It is said that if the desert likes your dreams, it will let you stay. If not, it will sweep you away. Perhaps no place reflects this more than Tonopah AZ, a dusty truck stop along I-10 between Buckeye and LA. Over the last 3,000 years it is said that Hokokam, Papayan, Hakataya and Yavapair people have lived in the area, but little remains of there time, save the few petroglyphs in the Saddle Mountains nearby. Once US 80, one of the first cross country roads, went through here. Health seekers and travelers in the 1920’s sought out the warm water wells in the area for their special healing. The native meaning for Tonopah is water. Saguaro Health Sanitarium was built, but now just a fading roadside motel. An local air strip to the east of town anchors planes forgotten by time. Settlers who first came in 1916 found the promised riches in agriculture elusive. Even with exotic approaches, this remains the case today. The only claim to fame the area has is the Palo Verde Nuclear plant, the largest one in the US. Still little economic impact from this has helped Tonopah. The wind and the sun of the desert the only constants here. Now, talk is of a new proposed smart city called Belmont, built on 24,800 acres purchased by Bill Gates in 2017. It’s fate ironically hinges on finding enough water. You wonder what lonely truck drivers who park here overnight think, away from the din of the freeway, in the darkness of the desert. Do they dare dream as they look out on the vastness or do they just pass through…
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