Arizona seems to be filled with scary-named places. (Read Part 1) Here’s a look at how a few more were named…
Now a ghost town, Canyon Diablo was officially established in November of 1886 about 26 miles west of Winslow. The name means “devil’s canyon” due to its sudden 256-foot chasm that travelers found impossible to descend, according to Barnes. Canyon Diablo was never much more than a “shack town” and known to be more dangerous than Tombstone, according to Gladwell Richardson in his book Two Guns, Arizona. He wrote, Canyon Diablo “could not hold a candle to the evil of this end-of-the-railroad’s depravity. Murder on the street was common. Holdups were almost hourly occurrences, newcomers being slugged on mere suspicion that they carried valuables.” Scary place that’s now most famous for being the namesake of the “Canyon Diablo Meteorite,” which created nearby Meteor Crater in Arizona, “the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site on Earth.”
In Cochise County, Skeleton Canyon gets its name from skeletons that were left hanging in the canyon for years. Barnes’ book states in the early 1880s “Curly Bill” (once known as Arizona’s most famous outlaw) and his gang killed more than a dozen men in the canyon and their bodies were “left where they fell” for years.
Slaughter Mountain may seem frightening, but its horrifying name simply comes from its namesake, a cattleman named Pete Slaughter. Arizona Place Names says in the 1880s Slaughter grazed cattle on the Apache Reservation in the area. Slaughter Mountain is in the Gila mountains around 25 miles from Morenci.
- Book: Arizona Place Names by Will C. Barnes, 1935, reprinted in 1988, p. 75-76, 410, 411
- Book: Two Guns, Arizona by Gladwell Richardson, 1968.
- Website: Meteor Crater Visitor Center
A version of this story first appeared on the Arizona Name Stories Instagram storytelling project page:@AZnamestories. This story is part of the project that explores the history of names in Arizona and that is also asking citizens of Arizona of all ages, cultures, backgrounds to share their own name story. If you’d like to submit your name story (and you’re from AZ or currently are a resident), read the instructions at AZnamestories.com. We welcome your participation. (Not all stories from the Instagram page will be posted on Names Redefined.)