Papago Park is a municipal park in Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona, United States. It has been designated as a Phoenix Point of Pride. It includes Hunt’s Tomb, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Papago Park is a hilly desert park covering 1200 acres in Phoenix, Arizona extent and 296 acres in Tempe extent. Tempe refers to its section of the park specifically as Tempe Papago Park. Papago Park is notable for its many distinctive geological formations and its wide variety of typical desert plants, including the giant saguaro cactus. The park also features the Desert Botanical Garden, a large zoo (the Phoenix Zoo), picnic areas, several small lakes, hiking trails, bicycle paths, a fire museum, as well as Hunt’s Tomb, the pyramidal tomb of Arizona’s first governor, George W. P. Hunt. Tempe Papago Park includes baseball and softball fields, picnic ramadas, a small lake, and other features. Rolling Hills Golf Course is within the park between its Phoenix and Tempe extremities.
The park includes the home baseball and softball stadium for North Pointe Preparatory.
The distinctive red sandstone geological formations of Papago Park formed some 6–15 million years ago. One such formation, Hole-in-the-Rock, is a major landmark, thanks to the openings (tafoni) that eroded in the formation over time. There is some evidence that the Hohokam—a now-extinct aboriginal tribe that once lived in the Phoenix area—used the openings and sunlight to track the solstices.
Papago Park was designated a reservation for the local Maricopa and Pima tribes of Native Americans in 1879. It became the Papago–Saguaro National Monument in 1914, but this status was recalled by Congress on April 7, 1930, because the area was not considered suitable for a national monument. It was divided amongst the state of Arizona, the city of Tempe, and the Water Users Association, later known as the Salt River Project. The Federal government reserved all oil, coal, or other mineral rights.
Following the onset of the Great Depression, Governor Hunt commissioned a bass fish hatchery to be established in Papago Park in 1932. The hatchery was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and became successful, stocking largemouth bass and other fish for Arizona’s waterways. A1 Bed Bug Exterminator
During World War II, Papago Park housed a POW camp and contained as many as 3,100 prisoners from 1942 to 1944. It was also the site of World War II’s largest mass escape from any United States prison camp. The Great Papago Escape occurred on December 23, 1944, when 25 prisoners, including German U-boat commander Jürgen Wattenberg, escaped the camp using a 178-foot tunnel and made their way to the Arizona desert. Many prisoners quickly realized that they knew nothing about the landscape or climate and turned themselves back in. Wattenberg was the last to be captured on January 28, 1945.
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