Arizona December 03, 2017
7 Horrifying Arizona Stories You Didn’t Learn About In History Class
If you’ve spent any amount of time reading history, you’re probably aware that it’s quite bloody. While we collectively remember some moments in history, others are quickly forgotten. Today, we’re going to look at some stories from Arizona’s history that are both horrifying and not widely known.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Camp Grant Massacre, 1871
In the early morning hours of April 30, 1871, a group of 150 Aravaipa and Pinal Apache were attacked by a group of vigilantes from Tucson. The group of Apaches was staying a short distance from Camp Grant (near present-day Winkelman) after surrendering their weapons to the U.S. Army in exchange for food and protection.
However, a group of ranchers, Tucson residents, and Tohono O’odham peoples believed this group to be leading raids in the Tucson area and, feeling the Army wasn’t doing enough, decided to take matters into their own hands. The vigilantes attacked the group of mostly women, children, and elders just before sunrise, killing and mutilating the bodies of 144 people before the Army had a chance to intervene.
You can read about this event in further detail in
one of our previous articles
2. Bisbee Deportation, 1917
Bisbee may be remembered as a charming former mining town these days, but in 1917, it had a tarnished reputation following a forced deportation of miners. In May of that year, a union of miners presented a list of demands to the Phelps Dodge Corporation regarding safer working conditions and higher wages. The corporation refused to meet demands and approximately 85 percent of the city’s miners went on strike at the end of June.
Within days, Phelps Dodge worked with the sheriff and a massive posse to deport the striking miners. In all, they arrested 2,000 men —
a combination of miners, shop owners, and supporters of the striking miners — on July 11, marched them to a nearby baseball field and forced 1,286 of them to board eastbound train cars at gunpoint. From there, they were deported 200 miles away to Hermanas, New Mexico with just the clothes on their back.
3. Japanese Internment Camps, 1942
During World War II, more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans were forcibly relocated to internment camps while the U.S. was at war with Japan. Two of those camps were located here in Arizona: one in Poston on the Colorado River Indian Reservation and the other near Sacaton on the Gila River Indian Reservation. The construction of the camps was opposed by tribes but was overruled by the Army and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Poston camp saw a peak population of 17,000 and Gila River had a population of 13,000.
These days, not much of the original camps remain as they are heavily deteriorated. However, monuments do stand at the camps today.
4. Grand Canyon Mid-Air Collision, 1956
On June 30, 1956, two flights eastbound from Los Angeles collided mid-flight over the Grand Canyon. All 128 passengers and crew members died in the collision and the planes crashed near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. At the time, it was the largest airline crash in U.S. history and eventually led to greater regulations over air traffic rules.
You can read more about the event
one of our previous articles
5. Murders by The Pied Piper of Tucson, 1964
Arizona is pretty fortunate to have produced few serial killers and you’ll find most lists only note the Baseline Killer and the Maryvale Serial Shooter from recent years. However, there is one serial killer who was active in Tucson in the mid-1960s. Charles Schmid, who became known as the Pied Piper for his charisma, was a charming, good-looking high school student living in Tucson who murdered three peers between 1964 and 1965. Schmid’s story inspired a number of depictions in movies, short stories, and novels.
You can learn more about Schmid in this Youtube video; he is featured in the first video segment. VIDEO
6. Kingman Doxol Disaster, 1973
On July 5, 1973, a propane-fueled explosion occurred on a railroad car near Route 66 and Andy Devine Avenue in Kingman. Firefighters attempted to contain the fire and cool the tank following a leak that grew to a fire but the pressure grew to an explosion that could be felt within five miles. In total, 11 firefighters, one state trooper, and one railroad worker died from the explosion and more than 90 people nearby were injured. At the time, this was the deadliest incident for Arizona firefighters until the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013.
7. Waddell Buddhist Temple Shooting, 1991
Waddell is a little community in west Phoenix, sitting right against the White Tank Mountains. On August 9, 1991, this quiet area became the center of attention when 17-year-old Johnathan Doody and 16-year-old Allessandro Garcia robbed and shot temple-goers of the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple, killing nine. Garcia was sentenced to several life terms after the the initial trial but Doody’s sentencing was overturned due to the police improperly obtaining a confession. Finally, after three trials, including one mistrial, Doody was eventually sentenced to nine life terms in prison in January 2014.
If you need a bit of a pick-me-up after all that, you might want to read
8 Unusual Things You Probably Didn’t Know Happened In Arizona. You’ll learn some interesting facts about our state that most people don’t know!