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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007
The Story Behind History

You may think the only time "historic" is used in the context of the Valley would be with the terms "heat wave" and "Arizona Cardinals" incompetence.

You would be wrong.

The Arizona Preservation Foundation has released its 2007 list of Arizona's most endangered historic places. Compiled by preservation professionals and historians, the list identifies critically endangered cultural resources of major historical significance to the state. "Each of the sites we have named are important historic landmarks in Arizona, but unfortunately are in grave danger of collapse, demolition, or destruction," said Vince Murray, APF Board President. "It is critical that residents and government officials act now to save these elements of their cultural heritage before it's too late."

Let's see some of the choicer picks the list:

Buckhorn Baths: In 1939 Ted and Alice Sliger established the baths unknowing that their efforts to make a living of the natural mineral waters would help to establish the East Salt River Valley as a mecca for spring training. In 1947, the New York Giants made the Buckhorn Baths their spring training home and continued to do so for over twenty-five years. Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Gaylord Perry, Leo Durocher and others were regulars at the Baths... ... Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the location of the Buckhorn Baths makes it a prime target for development, and speculation is rampant that this part of Mesa and Arizona’s early history will soon be replaced by a Wal-Mart.

Hokey Smokes... a Wal-Mart! Well to heck with everyday low prices, this is one of the many, many places int he Valley where professional baseball players hung out therefore it must be saved and enjoyed for future generations.

White Gates House: ...previous owners gutted the interior and scraped the landscape from the property. Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the house now sits vacant and neighbors are complaining about the blight it is creating for the area. The homes in the neighborhood sell in the seven figures and the property is valuable for redevelopment. If action is not taken soon, the owner may be required by the city to demolish the house and sell the property.

What to one man is a blight that is driving down his property value is to another man who lives elsewhere and doesn't have to look at it on a daily basis, an historical treasure.

Camp Naco: This adobe compound was constructed by the U.S. military between 1919 and 1923, as part of the War Department's Mexican Border Defense construction project -- a plan to build a 1,200-mile barrier along the border.

No comment here except to say that after nearly hundred years of trying they still haven't built that darn border fence

Yep, when you hear the term "major historical significance" you think something along the lines of "Washington slept here" and not 40 year-old bank buildings and decrepit suspension bridges but I would say that if these are the most endangered spots in the state then the work of the Arizona Preservation Foundation is about done.