Winslow, Arizona - A Town Worth Exploring
by Susan Woodward
From April through June 2011, I volunteered as an Interpretive Ranger at Petrified Forest National Park, near Holbrook, AZ. This gave me free hookups for my RV in return for four 8-hour days giving programs, hiking the trails and roving the park, always on the alert for anyone deciding to pocket a piece of the beautiful petrified wood.
Since my days off were busy with grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, and cooking - chores I lacked the time or inclination to do on my work days - I rarely ventured further than the very overpriced Safeway market in the town of Holbrook, about 24 miles away. But one day, I decided I really needed to go further, all the way to Winslow (58 miles), where the nearest Wal-Mart Supercenter was located.
Winslow is the town made famous by the Eagles’ song, “Take It Easy”,
with its line “…standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, what a fine sight to see.” The Standin’ on the Corner Park, featuring a two-story mural by artist John Pugh, and a life-size bronze sculpture of a man and his guitar by sculptor Ron Adamson, is located at the NW corner of Kinsley Avenue and Second Street, and attracts thousands of visitors who come to have their picture taken. I went to check out the corner (and have my picture taken, of course) and found myself fascinated by the history of the town.
The largest town in northern Arizona until the 1960s, Winslow is an early railroad division terminal in the Little Colorado River Valley, settled in the 1880s on the old Beale Wagon Road. (Back in 1857, Lt. Beale was given the job of building a wagon road following the 35th
parallel across New Mexico and Arizona. He did it, with camels – this is another very interesting story.) Winslow’s prominence was primarily due to its location on The Mother Road – Route 66 – which was totally paved through AZ by 1935.
The local Chamber of Commerce is located on Second Street (Historic Route 66) in the former Lorenzo Hubbell Trading Post and Warehouse. Hubbell was a famous early Indian Trader and his business is still carried on at the original Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, AZ, now owned by the National Park Service and designated a National Historic Site. The Second Street location is next to a siding on the Santa Fe RR; merchandise was shipped in and out here.
The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) came through Winslow and built a depot in 1930. This station was designed, as were many other stations along the railroad’s route, to also serve as a Harvey House restaurant and hotel. The gracious Spanish hacienda style was designed by Mary Colter, the architect who worked for both the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad. It was named “La Posada” (the resting place) and attracted many illustrious guests. Charles Lindbergh (who designed Winslow’s airport) honeymooned at La Posada, Howard Hughes and big-name movie stars were regular visitors.
Alas, automobiles and planes replaced train travel in the hearts of Americans who were now in too much of a hurry to stop for a visit in Winslow; railroad traffic and hotel bookings fell off; La Posada closed its doors in 1957. All the lovely furnishings were auctioned off, much of the building was gutted and the divisional offices of the Santa Fe Railway were moved in and stayed there until the 1990s. At that time the National Trust for Historic Preservation put La Posada on its endangered list.
As I-40 was completed across AZ in the 1970s, it bypassed Winslow and the town felt the effects, as did many other towns along the old Route 66.
Winslow is alive and well today, however, thanks in great measure to the restoration of La Posada which was started in the late 1990s and continues today. Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion, a husband and wife team, learned about the hotel, purchased it from the railroad in 1997, and with the support of hotel guests and local citizens committed to preserving this unique piece of their history, have brought this National Historic Landmark back to its former glory.
I treated myself to lunch in The Turquoise Room, La Posada’s beautiful restaurant and can’t say which was more wonderful – the food or the surroundings. La Posada is indeed a masterpiece.
After lunch, I visited Old Trails Museum in the center of the Historic District. Here I found collections of fossils, ancient Native American jewelry and pottery, Santa Fe RR artifacts, Harvey House and Harvey Girls memorabilia and photos from Winslow’s early days.
Just north of downtown Winslow is Homolovi Ruins State Park, an archaeological site dating back to the early 13th
century where ancestors of present day Hopis settled and farmed along the Little Colorado River. There are two main pueblo ruins, a visitor center/gift shop, and also an RV park with 53 spacious camping sites.
If all the above isn’t quite enough to tempt you to visit Winslow, AZ, its proximity to some other wonderful attractions should help to tip the scales: Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks, Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Walnut Canyon and Wupatki National Monuments, and the Hopi and Navajo Reservations.
So, whether you’re planning a vacation or making out your bucket list, plan on spending a little time in Winslow, AZ. You won’t regret it.
Article submitted Tuesday, June 14, 2011 & read 69 times.
Susan Woodward has lived in many parts of the U.S. and has always delighted in watching the birds in her various backyards, watching their fledglings grow and take wing each year, listening to their songs.
For years Susan had a dream of retiring and traveling the country in an RV, and in 2007 she took steps to start making that dream come true. She bought a Winnebago Sightseer and traveled to New Mexico and Arizona on a three month shakedown cruise. She was hooked!
In 2008, she sold her home in North Carolina and, with her cat, Bijou, took to the road again as a full time RVer. Her backyard has gotten a lot bigger and wherever she goes, there are birds.
She is the creator of a website dedicated to the various aspects of RVing. You can read about her adventures and misadventures at http://www.rv-adventuring.com.
Please log in to leave your comments.
No comments yet.
Copyright © 2012 IcoLogic, Inc.