Tucson is a dirty valley with hellish temperatures that sits below 3 extinct volcanoes. The locals say it’s “beautiful.”
A few drops of water occassionally slide off the mountains and flow into the sand (we call rivers) only to be sucked into the earth before they ever get much past the city limits.
Humans came here about 12,000 years ago. Most likely they were refugees left to die in this god forsaken summer of hell with no air conditioning.
After 10,000 years of struggle, the Hohokam culture created structures, canals, cities, stable agriculture, and art. That culture collapsed around 1450-1500 AD. Lots of theories on “why”. Maybe it was because:
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
and brought small pox to me and you
Following the small pox, which wiped out 90-percent of the North American population, in the 1500’s, the conquistadors (Coronado) came to kill or convert the local survivors in a bullshit search for gold.
The killers found little of their precise metal, and moved on. The converters stayed. “Father Kino” started building “missions” in the 1700’s. So the “Old Pueblo” became part of Mexico.
The Mexicans kicked the Spanish out in 1820’s. Illegal immigrants from the US moved into Texas. The illegals kicked the Mexicans out of Texas in the 1830’s (Remember the Alamo – when the illegals revolted?).
In the 1840’s, the US saw weakness, made up an excuse and kicked Mexico’s ass in the now forgotten “Mexican War.” The victor (the US) and the loser (Mexico) split up lands that were still mostly occupied by the native Americans.
It’s like if you and your next door neighbor got in a fight, and the winner won the house across the street — and that guy didn’t know it was coming until you showed up with a gun and marched him out of his own house. Fuckers.
Anyway, the US took half of Mexico — from Texas to California. You know it was our “manifest destiny”… God told us we should go from “sea to shining sea.” So you know, fuck Mexico, too.
But the US didn’t want Tucson — left it as part of Mexico. Apparently the Mexicans didn’t want it either and sold it to the US in the 1850’s for a little cash.
Arizona became a state in 1912. There were 3 big prizes to give out. Phoenix was happy — it got the state mental hospital. Florence was the big winner — it got the state prison. The people of Tucson thought they got screwed — they got the first state university. (Go Wildcats).
And all of that is when the Santa Cruz river flowed through the city year round, and Tucson was surrounded by lush trees and farmland. There were even paddle boats on the river. But an earthquake drove the river underground.
What was left of the water, was overused in the 1920-40’s. (Some of that water went into the Japanese Interment Camp they built on Mt. Lemmon). The springs disappeared, the trees died, and they turned the river into little more than a concrete drainage ditch running just outside downtown.
Then the military moved in. They built the Airforce base, so they could have a desolate place to test out all the loud and dirty jets without disturbing the neighbors.
In the 1950’s, somebody finally figured out air-conditioning, and Tucson became a place people could actually survive all summer.
That brought the military-industrial complex — the Ratheon bomb factory – the University became great at “optics” (targeting), aviation and space exploration.
The fucking desert hole that nobody wanted 100 years before grew to a top 100-city. But it was running out of water.
Until Senator Goldwater in the 70’s and 80’s forced through the Central Arizona Project and the Feds spent billions to dig a canal from California to Tucson.
We refilled the Santa Cruz water table with the Colorado River. That’s right, fuck Colorado, Utah, California — we are taking the water 300 miles east to restore the river we pissed away.
Ohh and fuck you again Mexico; no Colorado River water for you.
More water equals more people, and Tucson has become a top 35 city in the US — by population.
But don’t think this is your perfect fucking happy ending. Tucson is still ranked among the worst cities to raise a family. It’s got a high poverty rate, high property crime rate, and the roads and schools generally suck.
But it almost never snows, you can play golf every day of the year, and the elderly retire here like it is the last place on earth (for many of them it is).
Once you get used to dirt, sand and rock — and sweating through summers like every day is a wet, t-shirt contest, look at the view; you might join the locals and say: hey despite all this bullshit Tucson is “beautiful.”
Categories: Tales of Tucson