Will Rogers in Arizona

Will Rogers

During the 1920s the federal government decided to build a dam on the Gila. Unfortunately, the surveyors picked an unusually wet year. They picked a site in a narrow canyon east of Hayden. The dam was built and named Coolidge for the former president but by the time it was dedicated Arizona was in another drought and nothing but tall weeds grew where the lake was supposed to be. Calvin Coolidge was there but he didn’t have much to say about the waterless reservoir. He wasn’t known as “Silent Cal” for nothing. But humorist Will Rogers was there and he was never at a loss for words. He looked out across the sea of weeds and quipped, “If that was my lake, I’d mow it.”

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Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.