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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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I had my own weeping Indian moment Friday afternoon on my lunch break.

I hiked down to the Salt River like I often do: down 48th Street, over the railroad tracks, and then over the Grand Canal. As usual, the place was abuzz with activity since it is the future location of the maintenance and storage yard of Valley Metro’s light rail line. Construction is progressing pretty rapidly.

So rapidly, in fact, that they’ve completely demolished the Joint Head Dam itself and removed the link between the control structure and the Grand Canal. That was very difficult to see since it’s one of my favorite places to visit. I scoured the remaining area, taking in every detail I could so that I would have my memories should they decide to tear down the rest.

It’s astounding to me that the Joint Head Dam should be destroyed. Looking at the map in the PDF above, it looked like there was a Historical Preservation Overlay District and I just assumed that the dam itself was part of that. I guess it wasn’t.

As a historian, this isn’t surprising to me. Phoenix, like its namesake, was built on the ashes of a previous civilization and the general attitude towards the past has reflected that. It’s gotten better in recent times, to be sure, but it’s still woefully lacking. The obliteration of the Joint Head Dam was just the first time I’ve really encountered this attitude on a personal level.