www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 1
E SCAP E . EXP LOR E . EXPE R I ENCE
Apache Drive-In, Globe
DINERS, MOTELS & MORE
LET THERE BE LIGHTS
TURNING BACK THE PAGES
OF ARIZONA HIGHWAYS
Retro AZ 22
2 s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 1
◗ Western Motel on East Benson Highway in
Tucson. | TERRENCE MOORE
FRONT COVER Vintage cars reflect the sunset
at the Apache Drive-In in Globe, as Elvis
appears in a movie still from Blue Hawaii.
Movie scene by Michael Ochs/Gettyimages.
| PAUL MARKOW
BACK COVER Knickknacks from the Hackberry
General Store located along Historic Route 66
in Hackberry, Arizona. | RICHARD MAACK
11.11 Grand Canyon
• POINTS OF INTEREST IN THIS ISSUE
Photographic Prints Available
Prints of some photographs in this issue are
available for purchase. To view options, visit
www.arizonahighwaysprints.com. For more
information, call 866-962-1191.
2 EDITOR’S LETTER
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
5 THE JOURNAL
People, places and things from around the state,
including a nonconformist named Sjors who counts
condors and lives at Phantom Ranch; a Mexican res-taurant
in Phoenix where you’re encouraged to eat
with your hands; and a Q&A with Miss Arizona, who
shares her thoughts on hiking, chicken sandwiches and
18 RETRO AZ
Some pieces of the past — DDT, the Edsel, Tip-Toe
Thru’ the Tulips — are better left behind, but some
things are worth reliving. Things like ice-cream sodas,
Airstreams and drive-in movie theaters. Because of
Historic Route 66, Arizona has more than its share of
retro, but the chrome and neon aren’t limited to the
Mother Road. There are flashbacks all over the state.
BY KELLY KRAMER & KATHY RITCHIE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL MARKOW
34 GLIMMER OF HOPE
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that the vibrant
neon signs of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s were replaced
by mass-produced, backlit plastic eyesores. But they
were, to the point of near extinction. Fortunately, the
losses have fueled attempts to save what’s left, and
the flickering radiance of neon is making a come-back.
It’s early, but there are signs of life.
BY KATHY MONTGOMERY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY TERRENCE MOORE
42 GET A ROOM
Although “living in the past” is often said deroga-torily,
there’s nothing wrong with spending a
night or two in the good old days, especially if
you can get a room at the Valley Ho in Scotts-dale
or the Wigwam in Holbrook.
BY MARK SPIVAK
PHOTOGRAPHS BY KERRICK JAMES & CRAIG SMITH
46 TURNING BACK
As we were putting together this issue, and
thinking about the heyday of Historic Route
66, we started wondering what kinds of things
Arizona Highways was doing back in the ‘40s, ‘50s
and ‘60s. Turns out, there wasn’t anything too gaudy.
BY KATHY RITCHIE & KEITH WHITNEY
52 SCENIC DRIVE
Kentucky Camp: The route to this old
mine winds along the high-desert grass-lands
of scenic State Route 83, passing a
winery and historic ranch along the way.
54 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Mescal Ridge: Although it’s located in the Hellsgate
Wilderness, there’s nothing devilish about this hike.
Other than the first half-mile.
56 WHERE IS THIS?
Visit our website for details on weekend get-aways,
hiking, lodging, dining, photography
workshops, slideshows and more.
Check out our blog for regular posts on just
about anything having to do with travel in
Arizona, including Q&As with writers and
photographers, special events, bonus photos,
sneak peeks at upcoming issues and more.
Join our Facebook community to share your
photographs, chat with other fans, enter
trivia contests and receive up-to-the-minute
information about what’s going on behind
the scenes at Arizona Highways.
GET MORE ONLINE
2 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 3
As a fan of food, wine and culi-nary
travel, writer Mark Spivak
considered his retro hotels
assignment a dream come true
(see Get a Room, page 42). “For
me, these were places that
represented a lost America,
but not an America of that long
ago,” he says. Although he lives
in Florida, Spivak frequents
Arizona. His work has also appeared in Men’s Journal and National Geographic Traveler.
For photographer Terry Moore, neon signs represent
the “old” Arizona. “They were common before cor-porate
businesses and plastic signs snuffed out the
majority of neon,” Moore says. “I’ve always loved
the signs. In fact, I remember photographing Marie’s
Truck Stop in Benson in 1973, before I even moved
to Arizona.” Moore got another dose of neon when
he hit the road to shoot Glimmer of Hope (page 34),
and before long, the Minnesota native’s memories
of neon came flooding back. Moore’s work has also
appeared in The New York Times.
GOLD-’N’-OLDIES CAR CLUB
Globe’s Gold-’N’-Oldies car club revved up its engines
for this month’s cover shoot, which took place at
Globe’s Apache Drive-In (see page 31). “The photo
shoot was very interesting and a lot of fun,” says
Dorina Espinoza, the club’s vice president. “We had
19 cars — from a 1993 Corvette to a 1928 Model-A truck.” In addition to modeling for
magazine covers, the nonprofit club hosts an annual car show, which raises funds for
food banks, the Salvation Army, youth groups, St. Vincent de Paul and more. For
information about upcoming events, visit http://myweb.cableone.net/goldnoldies.
writers get bylines. And so do photographers. It’s the equivalent of Picasso
scribbling his name at the bottom of a painting. The difference, at least
in this analogy, is that words and photographs pass through a lot of
hands before ending up in a magazine. Picasso may have done all of the work on
Guernica, but what you see on the pages of Arizona Highways takes more collaboration
than that. This month’s cover photo is a good example.
The byline goes to Paul Markow, who is one of the most talented photographers
out there, but working the camera was only part of the shot. Somebody had to line
up those vintage cars. Somebody had to coordinate with the drive-in. And some-body
had to pray for an incredible sunset with a smattering of monsoon clouds
and not a drop of rain. Jennifer Irwin is that somebody. Think of her as Paul’s Miss
Moneypenny. Or, better yet, the Gwyneth Paltrow character in Iron Man. Jennifer is
incredible, and without her, we wouldn’t have a cover — if there were a place for a
byline, it would read: Behind-the-Scenes Brilliance by Jennifer Irwin.
We wouldn’t have a cover without Jeff Kida, either. Jeff is our photo editor, and
for years he’s been talking about doing a photo shoot at the Apache Drive-In. Jeff was
with Paul on the day the cover was shot, directing traffic, watching the weather,
being a photo editor. He also played the role of Grand Poobah during the preshoot
powwow at Paul’s studio, where Associate Editor Kathy Ritchie kept Jeff and Paul
on task — those two have a tendency to veer off down memory lane. Like Jeff and
Jennifer, Kat didn’t get a byline for the cover photo, but she did get a byline for the
cover story, which she co-wrote with Managing Editor Kelly Kramer.
It’s the anchor piece in our Retro AZ issue, and it spotlights 15 of our favorite places
to find ice-cream sodas, Airstreams, classic motels and more. Our objective was to dig
up places that give readers a chance to step back in time — places that haven’t really
changed since the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain in Phoenix fits the bill.
As Kat writes, “During the 1950s and 1960s, MacAlpine’s was ground zero for greasers
and pink ladies who would hang out and drink ice-cream sodas, egg creams and malts.”
The Saguaro Theatre in Wickenburg (1948),
the Hill Top Motel in Kingman (1954), the Gal-axy
Diner in Flagstaff (1958) and the Sugar Bowl
in Scottsdale (1958) are some of the other flash-backs
you’ll read about in For Old Times’ Sake. It’s
an old-time collection, and as you’ll see, Jennifer
(yes, that Jennifer) even managed to get Bil Keane
of Family Circus fame to sit for our photo shoot
at the Sugar Bowl. He’s 89, but as he told me
between bites of his sundae, “You’re never too old
for ice cream.” I didn’t ask, but I’m guessing he
has a similar affection for some of the other stuff
in this issue, including the neon signs.
Or maybe he doesn’t, but we certainly do.
That’s why we put together what started out to
be a portfolio of classic neon signs around the
state. The more we got into it, though, the more
we realized there was a story there, not just a
out, neon isn’t
dead, but it is on
are as old as
Glimmer of Hope.
evolve, new tech-nologies
the losses have
to save what
remains, with neon lovers storing signs in back-yards
hoping for a brighter future. Now neon is
seeing new light.”
It’s an encouraging story, one that had us flip-ping
through back issues of Arizona Highways in
search of neon. Frankly, we didn’t find a lot, but
we did come across some interesting content from
the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. In Turning Back the Pages, we
share a few of our favorite clips. The magazine
was very different then, but one thing is exactly
the same: The words and photographs passed
through a lot of hands before ending up on those
pages. Josef Muench may have gotten the byline
for the cover photo in November 1969, but you can
be sure he had some help along the way.
ROBERT STIEVE, editor
If you like what you see in this
magazine every month, check
out Arizona Highways Television,
an Emmy Award-winning pro-gram
hosted by former news
anchor Robin Sewell. For broad-cast
times, visit our website,
click the Arizona Highways Televi-sion
link on our home page.
ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/azhighways.
Behind the Bylines
Cartoonist Bil Keane (center) with (left to
right) Kelly Kramer, Jeff Kida and Robert
N OV EMB E R 2 0 1 1 V O L . 8 7, N O. 1 1
Arizona Highways® (ISSN 0004-1521) is published
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Subscription price: $24 a year in the U.S., $44 outside the
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Letters to the Editor
2039 W. Lewis Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85009
JANICE K. BREWER
Director, Department of Transportation
JOHN S. HALIKOWSKI
Arizona Transportation Board
WILLIAM J. FELDMEIER
BARBARA ANN LUNDSTROM
FELIPE ANDRES ZUBIA
VICTOR M. FLORES
STEPHEN W. CHRISTY
KELLY O. ANDERSON
Apache Drive-In, Globe
diners, motels & more
let tHere be liGHts
tUrninG baCK tHe PaGes
of arizona HiGHWaYs
Retro AZ 22
4 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1
letters to the editor
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 5
A VOTE FOR STATE PARKS
I applaud the various entities that
ensure access to our state parks, but I
firmly believe that the role of govern-ment
is to take care of the things that
shouldn’t need to turn a profit. The
May 2011 article titled The State of Our
State Parks neglected the most impor-tant
action readers should take to save
our parks system: Contact your state
representatives and vote.
ADAM BACK, TUCSON
GOING THROUGH FIRE
I was so moved by your September
2011 editor’s letter that I must thank
you. You finally put into words much
of what I’ve been feeling as I followed
the course of the Horseshoe Two Fire.
I arrived in Portal for three glorious
days of hiking in the Chiricahuas on
the day the fire started, only to be
evacuated before midnight the same
night. I hiked and looked for birds
in other favorite places in Southern
Arizona for 10 days, but concern over
the devastation taking place in the
Chiricahua Mountains was constantly
in my thoughts. With disbelief, I fol-lowed
the fire online after returning
to Colorado as it continued to devour
those forests. I mourned the inevitable
loss to the wildlife and habitat, the
losses for Portal citizens who depend
on tourism, and the losses to the
ranching community of the region. I
rejoiced that the American Museum
of Natural History Research Station
was spared. Friends and family tried
but simply couldn’t comprehend why
this was hitting me so hard. Then
subsequent fires began to ravage the
Huachucas and began to burn into
Sycamore Canyon and my anxiety
increased. So, again, thank you for let-ting
me know that my feelings of loss
are understood and shared.
ANN ADNET, MONUMENT, COLORADO
FOR LAND SAKES
What the Magoffins are doing in
regard to protecting endangered
plants and animals on their ranch
is commendable [Ranchers With a
Reputation, August 2011]; however, I
take exception to the opening salvo
that “ranchers and environmental-ists
are rarely on the same page and
they’re even less likely to be one
and the same.” This type of broad
statement is unhelpful and only per-petuates
a stereotype. The ranchers I
know in both Arizona and Kansas are
conservationists. Painting all ranch-ers
with a broad brush of irrespon-sible
land management discourages
a reasonable dialogue on national
issues of environmental importance.
MARGARET HALL, SHAWNEE MISSION, KANSAS
FROM THE TOP
I’ve just opened my advance copy of
the September 2011 issue. To say that
I was over the top with excitement
would be an understatement! The
layout itself and the comments on
Sunset of the Century were breathtak-ing.
This honor has filled my entire
being with a new sense of confidence
and striving to become an even better
photographer. Thousands of entries?
Wow. I feel quite humbled.
BEVERLY COPEN, SEDONA, ARIZONA
EDITOR’S NOTE: Beverly Copen was the winner of
our 2010 online photo contest. To enter this year’s
contest, visit www.arizonahighways.com.
LET HIKING DOGS HIKE
I have to admit, I was a little taken
aback by the letter in the August 2011
issue from David Vick in Scottsdale
regarding the Summer Hiking Guide
[June 2011]. As an avid Arizona
Highways reader and amateur hiker, I
covet the hiking issues because I’m
always looking for new places to hike
and explore. My little family includes
my husband and our three dogs, and
we all enjoy hiking together. The first
thing I check under the trail guide is
the “dogs allowed” section to make
sure my whole family can make the
trip. We always head up to the White
Mountains for our trips, and rarely
come across other hikers. So how this
gentleman can be “irritated” by the
four-legged presence blows my mind,
because I never see any other dogs.
ZAENEB TRAYLOR, GILBERT, ARIZONA
Thank you for including the photo-graph
of the girl walking through the
antique wooden door at the mission
[Winners, September 2011]. That might
have been myself in August of 1945,
when we were on our way to live in
Nogales. Many aspects of that picture
speak to me.
GWENDOLYN GOWING, SALEM, OREGON
If you have
we’d love to hear
from you. We can
be reached at
by mail at 2039
W. Lewis Avenue,
85009. For more
THE JOURNAL 11.11
people > lodging > photography > centennial > dining > nature > things to do > > > >
The Ladder Part
Antelope Canyon is one of
the most photographed slot
canyons in the Southwest. This
photograph, however, is unique
because of its absence of color.
The result? The viewer can bet-ter
concentrate on the dramatic
form, contour and sinuous
curves of the slot, juxtaposed
against the manmade ladder
that’s illuminated from above.
Information: Navajo Nation Parks
& Recreation, 928-871-6636 or
6 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 7
THE JOURNAL > people
— Dave Pratt is the host of Dave
Pratt Live on 103.9 FM in Phoenix
SJORS STANDS ON a point high above the
Colorado River, sweeping something that
looks like a TV antenna from
side to side. A connected radio
On this spring day, Sjors wears a
National Park Service shirt, Guess jeans
and regulation fleece. A wiry ponytail
pokes from the back of his ball cap.
At 55, Sjors’ olive skin shows the effects
of years spent outdoors. Creases at the
corners of his eyes deepen as he squints at
the radio, his fingers twirling through fre-quencies
as if scanning for a favorite radio
“I got one,” he says, finally. “Real faint.
Two ninety-seven, a female. I’m checking
other frequencies to see if anyone else is
Beeping noises, steady as a heartbeat,
emerge from the static.
“Four twenty-three,” Sjors says, raising a
large pair of binoculars. “I’ve never had this
The beeping grows louder, then fades.
“They’re flying,” Sjors says. “Probably
After what feels like a long time, he says:
“I’ve got something. See them?”
The condors look tiny, two specks cir-cling
in the sky, barely identifiable by their
flat wingspan and fingered wingtips.
It’s a familiar sight for Sjors, who knows
as much about the Grand Canyon’s Cali-fornia
condors as anyone. He keeps track
of them using radio telemetry and records
their activities for the Park Service. He
speaks of them like friends, recalling
which had babies, fledged or died. What he
knows he learned from watching, which is
also how he knows about whales and red-bud
trees and, for that matter, people who
hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
For 23 years, Sjors has volunteered at
Phantom Ranch Ranger Station, where he’s
become an institution. People he doesn’t
recognize call him by name. Not just at
Phantom, but while whale-watching in the
San Juan Islands or hiking in Costa Rica.
People stop him and say, “Hey! You’re Sjors!”
Born in the Netherlands, Sjors immi-grated
to the United States when he was
4, and grew up in the tough Los Angeles
suburb of Inglewood.
For most of his life, people called him
by his last name because they didn’t know
how to pronounce Sjors. So he stopped
using the surname. When people ask,
he tells them his name is “Sjors, like
ocean shores,” slightly modifying the
Growing up, Sjors’ parents took him
camping every weekend and on longer
trips in summer, visiting all the national
parks in the Western U.S. and Canada. He
Counting His Blessings
Sjors (no last name) spent a good chunk of his life exploring
the planet — Indonesia, Australia, Africa. Then he got a job
counting whales. It was good work, but then he got a job
counting condors in the Grand Canyon. For the 55-year-old
vagabond, it doesn’t get any better than that.
By KATHY MONTGOMERY
What’s your favorite place in Arizona?
The desert washes in Tucson, because the
desert has a lot of personal history for me.
My great-great-grandfather was sheriff of
Pima County when Arizona became a state,
and my relatives were cattle ranchers, so
when I was younger, my family would take me
on walks through the wash and tell me stories
about what life was like on the ranch.
How would you describe Arizona to Miss
A lot of people from other states have this
image in their heads of Arizona being one
huge, hot, dry strip of desert that’s infested
with rattlesnakes. I love telling them about
Lake Havasu, the snowy forests in Northern
Arizona, Sedona’s red rocks ...
What do you like to do when you get some
During the school year at the University of
Arizona, I loved getting off campus and going
hiking with my friends on a Saturday morning.
Where does a beauty queen go for authentic
Flancer’s in Gilbert has a prickly-pear-mari-nated
If you could have an Arizona celebrity as your
neighbor, who would it be?
I’d definitely choose Steven Seagal. He’s a
great guy — very kind and down to earth,
despite his sizeable stature.
Three words to describe Arizona to the judges.
Magnificent. Sunny. Home.
laughs as he recalls his first glimpse of
the Grand Canyon.
“I remember exactly what I thought,” he
says. “It was summertime, it was hot and
I looked down and thought, ‘Only an idiot
would go down there.’ ”
In those days, Sjors didn’t think much
about what work he’d do. He dreamed of
where he’d go. He wanted to visit a jungle
and a desert. He wanted to see Africa.
After graduation, Sjors repaired TVs in
people’s homes. “I’m not quite sure how
that happened, because I have absolutely
no interest in it,” he says. “It’s like I was
on an assembly line, only I was the one
Then he started traveling. Sjors back-packed
in Tahiti, then took a year off to
drive around the U.S. and Canada, return-ing
to work when funds got low. He took
another year to travel around the Pacific,
visiting Indonesia, where his mother was
born, and Thailand, Singapore and Nepal.
He toured Australia, New Zealand and
Europe. He made it to Africa.
“I made money, but I didn’t spend much,”
he says. “I lived in the back of somebody’s
house and paid very little. When I trav-eled,
I never ate at restaurants. I never
stayed at hotels. I camped in national
Then he went to Hawaii. Sjors saw a
volcano erupt and his world stopped.
“It was spectacular,” he recalls. “And it
slapped me in the face. You need to get off
Sjors realized he’d been moving too fast.
He wanted to slow down, get to know
a single place. Life was too short to fix
people’s TVs, he thought. So he returned
to California and watched whales.
“It was just an interest,” he explains. “I
used to go to Palos Verdes and watch
whales. While I was watching the whales,
I decided to count the whales. This
woman came by. She goes, ‘What are you
“I said, ‘I’m counting whales.’
“She goes, ‘How many whales have you
“I said, ‘Thirty so far today.’
“It turns out she was part of a census
and they had counted 30 whales that day.
So she talked me into joining.”
Sjors quit his job to count whales,
sleeping in his truck at night. Then he
heard about a study on the Colorado
River. Seeing it as a way to raft the river
for free, Sjors signed on, and spent 18 days
at Hance Rapids.
“What I didn’t realize was I would fall
in love with [the Canyon].”
The next spring, Sjors volunteered as
North Rim campground host, then con-tinued
on, doing maintenance. He helped
out at Roaring Springs, then landed at
Phantom Ranch, where he could stay
At Phantom, he became an extra hand
for the rangers and got involved with a
revegetation project that started in 1981.
By his own count, between November
1988 and October 1994, Sjors planted more
than 200 trees, including mesquites, ashes
and Goodding’s willows. He stopped
counting, but guesses he’s planted at least
100 more. He’s proudest of the redbuds.
“I had to experiment,” he says. “I boiled
the seeds for one minute exactly, then put
the seeds under water for 12 hours. Then I
put them under a wet towel for four days.
I got egg cartons and put dirt in there,
and put it in the sun for so many hours
and kept it wet. That’s where these guys
are from. So they’re my babies.”
Then the condors arrived.
“I remember the first condor,” Sjors says.
“It was flying along the rim, a little speck.
It must have been somewhere around ’96.
And I thought, OK, there’s no whales here, I’ll
But more than trees or condors, Sjors
got to know people.
A few stand out: the circus performer
from Sweden who hiked down on stilts,
the cross-country cyclists who carried the
wheels of their bikes, a pair of overweight
women who had never hiked in their lives
and arrived with their legs rubbed raw.
“They laughed at themselves for getting
into this predicament,” Sjors recalls. “They
wanted to continue to the North Rim, and
I assumed they’re not coming back. They’d
take the shuttle. No. They came right back.
They said they couldn’t believe the shuttle
was 65 bucks. ‘We’re not paying 65 bucks!’
So they went back across the Canyon.”
All these experiences have rooted Sjors
to this place, where he’s content to sit and
watch the world go by.
“I can’t imagine leaving,” he says. “It’s
part of me.”
P R A T T ’ S Q&A
THE JOURNAL > people
G R A N D
C A N Y O N
Walking around the Canyon, Sjors feels
a deep connection to the place he has
called home for the past 23 years.
8 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 9
Dawn Kish Rocks
We see hundreds of impressive portfolios, and we have the privilege of working
with some of the best photographers in the Southwest. Dawn Kish of Flagstaff
is on that list. This is one of her first shots for us, and there’s more
to come — you’ll be seeing a lot of Dawn Kish in 2012.
By JEFF KIDA, photo editor
WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH and rents are high, the hospitality industry can be a little inhos-pitable.
Weary travelers must sometimes endure the contempt of underpaid and over-worked
hotel staff, fees for everything from toilet paper to tap water, and a D.I.Y. vacation
style that takes the word “vacation” right out of your vacation. For travelers in metro Phoe-nix,
the team at the Wigwam Resort is committed to reversing that trend and sticking to
the fundamental principles of hospitality.
In 2010, Jerry Colangelo (the NBA Hall of Famer and legendary architect
of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks) and his partners poured
$7 million into the restoration of Colangelo’s favorite West Valley retreat. A
year later, the spectacular 440-acre Wigwam Resort is once again turning heads.
Built in 1918 amid the cotton fields of Goodyear, the Wigwam was originally known as the
Organization House, a small gathering place for visiting executives of the Goodyear Tire &
Rubber Co. In 1929, the owners expanded the property, renamed it the Wigwam, and opened
it to the public as a full-service dude ranch. Years later, it was transformed once again into a
sprawling resort that boasted a whopping 54 holes of golf and a trendsetting clientele.
Around that same time, the owners also hired allegorist Les Sossaman, who, after 44 years
of service, still stands in the Wigwam’s entrance, eagerly greeting guests with a “Hi folks!” and
all the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning. Sossaman, who was brought on as a bellman
in 1968, is the archetype of the Wigwam’s excessively hospitable and undyingly loyal staff, and
he can tell you all there is to know about the resort’s intriguing history. Among other things,
he’ll tell you about the time he manned the Wigwam’s 1973 Elektra Records bash with Carly
At Your Service
High thread counts, manicured putting greens and gourmet food are
prerequisites for any great resort. What sets the Wigwam apart is its
commitment to five-star customer service — at this historic retreat,
everyone is treated like Joe DiMaggio.
By MARYAL MILLER
Simon and Bread; how he chauffeured sports
legends like Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Joe
DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson; and how he
watched gaggles of famous ladies like Mary
Tyler Moore and the Judds breeze through
He’ll also tell you that after a heartbreak-ing
decade of watching the Wigwam battle
the perils of multiple ownerships and eco-nomic
downturns, Sossaman is thrilled to see
that his beloved resort is back among Arizo-na’s
elite. And that its iconic wood-beamed
archway is back in its rightful place at the
entrance, its reimagined and rejuvenated
Main Lodge is at once opulent and inviting,
and all of its 331 casita-style rooms honor
their Old West inspiration with style.
Combine those things with Colangelo’s
dedication to preserve the vintage charm
and old-fashioned spirit of service that made
so many fall in love with the resort in its
younger years, and the Wigwam glimmers
like a mirage at the end of a dark desert high-way.
It’s magnificent, and if you squint hard
enough, you can almost see a young Don
from the mist and
serving up wine.
It’s exactly what a
vacation should be.
The Wigwam Resort is
located at 300 E. Wigwam
Boulevard in Litchfield
Park. For more information,
call 623-935-3811 or visit
IN THE RAW
While most photog-raphers
shoot in JPEG
format, more shades
and colors are avail-able
by shooting in
RAW. JPEG captures
about 17 million tones.
In RAW, that number
hits 4.3 trillion, which
is particularly helpful
when it comes to
within shadows. RAW
preserves about 500
shadow tones per
channel; JPEG is
THEJOURNAL > photography
THE JOURNAL > lodging
DAWN KISH SHOOTS what she loves — people and nature. And when those passions
combine, as they did in this photograph, she gets especially excited. Kish made this
photograph while rock-climbing with friends near Lees Ferry. Before settling on her
vantage point in the shadows, Kish worked the entire perimeter of the location. She
chose this angle because of the unusual silhouette that was created by the balanced
boulder against the distant red hills. If you’re looking for a cliché in a Dawn Kish
photograph, you won’t find one. She subscribes to a “careful observation of self”
philosophy, both in the field and in the editing of her work. She’s always thinking:
How could this be better? Is there another angle or approach for next time?
A climber stands beneath a boulder near Lees Ferry. | DAWN KISH
O N L I N E For more lodging in Arizona, visit www.arizonahighways.com/travel/lodging.asp.
Look for our book Arizona
Guide, available at book-stores
O N L I N E
For more photography
tips, visit www.arizona
L I T C H F I E L D
P A R K
Enter our monthly caption contest by scanning
this QR code with your smart phone or visiting
10 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1
ARIZONA BEGAN ITS ninth decade by
healing an old wound.
In 1992, voters approved a paid state
holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Although Arizona was the first state to use
the public vote to calendar MLK Day, citi-zens
had previously turned down a holiday
at the ballot box. They’d also seen a gov-ernor
rescind the holiday and watched the
legislature repeatedly refuse to act, making
the Grand Canyon State the last state to
publicly honor the civil rights hero.
While Arizona was behind the times in
honoring King, it was ahead of the curve
when it came to installing women as public
officials. In 1998, Arizona elected women
to its top five public offices: Republican
Governor Jane Dee Hull; Republican Sec-retary
of State Betsey Bayless; Democratic
Attorney General Janet Napolitano; Repub-lican
Treasurer Carol Springer; and Repub-lican
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Lisa Graham Keegan. Justice Sandra Day
O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the
U.S. Supreme Court, swore them into office
in January 1999 (pictured below).
Sadly, Arizona also grieved around the
same time, when two of its political giants
— Barry Goldwater and Morris Udall —
died in 1998.
In Arizona’s ninth decade, women take center stage in state politics,
two spelunkers unveil an underground cathedral near Benson, and
the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in what
many consider to be one of the best World Series ever.
By JANA BOMMERSBACH
Apart from the state’s political
landscape, its natural landscape was
making news, as well, particularly
at Kartchner Caverns State Park,
which opened in 1999. Gary Tenen
and Randy Tufts discovered the 2.5-
mile cave system in 1974 and quietly
explored it for four years before
telling landowners James and Lois
Kartchner. Decades later, the state
purchased the land and developed the
“living” caves for public enjoyment.
The caverns were a welcome addi-tion
to the state’s portfolio, and so was
the arrival of NHL hockey. In 1996,
the Phoenix Coyotes, a professional
ice hockey team from Winnipeg, took
the ice in Phoenix. That same year,
Arizona hosted its first Super Bowl.
College championships came to Arizona, as well, thanks to the
University of Arizona’s 1997 victory in the NCAA men’s basketball
tournament. In 1998, Arizona welcomed its first professional base-ball
team, and just a year later, in their second season, the Arizona
Diamondbacks won the National League Western Division Cham-pionship.
In 2001, the Diamondbacks made history by becoming
the youngest expansion team to ever win the World Series. They
defeated the New York Yankees in seven games, capping what
many consider to be one of the best World Series ever.
Another first, but not the kind to brag about, occurred on Sep-tember
5, 1997. That’s when citizens saw their second governor in
nine years removed from office in disgrace.
Republican Governor Fife Symington
resigned after being convicted of federal
bank fraud. His conviction was overturned
in 1999, but before the government could
retry him, President Bill Clinton pardoned
Symington. By then, the former governor
had gone to cooking school.
Through all of the ups and downs,
Arizona’s growth was consistently up.
Mid-decade, the state boasted 4 million
residents, and by 2000, it was 5 million.
THEJOURNAL > centennial THEJOURNAL > centennial
EDITOR’S NOTE: In Febru-ary
2012, Arizona will
celebrate 100 years of
statehood, and Arizona
Highways will publish a
special Centennial issue.
Leading up to that mile-stone,
a 10-part history of the
state. This is Part 9.
ARIZONA: THEN & NOW
FOR 32 YEARS, the Ciné Capri stood at the corner of 24th Street and Camel-back
Road in Phoenix. It opened with a showing of The Agony and the Ecstasy
and, despite preservationists’ best efforts, it closed with an ironic showing
of Titanic on January 5, 1998. Six weeks later, the beloved theater was demol-ished.
Today, an office building stands where the theater once did, and Har-kins
has resurrected the Ciné Capri at two locations in metro Phoenix.
Former state legislator Polly Rosenbaum and U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (fourth
and fifth from left) attended the swearing-in of
Arizona’s “Fab Five” in January 1999. From left: Lisa
Graham Keegan, Janet Napolitano, Jane D. Hull,
Rosenbaum, O’Connor, Carol Springer and Betsey
Bayless. | ARIZONA STATE ARCHIVES
1 9 9 2 - 2 0 0 1
February 14, 1992:
“Symington Seeks Tax Cut:
Program Decried as ‘Shell Game’ ”
— The Arizona Republic
September 17, 1993:
“DeConcini Bitterly Drops
— Arizona Daily Star
January 25, 1994:
“Taps for Bugel: Cards Coach
Fired After 4 Seasons”
— Mesa Tribune
August 25, 1994:
“More Trouble for McCain?
Ex-Worker: Cindy Demanded
Perjury in Adoption”
— Phoenix Gazette
April 16, 1995:
“An Acre An Hour; The Price
of Sprawl — A Delicate Balance:
Can Growing Valley Still
— The Arizona Republic
May 7, 1996:
“If a Wilderness Could Weep:
Four Peaks’ Lush Ponderosa
Pine Forest Now an Apocalyptic
Landscape of Ash, Memories”
— The Arizona Republic
June 9, 1997:
“Kyl Betting Against Online
Gambling: Senator Says Law
Needs to Catch Up With
— The Arizona Republic
August 8, 1999:
“Free Ticket to Speed: Time,
Officer Shortages Lead
to Fast Freeways”
— Mesa Tribune
IN THE NEWS
CRAIG SMITH THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC
• A first-class postage
stamp cost 29 cents
• Billboard’s No. 1 song
in 1996 was Macarena
by Los del Rio.
• Manufacturing jobs
accounted for 10.5
percent of state
employment in 1998.
• Until 1999, the state
had only two area
codes: 602 and 520.
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 11
12 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 13
THEJOURNAL > centennial
Silkie Perkins likes to paint, but don’t ask her if she
considers herself an artist. She doesn’t. She’s a rancher
through and through. Five generations have worked
the Perkins Ranch — a rolling swath of land near the
Verde River, north of Clarkdale — since it was estab-lished
at the turn of the 20th century. And, just as art
has evolved, so has the art of cattle-ranching. “There’s
always been a lot of fluctuation in the market, as well
as in the weather,” Perkins says. “We’ve seen a lot of
droughts and seen everything come back. Everything
is cyclical.” Though the rains and the price of beef may
change, Perkins’ love of ranching doesn’t. “This is a way
of life,” she says. “I’m free. I’m at no man’s beck and call.
It’s a whole life, a heritage.” Scott Baxter photographed
Perkins at Baker’s Pass Tank on May 21, 2011, at 6 p.m.
RANCH, est. 1900
BY K ELLY K R AMER | P HOTOGR A PH B Y S COTT B A XTER
EDITOR’S NOTE: “100 Years, 100 Ranchers” has been designated an official
Centennial Legacy Project. Every month, we’ll be featuring one of the ranch-ers.
It’s part of our own Centennial coverage, which will continue through
February 2012. For more information about “100 Years, 100 Ranchers,” visit
14 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 15
THEJOURNAL > nature
GALLO BLANCO CAFÉ & Bar doesn’t look like the kind of restaurant that would serve
up traditional Mexican street food. Located inside the refurbished Clarendon Hotel in
uptown Phoenix, the place is decidedly more hipster chic — with its stained concrete
floors, brightly colored walls, recycled furnishings and exposed ducts — than it is food
cart. Even the crowd, a mix of business professionals, young families, older couples and
skinny-jean types, add to Gallo Blanco’s eclectic vibe.
This isn’t your typical Mexican-food joint.
But once you taste the food that comes out of chef/owner Doug Robson’s kitchen, you’ll
understand why people keep coming back — often for seconds and thirds. Growing up in
Mexico City, Robson lived off street food, so it makes sense that he’d model
his own menu after the food he loved.
But it’s not just Robson’s cook-what-you-love philosophy that has made
Gallo Blanco a hit. It’s the fact that his food is made with the freshest ingredients possible
and sourced from local vendors and farms. Nothing is frozen. Everything is made to order
— like the guacamole, for instance. As soon as an order is placed, the avocados are cracked
open and mixed with Roma tomatoes, navel orange segments, fresh jalapeños, onions and
cilantro. The whole thing is topped off with cotija cheese.
After noshing on the guacamole, be sure to try Robson’s street tacos. They fit perfectly
in one hand, but sustain diners with a sampling of all four food groups. In fact, the tacos
are so good, they’ve secured Gallo Blanco’s place as a destination for street taco connois-seurs
— for better or for worse.
“Gallo Blanco wasn’t intended to be a taco shop,” says Susan Burgos, Gallo Blanco’s gen-eral
manager. “We wanted to offer fine dining — quality food — at street vendor prices.”
With five different kinds of tacos to choose from — pork, carne asada, fish, shrimp and
veggie — each ranging in price from $2 to $3.50, it’s easy to suffer from eyes-bigger-than-stomach
syndrome. That’s OK. It’s worth sampling all five tacos.
The savory carne asada features a marinated slab of mesquite-grilled ribeye, topped
with a fire-roasted tomato salsa. The cochinita, or pork, taco has a salty-sweetness to it,
Although it’s located on an avenue in uptown Phoenix,
Gallo Blanco is creating a buzz with its traditional Mexican
street food. But don’t let the hipster chic digs fool you.
The food is down-home and delicious.
By KATHY RITCHIE
probably because it’s slow-braised in a
curious concoction made from beer, Coca-
Cola, chiles, onions and pineapple for four
hours, all while wrapped in a banana leaf.
The veggie tacos are stuffed with seasonal
vegetables, pico de gallo and a dash of gua-camole.
The fish selection varies, but just
like the shrimp taco, there’s no skimping
on quality or quantity here.
Gallo Blanco also dishes out some other
very good eats, including tortas (sand-wiches)
and elote callejero (grilled corn on
the cob), as well as house specialty items
like their half pollo asado and posole. You can
also order breakfast all day.
As for beverages, expect some popular
Mexican brands, including Coke “Hecho in
Mexico.” And, yes, margaritas. The fresh-squeezed
juices probably have something
to do with their deliciousness. “Pretty
much all we do is prep,” says Burgos. “I
have a bartender who preps for like three
or four hours just to make the mixes for the
entire day — we make everything.”
Since opening its doors in 2009, Gallo
Blanco (which is Mexican slang for “white
guy” and happens to refer to Robson) is
doing rather well, especially among people
living in the area. But, then again, that was
the point. “We want to be a neighborhood
place that happens to serve really good
Mexican food,” Burgos says. “We want to
and we want the
food to be simple.”
Gallo Blanco is located at
401 W. Clarendon Avenue
in Phoenix. For more infor-mation,
or visit www.galloblanco
“ laid back” isn’t the first thing that comes to
mind when people think about snakes, but
the Arizona elegans, or glossy snake, is pretty
much that. In fact, you might say that glossy
snakes are a bit too mellow. “There’s nothing
really spectacular about them,” says Paula
Swanson, manager of reptiles, amphibians
and invertebrates at the Phoenix Zoo.
Despite being the low men on the reptilian
totem pole, glossies do have one distinctive
characteristic that sets them apart from
other Arizona snakes: They have incredibly
smooth, glossy skin, which distinguishes
them from similar-looking gopher snakes.
And that glossy skin comes in a variety of
patterns and colors, including shades of gray,
tan, brown and even pink.
Unlike their more nefarious relatives,
glossy snakes are nonvenomous. But when
confronted with a human, they might try to
mimic rattlesnakes by vibrating their tails.
Unfortunately, these snakes, which average
3 feet in length, aren’t masters of disguise.
What’s more, when handled by humans, they
seldom bite — despite having a set of curved,
needle-like teeth. And even if a glossy did try
to sink its not-so-ferocious teeth into you, it
probably wouldn’t leave much of a mark. “A
smaller glossy could barely puncture your
skin,” Swanson says. “I’d much rather get bit
by a glossy snake than a dog or cat.”
It seems the only animals these constric-tors
frighten are their prey, which includes
small mammals and lizards.
With that kind of reputation — or lack
thereof — glossies simply try to avoid humans
and other predators (“They’re a good bite-sized
snack for roadrunners,” Swanson notes)
by being nocturnal. During the day, they’re
likely hiding underground — their narrow,
pointed heads make them efficient burrowers.
There are three subspecies of Arizona
elegans: The desert glossy snake, which can
be found in Western and Southwestern
Arizona; the Arizona glossy snake, which
inhabits the south-central part of the state;
and the Painted Desert glossy snake, which
can be found in Northeastern Arizona and
the southeastern part of the state.
Despite their mild-mannered reputation,
glossies do become active in the springtime,
when it’s time to court. Not much is known
about their breeding habits, but according to
Randy Babb, a biologist for the Arizona Game
and Fish Department, glossies are probably
no different than other snakes when it comes
to mating. After the female releases a scent
trail, which the male then follows, the snakes
intertwine their tails and lie next to each
other. The female will lay a clutch of about a
half-dozen eggs, and, come July or August,
the eggs will hatch.
If you do happen upon a glossy snake,
remember, they’re actually quite gentle. And
should you feel the urge to pick it up, don’t.
There’s a reason glossy snakes come out only
at night, spending their days below the sur-face,
far, far away from you.
Nothing to Be Afraid of Cross paths with a glossy
snake and you might mistake it for a rattler. But don’t be fooled. Although
glossies resemble their more ferocious counterparts, their bark is worse
than their bite. By KATHY RITCHIE
BRUCE D. TAUBERT
Although roadrunners are best known for
their land speed — they can hit speeds up
to 18 mph — they’re also savvy predators,
fueling their sprints with snakes, lizards,
insects and even baby quails. When road-runners
sense danger and when they’re
running downhill, they’ll briefly take
flight, but their short wings don’t allow
them to remain airborne for long. The
birds, which are common across the des-ert
Southwest, nest in bushes, cactuses
and small trees.
BRUCE D. TAUBERT
O N L I N E For more dining in Arizona, visit www.arizonahighways.com/travel/dining.asp.
P H O E N I X
THEJOURNAL > dining
16 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1
NOV EMBER 2 6 -2 7 W ICK EN BURG
Prepare to be dazzled at this 11th annual gem
show. More than 40 dealers will be on hand
to show off their semiprecious stones,
fossils, gems and minerals. Besides perusing
the rocks, visitors can sit in on demonstra-tions
and even learn how to make jewelry.
COLORADO RIVER CROSSING BALLOON FESTIVAL
XANTERRA PARKS & RESORTS
Veterans Day Parade
NOV EMB ER 1 1 P HOENI X
Celebrate Veterans Day by honoring the men and women in uniform at this year’s VA Veter-ans
Day Parade in downtown Phoenix. With floats, bands, military vehicles, a military flyover
and the 108th Army National Guard Band on hand to pay tribute to these heroes, the event
highlights the contributions of the more than 300,000 veterans in Maricopa County who have
defended our freedom. Information: www.phoenix.va.gov
The Polar Express
NOV EMB E R 1 1 – JANUA RY 7 W I L L I AMS
Get into the holiday spirit by riding on the Grand Canyon Railway’s
Polar Express. Trains depart from Williams for an exciting journey to
the “North Pole.” Once on-board, guests can sit back, relax and enjoy
a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie, all while listening to the classic holi-day
story. Information: 800-843-8724 or www.thetrain.com
THEJOURNAL > things to do
— Compiled by Dan Jacka & Kathy Ritchie
NOV EMB E R 1 8 -2 0 Y UMA
Visitors can expect a colorful three days as
the Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival
takes off and celebrates its 21st year. Every
morning, balloons will be inflated and sent
floating above the Sonoran Desert. The fam-ily
friendly event culminates with the annual
AEA Federal Credit Union Glow, where the
balloons, tethered to the ground, burn at full
blast, lighting up the night sky. Information:
928-783-007 or www.visityuma.com
NOV EMB E R 1 2 S AHUA R I TA
With thousands of attendees expected at this
year’s “nut” fest, the folks behind this official
Centennial event have decided to mix things
up. Visitors can expect extended hours and farm displays, as well as
educational activities and live entertainment. But the best part might
be the local foods, products and crafts from the Santa Cruz River Val-ley.
Information: 520-820-3299 or www.sahuaritapecanfestival.com
N O V EMB E R 5
Former Arizona High-ways
photo editor J.
Peter Mortimer has
been selling pho-tographs
than 25 years. He’s
shot everything from
weddings and por-traits
to news assign-ments
for Time, The
New York Times and
the Los Angeles Times.
Using his experience
as a guide, he’ll give
you tips on how you
can put your cre-ative
ideas to work.
7042 or www.friends
18 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1
Some pieces of the past — DDT, the Edsel, Tip-Toe Thru’
the Tulips — are better left behind, but some things are
worth reliving. Things like ice-cream sodas, Airstreams and
drive-in movie theaters. Because of Historic Route 66,
Arizona has more than its share of retro, but the chrome and
neon aren’t limited to the Mother Road. There are flashbacks
all over the state.
BY KELLY KRAMER & KATHY RITCHIE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL MARKOW
Talk about the hostess with
the mostest! Wearing her
poodle skirt for that 1950s
feel, this hostess helps treat
guests at the Galaxy Diner
in Flagstaff to a truly retro
20 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 21
Vinyl booths, jukeboxes, a checkerboard floor and
a handful of neon signs give Flagstaff’s Galaxy
Diner the feel of an authentic 1950s diner. Well,
those details, and the fact that Galaxy is, in
fact, an authentic 1950s diner — it opened along
Historic Route 66 in 1958, but wasn’t renamed the
Galaxy Diner until 1995. Talk to people who’ve
been there, and they’ll say things like, “They’ve got
the neon, the jukebox, the black-and-white photos
of stars like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean on
the walls, and just the kind of food you’d expect
for breakfast — coffee in thick, white mugs; excel-lent
crispy, spicy home fries; and eggs any way
you’d like.” In a nutshell, the diner’s a flashback,
but the food is fresh — and it’s out of this world.
Information: 931 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, 928-774-2466
Nothing sets the tone in a ’50s
diner better than a jukebox that
plays the musical stylings of
Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin and
Hill Top Motel
The Shady Dell
El Rio Theatre
Retro Road Trips
22 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 23
If you have a hankering for a 44-ounce milkshake,
you’ll want to visit Pima. That’s a big drink for
such a tiny town, but for the past 48 years, those
shakes have been flying out the doors of Taylor
Freeze, along with Taylor Tacos, nationally
famous Tastee-Freez ice cream, and sodas served
over flaked ice. “People love our sodas because of
that ice,” says owner Sheryl Goodman. And she
should know — the restaurant has been in her
family for four generations. “Thirteen of 21 grand-children
have worked here, and two of the oldest
great-grandchildren have worked here, too. My
parents were very community-oriented, and that’s
what’s helped preserve us.” So, too, has Joyce
Johnson. She’s worked at Taylor Freeze for 44
years. “People come in just to see her,” Goodman
says. “She’s an icon.” Information: 225 W. Center Street,
Taylor Freeze offers
guests a slice of nos-talgia
with a modern
twist. The Taylor
Tacos are owner
mom’s own recipe
and a huge hit with
24 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 25
EL RIO THEATRE
Consider El Rio the grande dame of Springerville’s
Main Street. At 88, she’s aged gracefully, and even
retains a popcorn machine that theater owners
installed in 1950. Although a burned-out cable
has sidelined the machine, it can be used “in a
bind,” says theater owner Anne Madariaga. “The
building hails from the early 1900s, and my hus-band
remembers watching silent movies in it.
Practically all of the fixtures are original to the
building, but we’ve made a few upgrades over the
years.” The Madariagas have owned the 247-seat
El Rio for 44 years, but don’t ask Anne about her
favorite movie. “That’s a loaded question,” she says.
Maybe, but you can expect to find Hollywood’s
most recent blockbusters at El Rio — the single-screen
theater offers one show per evening on the
weekends. Information: 14 W. Main Street, Springerville,
HILL TOP MOTEL
For more than 50 years, the Hill Top Motel has
promised visitors “the best view in Kingman.”
And, thanks to the 29-room property’s gorgeous
views of the Hualapai Mountains, it delivers.
Owner Dennis Schroeder has worked hard to
maintain the authenticity of the motel, which
opened in 1954. “We’ve tried to make minimally
invasive upgrades to the property, like adding
wireless Internet connections,” Schroeder says.
Sure, the trees are taller, the air-conditioning
units are more efficient and the former owners
added a swimming pool, but, for the most part,
the Hill Top is a throwback to the ’50s, when, as
Schroeder says, “you didn’t have to worry about
tomorrow until tomorrow arrived.” Information:
1901 E. Andy Devine Avenue, Kingman, 928-753-2198 or
HACKBERRY GENERAL STORE
You won’t be able to fill ’er up, but you’ll certainly
get your fill of Route 66 memorabilia. Hackberry
General Store is, itself, a relic of a bygone era, but
thanks to owners John and Kerry Pritchard, the
store is enjoying a sort of renaissance. Walk into
the store and you’ll step back in time. Music from
a jukebox plays Del Shannon, Ricky Nelson and
Elvis Presley, and heaps of memorabilia — circa
the mid-20th century — cover every wall, nook
and cranny. Although you can’t buy gas (the tanks
were removed in 1978), you can enjoy an 8-ounce
bottle of Coke as you get your picture taken next
to the couple’s most popular Route 66 acquisi-tion:
a 1957 red Corvette, a tribute to Route 66, the
popular 1960s TV show. “We bought this store on
a whim so we would have something to do, and
people fell in love with the stuff,” John explains.
“This store is a survivor.” Information: 11255 E. Route
66, Hackberry, 928-769-2605 or www.hackberrygeneral
MACALPINE’S SODA FOUNTAIN
Since 1929, MacAlpine’s has been known for its
soda fountain. That’s because it used to be a phar-macy,
and pharmacies often had soda fountains,
which gave pharmacists a place to create their
medicinal concoctions. In 1938, pharmacist Fred
MacAlpine purchased the place and changed
its name from Birch’s 7th Street Pharmacy to
MacAlpine’s. He sold it 10 years later, but the
name stuck around. During the 1950s and 1960s,
MacAlpine’s was ground zero for geeks, greasers
and pink ladies who would hang out and drink
ice-cream sodas, egg creams and malts. And many
of those kids left their mark. “The underside of
the fountain is covered in bubblegum,” says owner
Monica Heizenrader, who took over in 2001. “We
left the gum since it’s part of the history.” Kids
back then! Besides the gum, there’s plenty of other
history still intact, like the counter and malt
machine. Even some of the waitresses get in on
the act, wearing their hair in victory rolls. Visitors
who pop by can order old-school sodas or choose a
bite to eat from MacAlpine’s full menu. Information:
2303 N. Seventh Street, Phoenix, 602-262-5545 or www.
uring the 1950s and 1960s, MacAlpine’s was ground
zero for geeks, greasers and pink ladies who would hang
out and drink ice-cream sodas, egg creams and malts.
Customers feel like
they’ve entered an-other
era when they
Soda Fountain, where
visitors can literally
get a taste of the
1950s and 1960s —
serves up classics,
like sarsaparilla soda. D
26 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 27
Many of the ladies
who work at
the part. Victory
rolls, like those
worn by these
servers, were a
popular hairstyle in
28 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 29
Legendary illustrator Bil Keane knows a thing
or two about the Sugar Bowl. As a longtime resi-dent
of Paradise Valley, Keane’s been visiting the
Scottsdale institution — and partaking of its
famous ice cream — for decades. In fact, the Sugar
Bowl plays a starring role in scores of Keane’s
Family Circus cartoons. While Keane prefers his ice
cream a little bit melted, most of the parlor’s other
patrons prefer sundaes straight from the carton.
“The menu’s the same as it was in 1958,” says
owner Carroll Huntress. “Sure, the prices are a
little different — an ice cream cone used to cost 20
cents — but everything else is the same, including
the clientele. People who ate here when they were
kids return years later.” It’s no wonder. From its
pink façade to its vintage counter, the Sugar Bowl
is a scoop of classic Arizona. Information: 4005 N.
Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-946-0051
SPACE AGE LODGE
NASA’s Space Shuttle program may have come to
an end, but thanks to the otherworldly design of
the Best Western Space Age Lodge, visitors to Gila
Bend are still able to get a feel for the extraterres-trial.
Built in 1965, in the midst of the Space Race,
the lodge retains its UFO-inspired kitsch, from
the flying saucer on the roof to the space-themed
art that adorns its walls. There’s also a restaurant
on site, which is famous for its breakfast and its
space-sleek design. As one visitor put it, “The
restaurant is less Elroy Jetson and more James
T. Kirk.” Trekkies rejoice. When a faulty neon
sign ignited the building in 1998, the owners were
quick to rebuild. They even hung a banner during
construction to reassure its loyal followers that
nothing would change. “Attacked by Aliens!”
it read. Information: 401 E. Pima Street, Gila Bend,
Not much has changed at the Apache Lodge since
it opened as a motor court in 1946. Well, the pool
is gone, and the rooms have received some TLC,
but for the most part, you’ll find the lodge to be a
throwback to the days of American Bandstand, Andy
Williams and Captain Kangaroo. “The colors have
varied over the years,” says manager John Dickey.
“Other than that, the rooms are pretty much the
same. We still have those small showers — the
ones where if you bend over to wash your feet, you
hit your head and your butt at the same time.” Tiny
showers aside, the Apache has long been a favorite
among Prescott travelers. Information: 1130 E. Gurley
Street, Prescott, 928-445-1422 or www.apachelodge.com
When Dwight “Red” Harkins, the patriarch of the
Harkins Theatres chain, wanted to open a theater
in Wickenburg, he decided to design it himself.
The result was the Saguaro Theatre, a single-screen
cinema that opened in 1948. Owner Brian
Deveny, who purchased the theater in 1995, says
that many of its fixtures are original. “We’ve really
only upgraded by doing a few facelifts, like paint-ing
the auditorium floor, adding air conditioning
and updating the carpet.” Among the original
details are the theater’s signature saguaro, which
tops the marquee; the box office; and the snack
bar. “People laugh when they come in because not
a lot has changed,” Deveny says. “At the same time,
they say, ‘Please don’t change a thing.’ ” Information:
176 E. Wickenburg Way, Wickenburg, 928-684-7189
The menu hasn’t
changed at the Sugar
Bowl in Scottsdale,
and neither has the
wall art, some of
which was drawn by
Bil Keane (above), the
man behind those
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 31
CHEESE ’N’ STUFF
Nothing says “deli” like Boar’s Head meats. And
that’s exactly what owner Stan Zawatski serves
up and attributes much of his success to. Well,
Boar’s Head and a very “happy staff.” Cheese ’n’
Stuff is a family run joint, and behind the counter,
you’ll find Stan, his sister Susan and daughter
Crystal. But its not just the family atmosphere
that keeps folks coming back for more. Zawatski
dishes out some pretty tasty eats, like his popular
Doughboy sandwich, which is made with turkey,
bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado and mayo on sour-dough.
The deli first opened in 1949, and in 1972,
Zawatski’s father entered the scene. Two years
later, Stan started working at the deli. Today, not
much has changed (except for the Boar’s Head).
“We still have the same two meat slicers that
were here when the deli first opened,” Zawatski
says. “We’ve changed the blades and the motors,
but they’re still the same.” Zawatski has also kept
one of the original beverage cases, which he says
dates back to the mid-1950s, giving his place that
walk-back-in-time vibe. Add that to the Boar’s
Head, and it’s plain to see why Cheese ’n’ Stuff is
still going strong. Information: 5042 N. Central Avenue,
Phoenix, 602-266-3636 or www.cheesenstuffdeli.com
The Lopez family has been serving its signature
chiles rellenos to hordes of Tucson’s Mexican-food
aficionados since 1952. And although Mi Nidito is
small — the name translates as “my little nest” —
its list of celebrity clientele is big. Linda Ronstadt,
Kurt Russell, Willie Nelson and former President
Bill Clinton have all visited the Tucson institu-tion.
The owners even commemorated Clinton’s
visit via “The President’s Plate,” a combo platter
that features a bean tostada, birria taco, chile
relleno, chicken enchilada and beef tamale. “You
never know who you’ll run into at Mi Nidito, and
that’s part of the fun,” says one frequent guest.
“The birria flautas are the best in Tucson, and the
tacos are always fantastic.” Information: 1813 S. Fourth
Avenue, Tucson, 520-622-5081 or www.minidito.net
Time may soon catch
up with the Apache
Drive-In, but for now,
the place is enjoyed
by those looking for
one of life’s simple
When you walk into Mel’s Diner on 17th
and Grand avenues in Phoenix, you won’t
feel like you’re walking onto the set of Alice,
the iconic 1970s sitcom. No grouchy Mel
serving up greasy eats or shouting at his
waitresses. No sassy, man-hungry Flo yell-ing,
“Kiss my grits!” No frazzled Vera spilling
a box of straws everywhere. And certainly
no Alice. The only thing about Mel’s Diner
(the one on 17th Avenue) that has anything
to do with Mel’s Diner (the one on TV) is the
sign — that classic coffee-cup sign with the
arrow pouring out of it, luring the hungry and
caffeine-starved masses inside.
In fact, there never was a Mel’s Diner until
a producer for the show spotted the sign and
asked the owner if she’d consider changing
Chris’ Diner to Mel’s. Even then, the diner
didn’t become Mel’s Diner until 2007, when
a husband-and-wife couple from Greece took
over the joint.
“I didn’t know about the show,” Paraskevi
“Pari” Stamatouli says. “People would come
in asking if Mel is still working here. I’d tell
them, ‘He’s off today.’ ” Pari and her husband,
Emmanouil Stivaktakis, came from a country
where Alice never aired on the small screen.
And so, they were a bit taken aback by the
number of strangers who would pull into the
parking lot to take a picture of the sign or
walk into the diner asking for Alice.
“Customers were telling us that this is
where they filmed the show,” Pari says. It
wasn’t long before Emmanouil, a business-man
at heart, did his homework. He watched
DVDs of the show and decided to Alice-up
the place. He purchased memorabilia from
eBay, including autographed photos of the
cast and old TV Guide covers. The waitresses
even wear updated versions of the classic
pink uniforms worn by the cast.
“People love the uniforms,” Pari says with
a laugh. “Especially the guys.” And here we
thought they were coming back for the good
old-fashioned diner food, plus a few Greek
items. Gyro sandwich, anyone?
Like Mel’s Diner, Mel’s Diner has plenty of
regulars who come in not to step into the TV
past, but for the people who are there now.
“We make them feel at home,” Pari says. “We
have their coffee ready, and we know what
they’re going to eat. They feel comfortable.”
— Kathy Ritchie
Information: 1747 NW Grand Avenue, Phoenix,
602-252-8283 or www.melsdinerphoenix.com
Technology often trumps a really good thing —
like drive-ins. Thanks to digital projectors and
3D, moviegoers are forgoing the simple things like
setting up lawn chairs in the back of their pickup
trucks for a pair of 3D glasses. In the 1950s and
1960s, drive-ins were a hit with families (who
could take their young children out) and young
couples (who were looking for the perfect make-out
spot). The Apache Drive-In was no exception.
Built in 1974, the drive-in sits on 8 acres of land and
offers folks something unique to do on a Friday
night. Nothing much has changed. Yes, the projec-tor
and screen have been updated, but some driv-ers
still park their rides by the few existing pole
speakers. “People just love those poles,” says owner
Robert Hollis. “They just get very nostalgic.” The
rest simply tune in to Apache’s FM station to hear
the movie. With only four remaining drive-ins in
the state, Hollis isn’t sure he’ll be able to keep the
past alive for much longer. “I have no doubt my
drive-in will be gone in five years,” he says matter-of-
factly. “Times are changing and the upkeep on
drive-ins is very high. Eventually, it’ll become cost
prohibitive.” Let that be a warning: Best make your
way to Globe before technology catches up to the
Apache Drive-In. Information: 1785 N. Broad Street,
Globe, 928-425-4511 or www. apache.holliscinemas.com
Mention Mel’s Diner to anyone who watched television in the
1970s, and there’s a good chance they’ll blurt out, “Kiss my grits!”,
the classic line from the sitcom Alice. The show was fictional, but
there is a Mel’s Diner, and the sign out front is the real deal.
30 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1
32 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 33
THE SHADY DELL
Seventy years ago, a man named Wally Byam had
a vision. He wanted to create a fleet of travel trail-ers
that provided luxury accommodations and
could easily be towed by the family car. And so
the Airstream was born. Seventeen years ago, Ed
Smith and Rita Personet had an idea, too: to re-create
a slice of classic, midcentury Americana by
collecting vintage trailers and renting them out to
visitors. Enter the Shady Dell — simply put, the
place is kitsch on wheels. In 2007, the Shady Dell
became the property of Jennifer and Justin Luria.
Today, it boasts nine restored vintage trailers,
including a 1949 Airstream, and the place gives
“getting away from it all” a whole new meaning.
Time has a way of slowing down at the Shady Dell,
and in many ways, it still feels like Ike is president
and Singin’ in the Rain is a new release. Perhaps it
has something to do with those pink flamingos.
“We feel it’s not only important, but fun to pre-serve
these trailers so that all generations can use
them,” Jennifer says. “We also think it’s important
to offer a place to stay that has history, charm and
décor purchased from vintage stores, rather than
a hotel catalog or the mall.” Information: 1 Douglas
Road, Bisbee, 520-432-3567 or www.theshady
ALBERTO’S LUNCH COUNTER
Long before Albert H. Alvarez took over the lunch
counter inside Sant Drug Co., the soda fountain
inside was being used primarily for medicinal
purposes. Today, that soda fountain is still in
use, although most folks who order a soda aren’t
looking to be cured of whatever ails them. In fact,
if something does ail them, it’s likely hunger,
and that’s where Alvarez and his tamales come
in. Tamales? Yes, tamales. For the past 10 years,
Alberto’s Lunch Counter, also known as Alberto’s
Other Place, has been dishing out mouthwatering,
homemade tamales. Some of his tamale offerings
include green chile, corn and red beef. Alvarez,
however, isn’t one to be pigeonholed. He does offer
a few other items on his menu. “We have Mexican
food and a very good hamburger and fries,” he says.
Alvarez’s counter is small, but not too small. There
are 19 stools and a table that seats five, but if you
arrive during the midday rush, you may be out of
luck. The place fills up fast. Whoever said tamales
and soda fountains don’t go together has clearly
never been to Alberto’s. Information: 419 W. Eighth
Street, Yuma, 928-329-0153
Plastic pink flamingos
can be found through-out
the Shady Dell in
Bisbee, where what
used to be an embar-rassing
piece of lawn
décor is now a piece
of good old-fashioned
34 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 35
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that the vibrant
neon signs of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s were replaced
by mass-produced, backlit plastic eyesores. But they
were, to the point of near extinction. Fortunately, the
losses have fueled attempts to save what’s left, and
the flickering radiance of neon is making a comeback.
It’s early, but there are signs of life.
BY KATHY MONTGOMERY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY TERRENCE MOORE
Although it has a
retro feel, the neon
cowboy at Tucson’s
El Corral is a new
addition to the
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or 50 years she dove from nearly 80 feet high, making a
shallow blue splash at the bottom. In her turquoise bath-ing
suit, her hair as perfect as her form, the diving lady
repeated her performance 360 times per hour, 365 days a
year. That is, until she plunged to the pavement in a
pounding rain. It seemed unlikely she would survive.
Mesa Police surrounded the diving lady with yellow tape. Her
loss felt like a crime.
The Starlite Motel’s animated neon sign survived the opening of
Interstate 10, the advent of LED, even the paving of the pool the diving
lady once advertised. But as the years rolled by and the weather took
its toll, it was only a matter of time. She eventually succumbed to a
storm on October 5, 2010.
A welding point from a previous repair failed against the wind.
The impact shattered the diving lady’s neon tubes and dented her cor-roded
head and hands. It looked like the end of an era. Then a couple
of historic preservationists intervened.
Reporters covered every update on the diving lady’s condition.
The Society for Commercial Archaeology placed her at the top of its
endangered roadside places list, dedicating $250 toward her restora-tion.
Fans sent money along with grief-stricken notes. Businesses
offered labor and materials. The diving lady made more than 250
friends on Facebook.
Mesa’s outpouring of support followed earlier events in Texas and
Missouri, where neon fans in those states rallied to save other storm-toppled
signs. Yet even as the diving lady was being repaired, another
landmark sign just down the street was quietly taken down and
Admired for their artistry, their exuberance and, sometimes, even
their downright gaudiness, vintage neon signs have been disappear-ing.
The reasons are as old as commerce. Owners change, businesses
evolve, new technologies replace old. Restrictive sign codes passed in
many cities prevent their repair and restoration, forcing owners to tear
signs down or let them rust until they fall.
The losses have fueled attempts to save what remains, with neon lov-ers
storing signs in backyards hoping for a brighter future. Now neon is
seeing new light. Once viewed only as part of a property, signs, them-selves,
can now be designated historic. Neon tours and museums draw
crowds in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and neon auctions bring big bucks.
For 50 years she dove
from nearly 80 feet high,
making a shallow blue
splash at the bottom. In
her turquoise bathing suit,
her hair as perfect as
her form, the diving lady
repeated her performance
360 times per hour,
365 days a year.
Larry Graham (right), the owner of Graham’s Neon Electric Sign Specialists in Mesa,
and Scott Houston worked to restore the diving lady to its former glory.
The 80-foot diving lady,
which long served as a
beacon for the Starlite
Motel in Mesa, came
crashing down last fall
during a windstorm. This
photo captured the first
time the diving lady was lit
up following her painstak-ing
Still, saving neon is not easy. Repairs are expensive and a dwindling
number of artisans have the know-how. But neon signs can rally com-munities.
Recognizing this, cities from St. Louis to West Hollywood
have restored neon signs along Historic Route 66 with support and
funding from the National Park Service. In Arizona, neon is breathing
new life into neighborhoods in decline.
oday, we associate neon with mid-20th century America,
but a French chemist displayed the first neon tubes at the
Paris Expo in 1910, and the first commercial neon sign
advertised a barbershop on the Champs-Élysées.
In this country, neon was fueled by a growing car cul-ture,
so it’s fitting that a Los Angeles auto dealer installed
the country’s first neon signs in 1923. The two blue-and-orange Pack-ard
signs reportedly stopped traffic on Wilshire Boulevard. By the end
of the decade, neon lit up Times Square and Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, cars were changing the country. As the town square
gave way to growth along the highways, sign makers molded neon
into an infinite variety of shapes and letters, and put them in motion.
In Arizona, motels with names like The Frontier, La Siesta and the
Hacienda sprouted up along Historic Route 66 in the north, and on
U.S. routes 80, 89 and 60 through Tucson, Mesa and Phoenix. Sport-ing
neon images of teepees, dancing Indians and bucking horses,
neon signs promised the mythical experience of the golden age of the
“The best neon was in the late ’40s and ’50s,” says Phoenix Historic
Preservation Officer Barbara Stocklin. “It’s part of the story of what
was happening on Grand Avenue and Van Buren [in Phoenix], where
the city was spreading out. So when you’re on Van Buren and there are
15 hotels, how do you get attention? You have the bigger, flashier sign.”
Despite a brief resurgence of interest, by the 1970s, neon was in
decline. Flashing arrows gave way to an understated aesthetic. Mass-produced
backlit plastic signs became cheaper to install and main-tain.
In the ’80s and ’90s, towns and cities across the country passed
sign ordinances that made many neon signs nonconforming. Though
grandfathered in, they couldn’t be taken down for repairs and rein-stalled
without being brought into code.
The Starlite Motel’s diving lady perfectly illustrates the phenom-enon.
In Mesa, animated neon has been illegal since the mid-1990s. At
78 feet tall, she rises 66 feet over the maximum height allowed.
When preservation architect Ron Peters visited the Starlite in the
wake of the storm, the owners were getting quotes to haul the sign
away. Repair estimates were $60,000 to $65,000, 10 times the original
cost of the sign and far beyond the reach of a small motel.
Peters offered to put together a group to take on the project. He
and Victor Linoff had been discussing plans to form the Mesa Pres-ervation
Foundation. Their original intent was to save the Buckhorn
Baths after the death of its owner, but the diving lady’s plunge jolted
the group into action.
“We came together and said, ‘You know, this has really got to be a
priority because they’re going to haul it away,’ ” Peters says.
Recognizing the sign’s importance, city officials supported a code
variance, and the area’s councilman raised the funds to pay for it. By
April, the foundation raised half the cost of restoration through a
combination of in-kind contributions and cash, including the Starlite’s
$10,000 insurance settlement. Their plan was to list the sign on the
38 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 39
National Register of Historic Places, place it under a conservation
easement and reinstall it by the first anniversary of the storm.
In April, the first of three restored diving lady panels stretched
across the display window of a former salon space at Fiesta Mall in
Mesa to encourage donations. Peters and Linoff arranged interpretive
panels on easels and imagined bigger possibilities.
They talked about some sort of designation for Mesa’s Main Street
and its remaining neon. A driving guide could include neon signs in
Tempe and Phoenix. A museum exhibit could place historic postcards
of neon signs on a map.
“That would be really neat, and that’s something the foundation
could do,” Peters says. “But it takes time and money to put it together.
We’ve got so many things on the burner we’ll never get to all of them.”
o place says neon like Historic Route 66, so it’s not surpris-ing
that, nationally, neon restoration has been concen-trated
along that storied road. Associations in Missouri,
Oklahoma and the city of West Hollywood in California
have made restoring neon signs a priority. Many did so
with matching grants from the National Park Service’s
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Office.
In Arizona, a few Route 66 businesses have restored their neon
signs, but mostly without National Park Service funding.
Though the Route 66 Association in Arizona has applied
for grants every year through the program, only two have
been for neon. The first was in 2002, for the Frontier Motel
in Truxton. Recently, it applied for a grant for the Route 66
Motel sign in Kingman.
Sharlene Fouser, a grant-funded employee, says the asso-ciation
has been more concerned with saving buildings.
“For a while, we were losing a property a month,” she
says. “If we don’t have the building, the neon is a moot
Yet in some communities, neon has sparked enthusiasm
for preservation and redevelopment.
“The focus of our office is not really neon, but we really
like when neon projects come up,” says John Murphey, a
cultural resources specialist for the National Park Service.
“They have a lot of return for their money. People will get
off the Interstate to look at a neon sign, spend more time
in town and maybe spend some money as well.”
Murphey worked for the New Mexico State Historic
Preservation Office in 2002 when the New Mexico Route
66 Association facilitated Park Service grants to restore
nine neon signs in Albuquerque, and saw a big impact.
“I think to put it in the context of economic develop-ment
is really important,” says Johnnie Meier, who headed
the effort. “The owners were inspired to make further
investment in their property. The city had renewed pride
in their heritage. Other businesses looked at all the atten-tion
and they wanted neon.”
Tucson is banking on that kind of excitement to revital-ize
one of its historic highways. Drachman, Oracle Road
and present-day Miracle Mile once constituted the main
route through Tucson on U.S. routes 80 and 89, collectively
known as the “Miracle Mile Strip.” But the area fell into
decline after Interstate 10 redirected the route’s traffic.
City planner Rebecca Roupp says a grassroots revitalization effort
began in the area about four years ago.
“The mid-20th century Miracle Mile was all there, and wonderful
motor courts, many of them operating as motels,” she says. “We didn’t
need to reinvent the area. We could build on what it had.”
Part of what it had was some of the city’s best neon.
Independently, as part of a one percent for arts program, artist Dirk
Arnold built a large neon saguaro on Oracle at Drachman. He chose
neon as a nod to the road’s heritage, adding the words “Miracle Mile”
on one side and “Tucson” on the other.
“That got people incredibly excited,” Roupp says. “It shows how
important small things are that you can see very quickly.”
A comprehensive plan to preserve the city’s historic neon spun off
from the revitalization effort. The city began work to nominate the
district for the National Register of Historic Places and revise Tucson’s
“I was hearing from all sides that [neon] was becoming a real pres-ervation
issue,” says Historic Preservation Officer Jonathan Mabry.
“Our community was losing these signs at a rapid rate because the
owners were tearing them down. People were coming in from out
of town, buying these signs and taking them out of the community.”
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE RIGHT:
Just one of many retro
motels in Tucson, the
Tucson Inn continues to
light up the night with its
colorful neon sign.
Located next door to the
Tucson Inn, the Frontier
Motel is another relic from
a bygone era. The Motel
Downtowner in Flagstaff
once lured tired drivers off
Historic Route 66 with its
$5-a-night room rates.
40 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 41
“Neon was becoming a real preservation issue. ... Our community was losing
these signs at a rapid rate because the owners were tearing them down.”
At press time, a proposed ordinance was headed for the Tucson
mayor and council. It allows for the restoration of designated historic
signs, which would not count against a business’ sign allowance.
That should help, for example, the owners of the Pueblo Hotel, now
a law office. “Out front is a beautiful sign from the hotel days of ‘the
diving girl,’ ” Mabry says. “It still says ‘Pueblo Hotel, swimming pool,
refrigerated air,’ that sort of thing. All the neon is broken off, but it’s a
community landmark that everyone wants restored.
“Under this sign code, the owners could come in with a plan for
restoring it, get the designation and, for the first time ever, be able to
put the name of their law firm on the business.”
The proposed sign code also allows for relocation of historic neon
signs in areas where there is an existing density. By allowing reuse,
Mabry hopes to stem the loss to out-of-state buyers.
It will also allow the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation to
proceed with plans for a neon art walk. Four restored neon signs were
expected to be installed along the historic Miracle Mile last summer.
Publication of a driving guide of the city’s best neon, paid for by an
Arizona Humanities Council grant, was planned in conjunction with
Mabry admits that the process took time and thought. “There’s a
lot of sensitivity to tweaking the sign code,” he says. But he believes
the carefully crafted definition of qualifying signs will prevent abuse.
“It’s a feel-good initiative,” he says. “Once people understand it,
they say, ‘Oh yeah, I love those signs. We ought to find a way to save
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE:
Sunland Motel in East
Mesa on U.S. Route 60.
The New Windsor Hotel
in downtown Phoenix.
The 30-foot Miracle Mile
sign was erected in 2010
as an homage to Tucson’s
past. The Ghost Ranch
Lodge & Restaurant in
Tucson is now housing
42 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 43
“Parents used to pack their kids into the car and set off on a road trip,” recalls Elinor
Lewis, daughter of the original owner of the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook. “The chil-dren
would see the wigwams [technically teepees] and go crazy, begging their parents
to stay. Sleeping in a wigwam is every child’s dream. Most of our business now is
during the summer, when we get tourists trying to re-create the Route 66 era. It’s not
unusual for those kids to come back, all grown up, with their own children.”
We’re sitting in the lobby of the Wigwam, looking out at the collection of restored 1950s cars.
The property consists of 15 concrete teepees, modernized with bathrooms and color TVs. There are
no phones, hair dryers, Wi-Fi connections or pay-per-view movies — just a heavy dose of nostalgia
and a glimpse into a bygone age. Lewis gets animated when she talks about it.
“Families were more close-knit back then. People were nicer, and they were more trusting — the
road was filled with hitchhikers, and everyone stopped to pick them up. If your car broke down,
three or four people would pull over to rescue you. It was a different time. [For us], it’s never been a
money-making proposition. I guess we were the suckers,” she says with a chuckle.
Although “living in the past” is often said
derogatorily, there’s nothing wrong with spending a
night or two in the good old days, especially if you
can get a room at the Valley Ho in Scottsdale or the
Wigwam in Holbrook. Those two are retro classics.
For something even older, head to Flagstaff.
BY MARK SPIVAK
At one point, there
were seven Wigwam
Villages across the
U.S. Two of the three
Villages, including the
Holbrook property, are
located on Route 66.
| KERRICK JAMES
44 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 45
They called it the Main Street of America. At its height, Historic
Route 66 stretched nearly 2,500 miles from California to Illinois,
encompassing eight states. Slightly more than 400 miles of road
were located in Arizona. Its period of greatest popularity coincided
with the post-World War II economic boom, when Americans were once
again buying cars and enjoying their new freedom.
The construction of the interstate highway system was the death of
Route 66. In Arizona, I-40 was completed in 1984, and traffic along the
Route 66 corridor dried up abruptly. The tourists disappeared, busi-nesses
closed and populations declined.
“When the interstate came in, it was like turning off a spigot,” said
a longtime resident of Winslow. “One day there were wall-to-wall
people, and the next day no one was here.”
Nevertheless, the appeal of Route 66 has only increased as the years
have passed. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to it, and every
year thousands of travelers take to the road to relive the experience. For
many people, it has become a symbol of a lost America.
On the trail of the original Route 66, there are some people who
believe that the Golden Age glitters more brilliantly in memory than
it ever did in real life.
“When I came to Flagstaff in 1980, downtown was deserted,” says
Pamela Green, owner of the Weatherford Hotel. “Drunks loitered on
the corner across the street, and there were hardly any businesses to
Green’s husband, a psychiatrist named Henry Taylor who worked
for the state, purchased the hotel in 1975 and originally used it to house
mental patients. After Pamela (known as “Sam”) arrived on the scene,
the couple began the long and slow process of restoration.
“The hotel does well for us now,” she says, “but it was a struggle.
People talk about the recession, but we’ve seen worse. During the
restoration, we came to a point where we either had to sell the hotel or
our home. So we sold the house and lived here for over eight years while
the renovation continued.”
The result is a comfortable lobby with period furniture, several bars,
a cozy restaurant with a working fireplace and exposed brick walls,
and an overall sense of faithfulness to history. Originally built in 1897
by John Weatherford, the hotel is an attractive corner building faced
with hand-carved sandstone. Zane Grey wrote The Call of the Canyon
here. Sam Green is a decorator who grew up restoring houses, and she
brought her talents to the makeover of the hotel rooms.
What did she and Taylor see that no one else saw?
“Potential,” she laughs. “Back then, Flagstaff had the reputation of
being a rip-off town. It was that old Route 66 mentality — the tour-ists
are just passing through on their way to the Grand Canyon, so get
them for everything you can. Now the town is a destination in itself.
People come here to stay, and maybe they’ll take a side trip to the Grand
In a real sense, the new downtown area of Flagstaff grew up around
the hotel. Filled with restaurants, boutiques and cultural attractions
linked to the presence of Northern Arizona University, the town is a
far cry from the 1950s, when cars filled with tourists stopped to buy
cheap souvenirs. Vintage motels such as the Downtowner and the Du
Beau have been turned into hostels, and there’s a sushi bar across from
the railroad station on what used to be America’s Main Street.
“It’s not so much our hotel anymore as a resource that belongs to the
community,” Green says.
There’s a similar story down the street at the Hotel Monte Vista. At
the Rendezvous Bar & Lounge off the lobby, university students work
on their computers and the friendly young bartenders know everyone
by name. The Rendezvous would not seem out of place in San Francisco
or Manhattan. It’s a place where you can get a single-origin coffee, a
draft Guinness, a glass of Eden Valley Riesling from Australia or a
platter of artisanal cheeses.
“Remember that the train went through Flagstaff long before Route
66 was developed,” says Sean McMahan, who manages the property
for the current owners. “The Monte Vista started off providing box
lunches and ice to passengers. We were selling 1,000 sandwiches a day
during the Depression.”
Built in 1927 with proceeds from a local fund-raising drive, the
Monte Vista opened as a hotel held in community trust. Like the
Weatherford, restoration is ongoing, and most of the money here has
been put into infrastructure such as plumbing and electrical work. As
with other restored landmarks like the Hotel Congress in Tucson, the
Monte Vista places a premium on entertainment to keep a younger
clientele flocking to the hotel. It’s the opposite approach from the Hotel
San Carlos in downtown Phoenix, a restored 1928 structure that uses
its connection to Hollywood’s Golden Age to attract a clientele of older
tourists and convention goers.
Other than live music, what intrigues the younger generation about
a place like the Monte Vista?
“Even in the 20-to-30 age group, history has a unique appeal,” says
McMahan. “History means reliability. It’s equated with a sense of
heritage. Kids want to go where others have been, where they’ve left
Of all the old railroad hotels, none is more beautiful than La Posada
in Winslow. Originally built by the Santa Fe line in 1929, it
opened at the beginning of the Depression and never got off the
ground. The railroad gutted it and converted it to offices, and by the
mid-1990s the National Register of Historic Places had the building
on its endangered list.
Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion drove out from L.A. one day to look at
the property. Affeldt was an academic, his wife was a painter, and they
had no intention of getting involved — they only wanted a glimpse of
the last Fred Harvey hotel before it disappeared. Like Sam Green, they
saw potential they couldn’t put into words. Affeldt spent three years
raising money and negotiating. He and Mion moved in on April 1, 1997,
and began a slow process of renovation that continues to this day.
The result is a world-class hotel in the middle of a high, barren
plateau, with dramatic architecture and intricate woodwork resem-bling
a Spanish parador. The walls are decorated with Hopi and Navajo
artifacts, interspersed with sculptures and Mion’s haunting canvases.
About three years into the venture, John Sharpe arrived on the scene.
Sharpe had been working as a corporate chef in Los Angeles. “I was
fed up with the rat race,” he says. “I woke up one morning and decided
I wanted to be a chef again.”
He was reborn in the Turquoise Room, La Posada’s unique restau-rant.
Sharpe is a strong believer in the locavore movement, and has
developed an intricate network of local suppliers. His menu is a blend
of traditional dishes, modern ideas and treasures
from the cookery of the Indian tribes, paired
with a carefully chosen wine list.
“I’m all about big flavors, which has worked
well for me in this location,” Sharpe says. “I try
to straddle that fine line between creativity and
satisfying the clientele. One of the most reward-ing
parts of being here is watching people who
have no idea of what they expect to find.”
Back in Scottsdale, the past and present fuse
together seamlessly at the Hotel Valley Ho,
located on the edge of Old Town. There are a
number of well-preserved 1950s hotels left in the
state, but the Valley Ho is truly the Retro Palace.
Designed by architect Ed Varney, the Valley
Ho opened on December 20, 1956, just in time to
host the wedding of Robert Wagner and Natalie
Wood. It was the first hotel in Scottsdale to have
central air conditioning, and the first to be open
year-round. After a stint as a Ramada Inn, the
hotel was purchased by MSR properties in 2002,
and underwent an $80 million renovation.
The Valley Ho refers to the style that emerged
as “mid-century modern” — sleek and evocative,
the equivalent of going back in time with every
possible sparkle and convenience. The three low-slung
motel buildings surround the tropical foli-age
of the pool; the tower (part of the original
design, but not built at first) was completed in
2008. Suites feature Philippe Starck tubs and
Café Zuzu, the Valley Ho’s signature restau-rant,
features the same ’60s and ’70s vibe that per-meates
the rest of the propety. Orange and blue
Jetsons-esque chairs surround circular tables, and blue banquettes are
built into stone walls. As for the menu, Zuzu celebrates classic Ameri-can
comfort food with a bit of a modern twist — think grilled salmon
with roasted corn grits, watercress, fennel and lemon butter sauce;
burgers with Virginia bacon and Maytag blue cheese; truffled grilled-cheese
sandwiches; and pure, old-fashioned macaroni and cheese. It’s a
menu that appeals to patrons of the original Valley Ho, as well as those
who are flocking there to experience its renaissance.
The Valley Ho has become a rendezvous point for local young pro-fessionals,
who pack the lobby’s long, circular bar in the evenings. It’s
unlikely that any of them would recog-nize
Robert Wagner if he walked in, but
they seem mesmerized by the place.
“The younger set is definitely fascinated
with the hotel,” says a waitress one morn-ing
at breakfast. “It does have a hip factor,
and people are attracted to that. Maybe it
reminds them of something out of their
parents’ era, or maybe it’s just so different
Scan this QR code with
your smart phone or visit
discover more lodging
options throughout Arizona.
he Valley Ho opened on December 20, 1956, just in time to host
the wedding of Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. It was the first
hotel in Scottsdale to have central air conditioning.
Built just five years
after Scottsdale was
incorporated as a city,
the Valley Ho was the
sister property to the
famous Westward Ho
located in downtown
Phoenix. | CRAIG SMITH
46 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 47
As we were putting together this
issue, and thinking about the
heyday of Historic Route 66,
we started wondering what
kinds of things Arizona
Highways was doing back
in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
Turns out, there wasn’t
anything too gaudy.
EDITED BY KATHY RITCHIE
& KEITH WHITNEY
48 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 49
“When we recall the past,
we usually find that it is
the simplest things – not the
great occasions – that in
retrospect give off the
greatest glow of happiness.”
– Bob Hope
April 1943 July 1958
50 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 51
52 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 53
aformer mining camp on
the eastern flanks of the
Santa Rita Mountains, Ken-tucky
Camp makes a pleasant
destination for an afternoon
drive from Tucson. Most of
the drive to the heritage site in
the Coronado National Forest
winds along the high-desert
grasslands of scenic State
Route 83, passing a winery and
a historic ranch before turning
off for the last 6 miles onto a
The handful of adobe build-ings
that make up Kentucky
Camp served as headquarters
for the Santa Rita Water and
Mining Co. from 1902 to 1906.
The firm was the brainchild
of California mining engineer
James Stetson. Mining the
area’s rich placer deposits
required water to separate
the gold from sand and gravel,
but the surrounding arroyos
were dry. Stetson’s company
intended to channel seasonal
runoff into a reservoir large
enough to support operations.
But Stetson tumbled from a
Tucson hotel window in 1905
and died, and his partners
couldn’t keep the operation
going for long. The area was
used for cattle ranching until
the 1960s, and was then sold
to another mining company.
The Forest Service
Camp in 1989 through
a land exchange,
and it’s restoring the
camp’s buildings as an
camp with the help of
building can be
reserved for day use
for up to 50 people.
A smaller cabin can
be rented overnight.
With no heat or
indoor plumbing, the
overnight cabin offers
four twin bunks in a
single bedroom, an
outdoor sink and vault
toilet in an outbuild-ing.
are welcome enough
for hikers passing
through on the Ari-zona
But the real pleasure of a day
trip to Kentucky Camp is, as
they say, in the journey. From
Tucson, take Interstate 10 to
State Route 83, a designated
scenic highway that’s flanked
by straw-colored grasses dotted
with yuccas, prickly pears and
Charron Vineyards lies
about 7 miles south of I-10, a
half-mile past Milepost 53.
The tasting room, open Friday
through Sunday, sits inside a
sunny, screened-in porch with
views of the vineyard, rolling
hills and the distant Santa
Ritas. Five dollars buys a sam-pling
of four wines, a souvenir
glass and $2 off tastings at
Just past Milepost 40,
Empire Ranch is worth a visit.
The 160-acre homestead and
cattle ranch was the setting for
a number of Westerns, includ-ing
Red River and Last Train From
Gun Hill. The Bureau of Land
Management acquired the
headquarters and surrounding
42,000 acres through a series
of land swaps. It’s now Las
Cienegas National Conserva-tion
Area, a black-tailed prairie
dog reintroduction site. Built
along cottonwood-lined Empire
Gulch, Empire Ranch head-quarters
forms a green oasis
about 3 miles from the highway,
with the adobe ranch house
and barn open to the public.
The turnoff to Kentucky
Camp lies just 3 miles past
Empire Ranch. The gravel road
winds nearly 6 miles through
waist-high grasses shaded by
tall, graceful oaks. A small
parking area lies outside the
gates to Kentucky Camp,
which is an easy, quarter-mile
walk. The headquarters build-ing
serves as the visitors center.
Perch yourself on the pleasant,
shaded porch and the prospects
for a pleasant afternoon feel
BELOW: Framed by
an old adobe ruin
that was once a
barn, the build-ing
in the back-ground
as an office for
the Santa Rita
Water & Mining
Co. until 1906.
Settling into the
CAMP The route
to this old mine
winds along the
State Route 83,
passing a winery
and historic ranch
along the way.
BY KATHY MONTGOMERY
Note: Mileages are approximate.
LENGTH: 49 miles one way
DIRECTIONS: From Tucson, drive east on Interstate
10 for approximately 22 miles to State Route 83,
turn right (south) and continue for approximately
21 miles to Gardner Canyon Road. Turn right (west)
onto Gardner Canyon Road and drive 0.75 miles to
Forest Road 163. Take FR 163 approximately 5 miles
to the Kentucky Camp gate. Park in the designated
area, and walk approximately 0.25 miles to
VEHICLE REQUIREMENTS: This route is accessible
by passenger vehicles, but the last 5 miles may be
muddy in wet weather.
INFORMATION: Nogales Ranger District, 520-281-
2296 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado. To reserve
Kentucky Camp, call 877-444-6777 or visit www.
Travelers in Arizona can visit www.az511.gov
or dial 511 to get information
on road closures,
delays, weather and more.
READING: For more
scenic drives, pick
up a copy of our
book The Back
Roads. Now in its
fifth edition, the
features 40 of the
state’s most scenic
drives. To order a
copy, visit www.
O N L I N E For more scenic drives in Arizona, visit www.arizonahighways.com/outdoors/drives.asp.
S A N T A R I T A M O U N T A I N S
Gardner Canyon Road
L A S C I E N E G A S
N A T I O N A L
C O N S E R V A T I O N A R E A
C O R O N A D O
N A T I O N A L F O R E S T
S T A R T H E R E
54 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 55
month OF THE
don’t let the devilish name of this wilderness area scare
you. The Mescal Ridge Trail is easy, enjoyable and it
doesn’t go anywhere near the netherworld. The thing is, you
can’t get to the trail without first trekking for a half-mile
on the Bear Flat Trail. It, too, is easy, except for that first
half-mile, which climbs uphill at an incline of what feels
like 45 degrees. It doesn’t look that steep as you’re huffing
and puffing toward some breathing space up top, but on the
way back down you’ll get a much better perspective.
The name of the wilderness area, which was given by
early settlers and was originally spelled “Hells Gate,” comes
from the turbulent water at the junction of Haigler and
Tonto creeks. Although you won’t get wet on the Mescal
Ridge Trail, it does offer a bird’s-eye introduction to Hells-gate.
Getting started, however, can be a little confusing.
From the Bear Flat Trailhead, the first thing you’ll need
to do is cross Tonto Creek by following the concrete road
that leads to a home on private property. You’ll see a large
white sign with red letters that warns of “No Trespassing.”
Just before the sign, veer right and follow the creekside
edge of the log fence. At the corner, you’ll see a trail sign.
This junction can be especially confusing. What you’ll
want to do is make a 90-degree turn to the left and follow
the fence uphill toward an old jeep road. The wide road
then climbs the hellish half-mile through a forest of mixed
conifers to the wilderness boundary, and eventually leads
to Bear Flat’s intersection with the Mescal Ridge Trail,
which veers right. That’s where you’re headed.
The route continues south and climbs gradually, but noth-ing
like what’s behind you. The trail itself is a mix of rock
and red dirt that winds through peaceful stands of scrub oak,
alligator junipers, piñon pines and manzanitas. It’s best to
appreciate the flora along this trail, because the fauna is less
conspicuous. That said, the wilderness area around the trail
is home to beavers, black bears, ringtails, mountain lions,
skunks and deer. If you see something, feel free to brag about
it. If you don’t, you might not even notice because the pan-oramic
views to the southeast are impressive. They’re essen-tially
the same views the Salado people had when they gazed
in the same direction during the 12th and 13th centuries.
Ditto for the Apaches, who later occupied this area for several
centuries before being forced out by white settlers.
Back on the trail, which doesn’t vary a great deal as
you move along, you’ll eventually come to a high point
that suggests you’re at the end of the hike. But you’re not.
Although the trail is a little hard to find at this point, look
closely and you’ll see that it continues downhill. A little
farther on, you’ll pass some old cattle fencing, and then, 15
minutes after that, you’ll arrive at the Mescal Ridge Tank.
The trail veers left past the tank and quickly peters out,
officially marking the end of the route.
Because this is a relatively short trail, and you won’t have
burned up a lot of clock, you might not be in a hurry to
head back down. If that’s the case, Mescal Ridge is a great
place to hang out, eat some lunch, take a nap or take in the
views. To the southeast you can see Horse Mountain and
the endless open space of Tonto National Forest, the fifth-largest
national forest in the United States. Whatever you
do, don’t lose sight of the trail. Although the surroundings
are heavenly, remember, this is Hellsgate, and the last thing
you want to do is get lost in a place with a name like that.
Hikers make their
way along the
Trail, which offers
great views of the
MESCAL RIDGE Although it’s lo-cated
in the Hellsgate Wilderness,
there’s nothing devilish about this
hike. Other than the first half-mile.
BY ROBERT STIEVE
LENGTH: 6 miles round-trip
ELEVATION: 4,891 to 5,603 feet
DIRECTIONS: From Payson, drive east on State
Route 260 for 14 miles to Forest Road 405. Turn
right onto FR 405 and drive 4.5 miles to the Bear
Flat Trailhead at Tonto Crossing.
VEHICLE REQUIREMENTS: A high-clearance vehicle is
recommended following rain or snow.
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes (on a leash)
HORSES ALLOWED: Yes
USGS MAP: Promontory Butte
INFORMATION: Payson Ranger District, 928-474-
7900 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto
• Plan ahead and be prepared.
• Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
• Dispose of waste properly and pack out all of
• Leave what you find.
• Respect wildlife and minimize impact.
• Be considerate of others.
trail guide F
O N L I N E For more hikes in Arizona, visit www.arizonahighways.com/outdoors/hiking.asp.
READING: For more
hikes, pick up a
copy of our newest
book, Arizona High-ways
which features 52
of the state’s best
trails — one for
each weekend of
the year, sorted by
seasons. To order
a copy, visit www.
Mescal Ridge Tank
H E L L S G A T E
W I L D E R N E S S
T O N T O
N A T I O N A L F O R E S T
T R A I L H E A D
56 n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1
Win a collection of our most popular books! To enter, correctly identify the location featured above and email your answer to
email@example.com — type “Where Is This?” in the subject line. Entries can also be sent to 2039 W. Lewis Avenue,
Phoenix, AZ 85009 (write “Where Is This?” on the envelope). Please include your name, address and phone number. One winner
will be chosen in a random drawing of qualified entries. Entries must be postmarked by November 15, 2011. Only the winner will be
notified. The correct answer will be posted in our January issue and online at www.arizonahighways.com beginning December 15.
BY KATHY RITCHIE
You won’t find this
place on a lot of bucket
lists, but it’s a popular
pit stop for motor-ists
headed to one of
Arizona’s more popular
destinations. Kids love
it, too. That’s because
they can slide down the
tail of a brontosaurus
while imagining them-selves
in an episode of
The Flintstones. Consid-ered
one of the state’s
more quirky roadside
attractions, this old
standby is worth a visit,
especially if you like the
idea of a Stone-Age-inspired
our winner, Rick
Take ParT i n Some Thing
Inspire. Educate. Protect.
Make your next Grand
Canyon visit the trip of a
lifetime with the Grand
Canyon Field Institute.
A program of the Grand
Canyon Association, GCFI
offers in-depth insight into
the natural and cultural
history of the world’s most
Visit our Web site for a “sneak peek” at the 2012 program.
Photo: Mike Buchheit
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