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A ROMANTIC LAND
A stranger on first entering Arizona is impressed with the newness and wildness that surrounds him. Indeed, the change is so great that it seems like going to sleep and waking up in a new world. Everything that he sees is different from the familiar objects of his home, and he is filled with wonder and amazement at the many curious things that are brought to his notice. Judging the country by what is common back east, the average man is disappointed and prejudiced against what he sees;but, estimated on its merits, it is found to be a land of many attractions and great possibilities.
A hasty trip through the country by rail gives no adequate idea of its intrinsic value, as such a limited view only affords a superficial glimpse of what should be leisurely and carefully examined to be properly understood or appreciated. At the first glance it presents the appearance of a desert, but to one who is acquainted with its peculiarities it is by no means desolate. It furnishes a strong contrast to the rolling woodlands of the far east, and to the boundless prairies of the middle west; and, though it may never develop on the plan of the older states, like California, it has an individuality and charm of its own; and its endowment of natural wealth and beauty requires no borrowing from neighbors to give it character or success.
It has grand scenery, a salubrious climate, productive soil, rich mineral deposits and rare archaeological remains. It also has a diversified fauna and flora. The peccary, Gila monster, tarantula, centipede, scorpion and horned toad are specimens of its strange animal life; and, the numerous species of cacti, yucca, maguey, palo verde and mistletoe are samples of its curious vegetation. It is, indeed, the scientist's Paradise where much valuable material can be found to enrich almost every branch of natural science.
Hitherto its growth has been greatly retarded by its remote position in Uncle Sam's domain; but, with the comparatively recent advent of the railroad, the influx of capital and population, and the suppression of the once dreaded and troublesome Apache, a new life has been awakened that is destined to redeem the country from its ancient lethargy and make it a land of promise to many home seekers and settlers.
When the Spaniards under Coronado first entered the land more than three hundred and fifty years ago in search of the seven cities of Cibola, they found upon the desert sufficient evidence of an extinct race to prove that the land was once densely populated by an agricultural and prosperous people. When or how the inhabitants disappeared is unknown and may never be known.
It is even in doubt who they were, but, presumably, they were of the Aztec or Toltec race; or, perhaps, of some civilization even more remote.
The Pueblo Indians are supposed to be their descendants, but, if so, they were, when first found, as ignorant of their ancestors as they were of their discoverers. When questioned as to the past they could give no intelligent answer as to their antecedents, but claimed that what the white man saw was the work of Montezuma. All that is known of this ancient people is what the ruins show, as they left no written record or even tradition of their life, unless it be some inions consisting of various hieroglyphics and pictographs that are found painted upon the rocks, which undoubtedly have a meaning, but for lack of interpretation remain a sealed book. The deep mystery in which they are shrouded makes their history all the more interesting and gives unlimited scope for speculation.
Arizona is a land that is full of history as well as mystery and invites investigation. It has a fascination that every one feels who crosses its border. Paradoxical as it may seem it is both the oldest and newest portion of our country--the oldest in ancient occupation and civilization and the newest in modern progress. In natural wonders it boasts of the Grand Canon of Arizona, the painted desert, petrified forest, meteorite mountain, natural bridge, Montezuma's well and many other marvels of nature. There are also ruins galore, the cave and cliff dwellings, crumbled pueblos, extensive acequias, painted rocks, the casa grande and old Spanish missions. Anyone who is in search of the old and curious, need not go to foreign lands, but can find right here at home in Arizona and the southwest, a greater number and variety of curiosities than can be found in the same space anywhere else upon the globe.
Arizona is a land of strong contrasts and constant surprises, where unusual conditions prevail and the unexpected frequently happens.
From the high Colorado plateau of northern Arizona the land slopes toward the southwest to the Gulf of California. Across this long slope of several hundred miles in width, numerous mountain ranges stretch from the northwest to the southeast.
Through the middle of the Territory from east to west, flows the Gila river to its confluence with the Colorado. This stream marks the dividing line between the mountains which descend from the north and those that extend south, which increase in altitude and extent until they culminate in the grand Sierra Madres of Mexico.