At the onset of World War II President Roosevelt built the Alaska Highway. Lesser known, but equally as important was a highway extending from Arizona to Sonyota, Sonora, Mexico and on to Puerto Penasco, a port located on the Sea of Cortez. A corridor leading there remains free for American travel. A visa is not required to reach what is now called Rocky Point. It’s a favorite tourist destination for residents of Phoenix and Tucson.
About thirty miles north of the Mexico border is a place once called Rocky Point Junction. It’s little more than a scare on the Sonoran Desert floor. It if weren’t for the intersection of Arizona highways, SR 85 and SR 86 it would not exist at all.
Sometime in the 1980s it became large enough to warrant a post office, so the “city fathers” applied to the postmaster to call this place Rocky Point Junction. But it was rejected by the postmaster. His reasoning was that there were already too many addresses with the name junction. “Think of something better,” he replied. The city fathers reconvened to discuss what else they might call it. Someone suggested “Y” because of the two highways. One thing led to another. In the end, A new application was submitted for calling the settlement Why. It was accepted. Why, Arizona now shares a zip code with its neighboring town, Ajo (Ah-hoe).
This settlement, some 135 miles from Tucson and the same distance from Phoenix grew and eventually developed a need for public transportation. The Ajo Stage was created, offering affordable rides to and from the border to Why, Ajo, Buckeye, Phoenix, Gila Bend, and Tucson.
So … four young men from Phoenix drove to Rocky Point for a weekend. They partied hard and sometime Saturday afternoon three of them decided to head home. The forth, a newcomer from Chicago, had a girl and some more drinking to do, so he stayed behind, telling his friends he would thumb his way to Phoenix.
Late Saturday night he headed for Phoenix and caught a ride with three Mexicans. The four of them crossed into Arizona. At the second check point the Mexicans were discovered as illegals and were turned back. No one, under any circumstances, is ever left afoot in the desert, so the Border Patrol drove him the 20 miles further north and dropped him off in Why at the Why Not Travel Store.
Toward dawn he realized he needed to find a way to Phoenix before Monday morning. (If you’ve never been to Why you can’t understand how wind-blown and desolate a place can seem to someone who arrived in a stupor).
“Where am I?” he asked the lady working the store.
“You are in Why, Arizona,” she replied.
“I have to be at work tomorrow. How far away is Phoenix from here?”
“More than one-hundred miles that away,” she said, pointing.
“A hundred miles! Is there a train or bus going there?”
“You can catch the ten o’clock stage,” she said
“STAGE?” he shouted, gripping the countertop.