In the American South West there are many “Picachos” or big peaks as translated in Spanish, Arizonans have long appreciated Picacho Peak, that marked the most western battle of the Civil War and more than halfway mark between Phoenix and Tucson. The California Little Picacho Wilderness and Recreation area is less well known, winter camping is great there. California fisherman, hunters, hikers and campers all know Picacho Peak on the Colorado River, a standout at 1947′, and a great spot for outdoor recreation only a three hour drive from San Diego. It stands about 30 miles north of Yuma on dirt roads first traveled in 1780 by Spanish gold miners who began dry placer gold claims there because of the dry conditions which exceed 100 plus degrees mid-summer, and lack of water. Miners would shovel sand and gravel on a blanket, shake it until only the heavier gold remained. Soon a Picacho town site sprung up with 2500 residents served by three stores, several saloons, three elementary schools and it was connected by the Colorado River with paddle wheelers who stopped there for wood to fuel their steam boilers. The mine payroll peaked at 700 men. Poor ore quality and mine accidents ended most organized efforts there by around 1910. That town now lies behind the Imperial Dam at 33°01′23″N 114°36′40″W flooding what was left of the original townsite in 1938. The Dam ended cheap ore transport by boat which was the last nail in Picacho’s industrial coffin.
Today Picacho is a State Park on the lower Colorado River on the eastern border of California, offering a diverse scenery, with cactus, burros, bighorn sheep and thousands of waterfowl. Take the mile dirt road north from Winterhaven, off Interstate 8 West of Yuma. The road is paved only a few miles, then becomes graded dirt. The last 18 miles is over a desert road that is passable for passenger cars and motor homes. In the summer months thunderstorms can cause flash flooding in the washes, making sections of the road impassable. Check weather forecasts before traveling into this region of the desert.
Fishing is a favorite activity for many Arizona and California residents and visitors. Anglers that are 14 years old or older will require a fishing license. If you plan to fish the Colorado River waters from any sort of boat or float, or you fish from the California banks of the river, you will also need a Colorado River Stamp. See Arizona Game and Fish for rules and to purchase licenses online.
The Little Picacho Wilderness is a 38,214-acre wilderness area under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and is a southeast extension of the Chocolate Mountains adjacent to the Colorado River. The wilderness is home to the Picacho wild horse herd, that roams the northwestern part of the wilderness, as do wild burro, desert tortoise, the spotted bat and about 25 desert bighorn sheep.
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The history of the Old West can find little reason why Johnny Ringo is remembered as a gunfighter in Tombstone Arizona except for the fact, he crossed the path of Wyatt Earp and his friend, Doc Holiday. Other than that, he was a lowlife from Texas (is that redundant?) who preferred to shoot unarmed folks in the back. According to Louis L’Amour, Ringo was a surly, bad-tempered man who was worse when he was drinking, and that his main claim to fame was shooting the unarmed Louis Hancock in December 1879. The drunk Ringo shot Hancock in a Safford Arizona saloon when Hancock refused a complimentary drink of whiskey, stating he preferred beer, Hancock survived his wound.
On July 14, 1882, Johnny Ringo was found dead in the crotch of a large tree in West Turkey Creek Valley, near Chiricahua Peak, with a bullet hole in his right temple and an exit wound at the back of his head. A single shot had been heard by a neighbor late in the evening the day before on July 13. The property owner found Ringo sitting on the low-leaning trunk and fork of a large tree by the river (a fallen trunk next to which Ringo is now buried). Ringo’s revolver had one round expended and was found hanging by one finger in his hand.
According to Wikipedia the coroner ruled the death a suicide.
Historic accounts suggest four possible men who might have shot Ringo, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, gambler Mike O’Rourke, and Buckskin Frank Leslie whose name was given to the next canyon south of Turkey Creek Canyon where Ringo’s body was found next to the creek. One theory that supports the coroner’s finding that Ringo committed suicide is that a few weeks before Ringo’s death, a large fire in Tombstone had wiped out most of the downtown area. The silver mines were producing less, and demand for beef was down. Many of Ringo’s friends were gone, while his way of life was quickly becoming a thing of the past. Ringo was depressed after being rejected by his remaining family members in California and the recent deaths of his outlaw friends. Stoked by a period of binge drinking, Ringo was preparing to camp in an isolated spot, far from the city. He tied his boots to his saddle, a common practice in Arizona to keep scorpions out of them, but the horse got loose and ran off. Ringo tied pieces of his undershirt to his feet to protect them, and crawled into the fork of a large tree to spend the night. As evening came on, despondent over his overall state, Ringo shot himself.
Still over the years Ringo’s name has surfaced in a dozen movies and TV shows, played in the 1939 movie STAGECOACH by John Wayne as the “Ringo Kid” and in the GUNFIGHTER by Gregory Peck in 1950 as Jimmy Ringo.
Ringo was born in Indiana and moved to Missouri where he grew up. When he was fourteen his father moved West but never reached California, accidently shooting himself in transit much like one in four who attempted that journey. Ringo went to Texas, where he became a backshooter in the Mason County War (Hoodoo War) and slithered into Arizona via Tombstone.
Big Nose Kate notes Johnny visited her one night while Doc Holliday was sitting in jail for the Shoot Out at the O.K. Corral, a fact that fueled their blood feud. Johnny Ringo was not at the Shoot Out at the O.K. Corral, probably because everyone stood toe-to-toe and blasted away. Ringo was more accustomed to sneaking up on the unarmed.
Johnny Ringo is buried close to where his body was found in the Chiricahua Mountains in West Turkey Creek Canyon (31°51′49″N 109°20′16″W) at the base of the tree in which he was found. The grave is on private land where an open gate provides access and a sign cites the following rules for visiting. Sign on private land, one mile before Sunglow Ranch on the north side of the road. Sunglow has fantastic RV hookups, rooms and a cafe and Turkey Creek is a great camping place” />
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GABBIE GIFFORDS CAME HOME TONIGHT. Gabby climbed a stage and waved to friends, fans and thousands of supporters who turned out on a cool desert evening to see the night lite up by her smile. They were not disappointed. Gabby Giffords did just that and everybody loved it. The Candlelight Ceremony held on the University of Arizona Mall began by lighting a candle for each shooting victim and then thousands of Tucsonans waved glow sticks as a choir entertained and soon the Congress women’s favorite band Calexico took the stage and gave the glow sticks a south of the border beat. Sunday night’s ceremony concluded several weeks of memorials, the dedication of the Gabe Zimmerman Trails in Davidson Canyon was Saturday and earlier Sunday afternoon there was a memorial ceremony at Centennial Hall to remember each of the six deaths. The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding held the REFLECTIONS Ceremony .
Serenity Hammrich and Jamie Stone for Christina-Taylor Green spoke for their best friend Christina-Taylor Green the eight year old shot at the Congress on Your Corner gathering January 8th 2011 with eighteen other people.