Arizona Factoids

Someone killed 495,OOO flies in Bisbee. And it's always 11:45 in Florence.

Austin and Neta Thatcher of Page have ten sons and no daughters. After their tenth baby boy was born, Neta confided to the Lake Powell Chronicle, "A lot of bets have been lost around town."

Less than one fifth of all the land in Arizona is privately owned (17.9 percent). The rest is owned by the federal, state and local governments and Indian tribes. With 27 percent of the state in their hands, Indians own more of Arizona than non-Indians do, unless the public lands are thrown in.

Arizona is the only state ever bombarded from the air by a foreign power. Tiny Naco, Arizona, was caught up in the 1929 Mexican Revolution. Across the line in Naco, Sonora, Mexican federal troops were backed against the border by rebels who held the surrounding hills. According to historian Trimble, "A roguish barnstorming pilot named Patrick Murphy offered his services to the rebel forces. `I can blow the federales right out of their trenches,' he boasted." His biplane became the rebel air force--he flew low over enemy positions while his bombardier used a cigarette to light fuses on the bombs (leather sacks packed with explosives and scrap metal) and let them drop. About ten bombs landed on the Arizona side--one crashed through the roof of a garage and destroyed a Dodge that was parked inside. The raid came to an abrupt halt when "one of the locals stepped outside with a 30.06 Springfield [rifle] and shot Murphy's plane down."

The loudest insects in the world inhabit Arizona. The male cicada, using his tymbal organs to produce 7,400 pulses per minute, makes a racket officially described by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as "Tsh-ee-EEEE-e-ou," and can be heard from more than a quarter of a mile away.

High school teams in Arizona include not only the oh-so-Western Payson Longhorns and the Pima Saddlequeens, but also the Tombstone High Yellowjackets, the Florence Gophers, the Santa Cruz Imps, the Salome Frogs, and the Miami High Vandals and Vandalettes--not to mention the Yuma High Criminals, whose name memorializes the conversion of the old territorial prison into Yuma's first high school: Go, you Criminals!!

Rustlers still manage to make off with about 300 head of cattle and 20 horses each year in Arizona.

"One of history's most bizarre military engagements" was fought near the present-day ghost town of Charleston in Cochise County in 1846 when a military column en route to the Mexican War was charged by wild bulls. According to Arizona Facts and Artifacts With Hysterical Footnotes by Richard L. Thomas and Ruth St. John Thomas, "For several hours huge bulls attacked the troops, damaging wagons, goring horses and mules, and injuring several men. Dozens of bulls were killed by rifle fire before battalion Lieutenant Colonel Phillip St. George Cooke could reorganize his men and move on. The bulls were descendants of cattle introduced by Spanish missionaries . . . wild and elusive enough to escape slaughter by the Apaches."

For 17 years, Irma Hall of Valley Farms has been collecting irons. Now she has 249 of them--modern electrics, older gasoline-powered models and antiques designed to be heated atop wood-burning stoves or by hot coals. She displays them in neat rows on shelves in her dining room. "First I wanted to say I had 100 irons," she explains to the Casa Grande Dispatch. "Then I thought I'd go for 150. Now I'm trying for 500." She never actually puts any of her irons to work--she hates to iron. Her husband has to go around in wrinkled shirts.

Wickenburg is named for Henry Wickenburg, whose discovery of rich gold deposits led to the founding of the town. But his mine eventually played out; he was swindled out of his share of the $20 million it produced, and he died penniless in the town that bore his name.

Jean Sullivan of Kearny has been the mother of six natural children, three stepchildren and 112 foster children. "When my husband married me," she says in the Copper Basin News, "he didn't know what he was getting into!"

In a Valley National Bank survey of more than 500 snowbirds in Phoenix in 1986, 50 percent said their main reason for visiting the desert was "the weather," and only 1 percent mentioned "scenery and cactus." Twenty-three percent were traveling by motor home, 19 percent were pulling a travel trailer, and 4 percent found the "snowbird" label "very offensive."

So many Japanese tourists visit the Grand Canyon that Shoji Fugiwara, a native of Japan, was hired by Grand Canyon Helicopters as the first Japanese-speaking helicopter pilot to provide narrated tours of the national park.

About 1,000 farm or wild animals get run over every year in Arizona.
If all the tunnels in the world's largest underground copper mine--Arizona's San Manuel, operated by Magma Copper--were connected end to end, they'd reach the length of the state, from Nogales to Page.

Bullhead City is named for a landmark that, for all intents and purposes, doesn't exist anymore. Bull's Head Rock was submerged when nearby Davis Dam was built in the 1950s.

Arizona's a real leader in creepy- crawlies. We rank second in the nation in species of bats (28), we're the national headquarters for horny toads (6 of the 7 U.S. species occur here), and we've got the world's oldest spiders (tarantulas can live up to 36 years).

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