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A Portal to Paradise Paperback – August 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"This fine book could only have come from an author who has lived for years in a place, loved it, devoured its history, and visited every canyon. . . . Reading it is akin to sitting around the campfire with a witty, knowledgeable storyteller." —Journal of Arizona History"His history of the region he loved reveals not only his personal connection to it but also his thorough research, his years of listening carefully to the old-timers (even as he inevitably became one) and his ability to set down vividly what he learned." —Books of the Southwest"Will evoke appreciation for those who wrested security and community from an incredibly rugged setting. . . . Conveys the author's eye for human nature and ability to tell a story." —Southwestern Historical Quarterly"The reader could be sitting on the loafers' bench in front of the Portal store, listening to stories that are told time and again. Hayes shares his connections with this area, and the pages yield rich details of everyday life pulled from interviews with descendents of the folks he wrote about." —Tucson Guide"An affectionate history of a place that is as remarkable as the man was . . . a gem of a book." —Sierra Vista Herald

From the Inside Flap

Arizona's rugged Chiricahua Mountains have a special place in frontier history. They were the haven of many well-known personalities, from Cochise to Johnny Ringo, as well as the home of prospectors, cattlemen, and hardscrabble farmers eking out a tough living in an unforgiving landscape. In this delightful and well-researched book, Alden Hayes shares his love for the area, gained over fifty years. From his vantage point near the tiny twin communities of Portal and Paradise on the eastern slopes of the Chiricahuas, Hayes brings the famous and the not-so-famous together in a profile of this striking landscape, showing how place can be a powerful formative influence on people's lives. When Hayes first arrived in 1941 to manage his new father-in-law's apple orchard, he met folks who had been born in Arizona before it became a state. Even if most had never personally worried about Indian attacks, they had known people who had. Over the years, Hayes heard the handed-down stories about the area's early days of Anglo settlement. He also researched census records, newspaper archives, and the files of the Arizona Historical Society to uncover the area's natural history, prehistory, Spanish and Mexican regimes, and particularly its Anglo history from the mid nineteenth century to the beginning of World War II. His book is a rich account of the region and more, a celebration of rural life, brimming with tales of people whose stories were shaped by the landscape. Today the Chiricahuas are a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts and the site of the American Museum of Natural History's Southwestern Research Station—and still a rugged area that remains off the beaten track. Hayes brings his straightforward and articulate style to this captivating account of earlier days in southeastern Arizona and opens up a portal to paradise for readers everywhere. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press; 2nd Printing edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816521441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816521449
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,460,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Roger Post on May 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The late Alden Hayes engagingly weaves true stories of the cultures and individuals who have populated the Chiricahua Mountains, from mammoth hunters of the Clovis culture who arrived more than 11,000 years ago down to ranchers and farmers at the beginning of World War II. Various Native American cultures, including the Apaches who had migrated into the Borderlands by about 1600 A.D.; Spanish explorers; and gringo miners, ranchers, outlaws, and homesteaders followed those initial hunters in a swirl of history that at times involved substantial conflict and bloodshed. All but the book's first chapter take place in historic times, with the bulk detailing the years between 1860 and 1920 when figures such as Cochise, Geronimo, the Earps, the Clantons, and "Curley Bill" Brocius were on center stage. Important locations include Fort Bowie, Galeyville, Paradise, Portal, and Rodeo. Hayes' book will be most meaningful to those with at least passing acquaintance with Southeastern Arizona from the Dragoon Mountains east through the Sulphur Springs Valley and Chiricahua Mountains to the San Simon Valley, Peloncillo Mountains, and Animas Valley of New Mexico. If, as I have, you have visited Chiricahua National Monument, gone birding in Cave Creek Canyon, stopped at the monument to Geronimo's surrender in Skeleton Canyon, viewed a staged shootout in Tombstone, or yearned to learn more about the days of the Butterfield Stage and Apache Pass, this is the book for you. Hayes admirably includes a short section describing the geological and ecological setting of Southeastern Arizona, including three maps at various scales. In several sections of the book, Hayes also provides photographs of some of the many people whose lives, difficulties, and adventures he aptly describes.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on August 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Portal and Paradise are tiny communities on the east slope of the Chiricahua mountains of Arizona. They are delectable places in the high desert, and the Chiricahuas are possibly the finest of Arizona's "sky islands" -- isolated green and lush mountain ranges that rise precipitously from the desert.

The history of the Chiricahuas matches the appeal of the scenery. Coronado marched through this region in 1540; the Apaches made it their home; and Gringo ranchers and miners arrived in the 19th century. Billy the Kid killed his first man in the Chiricahuas; Curley Bill, John Ringo, Cochise, and Wyatt Earp are part of their history; Geronimo surrendered for the last time in 1886 just across the valley.

As is apparent from the lengthy title, the author has a sense of humor and that contributes to the appeal of this book as he plows through centuries of history and events. As he moves into the 20th century, he gets much more upclose and personal with the people -- and it's a sparse population -- who inhabit the region. He first lived in Portal in 1936 and he knew many of the oldtimers who settled in the region. He carries the history up to about 1940 with tales of the people who tried, and usually failed, to make a living of mining and ranching in this land of little rain and less opportunity. I love the quote heading one of his chapters: "Arizona would be a desirable place to live if it had more water and a better class of people." A few good black and white photographs illustrate the people and the land.

Today, as the author points out, the Chiricahuas are visited more by birdwatchers than by bandits. That's progress, I guess. The author has done a fine job preserving and recording the history of the Chiricahuas and the people who lived here before the birdwatchers arrived.

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By jim on October 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A tremendous amount of research went into this book. I am a descendant of an individual in the book and can vouch for the accuracy of some of the little known facts. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in southern Arizona history and the characters who were instrumental in it's development.
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By John T. Measday on April 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a love for the history of New Mexico and Arizona and found this book to be very authentic. I would recommend to anyone sharing this interest in the Southwest.
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