Arizona's Historic Places

Arizona is one of the youngest states in the Union, but it's full of historic and iconic places, many of which date to long before statehood. Here are a few of them. | Text by Noah Austin

  • Copper Queen Hotel


    You wouldn’t guess it today, but Bisbee once was a bustling mining town, with a population of more than 20,000 in the early 1900s. The town owed its prosperity to the Mule Mountains’ abundant minerals — particularly copper, which earned Bisbee the nickname of “Queen of the Copper Camps.” Into the mining boom came the Copper Queen Hotel, constructed around the turn of the century as a place for dignitaries and Copper Queen Mine investors to stay. It wasn’t an easy hotel to build: Part of the mountainside had to be blasted away, and water had to be pumped uphill from Main Street. Once the hotel opened, though, it was state of the art: It featured 2-foot-thick walls to keep it cool in the summer, along with Tiffany-glass fittings on the Palm Room’s cathedral ceiling. Today, the Tiffany glass is gone, but the hotel retains much of its original charm, along with other reminders of the past: At least three ghosts of people who died at or near the Copper Queen are purported to haunt its halls.

    DIRECTIONS: The Copper Queen Hotel is located at 11 Howell Avenue in Bisbee.
    CONSTRUCTED: 1898-1902
    BUILDER: Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co.
    INFORMATION: Copper Queen Hotel, 520-432-2216 or

    Photo: History lives on at the Copper Queen Hotel’s restaurant, which boasts that “98 percent” of its menu is priced at $10 or less. | Mark Lipczynski

  • Faraway Ranch

    Chiricahua National Monument

    The Chiricahua Mountains are a long way from Sweden — and a lot of other places, too. But that’s where Neil and Emma Erickson settled, in a small cabin at the entrance to Bonita Canyon, when they came to the United States in the 1880s. The couple struggled with farming, so Neil worked in Bisbee as a carpenter, often leaving Emma alone at the ranch for months at a time. After Neil found work closer to home, the Ericksons set about expanding their family and their home. By the 1920s, Faraway Ranch had all the modern comforts needed to run a guest ranch, and early visitors paid $2.50 a night to stay there. Hiking and birding were popular activities, and after dinner, the Ericksons’ daughter, Lillian, regaled guests with Wild West tales that were at least partly factual. And what about the ranch’s unique name? It comes from the Erickson children’s complaint that their home was “so god-awful far away from everything.” Including Sweden.

    LOCATION: From Tucson, go east on Interstate 10 for 71 miles to Exit 336 (an I-10 business route). Stay straight on the business route and continue 3 miles to State Route 186. Turn right onto SR 186 and continue 31 miles to State Route 181. Turn left onto SR 181 to enter Chiricahua National Monument (a $5 fee is required). After the entrance station, follow the signs to Faraway Ranch.
    CONSTRUCTED: 1880s (original cabin), 1915 (two-story structure)
    ARCHITECTS: Neil and Emma Erickson
    INFORMATION: 520-824-3560 or

    Photo: Faraway Ranch, part of Chiricahua National Monument, has been an Arizona icon for more than a century. | Jeff Kida

  • Grand Canyon Lodge

    North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

    For most people staying overnight at the Grand Canyon, there’s Bright Angel Lodge and El Tovar on the South Rim. For those looking for a little more solitude — OK, a lot more solitude — there’s Grand Canyon Lodge, the only permanent lodging on the Canyon’s remote North Rim. The Utah Parks Co., a subsidiary of Union Pacific Railroad, built the hotel in the 1920s; it consisted of the main lodge building and more than 100 cabins. A few years later, fire consumed the main lodge and two of the cabins. The rebuilt lodge incorporates what was left of the original’s foundation, and its roof is much steeper than that of the original — a change that allows snow to slide off the roof more easily. For years, hotel employees performed “sing-aways” for departing guests. Today, however, visitors can sit back and enjoy the silence the North Rim affords. Sometimes, that’s the best song of all.

    LOCATION: North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
    CONSTRUCTED: 1927-28 (original complex), 1936-37 (current structure) 
    BUILDER: Utah Parks Co.
    INFORMATION: Grand Canyon Lodge, 877-386-4383 or

    Photo: Large windows in Grand Canyon Lodge’s lobby offer unparalleled views from the Canyon’s North Rim. | Jeff Kida

  • Hubbell Trading Post


    The Long Walk, the U.S. government’s forced relocation of some 9,000 Navajos in the 1860s, had a lasting effect on the Navajo identity and way of life. When the Navajos returned to Arizona in 1868, they no longer had their crops and livestock, so trading for goods, already a key component of the Navajo economy, became even more vital. Enter John Lorenzo Hubbell, who bought what would become Hubbell Trading Post in 1878. As a link between the Navajo Nation and the rest of the U.S., Hubbell supplied Navajos with many of the items to which they were introduced during their internment in New Mexico, such as flour, sugar, canned goods and tobacco. Hubbell was 23 when he bought the property. He later married a Spanish woman named Lina Rubi, and they raised four children in the house they built at the site. Hubbell eventually created 30 trading posts in Arizona, New Mexico and California, and his descendants operated the original post until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1967. It’s now part of Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. The site includes nearby Hubbell Hill, where most of the original Hubbell family is buried.

    LOCATION: From Flagstaff, go east on Interstate 40 for 134 miles to U.S. Route 191. Turn left (north) onto U.S. 191 and continue 38 miles to State Route 264. Turn left onto SR 264 and continue 0.5 miles to Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, which is on the left.
    CONSTRUCTED: 1883 (trading-post building)
    ARCHITECT: John Lorenzo Hubbell
    INFORMATION: 928-755-3475 or

    Photo: Hubbell Trading Post provided a vital link between the Navajo Nation and the rest of the world when it opened in 1878. It’s still operating today. | Courtesy of National Park Service

  • Bald Eagle by Craig Miller

    Craig Miller


  • Orpheum Theatre


    It all started with Gustav Walter. Walter, a German impresario, dreamed of building a cross-country “Orpheum Circuit” of theaters for vaudeville acts. He opened the first Orpheum in San Francisco in the 1880s, but he didn’t make it out of California before running out of money. To settle a reported $50,000 liquor bill, Walter sold his interest in Orpheum to Morris Meyerfeld, who expanded the chain nationwide. Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre, featuring Spanish Baroque architecture, opened in 1929. It changed hands, and names, several times before falling into disrepair. The city purchased the building in 1984 and began a $14 million restoration, which lasted until 1997.

    LOCATION: 203 W. Adams Street, Phoenix
    ARCHITECT: Lescher & Mahoney
    INFORMATION: 602-534-5600

    Photo: The Orpheum Theatre has changed hands several times, but it’s been a fixture of downtown Phoenix since 1929.  | Keith Whitney

  • Painted Desert Inn

    Petrified Forest National Park

    Stock-market turmoil took a toll on construction projects in the 1930s, but the Painted Desert Inn was an exception. In 1936, the National Park Service bought the original inn, built 12 years earlier, with the intent of rehabilitating it and adding running water and electricity. But that building was later deemed a lost cause. It wasn’t politically correct to fund new construction during the Great Depression, so the Park Service proceeded under the guise of “rebuilding,” even though little of the original structure was preserved. And when crews gathered wood for the inn’s roof from national forests, the Park Service called it “forest thinning” to avoid scrutiny. Lyle Bennett designed the new structure, which features the adobe façade and pine-beam ceilings typical of the Pueblo Revival style. The inn hasn’t hosted overnight guests since the 1950s, but today, the Park Service operates it as a museum and gift shop, and it endures as one of the few Depression-era structures in America’s national parks.

    DIRECTIONS: From Holbrook, go east on Interstate 40 for 26 miles to Petrified Forest National Park (Exit 311). The Painted Desert
    Inn is located along the main road through the park. There is a fee to enter the park but no additional fee to visit the inn.
    CONSTRUCTED: 1937-40
    BUILDERS: Civilian Conservation Corps and National Park Service
    INFORMATION: Petrified Forest National Park, 928-524-6228 or

    Photo: The Painted Desert Inn's adobe façade dates to the late 1930s. | Mark Lipczynski

  • Bison by Archie Tucker

    Archie Tucker


  • Patagonia Railroad Depot


    The centerpiece of one of Southern Arizona’s most charming small towns is a depot built for the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad. The rail line, built in the 1880s, connected Nogales to the main Southern Pacific line in Benson. The depot came along at the turn of the century, when Patagonia had a population of 133. But within two decades, the town’s mining industry was so prosperous that the railroad made three stops a day there. By the end of World War II, about 5,000 tons of lead, copper, zinc and molybdenum ore were being shipped from Patagonia’s mines every month. After the mines went bust and the rail line was abandoned, a Patagonia resident bought the depot to save it from being demolished. He then sold it to the local Rotary Club. Today, the restored depot is owned by Patagonia and houses the town’s offices.

    LOCATION: 310 McKeown Avenue, Patagonia
    BUILDER: New Mexico and Arizona Railroad
    INFORMATION: Town of Patagonia, 520-394-2229 or

    Photo: Today, the restored depot houses Patagonia’s town offices and looks much the same as it did at the turn of the 20th century. | Jeff Kida

  • Northern rough-winged swallow by Tim Van Den Berg

    Tim Van Den Berg


  • Pioneer Museum


    The building that today houses the Pioneer Museum is 108 years old, but if you want its true origin, you’ll have to go back further — a lot further. Half a million years ago, Elden Mountain, a lava-dome volcano northeast of Flagstaff, blew its top, ejecting a type of volcanic rock called pumiceous dacite that proved to be fireproof and lighter than sandstone. That rock was used to build the Coconino County Hospital for the Indigent, which served the county’s poorest patients for 30 years. After that, the building spent another two decades as a boarding house before becoming a museum, which today is operated by the Arizona Historical Society. It provides a glimpse of life in Flagstaff’s early days through exhibits on ranching, logging and transportation. There also are remnants of the building’s hospital days, including an iron lung and antique surgical equipment. And train buffs will appreciate Locomotive No. 12, a 1929 Baldwin steam engine that’s welcomed visitors to the museum since 1994. In short, there’s plenty to see. That is, until Elden Mountain erupts again.

    DIRECTIONS: From downtown Flagstaff, go north on Humphreys Street for 0.6 miles to Fort Valley Road. Turn left onto Fort Valley Road and continue 1.3 miles to the Pioneer Museum, located at 2340 N. Fort Valley Road. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Admission is $6 for adults but is free for Arizona Historical Society members.
    BUILDER: Coconino County
    INFORMATION: Pioneer Museum, 928-774-6272; Arizona Historical Society,

    Photo: Ponderosa pines surround the former Coconino County Hospital for the Indigent, now the Pioneer Museum. | Mark Lipczynski

  • Least Bittern by Yasmina Parker

    Yasmina Parker


  • Pipe Springs National Monument

    Near Fredonia

    On the Arizona Strip, water can be nearly impossible to find. That’s what drew Mormon missionaries to Pipe Spring, which was the only source of water on the 62-mile route between Fredonia, Arizona, and Hurricane, Utah. Humans have used the spring for thousands of years, but famed pioneer Jacob Hamblin first arrived there in 1858. Within two years, Pipe Spring was being used as a watering hole and campsite for ranchers. The site endured periodic raids by Navajos until 1870, when Brigham Young visited and ordered his followers to build a fort to protect the “fine spring of good water.” That fort became Winsor Castle, named after one of its builders and the ranch’s first manager. Pipe Spring became a “tithing ranch,” raising cattle donated by members of the church. Now, Winsor Castle is the centerpiece of Pipe Spring National Monument, which receives more than 50,000 visitors annually. And the spring still flows, just as it has for centuries.

    LOCATION: 406 N. Pipe Spring Road, near Fredonia
    CONSTRUCTED: 1870-72
    BUILDER: Anson P. Winsor and other Mormon settlers
    INFORMATION: Pipe Spring National Monument, 928-643-7105 or

    Photo: Winsor Castle's lookout tower is visible on the right in this photograph. A lookout would enter the tower through the ceiling of the fort’s meeting room. | Jeff Kida

  • Black-chinned hummingbird by Guy Schmickle

    Guy Schmickle


  • Riordan Mansion


    It’s not as big as Xanadu — the opulent mansion at the center of Citizen Kane — but the 13,000-square-foot Riordan Mansion still plays a prominent role in Flagstaff’s history. Brothers Denis, Michael and Timothy Riordan made their fortunes as the owners of the Arizona Lumber and Timber Co. The booming lumber mill helped turn Flagstaff, formerly a gritty railroad town, into an industrial hub. The Riordans went on to bring electricity to Flagstaff and create Upper and Lower Lake Mary, among other endeavors. Michael and Timothy eventually decided to upgrade their living situation in town, so they had two nearly identical homes built atop Kinlichi Knoll. The craftsman-style homes were connected by a “rendezvous room” where the brothers and their families could gather. Today, you can learn about the history of the mansion and the Riordan family on one of several daily tours. Reservations are recommended. And don’t ask any questions about Rosebud.

    LOCATION: 409 W. Riordan Road, Flagstaff
    CONSTRUCTED: 1903-04
    BUILDER: Michael and Timothy Riordan
    INFORMATION: Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, 928-779-4395 or

    Photo: Timothy Riordan’s elliptically shaped dining room and table were designed to facilitate conversation. | Jeff Kida

  • Golden-mantled ground squirrel by Jole Guthery

    Jole Guthery


  • Shumway School


    Larry Muder was one of the last students to attend class at Shumway School. Later, Muder told a newspaper reporter about “Giant Stride,” one of the games he and other kids would play at recess: A long pole in the ground had five or six chains attached to the top, and children would grab a chain and run around the pole until their feet left the ground. “Sometimes one person would take it out really far and catch the other kids,” he said. “It was a dangerous activity, but we were tougher than kids are now.” Toughness was a necessity in the tiny, remote community of Shumway, founded by Mormon settlers in the late 19th century. The one-room schoolhouse, made of locally fired red bricks, is tough, too: It’s been standing since the 1900s, though it hasn’t been used for school since the 1940s. In recent years, it’s undergone a massive renovation by the Taylor/Shumway Heritage Foundation, which stabilized its foundation and repaired its brick walls. Guided tours of the restored building are available by appointment. The tours do not include Giant Stride, but that’s probably for the best.

    DIRECTIONS: From Show Low, go north on State Route 77 for 11 miles to Shumway Road. Turn right onto Shumway Road and continue a quarter-mile to the schoolhouse, located on the northwest corner of Shumway and Old Mill roads.
    BUILDERS: Various Shumway residents
    INFORMATION: Taylor/Shumway Heritage Foundation, 928-243-2608 or 928-536-7665

    Photo: Students haven’t filled the desks at the meticulously restored Shumway School since the 1940s. | Mark Lipczynski

  • Western diamond-backed rattlesnake by Thomas Hansen

    Thomas Hansen


  • Slaughter Ranch

    Near Douglas

    John Slaughter spoke softly and carried a big stick long before Teddy Roosevelt made it cool. Elected Cochise County sheriff in 1886 — five years after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral — Slaughter patrolled the streets of Tombstone wearing a pearl-handled .44 and packing a 10-gauge shotgun. He politely asked troublemakers to leave town. And he didn’t ask twice: Legend has it the lawman killed at least a dozen men “who had it comin’.” Slaughter is credited with helping to tame the Arizona Territory, and after four years as sheriff, he retired to his ranch east of Douglas. During its peak, the ranch employed 150 people, controlled 100,000 acres in the U.S. and Mexico, and supplied beef and produce to area towns and military posts. And, except for when Pancho Villa’s men showed up, no shotgun was necessary. Ranching continued for nearly six decades after the Slaughter family left the property. Today, it’s officially known as San Bernardino Ranch and is adjacent to San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. Its centerpieces are a large pond, built by Slaughter and fed by natural springs, and the restored ranch house, now a museum that gives visitors a glimpse of ranching the way it used to be.

    DIRECTIONS: From Douglas, go east on 15th Street, which turns into Geronimo Trail, for 16 miles to San Bernardino Road. Take a slight right onto San Bernardino Road, a well-maintained dirt road, and continue 0.6 miles to Slaughter Ranch Museum, on the left. The ranch is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays; a $5 donation is requested for adult visitors, and children are free.
    CONSTRUCTED: 1893 (ranch house; approximate)
    BUILDER: John Slaughter
    INFORMATION: Slaughter Ranch, 520-678-7935 or

    Photo: John Slaughter completed the adobe ranch house that stands today around 1893. Its hipped rooflines and wide verandas recall Slaughter’s Southern roots. | Mark Lipczynski

  • Photo by Damian Galasso

    First Place

    Damian Galasso

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