Monday, November 28, 2016

Calling All Arizona History Enthusiasts - Upcoming Event!

Black Canyon City is a community with a surprisingly rich history - so rich I'm midway through the research for two books on the subject. Settled by miners and those who supported the mining operations, the town's past boasts stagecoach robberies, turn-of-the-century murders by highwaymen, felons and fugitives by the dozen, and unthinkable tragedies. The town's history is diverse; bring together miners, ranchers, homesteaders, and the occasional hermit, artist, and novelist, blend in quirky places and people, and toss together with the daunting forces of Arizona's weather and you're sure to have interesting tales.

 The townspeople today not only honor that history with the Old Cañon School Museum and its overseers from the Black Canyon Historical Society, but by cherishing and protecting many historical sites on private property such as several old homesteads and, notably, the ruins of Jack Swilling's stone house.

It's the perfect site to convene a gathering for Arizona history enthusiasts - and the authors who write on the subject. So irresistible, in fact, we're doing just that on December 3rd, 2016 at the First Annual Cañon Arizona History Book Festival.  We've invited several authors who represent some of the more unique and surprising aspects of the state's history to join us at Black Canyon City's Heritage Park from 1:00 to 3:30 in order to sign books and talk history with visitors.

A few of us (like myself) who've written historical books for Arcadia's "Images of America" series will participate.  If you had the good fortune to grow up in the valley in "the good old days," you likely have happy memories of the amazing Legend City - a unique theme park that boasted western-themed rides and setting.  John Bueker, author of Arcadia's "Legend City," will be on hand. Mr. Bueker also maintains a popular website on Legend City.

If you've driven the iconic Apache Trail, you'll want to get a copy of Richard Powers' book, also in the Arcadia series.  We are pleased Mr. Powers will be there to sign copies.  So will Jerry Cannon, structural engineer and author of "Arizona's Historic Bridges."  Mr. Cannon inspected the old I-17 bridge across the Agua Fria River at Black Canyon City after its collapse in 1978; I'm covering that tragedy in a chapter of my own upcoming book. I'll be there, too, of course - signing copies of "New River."

The "new" I-17 bridge over the Agua Fria that replaced the collapsed bridge.
Copyright (c) 2016 MJ Miller
Reflecting the diversity of our state history, David E. Brown will be on hand to sign copies of his books on the history of Arizona's wildlife and game management, including "Arizona Wildlife:  The Territorial Years 1863 - 1912."  Mr. Brown is a retired biologist and adjunct professor at ASU in addition to his work with Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Many old-timers and long-timers of the valley will fondly recall Jerry Foster, our pioneering pilot for 12 News in his news chopper Sky 12.  Jerry is Arizona history and was on-scene and directly involved in many of the biggest stories in the state back in the day. Jerry will join us to sign copies of his book, "Earthbound Misfit" along with Dee Dees, his co-author.  Dee will also sign copies of her book on writing your own life story - "Write Your Life Story in 28 Days" - for those who want to document their personal histories or work with others on doing so. Interested in writing oral histories? You may find some valuable information in Dee's book.

Black Canyon's own Michael Sandford will sign copies of his books, which include the history of the one-time homestead and long-time restaurant Rock Springs. Rock Springs Cafe, renowned for its pies, was originally the homestead of the Warner family.

We'll have live music, too - Mr. Russ Lane will surely please with his covers of country favorites.  This is a free event, by the way, music included!

Mr. Russ Lane in action at the Horny Toad Restaurant in Cave Creek, October 2016
Copyright (c) MJ Miller

In case of that rare day that we don't have user-friendly weather, we'll move our outdoor event indoors. Don't let a little drizzle stop you from coming out to meet some amazing authors, fellow history buffs, and to do some Christmas shopping for the Arizona history enthusiast in your life!  Signed and personalized books make thoughtful and unexpected gifts. 

Heritage Park is at 33955 Old Black Canyon Highway right on the main drag in Black Canyon City.  Take either exit off I-17 into town. You'll see Heritage Park on the east side of the main road, across from Nora Jean's Coffee Kitchen. (They have great food and coffee at Nora Jean's, in case you bring your appetite.) 

Please support local history and the arts. Come on out and visit with us. The event will be followed by a stargazing event, also at the park. Arrive early and enjoy a leisurely walk around the pond, stop in at the museum, and make a day of it!

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