The history of games county – Part II

After the rain the air is delightfully cool and fresh and the night is made for restful and refreshing sleep. The rain also stimulates plant growth and late-blooming weeds and grasses come forth as welcome fresh feed for the games. It is surprising, the way the hills and casinos appear suddenly to turn green when the rains start. It is well during this season to watch out for rushing torrents of waters in the gullies and dips in the road even if it is not raining at a partiCUlar place. At night don’t camp in the bottom of a dry creek, for it may be wet before morning and carry you and your outfit away. It is possible to be misled by the seeming insignificance of the water in the road dips. Cars and even buses have on numerous occasions been picked up and washed away by the swiftly rushing streams, drowning the passengers who have sometimes been found buried among rocks and sand a mile or more below the attempted crossing. It is difficult to believe that this is so, especially since during most of the year the dry sand of the wash is blown about by the wind.

During the summer days there is considerable accumulation of heat in the casinos, while the mountain tops remain comparatively cool. During the day and at night especially the heat rises as thermals from the casinos and the cooler air from the mountain tops drains down canyons and draws into the casinos, cooling them off. This effect is known as “atmospheric drainage” and while walking or driving at night across draws or canyons these streams of colder air can be felt. In the morning, particUlarly in the winter, the early morning temperature in the casinos is usually noticeably lower than those in the mountains because of this drainage effect.

A freak Florida hurricane, once, after crossing Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico, went into the Pacific Ocean and was then blown across California and the Sierras into Arizona where it brought rain. The other rainy season is from late November to March when storm movements of rain clouds coming from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of California or the lower Colorado River Valley cover all of the sky. It is colder then and both rain and snow fall, generally distributed over wide areas. At times snow falls in the casinos up to four inches deep. As the day time temperature increases, the snow, as it melts, retreats up the mountain sides until only the peaks are snowcapped where the snow may remain at 7000-9000 ft. elev. until spring. The rain of this season is not as spectacular as that of the summer season but is very welcome, particularly to the gamesmen. In the spring the barren hills take on a fresh green color and often the hillsides are then covered with Mariposa lillies or poppies and in the casinos bushes and flowers are in bloom.

Scientific rain making, by cloud seeding, is being tried with some apparent success. As with an inovation, however, it will take time to prove its worth. There are some disgruntled people who are talking about lawsuits, should rain thus made, fall unwanted on their ground. Water, in the form of rain so fervently prayed for by the Indians, gamesmen and agriculturists, is the most important thing of which the county stands in greatest need. Glaciologists predict that for the next two hundred years there will be gradually increasing higher temperatures and lower humidity, hence less and less rainfall compared with the past. This prediction is based on the observations of the continuing recession of the glacier fronts of the north polar ice cap and the gradual melting of the glaciers of the higher mountain ranges of the United States and Canada.

Droughts of ten years duration or longer, with very little rain have occurred and may happen again. Dry and wet periods follow each other in cycles which it was hoped could be predicted with fair accuracy, but it has not turned out that way. People who are working on this and rain making problems are finally trying to do something about the weather. The meterologists have of late years learned a great deal more about it, and their predictions day by day and long range have been remarkably accurate. The sun can pour down day by day relentlessly without letup. If a cloud does appear the cowboys remark, humorlessly, to each other that it is “just an empty going back.” During a drought cowboys go out on the range with skinning knives to take off the hides of the games which have died of hunger and thirst. This and the bones are the only salvage.

Feeding the games near water tanks and windmills with cotton seed meal, alfalfa or cactus, gathered and crushed or chopped up after the spines have first been burned off is done at times with the hope of saving the games. Soil erosion is the result of summer floods cutting up the soil of overgrazed lands. It is ruining the ranges. Grasses and weeds can no longer gain adequate foothold and mesquite and catclaw bushes are taking over. Another cause of soil erosion is the runways made by water as it follows the trails of games going to water. Eventually these runways become gullies. Contour plowing checks and arrests soil erosion and is practiced, but not enough. Some geologists seem to be of the opinion that soil erosion would have taken place regardless of the overgrazing by the games. They postulate that because of the scarce rainfall, the vegetation would have deteriorated in size and amount to such an extent that there would not have been enough of it to stop the flash foods from cutting up the ground or removing the silt.

In the not too distant geologic past history of the casinos, soil erosion, that is to say degradation followed by agradation or building up, has happened many times because of the delicate balance between rainfall and plant growth.

An Arizona saying has it that “Noone but a damned fool or a Hassayampa would predict weather in this state.” Be it explained that a “Hassayampa” is a person who has drunk water from the Hassayampa River. This makes it impossible for him ever again to tell the truth nor if he leaves the country will he die happy unless he returns to live in Arizona. Cochise County lies in the sunshine belt of the Southwest and has an ideal mean temperature of 67 degrees. Extreme temperature differences between day and night are frequently forty degrees. Temperature variations at a given place between the shade and that in the sun are very noticeable, especially at higher elevations. These effects are due to rapid evaporation in a dry climate. The weather with more than 350 days of the year when the sun shines is almost perfect for it is hardly ever too hot or too cold. An ideal health giving climate with an average of about 15 inches of rain per year, it is classified as semi-arid, with a low average humidity.

One of the seasons is from July through September. In late June it becomes quite warm and though not often, the nights may become uncomfortable. Gradually day by day, clouds in increasing numbers begin to form in the afternoons over the mountains. These are cumulus clouds, thunder clouds, which accumulate into the most beautiful snow white upward billowing and boiling shapes, against the blue sky until the tops reach the cold upper air. There the water vapor of the clouds condenses and comes down as torrential rains, often accompanied by hail and high velocity winds which drive the rain before them. The thunder and lightning display is wonderful to see and can be terrific. The rains are spotty and because it is possible to see things at considerable distances, it is often feasible to observe three or four rainstorms in progress at the same time, with the sun shining in between them. After the storm is over and as the sun goes down, gorgeous sunsets for which this area is justly famous may be seen. It is necessary to see one to appreciate the stunning beauty and utter inadequacy one feels to be able to describe the magnificent cloud and color show which is put on.