beliefs in each era of the Hohokam people’s existence. The distinctive approach of the drawings is identified as the “Beaver Creek Rock Art Style” used by the southern Sinagua between AD1150 and 1400.

Rock Art Ranch is privately own near Winslow with a chasm full of petroglyphs. The profound gorge has a brook flowing inside its mighty walls and stairs leading inside the ravine along the rim to an observation area built by the ranch’s owner. This space has an incredible view and is a nice place to have a picnic. The ranch also has a museum for your pleasure.

White Tank Mountain Regional Preserve
White Tank Mountain Regional Preserve mountain range is located west of Phoenix near the city of Surprise.  They get their name for the white granite near the base of the mountains and its many depressions also known as “tanks”.   The mountain range has numerous petroglyphs found scattered around the peaks and may predate the Hohokam people. Approximately 11 archaeological sites were recognized along with 7 Hohokam villages.  There are various trails leading to these sites and villages dispersed and marked for your interests.  You can take as many pictures of the sites and petroglyphs, but all they ask is that you don’t touch them.

South Mountain Park is just south of Phoenix and is another place to find petroglyphs. This park is about 1600 acres and has several different trails where the etchings can be found. Also carved by the ancient Hohokam people, the drawings are believed by the Pima Indians as having a mystical importance. No one really knows exactly what this prehistoric tribe was thinking when each drawing was carved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Best Places to Urbex in Arizona

Whenever I take road trips with my friends, we always look for abandoned sites to photograph.  Sometimes we will spot the structures along the highway and turn around to see if we can get near it.  We may have a particular place as a planned stop.  We also check for "No Trespassing" signs or possible signs of people squatting there.  If all is well, we will shoot every inch of the building, its surroundings, and the inside if it is possible to enter.  I look for every different angle to get that perfect shot.  Although Phoenix and its surrounding cities have plenty of abandoned places, I find the smaller towns are my favorites.  Here are some of the best places I found to urban explore in Arizona.










Abandoned Places: Abandoned Memories (Desert Edition) contains photographs and psychic reads from 12 abandoned sites in the Arizona desert. Follow Julie Ferguson's photography and Sharon Day's psychic reads on an adventure into the past, the present, and all the murky boundaries of the two worlds.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Momentous Native American Ruins

I have been lucky to visit some of the Native American ruins around the state of Arizona.  I am constantly amazed on how the remnants of these communities have stood the test of time for thousands of centuries.  The Hohokam, Salado, Sinagua, and other ancient tribes build these places from the materials found in the areas where they lived.  They used trees, sandstone, clay, cobblestones, and sand to inforce their massive walls.  These places are worth a visit and make you feel like you have walked back in time.

The Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park is located on the outskirts of Globe, Arizona, and only a mile and a quarter from its historic downtown. It is an old pueblo ruin and is approximately 700 years old. This remarkable site’s skeletal remains are well preserved for all who visit and want to take a walk back in time.  The history of this place takes us as far back as the 13th century when many Native American dwellings were built in this area along the Pinal Creek. The region was ideal for these settlements to thrive with the abundance of water, the large assortment of desert foliage, and the perfect weather for growing crops almost year round.  The structure of this community was built as a defense mechanism against enemies or other dangers to those who lived there. The entrance was through a narrow corridor with no openings to view the outside. The passage takes you between the dwellings to the central plaza where ceremonies were held and many of the dead were buried. The walls were constructed of sand, clay, large stones and are several inches thick. Each building was two or more stories high using the ground level for storage while the families lived in the upper levels. It was believed the Salado Indians were a highly developed group of people with remarkable abilities to create utensils, decorative pottery, and colorful cotton cloths. The many extraordinary desert plants that surround the structures were used by this pre-Columbian tribe for food, construction materials and dyes.

Montezuma Castle is tucked in the mountains and located just outside Sedona in the Verde Valley. The cliff dwelling got its name because the building’s foundation resembled an Aztec lodging. The remarkable structure was built by the southern Sinagua people in the 12th century. Sinagua is Spanish for “without water”. They used limestone to build their abode, which is a soft material causing varying breakage over a long period of time. Because Montezuma Castle is wedged tightly inside the rock cliffs, it has been protected by the elements and has remained intact for over 600 years. For that reason, this historic monument is one of the most successfully preserved early ruins in the southwest.  The five story dwelling with its 20 rooms is about 100 feet above Beaver Creek which was used as their water source. It was speculated that they built the structure high in the mountains because the spot offered protection from the desert elements and their enemies. Below the cliff lodgings and along the base of the rock face, sits Castle A. This structure was also constructed of limestone and is almost completely gone from being worn down by time and the difficult Arizona weather.

Tonto National Monument
Despite the fact they were constructed in the 13th to early 15th centuries, the cliff dwellings are in remarkable condition. The people who occupied the Lower and Upper rock habitats were farmers and hunters who feasted off the local animals and vegetation. They created colorful pottery and wove complex patterns on fabric which can be found around many places around the Southwest. You will also be treated with a Visitor Center museum on the premises with many of their items on display, models of the dwellings, and a history of the people who once called this place home.  

Walnut Canyon National Monument
The rock apartments located in the cliffs 7.5 miles east of Flagstaff were built as far back as the 1100s. Like many of the other Native American ancient sites, the Sinagua people originally lived in these dwellings. In typical Sinagua fashion, they mysteriously disappeared sometime in the middle 1200s, and left their homes abandoned. The monument has been maintained by the U.S. National Park Service and has a couple of trails which takes you to the ruins. The Island Trail is a one mile paved trail to several dwellings where you can walk through the tiny rooms. This trek will take you an hour to accomplish. The Rim Trail is half the time and presents you with breathtaking views of the canyon and an area to sit near the rim and enjoy the scenery. The ruins are merely only part of what you will see when you visit the park. Walnut Canyon National Monument has a picnic section, a visitor center with a bookstore and all kinds of artifacts on display which were found during excavation of the ruins.

Navajo National Monument
This Anasazi cliff dwelling has two sizeable rock living spaces known as Betatakin and Keet Seel. Maintained by the U.S. National Park Service and present you with three self-guided rim trails (Sandal, Aspen and Canyon View) that offer splendid views of the entire area. The Betatakin guided tour is free and is a 5 mile trek. On this 3 to 5 hour round trip excursion you will visit the 135 room rock face apartments wedge deep in the cliffs. The Keet Seel jaunt takes you to the 160 room dwelling and is a 4 to 6 hour trek each way.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Just about 210 miles northeast of Flagstaff sits another Anasazi cliff dwelling ruins. These were also constructed from 1100s and 1300s. These sacred lands are deep inside the Navajo Nation and maintained by the inhabitants.  The Navajo people are willing to allow guest to walk their lands, but not all places are accessible to the populace. Those who want to take a self-guided tour of the area have three choices to make. There are two paved picturesque roads to the south and north rims and a magnificent view of the canyon. The other trek is 2.5 miles on the White House Ruins Trail and slopes down 600 feet to the bottom of the canyon.

Another group of southern Sinagua people established their own community on the hilltops of the Verde Valley and other locations around the state. One of these places is Tuzigoot which is Apache for “crooked water”. These ruins are located 20 miles from Montezuma Castle and stretches along a crest above the Verde Valley. Tuzigoot was built from the natural resources found in the surrounding desert. Its massive cobblestone walls were uneven, two-story to three-story dwellings, with approximately 110 rooms. There were a limit number of exterior doors and windows. The Sinagua would enter through a hole created in the roof of each pueblo. Living high on a hilltop in their rock apartments, they were well protected from the unforgiving desert climate and their enemies.  A small group of Sinagua first lived there for hundreds of years until the 1200’s when the number of residents grew immensely. More rooms were added but the people kept coming. Many of the farms outside the settlement were experiencing drought from a lack of water. Having nowhere else to go, they sought shelter amongst the cobblestone walls of Tuzigoot.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is located one hour southeast of Phoenix in Coolidge. These well preserved remains are where the ancient Hohokam once lived. The main building, or Great house, is four stories high and 60 feet long. The first floor is on a mount and the walls are a mixture of a concrete-like combination of sand, clay, and calcium carbonate or limestone. The Great House took 3,000 tons of Caliche mud which was layered resulting in the walls being four feet thick at the base and tapered towards the top. Anchored in the walls and used to form the ceilings were hundreds of juniper, pine, and fir trees they carried or floated 60 miles down the Gila River.  The walls of the Great House face the four cardinal points of the compass and a circular hole in the upper west wall aligns with the setting sun at the summer solstice. The other holes in the walls each lined up with the sun and moon at specific times. It is a great mystery to why the Hohokam built this structure to those exact measurements. They were spiritual people who were often thankful for all the gifts nature gave them. Each night, the entire community would gather in the Great House and watch the setting sun through the small hole in the upper west side of the building.  Surrounding the Great House were many other structures. These buildings were where the families of the village once lived. The walls were two to three feet thick and also formed from the same mixture which was used to construct the Great House. The open spaces were used for recreation and a market area where they sold their handmade goods. They also dug pits which were used as ball courts for playing games and having gatherings.

Wupatki Ruins
Wupatki Ruins are located east of Flagstaff, near Sunset Crater Volcano, and are the ruins of the farming community of Wupatki (wuh-POT-kee).  This community was built at some time amid 400 to 1700.  The unique settlement was able to thrive even with the scarce water supply and harsh weather.  Wupatki was self sustaining with a mix of Sinagua, Chohonina, and Kayenta Anasazi cultures trading and working together to build a successful community.  The homes were constructed with sandstone, limestone blocks, and chunks of basalt set with a clay-based mortar.  The residence ranged from single-story one family dwellings to multi-level high rises with over 100 rooms in each.  These sturdy structures have withstood the test of time throughout all the vandalism and unpredictable weather for over 700 years.  Surrounding the homes are a couple of circular formations.  One of the structures was a community room where the people gathered from time to time.  The other circular structure was a ceremonial ball court.  Many believe this also served as a watering hole when their water supply had become scarce.  Wupatki was full of life until the surrounding lands made it impossible to survive.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Scary and Photographic Cemeteries

I have been to several creepy but gorgeous cemeteries around Arizona.  There are so many old west cemeteries in such disarray with hardly a headstone visible anywhere.  There are others in much better shape and are well maintained.  Whether they are being taken care of or not, they are still fantastic places to photograph especially if the sun is going down.  When I photograph an interesting grave or headstone, I look for what is around it and how the light shines on the image.  I pick the right angle and shoot.  Depending how the light shines on the grave/headstone, you can end up with an eerie yet stunning photo.

Located northeast of Wickenburg on AZ Hwy 93 and then north on SR 89 is the diminutive town of Congress.  All that remains of the town are some old buildings and the Old Congress Cemetery. To get to the cemetery, you have to take a dirt road off the main highway. It takes you a couple of miles before you will see the gates of the old cemetery. The grounds are still maintained by the town’s committee. As you look around, the place has that old west, haunted look and feel to it. Most of the metal fences are rusty, and the wood fences are broken as well as some of the headstones. While walking through the dusty grounds, you are taken back to when the west was wild.

The Fairbank Cemetery is about ½ mile from the town and historic buildings of Fairbank Historic Town Site. The dirt trail is flat for most of the way, except when you get near the cemetery. The small dusty trail becomes steep along the side of a hill. On top of the hill are amazing views of the San Pedro River Valley where the cemetery sits and only three graves are currently marked. Most of the graves were barely noticeable from the many years of abrasive weather and lightning strikes. Many of the Fairbank’s past residents are more than likely buried in those graves.

The cemetery is surrounded by a block wall in the middle of the prestigious community of Fulton Ranch situated in the city of Chandler. It is located 0.1 mile south of Fulton Ranch Boulevard on South Iowa Street. The outside entrance is beautifully landscaped with flowers, bushes, grass, and a bench to rest on. The scenery inside the gates of the cemetery is quite unlike the outside. The grounds are dirt with tumbleweeds and no plant life anywhere except for the tall dry grass. Scattered throughout are the grave markers and headstones. Many of them are broken and rusty from lack of care. The severe Arizona weather and vandals have raised havoc on this eerie little graveyard. The only signs of color inside the walls are the few flowers put there by relatives or someone who cared.

Sitting just outside of Tombstone is the famous burial grounds known as the Boot Hill Graveyard.  Many famous and not-so-famous are buried amongst the dirt, cacti, and rocks.  Three of the participants in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral (Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury) along with outlaws, lawmen, and citizens living in Tombstone make up the many graves that line the grounds of the cemetery.  Many say that ghosts are wandering the premises and some have witnessed their apparitions. 

On September 13, 1887, a group of citizens formed a group called, "Tempe Cemetery Association", and started the Double Buttes Cemetery in Tempe, AZ.   The property was donated by Niels Peterson in 1888.  Many famous Arizona citizens are buried in this cemetery.   I went there with Sharon and we took a bunch of pictures by the Woolf family’s plot.  Standing in the same spot and shooting three pictures in a row, I got a weird rainbow mist in one and nothing in the others.  This happened a few more times as I moved around the plot.  It was dark and there were no lights in the area.  Others have experience shadow people and weird lights.  It is a creepy cemetery for sure.

In 1912 the old cemetery, located in Brewery Gulch in Old Bisbee, was closed and replaced by Evergreen Cemetery. By 1914, the bones of the residents buried there were all removed and relocated. Because some of the records were unfinished and many of the tombstones have rotted away, many feel that there are still buried souls are under City Park’s grounds where the old cemetery used to be.  Buried in the Evergreen Cemetery are many of Bisbee’s most prominent residents from its colorful past. Many played important roles in the history of Bisbee and are part of Bisbee’s ghost stories.  This is another cemetery where people have reported seeing apparitions and strange lights.  Each time I have been there at dusk, I got the feeling like someone unseen was watching me.  Was it an organic person or a spirit of those buried there?

This cemetery started in 1897 in Phoenix.  The cemetery was previously managed by the “Order of St. Francis until 1969, under the Diocese of Tucson”.  After that time, it assumed a sovereign position and taken care of by volunteers.  Spooky shadow figures have been seen there after dark.

Pioneer and Military Memorial Park serves as a monument to the pioneer families of Arizona. The park's historic cemeteries are the final resting place to notable figures in Arizona history and folklore, including John T. Alsap, who was the first Maricopa County Probate Judge in 1871 and first Mayor of Phoenix in 1881. Jacob Walz, the Dutchman of Superstition Mountain fame, also rests here. A monument to Walz includes a simulation of Weaver's Needle and some of the imposing bluffs that serve as landmarks of the famous Superstition Wilderness. Walz and his legendary "Lost Dutchman" gold mine have become part of the internationally-known folklore of the southwestern United States.   The historic Smurthwaite House was relocated to the park in 1994. Restoration, which began in May of 1998, was completed in 2004.