Labeled with ICRA
Minerals Fossils and Artifacts Tucson Mineral and Gem World
Family owned and operated in the same location since 1968
2801 South Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85735 Phone: 520-883-0682
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I will in these next few pages to try to convey what Tucson is all about



by Ron Ratkevich

The University of Arizona and Sentinel Peak have been connected for over 80 years. This connection started on November 6, 1914. On this day, the University of Arizona football team was victorious against Pomona College in an extraordinary 7-6 game. A football player for the University of Arizona, Albert Condron, then suggested that an "A" should be constructed on Sentinel Peak. A second victory over Pomona College on October 23, 1915 increased the popularity of this project. Led by new student body president Albert Condron, students and members of the community began constructing the 70-foot wide, 106-foot long "A" on the mountain known as Sentinel Peak on November 13, 1915. The construction took over 4 months, but the "A" was finally completed on March 4, 1916. From this point on, many citizens of Tucson and students at the University of Arizona have referred to Sentinel Peak as "A Mountain."

(Construction of the "A")

The kind of support and enthusiasm towards the University of Arizona that it took to construct the "A" was tremendous. Students and Community members put so much time and effort into the project that many refer to this as the project that brought the University and the city together. Each year to reemphasize this bond between the University and the community, the "A" on top of the mountain is burned. It is burned on the first Friday of every school year to signify that school has begun. The next day, students and members of the community dredge up the mountain and whitewash the enormous "A". This tradition occurs every year, but how students at the University of Arizona view the mountain has changed over time.
When the "A" was first erected in 1916, the students at the University of Arizona must have felt pride in the mountain. They had just finished a huge project that took over four months to complete. The mountain must have been a rallying point for the students, something that they could all get behind and support. Every person at the University knew about the "A" and why it was created because it had just been finished. "A" mountain was not just a mountain in Tucson, it was part of the university.

Today it is hard to find any student that knows why the "A" was erected or what it stands for. When asked if they knew why it was created, students answered with guesses, but none were correct. Several of the students I talked to had no idea what "A" mountain was, and when I told them what it was some said that they had never seen the mountain before. When I told the students who did know about the mountain why the "A" was erected, most were very interested. I then asked them to give me their impression of the mountain and what it meant to them. Most students liked the mountain, but not one person I spoke to said they felt pride in the "A" on the mountain. "I think it is cool, but I didn't know it had anything to do with U of A," was freshman Paul Gunther's view of the mountain. This quote summarizes the impression of the way many students at the University of Arizona feel about "A" Mountain.
There have always been enough volunteers to both help burn and wash the huge "A". One volunteer was Jim Secan. Jim is a graduate of the University of Arizona, and currently lives in the Tucson area. He remembers his college days very well, he attended the University in the late 1960's. He remembers that when he attended the University, it was very clear to all the incoming freshmen that it was their responsibility to climb up "A" Mountain on the first Saturday of the school year and wash the gigantic "A". Nowadays, most students do not know about the tradition of burning and washing the "A". Most of the freshmen I talked to did not know freshmen were supposed to wash the "A", and the ones who did know said they had no idea when the "A" was washed or burned.
It is clear that the role of "A" mountain at the University of Arizona has changed. "A" Mountain used to generate a feeling of pride in University students, now most just regard it as a mountain with a big "A" on it. It used to be the responsibility of all incoming freshmen to whitewash the enormous "A", now it is the Traditions Committee's responsibility to recruit freshmen and community members to complete this task.
Maybe students and their priorities have changed since Jim Secan graduated. School pride may not be what it once was. It is very hard to imagine that a football game victory could start such a project again. Students today have other things to keep them busy, like computers and the internet. They do not have time to be interested in a mountain. Maybe students have changed, but society has changed as well, and a small mountain cannot mean what it once did.

("A" Mountain on 4/15/00)


by Ron Ratkevich

6000 East Valencia ROAD, TUCSON, Arizona 85706 - USATel: (602) 574-0462 / 0646 (area code changes to 520 on March 19,1995)Fax: (602) 574-9238Conceived in the interest of preserving tangible artifacts of our aviation history for the recreational welfare and education of our present and future generations.
The Pima Air & Space Museum presently exhibits over 200 aircraft and has five large hangars with over 100,000 square feed of space to exhibit aircraft and other aircraft and military memorabilia. Another exhibit hall is an original WWII barrack showing of an extensive collection of models, which exhibits virtually all U. S. military aircraft from pre-World War I to the present. The museum is proud of its international reputation as one of the best aviation museum's in the world. For aviation enthusiasts of all ages, the Pima Air and Space Museum brings history of flight to life.
The Pima Air Museum was conceived in 1966 and a year later the Tucson Air Museum Foundation was incorporated as an educational non-profit organization. A decade later, on May 8, 1976 the museum opened to the public. The museum's opening was made possible because of the hard work of volunteers. In fact, at this first stage it was entirely a volunteer effort. Early on, aircraft were exhibited in a bare desert ground; the only building on the grounds was a small shack used to sell tickets to visitors. There weren't many tickets sold during the first few months after the museum's opening, but now 24 years later about 160,000 visitors a year tour the museum.
The Museum receives no government funds and is supported solely by gate admissions, gift shop sales, memberships and donations. However, the museum admits all school groups grade 12 and below, at no charge. Educational packets and docent tours for the school groups are provided to make the students' visit a rewarding one. Last year, over 6,000 school age children visited the museum.
Hangar #1 is entered after leaving the ticket counter Immediately your eyes catch sight of the rooms centerpiece, an exact replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the aircraft with which the Wright Brothers made history. Other vintage aircraft on display such as the Fock Wulf Fw-44J Stieglitz and the Waco RNF also located in Hangar #1. Exhibits such as "Women in Aviation," "Blacks in Aviation" and a "hands-on" area are popular with those of all ages and are just a few of the exhibits located in this hangar. From the north door of this building can be seen General Eisenhower's "Columbine" and the DC-6 used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. This DC-6 is open for guided tours and is particularly meaningful to those interested in seeing the actual accommodations for these two important historical figures. About 100 feet north of the DC-6 is the Space Gallery and Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame building.
In 1991, the Foundation membership voted to change the museum's name to the Pima Air & Space Museum. The Space Gallery features a full-scale mock-up of the X-15, the rocket-powered aircraft that broke the envelope of space. ############
Leaving the Space Gallery and walking southwest past the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest jet aircraft, you arrive at Hangar #3. This hangar houses the B-24 Liberator bomber, one of about 12 known to exist, the B-25, A-26, TG-6 and other World War II-era aircraft. A new display, "World War II Combat Gliders" was dedicated on the 50th anniversary of D-Day June 6, 1994. Immediately south of this building is Hangar #4 which houses the B-29 and C-46 aircraft, among others, and which should open in September of 1994. A formal dedication will be held in October during a reunion of the 330th Bomb Group to which this B-29 was assigned during World War II.
The 390th Memorial Museum is located in the center of the grounds and houses the B-17. Its exhibits detail the unit's World War II operations in the European Theater while assigned to the 8th Air Force. It is a museum within a museum. With about 65 acres of display area, comfortable shoes are a must. A walk through the museum takes about three hours but one could easily spend all day. Plans are in the works to start a tram operation near the end of August '94.
The Pima Air & Space Museum is located at 6000 E. Valencia Road and is open every day except Christmas day from 9 am. to 5 pm. with the last admittance at 4 pm. Admission charges are: Adults $5.00, Seniors/Military $4.00, Juniors 10-17 $3.00 and children 9 and under are free.


NAME: Arizona, from the Pima Indian word "place of small springs".
ENTERED UNION: Feb.14, 1912, 48th State
CAPITOL: Phoenix, pop.1,600,000
NICKNAME: Grand Canyon State
STATE TREE: Palo Verde
LANDS: 114,000 sq.mi. (6th in union)
BOARDERS: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Sonora and Baja Mexico
POPULATION (1997) 4,554,966
STATE FOSSIL: Petrified Wood
STATE BIRD: Cactus wren
STATE FLOWER: Bloom of Saguaro
STATE TREE: Palo Verde

The Origin of Arizona's Official Necktie

by Ron Ratkevich

One day, an Arizona Silversmith by the name of Victor Cedarstaff was horseback riding in the desert with a friend. Victors hat flew off in the wind and was carried some distance by the swirling dust devil. After settling down the horses, he went in search of his hat. It was just the kind of summer day that often spawns a lot of the pesky little tornadoes, and when he found his hat, Victor secured it to his head by tying its braided lanyard under his neck. Riding a little further, Victor said to his friend "This piece of leather around my throat gives me an idea," and could hardly wait to get back to his work bench to make his idea a reality. That night he found a thin, braided leather rope, made a turquoise decorated slide that would be attached to both sides of the lanyard and added silver tips to finish off the ends of the leather. Cedarstaff intuitively knew that he had come up with a uniquely western necktie which has come to be known as the Bola tie.

The name for Cedarstaff's design comes from its resemblance to Argentinean bola used by gauchos (cowboys). The Argentinean bolas are attached to leather-wrapped stones and are used in hunting. The bolas are swung around the head and thrown in such a way as to wrap around the legs of South American rheas and ostriches effectively tripping up these giant ground birds. The name "bola" is interchangeable with its Arizona derivation "bolo:" Both names are acceptable.
Cedarstaff's bola tie was an overnight success and as more and more men began wearing them instead of a cloth tie, this neckwear became an every day fixture, and through the efforts of the Bola Tie Society of Arizona, the Bola tie became one of Arizona's state emblem and our official state neckwear in 1971. Since its invention in 1949, the Bola tie has been accepted for both casual and formal affairs, and is as much a part of the American West as are cowboy boots, western hats, and Turquoise jewelry.


Most of these stones can be obtained
at Tucson Mineral and Gem World.


By Ron Ratkevich

Some wise sage came up with one of the most obvious statements we know today, "What cannot be grown must be mined". In Arizona this statement really refers to copper, one of our leading industries, and is responsible for this state being widely known as THE COPPER STATE.
A child born today will need 1,500 pounds during its lifetime. Not only is copper an essential element in our bodies, nearly everything in our homes, vehicles and offices utilizes copper. The average home uses 400 pounds of copper for wiring, plumbing and appliances. Our car has 40 pounds of copper and an airliner takes off carrying more than 9,000 pounds of this metal. No wonder copper is so vital in our lives.
Nearly 7,000 years ago, primitive people discovered they could fashion primitive tools, weapons and ornaments from a soft metal they found eroding out in veins. No processing was necessary for this relatively pure metal that eventually was called copper, named from the island of Cyprus, which was the source of copper for the Roman Empire.
By 4,000 years ago, it was discovered that metals could be melted together into alloys. Someone in that distant past added tin to copper and the first bronze was invented. Another alloy was developed by the addition of zinc to copper to produce brass. Both bronze and brass are stronger than pure copper which is very malleable (easily shaped by pounding and bending), and do not corrode in air or water.
We've all seen a penny that has turned green or black, as it oxidizes and begins returning to its natural state as it would be in the native rock formations.
The knowledge and use of copper spread across the world. Where copper did not exist, it became an important trade item shipped by the ton to distant places as ore, ingots or finished products.
If you are a rock collector, Arizona's copper-bearing deposits provide a wealth of specimens for you to find. Your collection should include:
1)Native copper: Nearly pure copper, usually found in sheets or fan like formations in veins. Native copper has the color of a new penny. It may have a coating of green oxide if it has been exposed to the weather for some time.
2) Malachite: Unusually bright green, most often found as green ore, but is often found in beautiful crystal forms.
3) Azurite: A copper carbonate that is often found with malachite. Azurite is a dark purple color and translucent crystals are highly sought after.
4) Turquoise: A green-blue mineral deriving its color from copper.
5) Chrysocola: Often found with azurite and malachite, it is a soft sky blue mineral sometimes used in jewelry.
To see some of the finest copper mineral specimens ever found, be sure to visit the University of Arizona's Mineral Collection at Flandrau Science Center or at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. To get a first hand look at how copper is mined, plan to visit Asarco Mineral Discovery Center. You can also see many fine specimens exhibited and for sale at Tucson Mineral and Gem World.

Last Updated: May 21,2008
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