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That’s the town motto of Wickenburg, Arizona, home to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum and the annual Cowgirl-Up! Art from the Other Half of the West, Invitational Show & Sale, (now in its eighth year.) Wickenburg is an authentic wild west enclave a mere fifty-four miles from Phoenix but a world away. This historic mining town is Arizona’s most western community, situated in saguaro country on the northern end of the Sonoran Desert. The area borders more mountainous terrain and the nearby Hassayampa River, whose banks were once home to the Yavapai Indians (or “Tolkapaya” as they called themselves). Hassayampa means “following the water as far as it goes,” and it was through irrigation from the river that the Tolkapaya were able to grow corn, beans, squash and tobacco in the fertile soil.
In 1862, a gold strike on the Colorado River near present day Yuma sparked an influx of prospectors and miners, including adventurer Henry Wickenburg, whose efforts were rewarded when he discovered Vulture Mine, a mother lode that would eventually offer up over thirty million in gold. Mr. Wickenburg founded a community with fellow miners and the nearby ranchers and farmers who had settled along the fertile plains of the Hassayampa River. They were joined by committed settlers moving up from Sonora, all drawn by the lore and promise of the region.
Today, the town retains much of its colorful early flavor, including the 115 year old Santa Fe Depot which now houses the Chamber of Commerce. A must see is the Jail Tree, a 200 year old mesquite tree where townsfolk chained law breakers in the olden days. But don’t let the dust of antiquity dissuade you from Wickenburg’s modern charms and amenities. World class golf courses, a host of guest ranches, day spas, and cultural activities as well as variety of restaurants and unique western shops offer a delightful menu of activities from which to choose.
If you’re looking for the West of myth, but also a dude ranch or bed and breakfast worthy of a Cowgirl, Wickenburg offers all the ambience and western flavor of its storied past, but comfortably so.
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(Originally published in the January/February 2013 issue of Cowgirl Magazine).