Centereach, New York
Yes, Charlie Meadows was a real person. I call him Arizona’s first superstar.
Born in Visalia, California, in 1859, during a rare snowstorm, he moved with his family to Arizona. In the summer of 1882, Apaches raided the Meadows ranch north of Payson, killing his father and brother, and wounding another brother. Meadows took over running the ranch.
In 1884, he helped organize Payson’s first rodeo, dubbed the “world’s oldest, continuous rodeo.” Riding his white horse, Snowstorm, Meadows won almost every event. In 1888, he beat Tom Horn in a roping contest in Payson and won at rodeos in Prescott and Phoenix. By 1890, he was performing in Wild West shows, including William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s.
Meadows struck it rich at the Klondike Gold Rush, but lost his mine in a poker game. The theatre he opened in Dawson, Yukon Territory, is still in operation.
He retired near Yuma, Arizona. A reckless auto driver, he survived an accident in 1932; when friends told him to be careful, he replied, “It’ll be a snowy day in Yuma when they plant this old Hassayamper.”
Meadows died on December 9, 1932. On that day, it snowed an inch and a half in Yuma. It hasn’t snowed there since.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org