Southwest Mystery Stories Abound
By James Donahue
We couldn't help feeling a bit smug when we read a recent article listing what the author
claimed were the 10 biggest mysteries found in the American Southwest. Having lived there for a few (all too brief) years,
we can add many more to the list and we are sure that barely scratches the surface.
There is something unusually strange and inviting about that dry high-desert area where
the Hopi make their home as do numerous other Native American tribes. All of the aboriginal people have their secret mystery
stories, of course. The native legends abound where ever one might stop for a cup of coffee or a beer along the road.
It usually takes more than a brief stop, however, before the locals begin to unveil their
stories. Working as a news reporter in the White Mountains, and before that just drifting around from Gallup to Holbrook,
north to Red Rock and south to Phoenix and then Sedona, my wife and I uncovered a long list of tales . . . some of them already
told on my website . . . some still winding around among my fond memories of that amazing place.
The article referred to above was issued by the Southwestern United States for Visitors,
a tourist promotional organization. The writer was obviously skimming the surface of local legends when she listed such "mysteries"
as the Roswell UFO crash site, the story of Area 51, the Phoenix mystery castle, a few ghost towns, haunted hotels and mystery
lights of Marfa, Texas.
Completely overlooked was the mystery of the Lost Dutchman gold mine in the Superstition
Mountains just east of Phoenix, where a fantastic mother lode was alleged to have been found by two prospectors nearly two
decades ago, but people who have set out to find the mine have since vanished without a trace. It is a great story and one
that gets embellished with each new telling.
Then there is the Travis Walton UFO abduction story. Walton, a logger working in the White
Mountains, was allegedly lifted into an alien ship as his companions looked on, then reappeared several days later stumbling
out of the forest with a strange tale to tell. His story lead to a book and Hollywood film.
We were living in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, in 1997 when people there saw an
amazing display of mystery lights passing over that metropolitan area. The V-spread of lights was so wide that many believe
they came from a single giant alien ship. Others say it may have been a squadron of ships. That incident is still being talked
about among UFO buffs as proof of their claims that alien craft are visiting Earth.
And yes, we lived briefly in Sedona in a cottage on the old Smedley farm on a bluff overlooking
that wonderful town. The town was named after Sedona Smedley, the wife of the first land owner in the area. There was truly
an energy field, or "vortex" located right outside our back door. You couldn't see it, but just being there gave you amazing
energy and an overwhelming feeling of happiness. Beyond that, there was no other way of describing a vortex. The aboriginal
people came there from miles around to camp because it was, to them, a sacred place. That Sedona has been overrun by rich
developers and retired millionaires who destroyed the area with their multi-million dollar homes and golf courses is sad.
The natural beauty of the place has been destroyed. A four-lane highway leads through that area today.
We met many unusual people in Arizona, some of them mysterious, homeless waifs who came
almost out of nowhere and affected our lives in one way or another.
There was the gun-toting writer at the White Mountain Independent who said he went by an
anonymous name because he said he was sought for crimes against the government. He was an active member of the local militia,
drive an old pickup truck painted camouflage brown and green, and always carried a loaded .45 caliber revolver on the seat
by his side.
Then there was the young man who lived in the forest at Sedona who claimed to be able to
not only see ley lines, but alter natural Earth energies by influencing the lines. He had strange stories to tell. We let
him pitch his tent in our yard for a few nights and use our shower.
We dealt with thieves in Arizona where ever we went. It seemed that stealing was a way
of life for the natives. Our load of items to move as we went from place-to-place grew lighter and lighter until in the end,
we had little left to move at all. And we discovered something interesting about this. We didn't miss any of it.