Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Mountain

ASU’s gold “A”, 2010 (Photo by Deveron Carr)
Hayden Butte Preserve, 2010 (Photo by Deveron Carr)    
Rio Salado & Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281

Tempe Butte, known to most as A Mountain, has played and continues to play an important role to many. The role it has played many years ago may not by the same to those today. Because of its large, overbearing “A” at the top of the mountain, many seem to just assume that it is an Arizona State University (ASU) monument; however, there is more to it. The “A” replaced an “N” and a “T” when the school’s name was changed to Arizona State Teachers College in 1938 (Arizona State University). This site is important to many ASU students because it is tradition and many take pride in it. It is also used as rivalry territory, more so against the Wildcats.

Years ago, about A.D. 500 and 1450, the Hohokam Indians settled and resided on the hill top of what is known as A Mountain. There, they left and engraved their stories by leaving behind petroglyphs. Carved into the dark anesite rocks of the butte are: spirals, human and animal figures, and rings. Not only did the Hohokam Indians settle here, so did the founder of Tempe, Charles Trumbull Hayden, in 1869 (Hermann, 2008).

A Mountain has become a city park, and a playground to many, hiking grounds. Thousands of hikers hike day and night. Students of ASU’s Biology courses also make use of the plants that grow on the mountain. They do lab reports on the many different plant species and where they grow. The gigantic concrete “A” is painted every school year by the freshmen (Hermann, 2008). Not only do students paint the “A” for school/sports reasons, but artists, under the darkness, paint it due to other special events, holidays, and ways in expressing themselves (Mark, 2011).

Activists have protested and strived to protect Tempe Butte because of the history that it holds. Amy Douglass, an archaeologist, states that “the petroglyphs are the physical remains of the Hohokam culture, the first people to inhabit the Valley,” (Hermann, 2008). The Hohokam culture saw the butte to be holy; similarly, ASU students cherish and take pride in it (Hermann, 2008). This is not the only reason why activists feel the way they do about Tempe Butte. Protestors want A Mountain to be restored; that being its environmental and visual integrity. The toxins from the paint and human-made trails have disrupted the natural ways of the mountain. They believe that hikers should continue to walk and sit all over the mountain and what it offers, such as the petroglyphs (Durrenberger, 2003). In 2002, a group of more than 25 people, Friends of the Butte, protested against the plan of building more buildings on one side of the mountain. They wanted to keep the butte clean, nice, and smelling good. They, along with ASU professors, Native Americans, and a number of others protested for days, and a year later, the plan did not follow through (Petrie, 2002). Everyone has their own reasons to why they want to keep Hayden Butte the way it is; however, their reasons are probably similar.

- Deveron Carr and Yonas Moges


Arizona State University.

Durrenberger, D. (2003, May 2). How to Salvage ‘A’ Mountain. Arizona Republic. Retrieved
October 25, 2011, from

Hermann, W. (2008, August 14). The Butte. Arizona Republic. Retrieved October 25, 2011,
from 239023510/ 132C2BDE02D6FB572B3/1?accountid=4485

Mark, J. (2011, May 13). ‘A’ colorful history of Tempe Butte. Arizona Republic. Retrieved
October 25, 2011, from

Petrie, B. (2002, Aug 29). Tempe’s Hayden Butte looks Nice, Smells Good. Arizona State
University. Retrieved November 16, 2011 from

1 comment:

  1. This mountain look beautiful. Let's plan for a spending a day trip at this beautiful mountain and enjoy.
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