Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ABC Arizona Communities

All Roads Lead to Holbrook

A few years ago the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce declared their community “headed in the right direction.” Though it hasn’t always been true, it has been that way for a long time. In fact, Holbrook has also been a place to which people are headed. The Santa Fe Stage Company established passenger and mail service in 1867 from Santa Fe to Los Angeles along the middle route, which meant across northern Arizona Territory. The stage found a convenient crossing of the Little Colorado River where it is joined by the Rio Puerco, and within a year or so Juan Padilla and Berado Frayde from New Mexico built a stage station with a store, restaurant and hotel at that point, calling it Horsehead Crossing. After Camp Apache was located in the White Mountains in 1870 General George Stoneman had a supply road built from the military outpost to Horsehead Crossing. And beginning in 1876 the Mormon immigrant trail from Utah, known as the Honeymoon Trail, used the same crossing for wagon trains going to all of eastern Arizona.

This map is a reconstruction published in 1943 of the trails that led to Horsehead Crossing in the first decade following the establishment of the Territory of Arizona. It doesn’t show General Stoneman’s road, nor does it continue the Mormon trail. The headquarters of the Hashknife outfit, established about 1883 or 1884 is shown, and the Star Mail Route taken by the stage line and the first territorial governor’s party.

By 1880, the stage had stopped running but the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad was building into Arizona from Albuquerque. Grading contractor John W. Young had recently purchased the stage station knowing it was on the surveyed railroad line. But Young was disappointed when the railroad arrived in 1881 and picked a location for a depot where the valley was wider, about two miles west of Horsehead Crossing. Still he suggested naming the place after the railroad’s chief engineer, Henry R. Holbrook. Within a few years the new town would become the principal shipping point and center of commerce in eastern Arizona. By then no one could recall why it’s former location was named Horsehead Crossing. The steep bluffs bordering the two rivers probably reminded travelers of the more famous Horsehead Crossing, on the Pecos River in Texas.

This photo from the National Archives and Records Administration documents the center of the single business street, rebuilding after the fire of 1888. The photographer is standing at the railroad main line with the foundation of the burned depot and a rail spur in the foreground. At right, along Front Street, is the A & B Schuster General Merchandise store and the Mormon Arizona Cooperative Mercantile Institution relocated from nearby Woodruff and Horsehead Crossing before that. The storefront with the sign at left is F. J. Wattron’s Drugs & Notions. Next door to the left is the Cottage Saloon, nicknamed “Bucket of Blood” after the infamous saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. Gambling and booze too often resulted in gunfights. Today, Front Street is named Bucket of Blood Street.

Commodity speculators from the east coast and Texas had driven a boom in the cattle industry in that state which went bust in 1885. They turned to northeastern Arizona to try again. The Aztec Land and Cattle Company was formed with about a million acres of cheap railroad land grant. Ranch headquarters was located a short distance southwest of Holbrook. From 1884-1887, nearly 40,000 longhorns, 100 cowboys and more than 2,500 horses were shipped to Holbrook. Having grown to 60,000 head within a few years, it was the third biggest ranch in North America. And though it only lasted 16 years, it wielded tremendous power in northeastern Arizona, altering settlement there forever, where its legacy is still evident. Called The Hashknife outfit, after its brand which resembled the tool favored by chuck wagon cooks, the beef and land development company owned alternate sections, giving it de facto control over about two million acres. Armed cowboys sternly enforced a policy of excluding homesteaders and warning trespassers. Mormons who had settled from 1876-1878, before government surveys, found their land claims in jeopardy. Sheep ranchers already grazing flocks in the area were considered a threat.

Freight wagons piled high with sacks of wool arrive at the depot around 1906. The row of storefronts pictured in the 1889 photo (above) are located just out of view at left. The railroad shipped 300,000 pounds of wool from Holbrook in the first year of the town’s existence. By 1896 the freight depot handled 1.1 million pounds of wool, 20,000 head of cattle and 22,000 head of sheep.

In Holbrook, the line of saloons between the tracks and the river supported at first by railroad worker paychecks now served a hard-working, hard-drinking, quick shooting bunch of cowboys. It wasn’t long before the town seemed headed in the wrong direction, with a violent reputation to rival the other wild west towns along the A & P. In 1887, Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens became a legendary figure after calmly walking Holbrook’s main street with his over-the-shoulder hair wafting on the breeze. After reaching the house where the Blevins gang, wanted by the law, was hold up, Owen’s Winchester pierced the walls to leave three dead, including a 16-year-old. Some who read newspaper accounts worried that Holbrook and Tombstone could tarnish the whole territory, dampening business investment and chances for statehood. Owens was not reelected in 1888. Still, Holbrook maintained a reputation for over-the-top lawlessness and tough law enforcement for more than another decade. In 1899, Navajo County Sheriff F. J. Wattron was criticized by the President of the United States for issuing a too gleeful invitation to a hanging. It turned out to be the only hanging to ever take place in Holbrook.

Apache county had been created out of the eastern part of Yavapai County in 1879 by powerful mercantile and sheep interests centered in St. Johns, which became county seat. But as Winslow and Holbrook blossomed with the railroad there was a struggle to wrestle the county seat away from St. Johns. Finally, Navajo County was created out of the west half of Apache County by the territorial legislature in 1895 and Holbrook narrowly beat Winslow to become county seat.

This 1912 panorama looking west shows how the railroad ran down the center of the main business street. There’s a locomotive puffing smoke in the distance. In the 1880s there were only a few scattered homes on the north side of the tracks (on the right in this view) and no business buildings. The residential neighborhood was first located among the cottonwoods that lined the river, seen at left. The Navajo County Courthouse (1898) is seen at extreme right, built on higher ground. Floods would soon drive the residential and business districts in that direction.

Several years of drought followed by the severe winter of 1898 killed half of the cattle grazing the Hashknife range and the beef industry collapsed just as it had in Texas. Aztec Land and Cattle filed for bankruptcy in 1900 and Holbook entered a period of relative tranquility. Now calamity visited the community only in the form of periodic disasters. The big fire of 1888 was followed by flood in 1891. Drought and overgrazing by sheep and cattle produced more silt in the Rio Puerco and Little Colorado until the stream bed was higher than parts of town. The flood of 1923 was the worst ever, cutting off Holbrook by rail, highway, telephone and telegraph. Streets were inundated, homes and commercial buildings washed away and one life lost. Beginning in the 1930s the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed levees to protect those homes and businesses that remained on the south side of the tracks. Work on the levees continues today.

One of the earlier motels catering to travelers on Route 66 is pictured about 1931. The back of this postcard says “a large assortment of genuine Navajo Indian rugs in stock at all times.” Though it doesn’t look very inviting today it seemed to offer most everything you could want, including a good mattress.

With the development of automobile travel, Holbrook businesses came to line two main streets, Navajo Boulevard seen here looking north in 1937 and Hopi Drive running west and east one block north of this view. Joy Nevin Avenue and the railroad tracks are just behind the photographer of this “real photo postcard,” the prolific Burton Frasher (1888-1955) of Pomona, California. The left side of this block is hard to recognize today, taken over by giant plaster dinosaurs advertising a rock shop. The white house that was home to Scorse’s Green Lantern Café in 1937 is still there, but the Holbrook Hotel built in 1884 and housing a Buick-Oldsmobile dealership in 1937 is long gone.

Holbrook’s fortunes increased with every new road bringing tourists and shoppers. Trains stopped at Adamana, 15 miles east of Holbrook, for tours of Petrified Forest National Monument created in 1906. It wasn’t long before tours of the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest and the Hopi pueblos would start in Holbrook. Beginning in 1913, an Ocean to Ocean highway was constructed across the country, named the National Old Trails Road. Coming from California, the automobile road followed the Santa Fe railway until Holbrook. There it crossed the Little Colorado River twice to go south to St. Johns and Springerville and into New Mexico. When named highways were given numbers in 1926, US Highway 66 from Winslow took a new alignment at Holbrook, staying north of the Rio Puerco.

Judging by the number of cars, The Motaurant was a popular stop on west Highway 66, Hopi Drive in Holbrook when this postcard was issued late in 1953 or early 1954. Not a complete octagon, the café wing was nevertheless built to resemble one of the better Navajo hogan homes. Another postcard for The Motaurant from the late 1940s advertised organist Fred Laskowsky playing your requests in the “refined cocktail bar” at left. Drinks and then back on narrow, two-lane Route 66 at 50-65 mph.

“Sleep in a Wigwam” said the back of this Petley Studios postcard from the 1950s, “a novel and unique place to stay.” Built in 1950 by Chester E. Lewis based on a design used for six other such motels from California to Florida, it was first called Wigwam Village No. 6. Though closed from 1974-1988 when I-40 bypassed the downtown, today it is still operated by the Lewis family. Besides the seven Villages, there were other teepee design motels, including one in Tempe.

In 1917, Holbrook became the terminus of a new railroad, the Apache Railway extending south to sawmills at Snowflake, Standard and McNary. Lumber became a commodity shipped out of Holbrook. Today, the Apache Railway brings paper from a mill near Snowflake. Over the years, Holbrook has also been a supply point by truck for the Hopi mesas to the north and the Mormon settlements to the south, along Highway 77. Highway 377 also comes in from the south, from Heber and the rim country. But it was Route 66 that created one long strip development through downtown Holbrook, offering travelers a variety of gasoline stations, restaurants, motels, curio shops and amusements. That’s the town that still greets motorists on Interstate-40.

This is the intersection of Hopi Drive and Navajo Boulevard, looking northeast about 1952. The cupola of the courthouse is seen above the yellow-brick Masonic Lodge (1917). Motorists on Route 66 headed east would drive the length of Hopi until arriving at this intersection at lower left, then turn left to proceed north on Navajo, passing the courthouse. If they turned right, they would pass the scene pictured above in 1937, cross the railroad tracks and the river with the option to head south toward Snowflake (Highway 77) or southeast toward St. Johns (US 260 in 1952 but renumbered 180 today).

This 1960s Agfachrome aerial photo by Bob Petley locates Holbrook between the Little Colorado River at lower right corner and the reddish bluffs bordering the river valley. You can easily make out the Wigwam Motel on long and wide Hopi Drive (click on the picture to see full-size) and the Santa Fe railroad running parallel one block south. In upper left, Navajo Boulevard has climbed out of the valley to curve back to the east as Route 66, going to the Petrified Forest on the horizon.

see also:
William S. Abruzzi, “The Social and Ecological Consequences of Early Cattle Ranching in the Little Colorado River Basin” Human Ecology, Vol. 23, No. 1 (March 1995) pp. 75-98.
Catherine H. Ellis, Holbrook and the Petrified Forest (2007).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Globe: The Greatest Copper Camp
Survived Without Copper

Searching for gold, prospectors found silver instead, in the rugged mountains south of the Salt River canyon in the early 1870s. Within a few years, Globe City would be built along Pinal creek, in a small valley between the Pinal Mountains on the southwest and the Apache Mountains on the northeast. Globe would be the business center of a “mineral belt” in Cobre Valley, and then about six years later the county seat of newly created Gila County. When the silver played out, copper would bring even greater wealth. And after about 50 years of mining copper, after all the copper mines at Globe closed, the city would survive nevertheless.

The military, operating out of a western ring of forts had been determinately confining the Apache people to a reservation in the mountains of eastern Arizona created by executive order of President U. S. Grant November 9, 1871. This allowed prospectors into the Pinal and Apache Mountains where they found small globes of silver. One group of men filed a claim on the Globe Ledge discovery in 1873. This was followed by adjacent claims in 1874 and 1875. Whether impressed by the shape of the silver nuggets or more likely the world renown they were sure was to come, they named it the Globe Mining District in the Globe Hills with the streets of Globe City laid out down on the creek. When a survey was made, all this was found to be on Apache reservation land. No problem. Friends in Washington got the reservation boundary line moved east several times to accommodate each new discovery. Still, proximity to Apache lands has always played a role in the history of Globe.

This Apache family depicted about 1910, possibly camped near Globe, would have traveled there to trade at the stores. At first, the Department of Interior and the military tried to round up all Apache tribes in the southwest on the San Carlos reservation east of globe, with shrinking reservation boundaries every few years. Then, a policy change sent Apache families to five reservations across the state. (Postcards from this era were made from colorized black & white photos.)

I don’t know who owned this general store or where it was in Globe, but the photo appears to date from about 1907. It undoubtedly shows the staff, including two young boys in an express wagon who delivered groceries and probably a salesman in a buggy. The butcher is all in white, and since women rarely worked in a store unless they owned it, I assume that the owners are the lady and the well-dressed man to her left. The other four men and boys would be clerks and stock clerks. Then again, maybe the butcher was the owner. A lot of the details of history have been lost.

Riches poured out of the land. Hinton (1878) in his Handbook to Arizona reported that red oxide of copper ore could produce $200 to $400 a ton in silver even if the copper was discarded. Rich silver ores within a few miles of Globe were yielding 200 to 400 ounces per ton. To attract investors and labor, some mines claimed to extract $1,300 to $4,000 per ton of ore, and even “ores producing from $5,000 to $15,000 per ton,” were reported. Smelters and furnaces were profitably roasting rocks all along the mineral belt even though all supplies had to be transported to the remote area by wagon teams.

This view of the Old Dominion works about 1906 is looking approximately south toward the town of Globe in the valley at left with the snowcapped Pinal Mountains on the horizon. The head frame for the underground shaft is out of view at left. A recently added concentrator has five smoke stacks and a growing pile of waste in the right foreground. Behind is the big stack of the smelter. The correspondent who mailed this postcard in 1909 has written on the front, “Talk about your mining towns, Globe is sure one, believe me.” On the back he related, “I am now in a town where a person must be careful, truly a mining town. Being in Arizona on business and near Globe, I thought I would take a run up and see it. It is not on the main line but 124 mi. from it, 743 miles from L.A. Talk about being in the mountains, all surroundings are like the picture on the reverse side.” The William Ryan drugstore in Globe had the photo sent to Germany to be printed as postcards, which were then sold at the drugstore.

This is a scene inside the smelter pictured above about the same year. At the end of the mining, concentrating and smelting process pure molten copper is poured into molds to become ingots. Today, an electrolytic process produces pure copper cathodes.

The Southern Pacific railroad had built across the state to New Mexico by the end of 1880. Heavy mining machinery, furnace clay, lead catalyst and everything else needed in Globe could be transferred from relatively cheap railroad shipping to relatively expensive wagon train 130 miles from Globe. This arrangement lasted more than 15 years and still mining proved profitable, even during the mid-1880s recession. “In few places in the world is copper ore found in such manner and of so high a grade as in the vicinity of Globe,” wrote Arizona Commissioner of Immigration John A, Black in 1890. That kind of treasure deserves a rail link he concluded. (see, Black, Arizona, the land of sunshine and silver. . .) Several attempts had already been financial failures, but finally with mining company money, in 1894 the Gila Valley, Globe and Northern Railway was formed and tracks reached Globe four years later. The line would eventually became part of the Southern Pacific empire but is now operated again by a small company.

Though laborious hand drilling of blasting holes gave way to steam drills in the 1890s, hand drilling contests were popular events bringing out huge crowds for another couple decades. This is a Globe team in 1908. The little girl is ready with a water hose to cool and lubricate the bit and clear dust.

Globe Becomes a Hotbed of Labor Union Strife

Copper mining at Globe became increasingly profitable, leading workers to join unions and demand higher wages and better benefits. After a number of strikes, the Greatest Copper Camp finally suffered the greatest miners strike in 1917. When the United States entered the European war that year, patriotism reached a fever pitch. President Wilson criminalized speaking against the war effort and demanded greatly increased copper production for shell casings and electrical wiring in battleships. Globe was a multi-ethnic community with Hispanic workers paid less than union scale. Rumors spread through town that Austrian immigrants working in the mines were planning fifth-column sabotage on behalf of the Huns. Irish workers were also suspect. Hadn’t their country just kicked out British rulers through revolution? The unions were fractured between socialists like the Industrial Workers of the World who took a moral stand against warfare and moderates like the Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers Union. The Fourth of July holiday fell right in the middle of a desperate and extremely contentious walkout by 2,000 miners from both unions. The companies hired armed guards and the county sheriff deputized citizens. Republican Governor Thomas Campbell showed up with federal army troops since the National Guard had gone off to war. A Loyalty League recruited patriots to oppose the workers. There were mass arrests. Replacement workers were brought in from Texas, though they couldn’t get production going. It seemed chaos reigned for nearly four months, but in the end a compromise was found and most of the workers went back to work for higher pay and somewhat better benefits. Jurors refused to convict the only union leader brought to trial. Remarkably, with all the brandishing of loaded guns, only two deaths occurred, a train ran over a soldier and a horse kicked a federal conciliator. (see, James W. Byrkit, Forging the Copper Collar (1982); Daphne Overstreet, “The 1917 Walkout at Globe, Arizona,” Journal of Arizona History Summer 1977; and “The Arizona Copper Strike,” The Outlook 25 July 1917, pages 466, 468)

This Arizona Historical Society photo shows one of several poses for the camera made by the famous/infamous 14 armed guards at the Old Dominion smelter during the strike of 1917. Their pistol-packing leader is sitting down in front.

This truck was one of the entries in the Fourth of July parade at the beginning of the strike. It was labeled a “scab car,” so the men must be some of those brought in from New Mexico and Texas to cross picket lines.

In contrast to labor wars, Globe’s history has long been animated by genuinely violent stories of murders, holdups and hangings in the 1880s. When it wasn’t an Apache brought to the gallows, then it was a claim jumper, drunken cowboy or highway robbers masquerading as Apaches. Long after hangings at county jails were banned in 1909 and hanging was replaced by the gas chamber in 1933, Globe holds the distinction of claiming the last legal hanging in Arizona. It was a gruesome, botched strangulation of an Apache under the federal death penalty statute in 1936. (see, “Globe Arizona History” by Paul R. Machula [1996] at

Despite the violence, despite its remote location and despite unstable copper prices the boomtown survived. It rebuilt after fires in 1885 and 1894. Earthquake damage in 1887 and periodic floods, the worst in 1891, couldn’t dampen profits for long. The 1880 census found Globe the seventh largest town in the territory. By 1890 it had dropped to tenth. After the railroad came it bounced up to fifth place in 1900 and fourth in 1910. Being county seat helped. Government jobs, taxes and appropriations have always kept some Arizona communities afloat, as others faded into ghost towns. Nearly half of all employment in Gila County in 2008 was in some level of government.

The town was built around a single main street, Broad Street, seen here about 1913. This is the block between Oak and Sycamore on the west side of Broad Street. At left is the Dominion Hotel, Globe’s finest when it was built in 1905. It’s now gone, having burned in 1981. Next is the office of Globe Light & Power Company which also piped gas into homes, and then Charles T. Martin’s theater. By 1940 the electric company had become part of Arizona Edison Company, next door to the renamed Fox theater.

Looking north at the east side of Broad Street about 1927 in the same block shown above, the Gila County Courthouse (1906) is on the corner with a flag on the roof, across Oak Street from the Hotel Globe. The other building with a flag, farther down the street, is the Trust or European Building (1906). The photo (colorized) was undoubtedly taken from a balcony on the Dominion Hotel. In the distance you can just see the Old Dominion smelter smoke stack. The courthouse, now Cobre Valley Center for the Arts, is still a point of pride. The Trust Building burned in 2005.

The opening of large mines at the new town of Miami from 1907 to 1911, a few miles away, benefited the county seat. Copper production from Globe-Miami mines surpassed Bisbee in 1916 and remained in the lead until the 1930s. But while other copper mines in Arizona shifted to open pit extraction, the Old Dominion remained an underground operation. Tunneling reached the aquifer in 1894 and pumps had to be installed, adding to the cost. By 1914, 3.8 million gallons of water had to be brought to the surface every day. With the coming of the Great Depression copper mines all over the state closed, including the Old Dominion in 1931. It never reopened. When copper prices rose again the workforce in Globe drove to Miami for high paid jobs.

Transportation spending brings prosperity for many Arizona communities. While Globe remained far from a railroad mainline it did end up on well-traveled highways. In 1905, Globe became a freight hauling point on the newly constructed Apache Trail, a dirt road from Mesa to Roosevelt Dam and on to Globe and Miami. Most of this freight would come from Mesa, but the Southern Pacific railroad began bringing tourists to Globe. There, they would board buses for a scenic ride over the Apache Trail, returning to the train in Mesa. When transcontinental highways were built and lined with gasoline stations and motels, Globe was a stop on the Lee Highway beginning in 1921. Later it would be numbered US Highway 180 and by 1938 renumbered Highway 70. Another highway, connecting Phoenix with Springerville, Highway 60, was routed through Globe in 1932.

Travel on Highway 70 led to a healthy food and lodging industry at Globe’s northeast entrance, from the junction with Highway 60 to the downtown. The common design of cabins with garages around a central court provided a bed for the night. They were called auto courts or motor hotels or by some variation. The El Rey (still in business) opened in 1938 and probably issued this card the same year. “One of Arizona’s finest,” said the back of the postcard, “recommended by Duncan Hines.”

These photos appear to have been taken when the new eatery opened in December 1938. There’s a sign on the covered wagon tarp that says, “Welcome! You’re in the West. It doesn’t matter how you’re dressed.”

The last few decades have been brutal for Arizona copper towns, finally leaving most of Globe and Miami out of work. Housing development peaked and investors turned to driving up metal prices. Just before the present economic depression, high copper prices looked to reopen the Miami mines. In 2007 the Arizona Republic reported, “Many of Miami's houses and commercial buildings were abandoned years ago and are crumbling and uninhabitable. Neither Miami nor Globe, four miles to the east, has enough dwellings to accommodate the new miners and their families. Miami's aging water and sewer systems can barely handle existing residents, and in Globe there is little private land available on which to build homes.” Nobody expected copper prices to go up so fast, explained the Miami Vice Mayor.