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A review of Last Water on the Devil’s Highway: A cultural and natural history of Tinajas Altas


Last Water on the Devil's Highway: A cultural and natural history of Tinajas Altas
Bill Broyles, Gayle Harrison Hartmann, Thomas E. Sheridan, Gary Paul Nabhan, Mary Charlotte Thurtle
240 pages, hardcover:
The University of Arizona Press, 2012.

Last Water on the Devil's Highway is the story of a waterhole that, for centuries, has kept travelers from death as they passed through the desert. Tinajas Altas, or "high tanks," is a series of potholes filled with murky, smelly water in extreme southwestern Arizona. It is not an oasis, but a waypoint for desperate travelers. Five authors chronicle the history and ecology of Tinajas Altas, from the days when Native Americans ground mesquite pods on the granite surrounding the water hole, to the Gold Rush, when the tinajas were a stopover on the infamous Camino del Diablo, a prospectors' trail from Mexico to California. Today, the desert around the waterhole is scarred by tire tracks and littered with trash left by undocumented immigrants, drug traffickers and the Border Patrol officers who try to catch them. But the silence, the scorching heat and the thirst that drive people to the spot continue.