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Arizona Highways: Gateway to an Inspiring Land
>> Past Publishers and Editors

In the 1920s, as automobiles emerged as the preferred mode of transportation, states throughout the country developed magazines to let motorists know they had good graded — and even some paved — roads on which cars could travel enjoyably.

Arizona Highways was not the first of those state-run magazines, but it would become the best. Today Arizona Highways has readers in all 50 states and in two-thirds of the countries of the world.

"Nearly all of our subscribers have some acquaintance with Arizona," said former Editor Bob Early. "Many have lived here, or vacationed here, or done business here, or served in the military here or have relatives or friends here.

"Our readers love Arizona and all that it has to offer: the wide open spaces, the scenic beauty, the Old West history, the wilderness areas, the wildlife and so on.

"That's why we consider Arizona Highways 'the gateway to an inspiring land.' We tell the story of Arizona accurately and succinctly and with a come-visit-us attitude."

First Arizona Highways Cover
The first cover of Arizona Highways magazine.

Arizona Highways was first published on April 15, 1925 by the engineers in the old Arizona Highway Department (now the Arizona Department of Transportation). From the very beginning the magazine contained travel stories and scenic photographs, although in the early years the photos were black and white.

The first issue had 26 pages, including advertisements, and ran a travelogue on the Phoenix to Yuma highway. The editor listed 17 other travelogues that the magazine would cover. One thousand copies were printed and they sold for 10 cents each. 

Those early issues also contained page after page of details of road-building projects "to tell of the work being done by the Arizona Highway Department." To liven those pages the editor speckled them with cartoons, and thus helped promote the careers of such humorists as Hal Empie and Bill Mauldin, who later won a Pulitzer Prize for his illustrations of soldiers Willy and Joe during  World War II.

  Bill Mauldin cartoon
© Bill Mauldin

Jokes became another ingredient of the magazine. Here's a sample of the jokes the magazine printed in 1925:

"Madam," said the leader of the kidnap gang, "we'll have to hold you until your husband pays the ransom."

"Oh dear," the woman replied, "I wish I would have treated him a little better."

So the magazine from its beginning had a sense of humor. But it mainly displayed a serious side. On the back cover of each issue in 1925, the editors ran a copy of the "The Highway Engineer's Creed," which said, in part: "I believe that my mission, as a highway engineer, is to assist in shaping and improving the highways of my country, in harmony with those who provide the vehicles which are their necessary complement, to the end that, joined with other means of transportation, they may meet the need of our people for easy, quick, and untrammeled transportation."

Those early issues, unlike today, ran editorials. In a May 1928 editorial the magazine complained:

"The road we build today with prospect of accommodating for the next decade, may be overburdened in two years instead.

"The automobile registration is growing faster than our highways and only radical and farsighted planning can succeed in catching up with this growth."

In March 1929 an editorial titled, "Are Horns Necessary?" argued automobile horns only benefited speeders and other lawbreakers. It advocated a car-to-car buzzer system to alert other motorists of a driver's intention to turn or to stop, and noted: "Sounds silly - but no more silly than sending your photograph by telephone."

In 1938, amidst the throes of the Great Depression, came Raymond Carlson, a recent graduate of Stanford University, looking for work. He found it as editor (and only staff member) of Arizona Highways. He became the first nonengineer to run the magazine and its sixth editor. That same year he recruited George Avey as the magazine's first art director. Together, they built Arizona Highways into the foremost magazine of its type in the world, a position it continues to hold today.

Carlson and Avey would head the magazine into the early 1970s.

The two expanded the use of scenic photography by recruiting freelance photographers. Carlson would look over a photographer's work, gather a pile of photos that he liked and then agree to pay the photographer $5 each time he used one in the magazine. That was big money in those days.

Among those he recruited that way was Esther Henderson, a young dancer-turned-photographer from New York, who had set up a photo studio in Tucson. She became one of the artistic pillars that underpinned the magazine's reputation for outstanding landscape photography. She later married photographer Chuck Abbott who also became a frequent contributor to the magazine.

Although most of the pictures were black and white, Carlson looked ahead to using color photographs. The first color photo (of lower Oak Creek Canyon taken by Norman G. Wallace) appeared on the cover of the July 1938 issue. "How can we, through the medium of black and white, paint a picture of the gold in an Arizona sunset, portray the blue of an Arizona sky, tell the fiery red and green of an Arizona desert in bloom?" Carlson wrote. "We therefore resort to color photography in this issue's cover page to faithfully portray one colorful portion of the state."

  San Xavier mission
© Richard Maack
In the December 1940 issue, Carlson began to add a few color photographs inside the magazine. Photographs in that issue included a number of scenic photos, two pictures of Indian ruins, an Indian portrait, Mission San Xavier del Bac, cacti and the first of a what has become a tradition in the magazine — saguaro sunset photographs. Those photos were taken by Max Kegley.

Working closely with its vendors, Arizona Highways became a pioneer in color printing technology. Regular issues of full-color photography (a 16-page portfolio of Arizona canyons) began in January 1944 under the direction of Bert Campbell, who served as interim editor while Carlson served in the Army during World War II.

The lead photograph in that portfolio was by Josef Muench, the German gardener who became one of the world's leading landscape photographers and a frequent and prolific contributor to Arizona Highways for more than 50 years. Josef's son, David Muench, followed in his father's footsteps to become among the world's great landscape photographers and continues to contribute to Arizona Highways today. Josef's grandson and David's son, Marc Muench, also has become a great landscape photographer whose work appears in the magazine as well.

In December of 1946, Arizona Highways published the first all-color issue of a nationally circulated consumer magazine. But the all-color format did not become standard until the January 1986 issue.

June 1992 cover
John Wayne graced the cover of the January 1992 issue.
After World War II, as the popularity of the magazine soared, the page count also increased to 40 and then to 48 pages. In January of 1992, the page count was increased to 56 pages, with all but one devoted to stories and photographs. One page is used to promote the magazine's books, calendars and other products.

From its beginning, the magazine was supported by annual appropriations from the State Legislature, from magazine sales and from advertising revenues. But in 1938, the old Arizona Highway Commission adopted a resolution banning advertising from the magazine. It said it believed that pitting a state agency against a private company for advertising dollars constituted unfair competition. No paid advertising has been in the magazine since.

And there has been no legislative appropriation or direct tax support of the magazine since 1982. The magazine operates on the funds it earns from the sales of magazines, books, calendars and other products.

Red Rock Crossing
© Bob and Suzanne Clemenz
Through the years dozens of great landscape photographers have helped the magazine develop its reputation for outstanding scenic photography. Besides the Muenches and Esther Henderson in those post World War II years, the roll call includes Carlos Elmer, Ray Manley, Allen Reed, Herb and Dorothy McLaughlin, Dick Dietrich, Bob and Sue Clemenz and James Tallon.

Ansel Adams, who worked mainly in black and white photography, also was a frequent contributor in those early years and his color photography may have appeared first in Arizona Highways.

Another outstanding contributor during the past 40 years or so was Jerry Jacka, who, with his wife Lois, a writer, team to bring to life the artistry of Indian jewelry, weavings, basket making and pottery. For decades the Jackas told the world through the pages of the magazine about the best of the Indian artisans.

The tradition of those photographers continues today with the superb photographic work of people like Jack Dykinga, Nick Berezenko, George Stocking, Tom Danielsen, Willard Clay, Larry Ulrich, Rick Danley, Kerrick James, Gary Ladd, Edward McCain, Robert McDonald, Chuck Lawsen, Randy Prentice, Laurence Parent, Bernadette Heath, Peter Nobles, Larry Lindhal, Rick Odell, Tom Till, Don Stevenson, George H. H. Huey, Jerry Sieve, David Elms, David Smith and dozens more.

Another photographer, Frank Zullo, specializes in the colors of evening twilight and of the night sky. The magazine also benefits from the wildlife photography of Marty Cordano, Robert Campbell and Paul Berquist.

Navajo photographers LeRoy DeJolie and Monty Roessel provide photos of remote areas of the tribal lands that very few people ever see.

And then there are the aerial photographers: Michael Collier, who sees the Arizona landscape from a geologist's eye, and Adriel Heisey, who built his own ultralight airplane that he pilots himself to get a raven's view of the state's multifaceted terrain.

In the early years Editor Carlson and Art Director Avey, whose son Gary edited the magazine in the early 1980s, acted as the photo editors. But as the magazine grew and became more sophisticated, full-time photography editors were hired. Peter Ensenberger, who joined the magazine in 1984 as its Photo Editor and now is Director of Photography, has been with the magazine longer than any other editorial employee. His efforts have enabled the magazine to seek out the very best of the landscape photographers and to elevate the use of photos in the magazine to a fine art. Ensenberger oversees all the photography demands of the organizations, including books, calendars, stationery and other products.  Working with Ensenberger as Photo Editor is Jeff Kida, who spent years shooting for the magazine before joining the staff in 2006. Kida replaced the former Photo Editor Richard Maack, who was responsible for generating much of the archive photography content at arizonahighways.com.

  Ted DeGrazia illustration
© Ted DeGrazia
Though the magazine earned a worldwide reputation for its photography, some of its most successful issues were built around illustrations. Two great artists really got their careers in high gear after their work appeared in Arizona Highways. One was Ettore "Ted" De Grazia, who became the most reproduced artist in the world. The other was Larry Toschik, whose illustrations of birds and other wildlife became the standard to which other artists aspired.

De Grazia"s work, a series of paintings portraying "Mexico and the simple people,"  first appeared in the magazine in February 1941. Carlson called De Grazia "a very sincere person, and one of who you may someday hear much." For the next 40 years or so De Grazia's work regularly appeared in the magazine, even after his death in 1982. He was 73 and had built a worldwide reputation.

Today, his paintings are in prints, lithographs and books and they decorate all manner of things, including greeting cards, collector plates, wind-bells and even refrigerator magnets. De Grazia's Gallery of the Sun in Tucson continues to display his work.

Larry Toschik illustration
© Larry Toschik

In 1966, Toschik, who did part-time layout for the magazine, showed Carlson and Avey some wildlife drawings he had done in his spare time. Avey immediately recognized their value and told Carlson, "I think we should use these."

Carlson agreed and said to Toschik, "Can you work up about a four-page spread? Write the text and we'll use these drawings."

"But I've never written anything," Toschik replied.

"Don't worry," Carlson said. "I know you can do it." And he was right. The four-page spread developed into an 11-page feature in the March 1967 issue.

"It changed my life," Toschik said, because buyers clamored for his artwork, establishing his artistic career.

Then there's the story of Lone Wolf, the artist son of a Blackfoot woman and Anglo Old West author Willard Schultz.  Lone Wolf spent winters and springs painting in Greer and Tucson. His paintings became so popular by the early 1900s that galleries across the country displayed them, but they never appeared in Arizona Highways.

In a May 24, 1942 letter, Lone Wolf wrote to Ross Santee, a longtime illustrator for the magazine, "I wish I could get some of my works in Arizona Highways, but I don't think I am good enough."

Finally, long after Lone Wolf died, the magazine published one of his paintings, called "Night Stampede," in January 2000, during the magazine's 75th anniversary year.

Another artist who contributed greatly to the magazine was Bill Ahrendt. His 16-part "Cavalcade" series of historical paintings between May 1987 and February 1990 are among the magazine's most remembered illustrations.

Art Directors
For a magazine that maintains a worldwide reputation for design quality, it is remarkable that Arizona Highways has had only three art directors. The first, George Avey, served from 1937 to 1972. He set the design standards that propelled the magazine into prominence after World War II. But after he retired, no one was appointed to replace him for 10 years. The editors made the major design decisions.

Then in 1982, Gary Bennett, who had been doing freelance design work at the direction of the editors, was named art director. Under his leadership, the magazine won scores of design awards from peer professional organizations.

In 1995, Bennett resigned to pursue work as an illustrator and was succeeded by Christine Mitchell, then Mary Velgos. The current art director is Barbara Denney, who has continued the award-winning design style of the magazine.

EmploymentArizona Highways magazine is a division of the Arizona Department of Transportation and considers resumes submitted within the State. ... [more]

Awards and RecognitionArizona Highways magazine is honored to have been recognized by the following organizations. ... [more]

Writers' GuidelinesOften, Arizona Highways only accepts queries during a specific timeframe each year. Reference our website regularly for updates about the query acceptance period. ... [more]


Vintage CoversArizona Highways covers have changed a lot over the years, from the first black-and-white image in 1925 to today’s full-color stunners. Explore their evolution in our gallery of vintage covers. ... [more]

Arizona Highways TelevisionEach week on Arizona Highways, viewers will be taken on a journey to all parts of our state. ... more]

Photo Submission GuidelinesWe welcome photographic submissions of original transparencies, 35mm slides and high-resolution digital files that exhibit the high quality we demand from professional contributors. ... [more]


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