ARIZONA HISTORY 01/01/99 09:32PM Jan. 3 On this date in 1924, 117 automobiles became stalled in the heavy mud near Casa Grande. The vehicles had to be towed to the Southern Pacific tracks, where they bumped over the ties 1 1/2 miles before reaching a stretch of road they could negotiate. On this date in 1787, mountaineer Bill Williams was born. The city of Williams and the Bill Williams River were named after him. Jan. 4 On this day in 1921, Morris Goldwater was elected Mayor of Prescott along with his entire slate of candidates for city council. On this day in 1883, The Hualapai Indian Reservation was established in Mohave County by Executive Order. Jan. 5 On this day in 1921, Adj. Gen. Walter S. Ingalls received orders from from Washington, D.C., to ship all horses used by calvary troops of the Arizona National Guard to Carlsbad, New Mexico. All calvary troops were to be converted into the 158th Infantry. On this day in 1964, Gov. Paul Fannin officially opened the University of Arizona's new solar-powered desalinization plant _ the world's largest _ in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Jan. 6 On this day in 1881, a post office was established in Galeyville, Ariz., a town which became a notorious outlaw hangout. Its leading citizen was Curly Bill Brocius. On this day in 1894, the Prescott Chief of Police and the town Constable fought a gun duel over an arrest made by the Constable. The police chief was shot twice and seriously wounded. Jan. 7 On this day in 1965, three days of heavy rains damaged about 20 percent of the cotton remaining to be picked. Costs exceeded $500,000. On this day in 1912, Henry Chee Dodge, the first chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council, died at 86. Jan. 8 On this day in 1774, Juan Bautista de Anza and Fr. Francisco Garces set out from Tubac with a party of 34 men to establish a route to California. They traveled to Monteray by way of El Camino del Diablo and returned by the Gila River. Jan. 9 On this day in 1917, the state legislature convened. Some of the laws passed included banning the public drinking cup and the common towel in Arizona. On this day in 1932, the decapitated skeleton of Adolph Ruth was found. Six months earlier, he had gone into the Superstition Mountain Range in search of the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine.

MOVIE REVIVES FORGOTTEN PART OF TEXAS HISTORY 12/30/98 09:13AM This may be Chewbacca's first movie, but the 2,000-pound, 7 1/2-foot-tall camel has nailed artistic temperament. After just two hours ``of standing there and looking cute,'' he needed a four-hour break. Doug Baum, one of Texas' last camel wranglers, watched Chewbacca and his five camel co-stars with affection, but without sympathy. ``They're a bunch of pampered babies,'' he said. Nothing like the camels Chewbacca and his four-legged colleagues are portraying in ``The Texas Funeral,'' a movie starring Martin Sheen that has been shot in and around Austin for the last three months. In the movie, which spotlights the little-known role of the camel in state and national history, Chewbacca plays Robert E., a descendant of the U.S. Camel Corps that helped explore the trails to the West before the Civil War. ``This is a much-neglected part of Texas history,'' said Baum, who followed his father into the profession. The corps, according to many historical reports, began in the 1850s as the brainchild of U.S. Sen. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, who hoped to follow the Arab tradition of using the camels to cross long deserts. ``He was always looking for new and better ways of doing things,'' said Keith Hardison, executive director of Beauvoir, The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in Biloxi, Miss. It wasn't until Davis became secretary of war in 1855 that Congress appropriated $30,000 for the purpose of training soldiers to use camels for carrying supplies the way they would use mules and for exploring new territories between El Paso and the Colorado River. But first he endured the ridicule and snickers of colleagues. ``People even complained that the camels wouldn't understand English. I never really understood that one,'' Hardison said. The U.S. Army sent an expedition to Northern Africa and after many bribes and negotiations had 33 camels. By April 1856, when they landed at the port of Indianola, (near what is now Galveston), the humpback fleet had grown to 34. After several weeks of rest, the camels arrived at Camp Verde, 60 miles west of San Antonio, which became their permanent base during a career cut short by the soldiers' reluctance to work with them and the impending Civil War. ``It would have been a good program if the war hadn't killed it,'' said Texas folklorist Elmer Kelton of San Angelo. The war distracted the country, and the corps seemed to be forgotten. That was OK with the soldiers, who complained that the animals held grudges, waiting for weeks to exact revenge for some offense by kicking or spitting on them. Much worse, some complained, was their odor, which even bothered the mules. The herd eventually was auctioned, and many of the animals were set free. Wild camels were spotted from South Texas to Arizona for some years. But that wasn't really the end of the corps, according to Blake Herron, who as director of ``The Texas Funeral'' has a personal connection to the story: His great-great-great-great grandfather, Bethel Coopwood, may have been Texas' first camel thief. ``Bethel was a spy for the South and historical or loose historical fact is that he came upon a northern contingent who were using camels for supply trains to Texas,'' Herron said. ``And there seems to be a lot of evidence that Bethel just killed the lot of them (the northerners) and took the camels for his own purposes.'' Those purposes included creating his own camel cavalry _ like a pony express without the ponies _ to transport goods. ``At one point I think he had 40 of them, but they slowly died off and they were gone by the time I was born,'' Herron of the camels' descendants. Herron weaves that family folklore into his latest production, which is due out next year. It centers on the 1968 return of family members to their rural Texas homestead to attend the funeral of family patriarch Grandpa Sparta, played by Sheen. There is some upheaval when Grandpa Sparta's beloved camel, Robert E., becomes depressed. While nursing the heartsick animal, the youngest member of the family is visited by Grandpa Sparta's ghost and taken on a journey where he meets his ancestors and learns the family legends _ all of which include camels. Herron said his experience with the camels on the set hearkened to the complaints of frontier days. ``You get these biblical miracles of performance out of the camels sometimes,'' Herron said. ``They react. Sometimes they're acting with the actors, and I think the audience is going to be thrilled with that.'' But that's not always the case. ``They get cranky if you work too long,'' he said. ``They're not malicious, they don't attack people, per se, but they are big and they do move where they want to go.'' And then there's that other problem. ``They spit the vilest green substance,'' he said. ``You can smell their breath from across the room.'' Anthropologist Fred Wendorf is leading an archaeological expedition into the Sahara Desert that is a bit of a relic itself -- right down to the tents, canteens and Bedouin workmen. The Southern Methodist University professor's Combined Prehistoric Expedition seems torn from the pages of a 1930s adventure serial. But its legacy since 1962 includes several important discoveries, among them a site predating England's Stonehenge that's believed to be the oldest monument to use astronomy in its design. "It's one of the few true classic archaeological expeditions left in the world," said Dawn Youngblood, a candidate for a doctorate in anthropology at SMU and a second-year member of the team. "It's basically done the same way a British expedition would have been done before World War II." Wendorf said the daytime highs will be in the 30s and 40s when the expedition begins work this week, and that's to say nothing of the Saharan winds. "Then, in mid-February, we have spring for about a week," before the thermometer climbs toward 110 degrees in March, he said. "By then, you're ready to go home." ALMOST AN ISLAND: Travels in Baja California; By Bruce Berger; (University of Arizona Press: 212 pp., $11.95) It's in Berger's blood--a three decade obsession with the "eight hundred mile dead end" that is Baja California. Here is a wide-eyed writer with the curiosity, patience and observational skills to follow leads, pursue histories and apply the artistry that takes the reader down the same paths he visits. It's like reading Marc Reisner's "Cadillac Desert": "Almost an Island" is about how humans contour and inhabit a place. But Berger writes without the density and showmanship that bog "Cadillac Desert" down in places. Nor does he conceal his love for Baja, which brims over in every chapter. There's geology, natural history, religion, desert rats, environmental issues, Mexican politics, music and adventure. There's disappointment and maturity and above all, humor. Berger is clearly guided by the inner lizard that lives within all desert-lovers--scurrying in and out of crevices, basking upon rocks in the sun.