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Arizona Flag - Legends of the High Desert IconARIZONA LEGENDS

Across the Painted Desert on Route 66

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A little snow at the Painted Desert, Arizona

A little snow the Painted Desert, David Alexander, 2015. 

This image available for photo prints HERE.

 

 

Sites & Information:

 

Lupton

Allantown

Houck

Querino Canyon Bridge 

Sanders

Chambers

Side Trip: Hubbell Trading Post

Navajo

People of the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest Slideshow

 

 

As your Mother Road journey begins to cross Arizona you will travel through Navajo country, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and more than a dozen small towns, of which, many are little more than a trading post, and of others, nothing but a ghost town.

 

Through this section that you can truly get a feel of what Route 66 might have been like long ago -- the small towns are still small towns, many of the Indians continue to make their living from the trading posts, and though not always in very good shape, original sections of the old pavement lie intact upon this section of Arizona's high desert.

Beautiful vermilion cliffs surround you on both sides of the highway as you enter Arizona, setting the tone for the highly colored drive you are about to take.

The original road from Lupton to Chambers closely follows I-40, mostly to the north of the interstate. There are pieces through here where the original road is in bad shape and turns to gravel or dirt. From Chambers to Holbrook, the old road simply disappears or is on private property. There are exits from the interstate to the sites you may want to see through the Painted Desert, so your best bet might be to stay on I-40 from Lupton west to Holbrook.

 

Trading Post in Lupton, Arizona, photo by Jim HinkleyLupton

 

Situated right at the New Mexico-Arizona border, Lupton, also known as Painted Cliffs, invites you with high sandstone bluffs, where statuesque figures of deer, bear, and eagles peer down from above. These beautiful cliffs,  formed from 60 to 200 million years ago, typify the stark, lonely beauty of the Indian country to the north.

 

Immediately, you are surrounded by a number of trading posts at the base of the cliffs, selling all manner of Indian treasures. Several of these have been in business since the birth of Route 66, including the Tee-Pee Trading Post. Lupton is also home to the Painted Cliffs Welcome Center, a great visitors' stop on your way into the state.

 

Known as Tesesi’ani’ (Setting Rock) and Tsedijooli (Round Rock) to the Navajo, Lupton has been inhabited on intermittent basis for more than 200 years. Prior to the establishment of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, it was a central point of departure for military expeditions and for supply routes.

 

In 1863 and 1864, the United States government, as a part of an Indian removal effort, forced the Navajo to depart from the area and relocated them to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. This evacuation is known as The Long Walk of the Navajo, or the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo. The government's objective was to "Americanize" the Navajo. However, the site the government chose was not adequate for agriculture and the entire idea, a miserable failure. In 1868, the Navajo were finally acknowledged sovereignty and allowed to return to their lands.

 

 

 

Beautiful Kachina ScarvesThe first trading posts at Lupton were established during the decade following the Navajo's return from Fort Sumner. In 1905, Lupton became the site of the first railroad station established by the Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in Arizona. The station was named for G.W. Lupton, a train master in Winslow, Arizona. Before long, more people settled in the area and more trading posts were established. A post office was established in May, 1917 with Joseph D. Gorman as the first postmaster.

 

At about that same time, the National Old Trails Highway was blazed, and in 1926, Route 66 would follow most of the same path. This created tourism opportunities in Lupton and the town sprouted several gas stations and a store. Today, Lupton is called home to just about 25 people.

 

Just about another eight miles will bring you to the very small community of Allantown.

 

Allantown

 

Like Lupton and other towns in the vicinity, the area around Allantown was long inhabited by the Navajo people. The town got its start when the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad was built in 1881 and 1882. It was named for construction superintendent Allan Johnson. One of the first non-Indian residents in the area was a man named Curt Cronemeyer, who established a trading post some distance south of the railroad tracks. Cronemeyer had two Navajo wives, and the land upon which his trading post sat may have been allotted to one of them. Cronemeyer, of German descent, was an interesting character, leaving an impression upon those who lived in the area. Said to have been a notorious ladies' man, the impression he left on some, was not always a good one. In June, 1915, he, along with another man named McDonald were robbed, shot, and killed at the trading post. According to Navajo oral history, the 49-year-old trader was confronted at his store by a number of Navajo men, accusing him of flirting with their wives. Cronemeyer protested his innocence, but the Navajos were having none of it and one of them shot him. However, newspaper articles later related that the Gallup, New Mexico sheriff was tracking a group of Mexican bandits to El Paso, Texas, where they eventually confessed to the murder and were apprehended.

 

Allantown, established as a railroad siding, never grew very large. It obtained a post office in 1924 and when Route 66 came through, boasted a gas station, grocery store, curios shop, and cafe. However, it's post office closed in 1930. The original townsite, next to the railroad, was located south of I-40 about a mile south of where remaining businesses are located today. Before I-40 barreled through, visitors along this stretch of the road associated Allantown with a large geodesic dome structure that housed Indian City. Though the domed building is gone, folks can still visit Indian City.

 

 

Continued Next Page

 

 

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 To the Petrified Forest   Return to Route 66  To: About Arizona Route 66

 

To the Petrified Forest

 

Return to Route 66

 

About Arizona 66

 

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