Papago Saguaro National Monument

The National Park Service celebrated the Papago Saguaro National Monument for its more than 2,000 acres of rocky desert that showcased Phoenix's Sonoran Desert, giant cactus, and sandstone buttes.

Just 16 years after its founding, however, the National Park Service delisted the Papago Saguaro National Monument--the first time a National Park Service property had ever been removed from federal rolls. One developer proposed erecting a 600-foot-tall saguaro-shaped observation tower lined with green neon lights. While arguably tacky and inappropriate, the never-realized structure might have been a fitting reminder of the Papago Saguaro National Monument and its eventual delisting, partly as a result of conflicting ideas of appropriate land usage.

Today the multiplicity of uses envisioned for the land has come to fruition, as evidenced by the presence of Governor Hunt's pyramidal tomb, the remnants of a Depression-era bass hatchery, a golf course, the Desert Botanical Garden, the Phoenix Zoo, picnic areas, lakes, and hiking and biking trails that attract millions of visitors a year.

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Audio

Building a National Monument
A fictional description of the political maneuvering behind the 1914 designation of Papago Saguaro National Monument. Written by John Larsen Southard; narrated by Bob Cafarella. Recorded at Scottsdale Channel 11; courtesy of the Papago Salado...
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