Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Switchbacks

The so-called "Switchbacks" of Upper Oak Creek Canyon are justifiably famous.  They have been widely written about and probably have been photographed millions of times.  Rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel, we figured we'd show you The Switchbacks from the perspective of a skateboarder.   Really can't get much better of a "top down" view of The Switchbacks than this!

The YouTube video runs 4:51 and we're pretty sure you'll watch the whole thing!  Here ya go:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Indian Gardens Camping 1928-1932

Babe's Family drove from Phoenix to Indian Gardens in
a black 1926 Willys-Knight touring car such as this model.
Arizona's Old Roads were very primitive well into the 20th Century. Even after Arizona's system of numbered State Route highways was created in 1926, portions of those roads were nothing more than pre-existing wagon trails.  Such was the case with State Route 79 in the late 1920's and early 1930's.

We are grateful to have been able to talk with Esther "Babe" Robart Daley, Camp Verde, about her childhood memories of traveling and camping alongside State Route 79 from 1928 to 1932.  Babe's parents ran a Phoenix hay farm in the vicinity of today's Phoenix College.  Thomas Road was dirt back then.  Babe's Family spent most of their indoor time in a palm-frond-thatched screened building and slept in a separate bunkhouse nearby.

Babe's Uncle drove a Model T pickup truck packed with all of the Family's camping gear.
Each year, Babe and her siblings eagerly awaited the annual Family Camping Trip to Indian Gardens in Oak Creek Canyon. Between August hay cuttings, Babe's Dad, Uncle and oldest brother would load up the Family camping gear into a Model T pickup truck.  Babe and her three brothers would then ride in the Family's 1926 Willys-Knight open touring car.  The three boys rode in the back seat and fought over who would be able to sit on the outside.  Babe rode in between her parents in the front seat. Babe's Uncle drove the Model T.

It was an all day trip from Phoenix to Oak Creek Canyon.  The pair of vehicles drove north of Phoenix on the Black Canyon highway.  Babe recalls often having to wait at New River until monsoon water flows receded enough for the vehicles to safely cross.  The Willys and the Model T eventually made it to Dewey for a refueling stop. Babe remembers an old gas station run by a pot-bellied bald man who had a parrot.  She said her brothers always tried to get the parrot to talk but she can't remember what it said.

After leaving Dewey, the vehicles caravaned over to Cherry and then down the steep grade in Cherry Canyon.  They usually crossed the Verde River at Camp Verde and then made their way through Cornville to the old Sedona-Cottonwood wagon road which had only recently been named State Route 79.

The red line shows the route of the Old Thompson Wagon Road.  This is what early State Route 79 followed to get around Wilson Canyon in the days long before Midgely Bridge was finished in 1939.
Babe has distinct memories of the "road" between Sedona and what's now Midgely Bridge.  The vehicles traversed a very narrow route that was built  in the 1880's as a wagon road by the legendary Big Jim Thompson.  Babe recalls the road was so narrow that two vehicles could not safely pass each other.  Fortunately, there was basically no traffic in those days.  In the only time Babe recalls meeting an oncoming car on the old Thompson wagon road, the Model A climbed "high side" while Babe's Dad carefully slid the wheels of the Willys over a steep embankment.

Babe's Mom was so worried that she had all four of the children get out  of the car in case it would roll down the embankment.

Today the Old Thompson Wagon Road is a hiking trail.  Few hikers know or could even imagine that it was once the main vehicle road linking Sedona and Oak Creek canyon via a circuitous route around the head of Wilson Canyon.
Once the Family was safely delivered to Indian Gardens, Babe's Dad tied a tarp between the trees and the Family camped beside the open springs that flowed out of the red rock wall there.  Babe remembers seeing perhaps one or two cars a day during the 12 days the Family camped at Indian Gardens each summer.  When the Family might be expecting visitors, Babe and her brothers would hike back toward Wilson Canyon and climb on top of a big rock to keep a lookout for any car that might be headed their way.

During the Family's Oak Creek Camp Trip, Babe's Dad would fish all day while the children played in the creek.  Babe couldn't swim and had one narrow escape when she fell off the rope swing under the timbered bridge across the creek to the Thompson Place.  The Thompson Family enjoyed socializing with Babe's Family and the Thompson boys were frequent camp fire visitors, bringing musical instruments, singing songs and telling stories.

In the early 1930's, a dance hall was built at Indian Gardens.  Babe then remembers heavy traffic on Saturday when evening "dance time" drew near.  On one notable excursion up Oak Creek Canyon, Babe's Family visited the fish hatchery at the head of Oak Creek below what is now the Switchbacks.  A bear was kept as a pet and chained to a tree. When one of Babe's brothers tried to pet the bear, he almost was clawed and the bear succeeded in ripping his shirt.  Babe's Mom was none too happy about such damage to scarce clothing in those Depression Days.

Babe graciously provided over 35 minutes of audio commentary about her experiences on and alongside old State Route 79 back then.  We haven't yet mastered the art and skill of editing digital audio files so we're including all of the unedited files for your perusal.  Bear in mind there are pauses in the recordings and you will often hear the Editor asking inaudible questions in the background.

We wish to Thank Babe for taking her time to help us understand just how primitive and little used this early portion of what became US89A was in those days.  As we see hundreds of vehicles whizzing across Midgely Bridge, it's hard to imagine a time when seeing just one vehicle was a Big Deal and the cause of much consternation.  We can imagine the excitement of the children waiting up on that tall rock when they could see a car coming.

Below are the audio files from our interview with Babe.  We have renamed the files to reflect the general content of each narrative.  The time is also listed to give you an idea of the length of each audio file.
  1. (10.17)
  2. (2.21)
  3. (2.01)
  4. (1.59)
  5. (2.00)
  6. (1.58)
  7. (0.59)
  8. (1.54)
  9. (5.03)
  10. (2.34)
  11. (2.36)
  12. (1.23)
The audio files were recorded February 18, 2018, in Camp Verde, Arizona.
The remnant abutments of an old bridge across Wilson Canyon can be seen less than a half mile from the Midgely Bridge parking area and trailhead.  This was not part of the Old Thompson Wagon Road.  It was built in the 1930's prior to the construction of Midgely Bridge later in the decade.
The W.W. Midgely Bridge was completed in 1939.  It's gala dedication was attended by hundreds of people from throughout the region.  W.W. Midgely was a prominent Flagstaff businessman who headed the State Route 79 Association.  That group was instrumental in getting the federal Bureau of Public Roads to begin work in 1930 to improve State Route 79 from Prescott to Flagstaff.  Completion of the bridge marked the culmination of various projects that made Route 79 into a notable Arizona highway.  Not long after the bridge was finished, State Route 79 became US 89A.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Wagon Road becomes State Route 79

The evolution of US 89A is a complex, multi-faceted story deeply rooted in ancient geology, pre-historic trails, Indian Wars, reclusive pioneers, a Montana tycoon, prolific fruit trees and the wagon roads that tied a patchwork quilt of Verde Valley communities together.

To attempt to tell the US  89A Story we must first examine many small details, each in their own element.  Only after we have delved deep into peoples' pathways gone by will we finally be able to bring context to the US 89A Story from Prescott to Flagstaff.

Today (10FEB18) we discuss the Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road.  For as long as people have traveled the land, humans have tended to choose the Path Of Least Resistance.  Pre-historic people were experts at finding routes that used up the least calories and provided the most shelter and sustenance. Pony soliders chasing Native Yavapai and Apache People during the Indian Wars quickly learned lessons of "least  effort" as well.  The Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road follows a natural Path of Least Resistance that quickly became an economic and cultural artery in The Verde Valley.

This wagon road developed quickly and primarily to sell fruit and produce to the miners of Jerome.  The road paired a match made in heaven: abundant, prize-winning fruit and produce grown in the micro-climate of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon with the rich cash flow of thousands of miners hanging on to the  side of Mingus Mountain in a wild, raucous, burgeoning place called Jerome.
You can see the river gravels "plain as day" scattered on this Old Road.
More photos at:
As a result of this symbiotic commercial connection, the Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road was one of the most heavily traveled routes inside The Verde Valley.  The money brought back home to Red Rock Country bought improvements that helped put the Upper Oak Creek area on the map.  It wasn't long before the Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road became a two-way street.  Affluent mining managers and distant tourists began using the road to travel from Jerome-Cottonwood to Sedona to enjoy the camping, fishing and scenic splendors of a truly special American place.

So, when automobiles arrived on railroad flatcars in Jerome, the Wagon Road between Cottonwood and Sedona became one of the first horseless carriage roads in the Verde Valley.  Over the many years of heavy use of this road, much hand and horse-drawn work had been done to improve this relatively level, fairly straight road.

When the time finally came in 1925 for Arizona's transportation leaders to create an official network of numbered State Routes, The Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road was a "natural" first choice as the backbone of State Route 79 between Prescott and Flagstaff.

Much work would need to be done to put the other pieces of the puzzle together for this complex road but the pre-existing usage, condition and maintenance of the Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road made it a "no brainer" as the Heart of State Route 79 in The Verde Valley.
The Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road (AKA: Old State Route 79) looking like a long ride to The Red Rocks!
More photos at:
Back in 1990, we met with the late local legend Zeke Taylor (1910-1994) to talk about the Rimrock-Cottonwood Wagon Road.  He told us many important details of early Verde wagon roads and also described how the Rimrock Road intersected the Sedona Road and proceeded to Cottonwood.  Back when Zeke was a kid, it was a three day trip to Cottonwood.  One day to get there.  One day to do business and one day to get home.  We presume the same could be said of the Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road since both are about the same distance.  (Zeke wasn't allowed to go to Jerome until he came of age.  Local respectable families kept their kids safe that way!)

Anyway, on 10FEB18, we decided to try to find a remnant of the old Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road that Zeke had told us about 28 years ago.  We'd caught many subliminal, peripheral glimpses of it over the years but really hadn't paid much attention...until today.  As we drove north out of  Cottonwood on busy Arizona 89A, we thought we saw the road but we were already past it.  We had to make a u-turn and then turn around again and slow down and park.  Then and only then could we see what appeared to be the faint trace of an old historic road sitting not far off the incessant stream of speeding sedans on the four lane highway that's still called 89A.
You really have to know where you're looking to see the Old Road.
More photos at:
As we parked our truck beside the wide, modern highway, we looked with  great happiness and anticipation of being able to walk a portion of the Old Road.  Was it truly the Old Road?  Or was it a false alarm?  That question haunted us as we carefully walked that Old Road.  Once we got out on the Old Road, there was no longer any question that it was authentic.  It lay lightly on the land, showing only marks of hand and horse power.

Back in the time when this road was built, humans used picks and shovels and horse-drawn fresnos to make their mark upon the land.  The Path Of Least Resistance was translated into the Path of Least Earth Moving when it came to carving a roadscape from a landscape.

I could quickly see that the earliest Wagon Road has been dressed up with a thin covering of gravels from the nearby Verde River.  Verde River gravels are unmistakable in their composition, size and geological characteristics.

I thought of how much work it would have taken to haul tons and tons of those gravels from the river bed to the road bed.
BEER! Road Trip Fuel for The Ages!  Back in those days, steel can openers were known as "Church Keys!"
More photos at:
I long ago learned that litter is apparently a genetic deficiency of travelers.  Many of them appear to be genetically predisposed to throw their human detritus out upon the land they traverse.  I learned long ago how to "sleuth" an old road to two Old Road Pros: Jim Brykit and Eldon Bowman, both now traveling that great Old Road In The Sky.

Byrkit & Bowman were both Genius Road Sleuths.  (We need to do a separate post on their influence in our life. It's too long to tell here.)  Both taught me the concept that early road builders lived lightly on the land.  They taught me how to tell "hand & horse work" from work powered by diesel-fueled horsepower monster machines.  And they also taught me Litter Lessons.  They taught me that "Litter Is Inevitable" and that's how you can determine you are on a Historic Road.  You "date the litter" and, bingo, it's another brick in the wall of evidence documenting you can prove the era of your Old Road.
Guts of an old starter motor on Old State Route 79.
More photos at:
As I walked that road today, I scanned my eyes for where I knew the litter would be and it sure didn't disappoint me.  It showed up right on time and kept appearing everywhere I expected it to be.  Everything fit the "time frame".  Brykit & Bowman were BIG on "time frame".  If your roadside detritus didn't fit your "time frame," then your theories about your Old Road were toast.

Byrkit & Bowman also were insistent that you needed other means and methods to prove that you had your Old Road.  That's what worried me today.  The Verde Valley is criss-crossed with roads that aren't old, aren't historic and have no context or relevance to days gone bye.

Was this a false alarm?  Was this a fake?  Those questions haunted me, even though the roadside artifacts screamed, "This Is The Old Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road and Old State Route 79."

I dutifully took my photos and walked back to the truck and went home to Rimrock.  Once home I decided to delve immediately into whether the Old Road I saw was really the Old Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road AND Old State Route 79.  I spent two hours on that task and came away vindicated and very happy.  Yes, there's NO doubt the road I walked today was part of the ancestral Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road AND Old State Route 79--both progenitors of what would become US 89A and eventually Arizona 89A.  I found compelling, irrefutable evidence that the Old Road I walked today is the REAL Old Road I hoped it would be!
Walking on The Wild Side on Old 79!

I left 100% of the artifacts where I found then, putting them as much back "in situ" as I could.  I certainly hope no one loots these old rusty cans and other tell tale debris from their final resting place.  Leave them where you found them.  Leave them alone.  It's the right thing to do.

We're thoroughly pleased we have finally set foot on a genuine, unmolested portion of The Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road and Old State Route 79.  One of the awesome things that happened in the 1930's was that the government put a lot of people to work to build new roads.  Those roads were often designed to be completely new--not just plopping themselves down on top of the Old Road.  Nope!  The Old Road was passé.  "NEW!" was all that mattered back in those days.
By the time the late 30's rolled around,
The Old Road was long gone & forgotten.

So, when an Old Road was bypassed, no one went there any more.  The Old Road was effectively frozen in time, complete with all its litter in the primitive bar ditch!  That's just one of the  many, many reasons we love unmolested pieces of Old Roads so much.

To find a piece of the ancestral Sedona-Cottonwood Wagon Road and Old State Route 79 today was a personal milestone.  I am a very Happy Camper!
This is how we know we were on the Right Path  for the Old Road!
Here's the full album of all the pictures we took and the graphics we created:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Flagstaff to The West Fork by buggy

The 1922 filming of "Call of The Canyon" on location in Oak Creek Canyon forever changed Northern Arizona.
Below is a verbatim excerpt from Zane Grey's writing that provides the earliest known description of what became US 89A.
"Not until reaching Winslow did she realize how near she was to her journey's end and that she would arrive at Flagstaff after dark. She grew conscious of nervousness. Suppose Flagstaff were like these other queer little towns!

Not only once, but several times before the train slowed down for her destination did Carley wish she had sent Glenn word to meet her. And when, presently, she found herself standing out in the dark, cold, windy night before a dim-lit railroad station she more than regretted her decision to surprise Glenn. But that was too late and she must make the best of her poor judgment. 
This would have been the train depot that Carley arrived to in Flagstaff.
Men were passing to and fro on the platform, some of whom appeared to be very dark of skin and eye, and were probably Mexicans. At length an expressman approached Carley, soliciting patronage. He took her bags and, depositing them in a wagon, he pointed up the wide street: "One block up an' turn. Hotel Wetherford." Then he drove off. Carley followed, carrying her small satchel. 

A cold wind, driving the dust, stung her face as she crossed the street to a high sidewalk that extended along the block. There were lights in the stores and on the corners, yet she seemed impressed by a dark, cold, windy bigness. Many people, mostly men, were passing up and down, and there were motor cars everywhere. No one paid any attention to her. Gaining the corner of the block, she turned, and was relieved to see the hotel sign.

As she entered the lobby a clicking of pool balls and the discordant rasp of a phonograph assailed her ears. The expressman set down her bags and left Carley standing there. The clerk or proprietor was talking from behind his desk to several men, and there were loungers in the lobby. The air was thick with tobacco smoke. No one paid any attention to Carley until at length she stepped up to the desk and interrupted the conversation there. "Is this a hotel?" she queried, brusquely. 

The shirt-sleeved individual leisurely turned and replied, "Yes, ma'am." And Carley said: "No one would recognize it by the courtesy shown. I have been standing here waiting to register." With the same leisurely case and a cool, laconic stare the clerk turned the book toward her. "Reckon people round here ask for what they want." Carley made no further comment. She assuredly recognized that what she had been accustomed to could not be expected out here. 
When Carley hiked a few blocks to The Weatherford, Flagstaff was still a rough and tumble town.
Horses were still on equal footing with the early automobiles that soon changed the landscape forever.
What she most wished to do at the moment was to get close to the big open grate where a cheery red-and-gold fire cracked. It was necessary, however, to follow the clerk. He assigned her to a small drab room which contained a bed, a bureau, and a stationary washstand with one spigot. There was also a chair. While Carley removed her coat and hat the clerk went downstairs for the rest of her luggage. Upon his return Carley learned that a stage left the hotel for Oak Creek Canyon at nine o'clock next morning. And this cheered her so much that she faced the strange sense of loneliness and discomfort with something of fortitude. 

There was no heat in the room, and no hot water. When Carley squeezed the spigot handle there burst forth a torrent of water that spouted up out of the washbasin to deluge her. It was colder than any ice water she had ever felt. It was piercingly cold. Hard upon the surprise and shock Carley suffered a flash of temper. But then the humor of it struck her and she had to laugh. "Serves you right—you spoiled doll of luxury!" she mocked. "This is out West. Shiver and wait on yourself!" 

Never before had she undressed so swiftly nor felt grateful for thick woollen blankets on a hard bed. Gradually she grew warm. The blackness, too, seemed rather comforting. "I'm only twenty miles from Glenn," she whispered. "How strange! I wonder will he be glad." She felt a sweet, glowing assurance of that. Sleep did not come readily. Excitement had laid hold of her nerves, and for a long time she lay awake. After a while the chug of motor cars, the click of pool balls, the murmur of low voices all ceased. Then she heard a sound of wind outside, an intermittent, low moaning, new to her ears, and somehow pleasant. Another sound greeted her—the musical clanging of a clock that struck the quarters of the hour. Some time late sleep claimed her. 

Upon awakening she found she had overslept, necessitating haste upon her part. As to that, the temperature of the room did not admit of leisurely dressing. She had no adequate name for the feeling of the water. And her fingers grew so numb that she made what she considered a disgraceful matter of her attire. Downstairs in the lobby another cheerful red fire burned in the grate. How perfectly satisfying was an open fireplace! She thrust her numb hands almost into the blaze, and simply shook with the tingling pain that slowly warmed out of them. 

The lobby was deserted. A sign directed her to a dining room in the basement, where of the ham and eggs and strong coffee she managed to partake a little. Then she went upstairs into the lobby and out into the street. A cold, piercing air seemed to blow right through her. Walking to the near corner, she paused to look around. Down the main street flowed a leisurely stream of pedestrians, horses, cars, extending between two blocks of low buildings. Across from where she stood lay a vacant lot, beyond which began a line of neat, oddly constructed houses, evidently residences of the town. 

And then lifting her gaze, instinctively drawn by something obstructing the sky line, she was suddenly struck with surprise and delight. "Oh! how perfectly splendid!" she burst out. Two magnificent mountains loomed right over her, sloping up with majestic sweep of green and black timber, to a ragged tree-fringed snow area that swept up cleaner and whiter, at last to lift pure glistening peaks, noble and sharp, and sunrise-flushed against the blue. Carley had climbed Mont Blanc and she had seen the Matterhorn, but they had never struck such amaze and admiration from her as these twin peaks of her native land. 

"What mountains are those?" she asked a passer-by. "San Francisco Peaks, ma'am," replied the man. "Why, they can't be over a mile away!" she said. "Eighteen miles, ma'am," he returned, with a grin. "Shore this Arizonie air is deceivin'." "How strange," murmured Carley. "It's not that way in the Adirondacks." 
This is a pretty good depiction of the buggy Carley  rode to The West Fork.
A buggy of this sort could carry people and ample freight, too.

She was still gazing upward when a man approached her and said the stage for Oak Creek Canyon would soon be ready to start, and he wanted to know if her baggage was ready. Carley hurried back to her room to pack. She had expected the stage would be a motor bus, or at least a large touring car, but it turned out to be a two-seated vehicle drawn by a team of ragged horses.

The driver was a little wizen-faced man of doubtful years, and he did not appear obviously susceptible to the importance of his passenger. There was considerable freight to be hauled, besides Carley's luggage, but evidently she was the only passenger. "Reckon it's goin' to be a bad day," said the driver. "These April days high up on the desert are windy an' cold. Mebbe it'll snow, too. Them clouds hangin' around the peaks ain't very promisin'. Now, miss, haven't you a heavier coat or somethin'?" "No, I have not," replied Carley. "I'll have to stand it. Did you say this was desert?" "I shore did. Wal, there's a hoss blanket under the seat, an' you can have that," he replied, and, climbing to the seat in front of Carley, he took up the reins and started the horses off at a trot. 

At the first turning Carley became specifically acquainted with the driver's meaning of a bad day. A gust of wind, raw and penetrating, laden with dust and stinging sand, swept full in her face. It came so suddenly that she was scarcely quick enough to close her eyes. It took considerable clumsy effort on her part with a handkerchief, aided by relieving tears, to clear her sight again. Thus uncomfortably Carley found herself launched on the last lap of her journey. 

All before her and alongside lay the squalid environs of the town. Looked back at, with the peaks rising behind, it was not unpicturesque. But the hard road with its sheets of flying dust, the bleak railroad yards, the round pens she took for cattle corrals, and the sordid debris littering the approach to a huge sawmill,—these were offensive in Carley's sight. From a tall dome-like stack rose a yellowish smoke that spread overhead, adding to the lowering aspect of the sky. 

Beyond the sawmill extended the open country sloping somewhat roughly, and evidently once a forest, but now a hideous bare slash, with ghastly burned stems of trees still standing, and myriads of stumps attesting to denudation. The bleak road wound away to the southwest, and from this direction came the gusty wind. It did not blow regularly so that Carley could be on her guard. It lulled now and then, permitting her to look about, and then suddenly again whipping dust into her face. 

The smell of the dust was as unpleasant as the sting. It made her nostrils smart. It was penetrating, and a little more of it would have been suffocating. And as a leaden gray bank of broken clouds rolled up the wind grew stronger and the air colder. Chilled before, Carley now became thoroughly cold. There appeared to be no end to the devastated forest land, and the farther she rode the more barren and sordid grew the landscape. Carley forgot about the impressive mountains behind her. 
The movie exposed The Red Rocks
for all the world to see and envy.

And as the ride wore into hours, such was her discomfort and disillusion that she forgot about Glenn Kilbourne. She did not reach the point of regretting her adventure, but she grew mightily unhappy. Now and then she espied dilapidated log cabins and surroundings even more squalid than the ruined forest. What wretched abodes! Could it be possible that people had lived in them? She imagined men had but hardly women and children. Somewhere she had forgotten an idea that women and children were extremely scarce in the West. 

Straggling bits of forest—yellow pines, the driver called the trees—began to encroach upon the burned-over and arid barren land. To Carley these groves, by reason of contrast and proof of what once was, only rendered the landscape more forlorn and dreary. Why had these miles and miles of forest been cut? By money grubbers, she supposed, the same as were devastating the Adirondacks.

Presently, when the driver had to halt to repair or adjust something wrong with the harness, Carley was grateful for a respite from cold inaction. She got out and walked. Sleet began to fall, and when she resumed her seat in the vehicle she asked the driver for the blanket to cover her. The smell of this horse blanket was less endurable than the cold. Carley huddled down into a state of apathetic misery. Already she had enough of the West. But the sleet storm passed, the clouds broke, the sun shone through, greatly mitigating her discomfort.

By and by the road led into a section of real forest, unspoiled in any degree. Carley saw large gray squirrels with tufted ears and white bushy tails. Presently the driver pointed out a flock of huge birds, which Carley, on second glance, recognized as turkeys, only these were sleek and glossy, with flecks of bronze and black and white, quite different from turkeys back East. "There must be a farm near," said Carley, gazing about. "No, ma'am. Them's wild turkeys," replied the driver, "an' shore the best eatin' you ever had in your life." 

A little while afterwards, as they were emerging from the woodland into more denuded country, he pointed out to Carley a herd of gray white-rumped animals that she took to be sheep. "An' them's antelope," he said. "Once this desert was overrun by antelope. Then they nearly disappeared. An' now they're increasin' again." More barren country, more bad weather, and especially an exceedingly rough road reduced Carley to her former state of dejection. The jolting over roots and rocks and ruts was worse than uncomfortable. 

She had to hold on to the seat to keep from being thrown out. The horses did not appreciably change their gait for rough sections of the road. Then a more severe jolt brought Carley's Carley's knee in violent contact with an iron bolt on the forward seat, and it hurt her so acutely that she had to bite her lips to keep from screaming. A smoother stretch of road did not come any too soon for her. It led into forest again. 

And Carley soon became aware that they had at last left the cut and burned-over district of timberland behind. A cold wind moaned through the treetops and set the drops of water pattering down upon her. It lashed her wet face. Carley closed her eyes and sagged in her seat, mostly oblivious to the passing scenery. "The girls will never believe this of me," she soliloquized. And indeed she was amazed at herself. 

Then thought of Glenn strengthened her. It did not really matter what she suffered on the way to him. Only she was disgusted at her lack of stamina, and her appalling sensitiveness to discomfort. "Wal, hyar's Oak Creek Canyon," called the driver. Carley, rousing out of her weary preoccupation, opened her eyes to see that the driver had halted at a turn of the road, where apparently it descended a fearful declivity. 
Carley, the moody New York Socialite was played by Lois Wilson.
The very forest-fringed earth seemed to have opened into a deep abyss, ribbed by red rock walls and choked by steep mats of green timber. The chasm was a V-shaped split and so deep that looking downward sent at once a chill and a shudder over Carley. At that point it appeared narrow and ended in a box. In the other direction, it widened and deepened, and stretched farther on between tremendous walls of red, and split its winding floor of green with glimpses of a gleaming creek, bowlder-strewn and ridged by white rapids. 

A low mellow roar of rushing waters floated up to Carley's ears. What a wild, lonely, terrible place! Could Glenn possibly live down there in that ragged rent in the earth? It frightened her—the sheer sudden plunge of it from the heights. Far down the gorge a purple light shone on the forested floor. And on the moment the sun burst through the clouds and sent a golden blaze down into the depths, transforming them incalculably. 

The great cliffs turned gold, the creek changed to glancing silver, the green of trees vividly freshened, and in the clefts rays of sunlight burned into the blue shadows. Carley had never gazed upon a scene like this. Hostile and prejudiced, she yet felt wrung from her an acknowledgment of beauty and grandeur. But wild, violent, savage! Not livable! This insulated rift in the crust of the earth was a gigantic burrow for beasts, perhaps for outlawed men—not for a civilized person—not for Glenn Kilbourne. 

"Don't be scart, ma'am," spoke up the driver. "It's safe if you're careful. An' I've druv this manys the time." Carley's heartbeats thumped at her side, rather denying her taunted assurance of fearlessness. Then the rickety vehicle started down at an angle that forced her to cling to her seat. Carley, clutching her support, with abated breath and prickling skin, gazed in fascinated suspense over the rim of the gorge. 

Sometimes the wheels on that side of the vehicle passed within a few inches of the edge. The brakes squeaked, the wheels slid; and she could hear the scrape of the iron-shod hoofs of the horses as they held back stiff legged, obedient to the wary call of the driver. The first hundred yards of that steep road cut out of the cliff appeared to be the worst. It began to widen, with descents less precipitous. Tips of trees rose level with her gaze, obstructing sight of the blue depths. 
Call Of The Canyon captured the
American imagination forever.

Then brush appeared on each side of the road. Gradually Carley's strain relaxed, and also the muscular contraction by which she had braced herself in the seat. The horses began to trot again. The wheels rattled. The road wound around abrupt corners, and soon the green and red wall of the opposite side of the canyon loomed close. Low roar of running water rose to Carley's ears. When at length she looked out instead of down she could see nothing but a mass of green foliage crossed by tree trunks and branches of brown and gray. 

Then the vehicle bowled under dark cool shade, into a tunnel with mossy wet cliff on one side, and close-standing trees on the other. "Reckon we're all right now, onless we meet somebody comin' up," declared the driver. Carley relaxed. She drew a deep breath of relief. She had her first faint intimation that perhaps her extensive experience of motor cars, express trains, transatlantic liners, and even a little of airplanes, did not range over the whole of adventurous life. She was likely to meet something, entirely new and striking out here in the West. 

The murmur of falling water sounded closer. Presently Carley saw that the road turned at the notch in the canyon, and crossed a clear swift stream. Here were huge mossy boulders, and red walls covered by lichens, and the air appeared dim and moist, and full of mellow, hollow roar. Beyond this crossing the road descended the west side of the canyon, drawing away and higher from the creek. Huge trees, the like of which Carley had never seen, began to stand majestically up out of the gorge, dwarfing the maples and white-spotted sycamores. 

The driver called these great trees yellow pines. At last the road led down from the steep slope to the floor of the canyon. What from far above had appeared only a green timber-choked cleft proved from close relation to be a wide winding valley, tip and down, densely forested for the most part, yet having open glades and bisected from wall to wall by the creek. Every quarter of a mile or so the road crossed the stream; and at these fords Carley again held on desperately and gazed out dubiously, for the creek was deep, swift, and full of bowlders. 

Neither driver nor horses appeared to mind obstacles. Carley was splashed and jolted not inconsiderably. They passed through groves of oak trees, from which the creek manifestly derived its name; and under gleaming walls, cold, wet, gloomy, and silent; and between lines of solemn wide-spreading pines. Carley saw deep, still green pools eddying under huge massed jumble of cliffs, and stretches of white water, and then, high above the treetops, a wild line of canyon rim, cold against the sky. She felt shut in from the world, lost in an unscalable rut of the earth. 

Again the sunlight had failed, and the gray gloom of the canyon oppressed her. It struck Carley as singular that she could not help being affected by mere weather, mere heights and depths, mere rock walls and pine trees, and rushing water. For really, what had these to do with her? These were only physical things that she was passing. Nevertheless, although she resisted sensation, she was more and more shot through and through with the wildness and savageness savageness of this canyon. 

A sharp turn of the road to the right disclosed a slope down the creek, across which showed orchards and fields, and a cottage nestling at the base of the wall. The ford at this crossing gave Carley more concern than any that had been passed, for there was greater volume and depth of water. One of the horses slipped on the rocks, plunged up and on with great splash. They crossed, however, without more mishap to Carley than further acquaintance with this iciest of waters. 

From this point the driver turned back along the creek, passed between orchards and fields, and drove along the base of the red wall to come suddenly upon a large rustic house that had been hidden from Carley's sight. It sat almost against the stone cliff, from which poured a white foamy sheet of water. The house was built of slabs with the bark on, and it had a lower and upper porch running all around, at least as far as the cliff. Green growths from the rock wall overhung the upper porch. A column of blue smoke curled lazily upward from a stone chimney. On one of the porch posts hung a sign with rude lettering: "Lolomi Lodge." 

"Hey, Josh, did you fetch the flour?" called a woman's voice from inside. "Hullo I Reckon I didn't forgit nothin'," replied the man, as he got down. "An' say, Mrs. Hutter, hyar's a young lady from Noo Yorrk." That latter speech of the driver's brought Mrs. Hutter out on the porch. "Flo, come here," she called to some one evidently near at hand. And then she smilingly greeted Carley. "Get down an' come in, miss," she said. "I'm sure glad to see you." 

Carley, being stiff and cold, did not very gracefully disengage herself from the high muddy wheel and step. When she mounted to the porch she saw that Mrs. Hutter was a woman of middle age, rather stout, with strong face full of fine wavy lines, and kind dark eyes. "I'm Miss Burch," said Carley. "You're the girl whose picture Glenn Kilbourne has over his fireplace," declared the woman, heartily. "I'm sure glad to meet you, an' my daughter Flo will be, too." That about her picture pleased and warmed Carley. "Yes, I'm Glenn Kilbourne's fiancee. I've come West to surprise him."
The graphic above is one of the early edition's dust jacket for the book.
Zane Grey was a prolific writer of outlandish Western Fiction.  It's ironic that Call Of The Canyon set the stage for Sedona-Red Rock Fame.  Whatever else you might think of Zane Grey's novels, we will be forever indebted to him for describing the very first incarnation of what would become US 89A.

(Editor's Note: Zane Grey's books are ubiquitous and you can probably find "Call Of The Canyon" in any library or even yard sale, for that matter.  We used the Kindle ebook for our excerpts above.  We believe our excerpts are allowable under the "Fair Use" provisions of US Copyright law, if indeed the book is still protected by copyright.)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New blog

This blog is new and we haven't yet fully fleshed it out.  Thanks for your patience in visiting.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


The Flagstaff of early US 89 or US 89A was a radically different place than it is today. Below is a view looking north of US 89 itself on to San Francisco Street.  The photographer would have been standing in US 89 (AKA: Rt. 66) to get this photo.  The source of this photo gives a very concise description of how Flagstaff was so named.)