Oracle's Precarious Perch
Relationships among local residents never came easy either. From the beginning tensions simmered and bubbled up only to simmer and boil again. Internal battles occasionally devolved into public arguments and fisticuffs as factions contested for town dominance.
National movements - the labor movement; the environmental movement; the peace movement; the tea party movement; Trumpism - swept in and out and some back in again.
All of this makes for compelling story telling.
As of now Oracle seems to linger on the success side of the ledger: A small, unincorporated town buffeted by powerful forces that has managed to carve out a unique identity while exercising a degree of self determination. Threatened by drought and fire, vulnerable to contamination and/or exhaustion of the aquifer sourcing its water, sometimes wracked by political divisions , perched precariously on a north facing granite ridge, nothing about Oracle’s future can be taken for granted.
Nothing in Oracle, Arizona has ever come easy. In the late 1800’s when the indigenous people populating the area were driven out by force of arms and Oracle was “founded” (conquered) a post office naming the place after a ship was established. Just getting here was a major accomplishment. The stage coach out of Tucson was a body hammering ride on wooden planks and crude springs that softened the rocky jolts very little. Native American raiders were mostly gone but few visitors made the journey and fewer still wanted to repeat the experience.
Only the tough endured. Ranching was a brutal test of human and beast against drought and distance to markets. Hard scrabble gold mining was replete with minimal returns and outright failed ventures. The mine with the iron door became a cinematic favorite despite, or maybe because of, disappearing. Buffalo Bill Cody had some capital to invest but no success digging for gold.
The local economy picked up only as the bodies piled up. A cottage industry serving tuberculosis refugees seeking a healthier clime sprang up to welcome the living, many of whom were soon to be dead. (To be continued)
Kaz and I moved to Oracle in 1979. The house we bought dated to the late 1940s. With little advance knowledge of the place, we set out to build a new life together, intending to settle in and raise a family.