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Q: There’s a town in Arizona called Baghdad? Really? What’s up with that?

A: Let’s see… it’s hot and it’s in a desert, but that’s about where the similarities end. In fact, town residents are quick to point out that the correct spelling of the city in Arizona is “Bagdad,” without the ‘h’ in the name of the Iraqi capital.

A quick cruise around the Internet gives a few facts about the place that calls itself “The Best Copper Town Anywhere.”

The 2000 Census recorded around 1,500 residents in a town about 8 square miles big. The town’s about 100 miles from the capital of Arizona — Phoenix — and is about 3,300 feet above sea level.

But of course, everyone wants to know the origin of the town’s name. There doesn’t seem to be one confirmed story, but here’s the most common:

In the late 1800s, the area was part of the copper mining claims found in the territory. According to legend, the first miners were a father and son outfit that hauled out their ore in mule bags.

While the son mined, filling the bags with ore, the father would be taking care of things above ground. When the son was ready to fill another bag, he’d yell out, “Bag, Dad!”

Hokey? Maybe. But that’s how the story goes. Nowadays, the town is home to a mine run by the Phelps Dodge Company (mine’s claim to fame: “home to the world’s first commercial-scale concentrate leach processing facility and the longest continuously operating SX/EW plant in the world”). And it’s also near the Burro Creek Recreational Area, which offers hiking, backpacking and camping.

Got a question about goings-on in the Mideast? E-mail Stripes at:


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