Seniors, Where is Why?

Why, Arizona has long had an interesting history.  I pass through Why on my way south to Mexico on mission trips from the Valley. We always stop in Why to gas up (and buy Mexican car insurance) on our way to Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco).  This senior citizen has wondered how Why ever got a name like that. 

Why, Arizona

Why is a tiny community in Pima County. It lies near the western border of the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation and due north of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Southern Arizona. It is approximately thirty miles north of the Mexican Border where Lukeville, Arizona, and Sonoita border each other, and just ten miles south of Ajo, Arizona. So why the name? The unusual name of the town comes from the fact that the two major highways, State Routes 85 and 86,originally intersected in a Y-intersection. At the time of its naming, Arizona law required all city names to have at least three letters, so the town’s founders named the town “Why” as opposed to simply calling it “Y.” So there, now senior travelers know why Why is called “Why.”

Ajo, Arizona

Ajo is much larger than Why with a population of 3,705. Ajo, located on State Route 85,  just 43 miles (69 km) from the border, is the closest community to Organ Pipe Cactus Forest.  If you know Spanish then you know that Ajo is the word for garlic. The Spanish may have named the place using the familiar word in place of the similar-sounding O’odham word for paint (oʼoho).

How Ajo Got Its Start

The town’s economy originally centered on the New Cornelia copper mine that was open from 1926 to 1985, but now serves mostly as a retirement community and a waypoint for senior tourists heading from Phoenix to Mexico’s port city of Puerto Penasco. Ajo is a thriving community during the winter months, but during the scorching summer months tends to be a quiet place.

Ajo is home to some of the most spectacular photography opportunities in the world.  Vibrant colors of multicolored horizons draw senior photographers from across the globe.  

Meet me same place, another time, senior travelers,  to hear more about Ajo… its quaint downtown and historic past.  jeb

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