Theodore Roosevelt spent some time in Arizona. In early January, I decided to do the same. Five of the 23 national parks and monuments TR created are in the Grand Canyon State. I have already completed my search for archival materials at Petrified Forest National Park, and I am saving Grand Canyon National Park for later. But tucked away in southern Arizona are three national monuments proclaimed by Theodore Roosevelt: Tumacacori, Tonto, and Montezuma’s Castle. I wanted to visit all three in a short trip from west Texas, to see if I could find anything of interest in their archives. I also planned to visit the Western Archeological and Conservation Center in Tucson, where most of the historic records are stored.
Obviously, I knew there was a partial government shutdown, but I figured it would end by the time I spent a couple of days driving from Texas to Arizona. It did not end. Instead of working, I searched the southern Arizona canyons for rare birds, something I knew TR would enjoy. I found two species I had never seen - “life species” - Elegant Trogon and White-throated Thrush. I also visited numerous friends and ate some outstanding food. But I could not visit the monuments.
Nevertheless, there were many reminders of TR’s legacy in Arizona, including a statue in the town of Fountain Hills, where sculptures depict the four presidents memorialized on Mount Rushmore, with Ronald Reagan as a bonus. It is called “Fount Rushmore” and is public art sponsored by friends and sportsmen sharing a Dakota-Arizona connection. The TR sculpture, by Dan Snarr, is in appreciation of President Roosevelt’s legacy of conserving 230 million acres of precious public lands for generations to experience and enjoy.
I got no work done on the Theodore Roosevelt Center Project. But it sure was a good trip, and I am happy to have a great excuse to return to southern Arizona to visit the monuments as soon as I can.