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Petrified Forest - Page 2

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Painted Desert Inn

 

One of the primary landmarks in the Painted Desert is the Painted Desert Inn. The vision of Herbert Lore, a local homesteader, he began constructing the two-story Inn on a high perch overlooking the Painted Desert in 1920. It was first called the "Stone Tree House" because so much petrified wood was used in its construction. In 1924, he registered it as a business and claimed property under the Homestead Act. For almost twelve years, Lore operated the Inn as a tourist attraction. Visitors could eat meals in the lunchroom, purchase Native American arts and crafts, and enjoy a cool drink in the downstairs taproom. Rooms were available for $2-4 dollars per night. Lore also gave 2-hour motor car tours through the Black Forest in the Painted Desert below. An isolated oasis in the Painted Desert, it was without electrical connections, so an onsite lighting-plant was built to supply electricity. Water was hauled from Adamana, ten miles south on the Puerco River.

 

Painted Desert Inn, Petrified Forest, 1920s

The Painted Desert Inn when owned by Herbert Lore in the 1920's, vintage postcard.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads HERE.

 

 

 

The inn was built of wood and native stone in the Pueblo Revival style. Outside, flagstone terraces surrounded by low walls overlooked the desert. The building’s stone walls are more than two feet thick and finished with textured earth-toned stucco. Multiple flat roofs with parapets give the inn its varied massing, and Ponderosa Pine logs pierce the walls, adding play between light and shadow.

 

In 1932, over 53,000 acres was added to Petrified Forest National Monument, including much of the Painted Desert, adding not only scenic value, but also to protect the natural resources. This ultimately helped to push legislation through to upgrade the national monument to national park status. In 1936, the Painted Desert Inn and other sections of land owned by Herbert Lore were purchased by Petrified Forest National Monument. Work quickly began on updating the Inn's electrical, plumbing, and heating systems. Guest rooms, a new entryway, a dining room and a shaded porch were added to the original structure, as well as stained glass ceiling panels, hammered tin chandeliers, and hand-carved furniture.

 

During the Dust Bowl days, thousands of heartland residents fled west on Route 66 in search of a better life. Hollywood documented the era in The Grapes Wrath, which included scenes at the Painted Desert Inn.

 

In 1940, the inn opened under the management of the Fred Harvey Company, which was famous in the Southwest for providing hospitality services to tourists and travelers on the Santa Fe Railroad. For two years, the inn offered Route 66 travelers food, souvenirs, and lodging, and local people with event and meeting space. It closed in 1942, as American involvement with World War II shifted resources away from domestic programs.

 

In 1947, the Inn reopened, complete with the legendary Harvey Girls complimenting the Inn with their excellent service in the spotless dining room. That same year, the Harvey Company’s noted architect and interior designer, Mary Jane Colter, was given responsibility for renovations of the facility. Along with overseeing repair work, Colter created a new interior color scheme and made other changes. New plate glass windows to capitalize on the magnificent surrounding landscape were an important addition. At Colter’s behest, Hopi artist Fred Kabotie painted murals on the dining room and lunchroom walls that are reflections of Hopi culture. The Harvey Girls provided their legendary service to the public at the Painted Desert Inn. In 1848, the Painted Desert Inn became the park's northern headquarters.

 

After World War II, Route 66 became busier than ever as people began to experience "vacations." For many, the Mother Road included a stop at the Petrified Forest, and a bite to eat or curio shopping at the Painted Desert Inn.

 

Over the next decade, the inn declined and suffered from structural damage. In 1963, the inn closed and a new facility opened to house the park visitor center and the Fred Harvey operations. Already suffering from foundation problems, the building sat abandoned for the next 27 years. Only open for periodic events, deterioration continued to occur and the building was nearly demolished in 1965 and again in 1975. A public campaign helped save the building, which the National Park Service listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Secretary of the Interior recognized the historic significance of the inn by designating it a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

 

Hopi Mural in the Painted Desert Inn, Petrified Forest, ArizonaIn 2006, the Painted Desert Inn reopened following its restoration. The inn now appears as it would have in 1949. Functioning as a museum and bookstore today, visitors again are able to experience the exquisite architectural details and richly colored walls of the Painted Desert Inn. Some highlights include the Trading Post Room, a magnificent architectural space with six hammered-tin, Mexican-style chandeliers, an enormous skylight, and windows overlooking the desert.

 

The skylight has multiple panes of translucent glass painted in Indian pottery designs. The posts supporting the corbels and vigas are painted in muted colors. The inn still has the original Fred Kabotie murals. A large and stunning mountain lion petroglyph is on display inside the inn. Discovered in the 1930’s, the petroglyph is considered one of the finest, most vividly animated and lifelike depictions of mountain lions in the region.

 

 

Puerco Pueblo

 

Puerco Pueblo, Petrified Forest, ArizonaDuring the Pueblo I Era, most sites were single-family homes; but, as soils became exhausted, many sites were abandoned by 1250 A.D. in favor of very large multi-room pueblos close to more dependable sources of water. This was more than likely the case with the Puerco Pueblo situated in today's Petrified Forest National Park. Overlooking the Puerco River, this 100 room pueblo built around 1250, surrounded an open plaza. The rooms had no windows or doors but each could be entered by climbing a ladder and descending through a hole in the roof. At its peak, as many as 200 people lived in the pueblo. The residents of Puerco Pueblo farmed the dry slopes below the village, growing cotton, corn, squash, and beans, while hunters sought game. Artisans created and decorated clay pots.

 

The pueblo stood one-story high, with 2 to 3 rows of connected rooms. Within the plaza were several rectangular ceremonial kivas. The village was a lively center, even after the abandonment of larger Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon pueblos to the northeast. Over time, however, the persistently dry climate led the people to leave their home about 1380. They were thought to have joined with their ancestors, the people of which of today, are the  Hopi or perhaps Zuni people. Fragments of their buildings and tools, and their petroglyphs on nearby rocks, remain to tell us of their existence.

 

At Puerco Pueblo and many other sites within the park, petroglyphs—images, symbols, or designs—have been scratched, pecked, carved, or incised on rock surfaces. Most of the petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park are thought to be between 650 and 2,000 years old.

The pueblo is near the middle of the park. A trail to the pueblo is just a short 0.3 mile loop from the Puerco Pueblo parking area. Petroglyphs can be viewed along the south end of the trail. Do not climb on the boulders or walls, or, touch the petroglyphs. This trail is paved and does not have stairs, making it suitable for strollers and various mobility equipment.

 

Old Route 66

 

Old Route 66 Roadbed through the Petrified Forest,In Arizona, Route 66 paralleled the railroad, generally following the Beale Road and National Old Trails Road.

 

In the Petrified Forest National Park, old Route 66 bisected the main park highway. Signs directed travelers either north to the Painted Desert Inn and overlooks, or south to the main petrified wood deposits. Bypassed by a new alignment, which later became Interstate 40, in the late 1950s, the route today is marked only by the remnants of the raised roadbed, weathered telephone poles, and a park exhibit.

 

Petrified Forest National Park is the only park in the National Park System containing a section of Historic Route 66. From Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California this heavily traveled highway was not only a road, it stood as a symbol of opportunity, adventure and exploration to travelers.

 

A trip from middle America to the coast could take about a week. For many, the journey was not just across miles, it was across culture and life styles, from the modest to the exotic. Of course, getting to your destination was important, but the trip itself was a reward. From the neon signs of one-of-a-kind motels to burgers and chicken fried steaks in the multitude of restaurants; from the filling stations that served as miniature oases to gaudy tourist traps, more than 2,200 miles of open road were magical.

 

After long hours of travel, here was a special place to take a break, a welcome stop to rest, stretch your legs, sip a cold drink, and admire the view. The Painted Desert Inn welcomed all with an air of hospitality and allure.

 

Route 66 in the Petrified ForestBypassed by a new alignment (now Interstate 40) in the late 1950s the route today is marked only by the remnants of the raised roadbed, a lonely line of telephone poles, and a park exhibit marking the old intersection. a tribute to this remarkable America icon.

 

Gaze down the long road...and listen. You may hear echoes of the past, echoes of Route 66.

 

There are other places within the Petrified Forest National Park that are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places including the Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs and Archaeological District and Twin Buttes Archaeological District.


The Painted Desert Visitor Center provides information, book sales, exhibits, and restrooms. Timeless Impressions, a free orientation film about the park, is shown every half hour. A restaurant, gift shop, gas station, and convenience store are adjacent to the visitor center. A second museum, the

Rainbow Forest Museum, provides exhibits of petrified wood, fossils, and displays of prehistoric animals as well as information, book sales, and restrooms. The orientation film is also shown here every half hour. A gift shop and a seasonal snack bar are located nearby.

 

Travel through the park is by private vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle, or commercial tour only. The park road, parking lots, and pull outs are suitable for large recreation vehicles, including those towing smaller vehicles. Off road vehicle travel is not allowed within the park, including mountain bikes. The park does not have campground facilities, and overnight parking is not allowed.

 

Be aware that theft of petrified wood results in a fine. Tourists can purchase petrified wood collected legally from private land in a number of nearby businesses. (As a side note, you might also want to know about the Curse of the Petrified Forest. Read HERE.)

 

Hiking opportunities are limited. The longest established trail in the park extends for only two miles; the others are one mile or less. Backcountry camping and hiking are allowed by permit only.

 

 

More Information:

Petrified Forest National Park

1 Park Road
Petrified Forest, Arizona 86028
928-524-6228

 

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2016

 

Hoodoos in the Petrified Forest

Hoodoos in the Petrified Forest, by the National Park Service. This image

 available for photo prints HERE.

 

Beautiful Kachina ScarvesSources:

Four Corners SW

National Park Service

Wikipedia

 

Also See:

 

Across the Painted Desert on Route 66

The Curse of the Petrified Forest

Arizona Route 66

Arizona (main page)

Arizona Photo Print Galleries

 

Petrified Forest-Painted Desert Slideshow:

 

 

All images available for photo prints HERE.

 

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