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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Winslow, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Located in northeastern Arizona lies the town of Winslow. In 1880, Winslow became a division point for the Santa Fe Railway and in 1881 became a regular terminal. A post office was established in 1882. The town, originally just a tent settlement, was named for General Edward F. Winslow, president of the railroad.

Winslow, Arizona ~ 1890

Long before Flagstaff and Sedona became popular vacation towns in Arizona, everyone visited Winslow and the La Posada Hotel for special occasions. Built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway, it was the work of esteemed architect Mary Jane Colter, known for the design of many structures at the Grand Canyon. La Posada, however, was her masterpiece and favorite project.

La Posada Hotel

La Posada is one of the last of a series of hotel-depot complexes built across the Southwestern United States in a collaboration between Fred Harvey and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Designed for a railroad traveling public, the original front door faced the tracks to the south. It was thought that most guests would arrive by train and stay for several days, so day tours to the Petrified Forest and Indian sites were made available. For a fee you could get a driver, a guide, a picnic, and a custom Packard or Cadillac touring car.

The Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport was designed by Charles Lindbergh and is the last remaining airfield in the world drafted by the famed pilot. Currently there are no commercial flights, but in the 1920’s and ‘30’s TWA ran eight flights a day. Howard Hughes, the owner of TWA, was a frequent visitor.

Winslow ~ 1921

Winslow was the biggest city in the region through the 1950’s. Fred Harvey thought that it would grow to be like Santa Fe and become the cultural and money capital of northern Arizona. Downtown Winslow was so busy that Route 66—originally routed through the town—became the first divided highway in Arizona, and hosted department stores like Sears, Pennys and Wards, a 400-seat theater, and over a hundred local businesses. Unfortunately, the town declined as train travel became less prevalent and Interstate-40 bypassed the area.

Winslow was made famous in the Eagles’ 1972 song “Take It Easy”, written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and a monument on a street corner in town commemorates the reference.

Me at the monument to 'Take It Easy'.

“...standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.”



Today, La Posada Hotel has been restored and tourism benefits the town, which lies in close proximity to the Navajo Reservation, the Painted Desert, and Meteor Crater.

Inside La Posada today.



9 comments:

  1. Kristy, thank you for sharing this history. So many places like this had heydays and now struggle. Cripple Creek/Victor were great mining towns, now not much is left of those days. It sounds similar to Winslow. The hotel, what a stunning place that must be to see in person. Road trip someday will need to take me there. Doris/Angela

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    1. Doris,
      You're right. So much history in these places. Winslow really is very plain, nothing wows you about it. A couple saved the hotel and have been restoring it ever since. Without that, I don't think anyone would ever come here except locals. The hotel is right beside the train tracks. You can sit out there, drink in hand, watching the stars and the trains. It's really quite lovely.

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  2. You say it's the railroad and the Eagles (although I love the Eagles), but the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Winslow, Arizona, is the huge meteorite hole. I think it has magic powers. LOL
    Great blog, Kristy.

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    1. Hah Sarah, I think you may be right about the magic powers. :-)

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  3. I had no idea Winslow Arizona had such a rich history. Thank you for writing such an informative post. So many towns disappeared when travel bypassed their towns .My dad drove Route 66 from California to Iowa when I was a kid. I love the song and the Eagles. Too bad time changes things.

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    1. Barb,
      So right. But Winslow is hanging on.

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  4. Kristy, you are a walking encyclopedia. I always enjoy your posts about Arizona history. La Posada must be gorgeous.

    Wonder how many people take pictures with that sign every year. I'll bet a bunch of us who remember the Eagles plop themselves on that corner.

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  5. "Don't Let the Sounds of Your Own Wheels Drive You Crazy..." Love it!
    I do love vintage photos of vintage buildings. Some were quite elaborate. I'd love to see the La Posada. There's such a structure that resembles the La Posada in Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was also built by the railroad and house a Harvey House, too. (We lived in Las Vegas, NM one year--we enjoyed ourselves so much, but the political atmosphere actually drove us and many Anglos out of town.)
    You do know Arizona!...a state I've not visited much, but would love to again one day.
    Oh...and Route 66 bypassing the town...didn't this happen so many times all across the country--a new bypass built literally to bypass the town. It doesn't seem fair--because invariably, that will kill a town.
    Thanks, Kristy!

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  6. Loved this post, Kristy. I had no knowledge at all of Winslow except for the lines from the Eagles' song. Very interesting stuff! I hope to make it there one day and have my picture made right where you're standing. LOL
    Cheryl

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