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May 17, 2016

Outside Podcast: The Devil's Highway, Part 2

For centuries, the Devil’s Highway, a path through the desert in southern Arizona where water sources can be separated by 100 miles, was one of the harshest places in North America. (Photo: traveler1116/iStock)
For centuries, the Devil’s Highway, a path through the desert in southern Arizona where water sources can be separated by 100 miles, was one of the harshest places in North America.

For centuries, the Devil’s Highway—a waterless pathway through desert in southern Arizona—was one of the deadliest places in North America, killing thousands of Spanish conquistadors, gold prospectors, and migrants. Construction of a circumnavigating railroad allowed fatalities to taper at the end of the 19th century, but in the early 2000s, the route again became lethal. As immigration crackdown increased along other sections of the U.S.–Mexico border, illegal immigrants resorted to using the desert for entry, unaware that it would kill them. One infamous modern tragedy along the Devil’s Highway took place in spring 2001, when a large group, led by an experienced guide, set out from the Mexican border town of Senoyta. The disturbing outcome—and many others like it—helped researchers develop the Death Index, a new model for predicting dehydration fatalities.

The Outside Podcast

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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since expanded our show and now offer a range of story formats, including interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, as well as reports from our correspondents in the field.