Ajo people are the ones who started the exodus to the Gulf of California. Even before WWII some Ajo people would go down to Rocky Point. Mike Curly was the first general manager of the Ajo mine, way back around 1915. Mike had lots of Hollywood friends and, in the early 1920’s, some of those friends ca
They wanted to know if Mike could find a place to send Mr. Barrymore, where he couldn’t buy alcohol. Mike sent him down to Rocky Point. My uncle George Kapp was Michael Curly’s first chauffeur and so my uncle led the parade down to the beach at Rocky Point. He had many pictures of the event but when he died, twenty years ago or so, I imagine the pictures went to the family and they no longer live in Ajo. But I saw the photos. Looked pretty primitive to have a famous actor along. They were down in Rocky Point for over a week.
After WWII people in Ajo starting going to Cholla Bay, mostly especially in the 1950’s. You could put up any structure you wanted and take an area of the beach for eleven dollars a month. So Ajo people started bringing trailers, they built structures and went mostly for the fishing. Sandy Beach was a nudist beach. There was certainly not much in accommodations in Rocky Point, way back then. Even in the 1960’s I think the only hotel was the Rock Hotel in Old Port. You could buy ice at a place on Constitucion St. that was an ice house but we didn’t use any for drinking water, mostly to keep the beer cold and bring back fish.
How was the fishing? Well, this is what gave Rocky Point it’s start. I first went to Rocky Point in 1940 when I was 9 years old. My dad took me with him on almost all of his fishing and hunting trips. My Dad was head accountant for P.D.(Phelps Dodge) Mine. He came to Ajo on the caboose which he hooked to the ore train in 1927. My Mother came here in 1916 at the age of 6 because her father was Michael Curly’s butcher, and Mike wouldn’t come to Ajo unless the mine sent his butcher along, too. It took two days to get to Tucson and, back then there was no road to Phoenix. People used to put their Model A and Model T cars on the railroad tracks and go north to Gila Bend.
Back to fishing in Rocky Point, the trout and mackerel all averaged 3 to 4 feet in length. One time I remember while we were at Cholla Bay, the sardines came in so thick that if you stood on Pelican Point and looked towards Black Mountain, it was a black wave line about 50 yards across. And as far as the eye could see, a line that while the tide was coming in, it went all the way north to Black Mountain and then when the tide starting going, out it started coming south. They were so packed that when the trout and mackerel made a pass at them the wave would move and cause ripples on the beach. We always camped where JJ’s is now. We didn’t even have a tent, just blankets on the sand until we got Army cots. You could stand on the coral below JJ’s and watch as the tide came in. It looked like a fish hatchery, first came the sea trout. Then when the mackerel came in the trout were crowded out, you could tell the difference by the way they fought, the difference between mackerel and trout was overwhelming. There were so many that we not only caught them in the mouth we hooked them on the backs and tails, every time you cast you had a fish.
We used to take those canvas bags down that they would use to haul ice cream, and we filled them completely full. I have seen waves of sardines come before but never like this. This was about 1946 give or take. We used to come in Model A’s and always hoped we made it to the well that supplied Rocky Point, which was 12 miles north of Rocky Point, so we could get water for the cars. It was hard to haul everything in a Model A, but we managed. We used to just fish from shore and those were some of the happiest days of my life. The other happiest days was when I was hunting for ducks at Mengers Dam on the reservation.
Our favorite stories were fishing at St. Georges Bay, where it used to take us 8 hours to go 4 miles in the sand to get to the bay, and Puerto Libertad and the Seri Indians that we met. Hope you read the next story in the Rocky Point Times.
Gregory B. Blow
Dishnet Dealer Ajo