These are hardy folks
– these some 1,500 residents of Joseph
Arizona. They come by
it honestly, from their ancestors who built this community on the
banks of the Little Colorado River in 1876. Founded by Mormons and first called Allen’s Camp,
they watched four other early settlements die at the hands of the
Colorado. These early pioneers were determined to dam the
capricious river to provide irrigation for their crops, but time and
time again, they watched in despair, as the dams washed out and their
crops amounted to nearly nothing. Not just one or two times,
mind you, but 14 times before a dam was successfully built in 1939. This led Andrew Jensen, a Morman church historian, to call the
settlement "the leading community in pain, determination and
unflinching courage in dealing with the elements around them."
came through, the town was just a quiet stop for services until
after World War II, when people really began to travel and traffic
increased through the small town. It was during this time that
another hardy man named James Taylor built the
Jackrabbit Trading Post in 1949. Though Taylor wasn’t
originally from Joseph
City, he showed the same determination in making his business a
success as the citizens of Joseph
City had earlier displayed in saving their town.
Trading Post vintage
Here It Is!
Trading Post Marketing 101
In the beginning, Taylor bought an
asphalt-shingled shack that had formerly been used as a snake farm and
then he turned out all the snakes, much to the alarm of several area
residents. Soon, he began to revamp the building, with dancing
chiefs painted on the front, 30 twelve inch jack rabbits hopping along
the roofline, and a large rabbit painted on one side of the building. He then installed a three-foot high, composition jackrabbit with
yellow eyes, just inside the door to welcome the many tourists
stopping by. Many an old time traveler can tell a story of
having their picture taken atop this rabbit when they were a child. Inside, the counters and shelves were lined with pieces of petrified
wood, turquoise jewelry, and Indian souvenirs.
But owning a Trading Post in those days just wasn’t enough. Dotting the highway, they were a dime a dozen and competing with the
nearby Geronimo Trading Post, with its visual pulling power of large
decorative teepees, Taylor had to do something more.
And, something more
he did! Joining forces with Wayne Troutner, owner of the For Men
Only Store in
Winslow, the pair traveled
Route 66 to
plastering billboards all along the way. Hopping rabbits paired up
with a dancing cowgirl for more than 1,000 miles, enticing travelers to
stop at the
Jackrabbit and the Men's Only Store in Winslow. After all those
miles, travelers couldn’t miss the huge yellow sign that simply said "Here
It Is” paired with its famous jackrabbit icon.
tactics worked because the Jackrabbit is still in business and has long
since become a
Route 66 icon. For two decades Taylor operated the post until he leased it
to Glen Blansett in 1961. Blansett purchased the business in 1967
and passed it on to his son and daughter-in-law who eventually sold it to
their daughter and son-in-law, Cynthia and Antonio Jaquez, who run the
trading post today.