Saturday, August 31, 2013
Names that have history
As we traveled today we noticed some names of remote places. The one that stuck in my craw was "Horse thief Gulch". There is a sign for the turnoff to reach this infamous spot right along the highway somewhere in Arizona. To scan the horizon is useless. There is no town there. There is no landmark there. In fact, as far as we could tell from the highway, there is absolutely nothing there. But it is a location and it bears this name, and I figure there must be a reason. Was this the gulch in which a wild west bad guy committed his dastardly deed of purloining another man's essential transportation? Maybe he got away and was never caught, and that is why he is just known as a "horse thief". Perhaps before the turn of the 20th century, this gulch was the natural corral for a herd of horses filched by a gang of iniquitous cowboys who later became the forebears of modern day owners of a chain of used car sales lots. Or maybe this was the spot when wild western justice saw a mob of vigilantes string up a local yokel for the unforgivable crime of pilfering a cowboy's most valuable possession. No, no. You know what? The most likely scenario is simply a few old duffers who live in the vicinity made up the name out of thin air. They like to lean their chairs back near the old pot bellied stove at the general store and spin yarns to entertain one another and mystify the children and city slickers who may have stopped by for directions. I sense the evolution of a myth in the over active imaginations of a few crusty cowboys who have long since moseyed over to that great corral in the sky. Yeah, that's gotta be it. At any rate, the sign along the highway does it's work. Just the name itself conjures up the most bizarre thoughts just when a driver is tempted to be bored with a long day's drive. Thank you, Arizona, for all those interesting stories launched by posting this most intriguing name for a local spot on the map.