When Rothrock photographed this picnic party of soldiers and their wives and companions in the desert at Fort McDowell, that temperature was probably 92 degrees, give or take. The group had gone to the desert to celebrate May Day, and Rothrock accompanied them. His work wagon is in the rear, partly obscured by a saguaro cactus.

Their leisure time off from duty at Fort McDowell belies the reality that the Army was then at the end of a three-year campaign against the Yavapai Tribe. Having broken the native Americans’ resistance, the troop was in the process of relocating them to a reservation, a one-hundred and fifty-mile trek that was inhumane.

Featured Image: Just another picnic in the desert.

See Jeremy Rowe. “, Arizona Pioneer Photographer. “Journal of Arizona History (Winter 2008)