By Joan Fudala
Boy, do we take for granted air conditioning, paved streets, running water, electricity, annual special events, air travel, a plethora of restaurants and lots of other resident and tourist necessities that didn’t exist in early Scottsdale.
Despite the lack of amenities and infrastructure, tourists still came to Scottsdale. Many came as health seekers; others to see if the Scottsdale area was a place to move for a new beginning.
In celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week — May 1 to May 7 — here is a glimpse of Scottsdale’s early tourism, centered around guest ranches, health camps and inns that are gone but not forgotten.
• After Chaplain Winfield and Helen Scott settled here in the early 1890s, they brought friends and friends of friends on their property at Indian School and Scottsdale roads as winter guests. Most were here at the recommendation of their doctors in the Midwest and back East hoping the warm, dry, clean air would alleviate their lung problems and arthritis. Guests lived in tent homes, comprised of a wooden frame with canvas flaps to open and close to get a breeze or avoid the direct sun. They also benefited from the fresh citrus other fruits and vegetables grown on the Scotts’ farm.
• Across Scottsdale Road from the Scotts’ farm, Ida and Howard Underhill built a home and began taking in paying guests circa 1897. Their “Oasis Villa,” also called “Kenilworth Ranch,” advertised as a place for health and pleasure seekers in the center of the orange belt. In Mr. Underhill’s 1905 obituary in the Arizona Republican, it was noted that “Not only the delightful climate, but the moral atmosphere of Scottsdale is incomparable for it is a settlement of quite home-like people who love to be at peace with each other and with the world and who have a hospitable welcome for all who pass that way.”
• Ed and Mary Graves took over the Underhill property circa 1907, built several tent cottages and renamed it Graves Guest Ranch. Despite the lack of doctors or nurses nearby (one had to travel into Downtown Phoenix for medical treatment), health seekers came to Graves every winter to bask in Scottsdale’s climate, eat three meals a day of locally grown produce and meats, and enjoy gentle outdoor activities like croquet. Mr. Graves also ran a curio shop on-site that featured Native American crafts like pottery and baskets. Other guests at Graves used it as a temporary base while they built a permanent home and became lifelong Scottsdale residents. The guest ranch operated into the 1950s.
• The first “luxury” resort to open in the Scottsdale area was the Ingleside Club/Inn, which debuted in 1910, a project of father/son W.J. and Ralph Murphy. They offered winter accommodations amid the Ingleside citrus groves in a sprawling main lodge and detached cottages. Intending to attract potential investors in Ingleside land that the Murphys owned, or in Murphy’s Arizona Canal system, they catered to a wealthy clientele and did not accept people who were ill. Capitalizing on climate, Ingleside’s slogans were “Where Summer Winters” and “Where Summer Lingers and Winter Never Comes.” Guests could play nine holes of golf on the inn’s all-dirt and -sand course (with the canal as a water hazard). They could also be whisked away to catered dinners inside Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon, where they were entertained by Native American cultural performances. Ingleside Inn operated through the 1930s, became the Brownmoor School for Girls in 1945 and was torn down for apartments in the 1950s.
• As more small guest ranches and a few larger inns opened around Scottsdale, travel to Scottsdale was an adventure in the first half of the 20th century. Most guests came by train into Maricopa or Phoenix, then by horse and buggy to Scottsdale. They stayed for most of the winter season, leaving by May 1 when tourist properties closed due to lack of air conditioning. Inn and guest ranch visitors had all their meals provided on property or on inn-catered outings. There were no stand-alone restaurants in Scottsdale until Clara Boyer Beauchamp opened the modest Scottsdale café in 1922. There were no saloons, taverns, bars or liquor stores in the area, as Scottsdale residents were leaders of the temperance movement and didn’t allow alcohol here until after national Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
• Because guests did not have their own cars or horses, innkeepers provided entertainment on-site or group outings in the desert or into Phoenix. There were no special events in pre-World War II Scottsdale, no art galleries, no concert halls or theaters, and only a few in Phoenix. Rest and relaxation were the primary sources of pleasure.
• The Adobe House opened in Scottsdale in 1928, located approximately in the spot of the current Civic Center Library parking garage. Mildred Bartholow and her friend, Lucy Imogene Ireland, operated the guest ranch seasonally, described in an ad as “ideally located at the edge of the desert, out beyond Camelback Mountain…and old Spanish ranch home, converted into a modern guest home with the addition of steam heat, electricity (which had finally arrived in Scottsdale circa 1918) and private baths in each room.” The cuisine was described as prepared from Southern recipes and “daintily served.” Adobe House closed during World War II (when rationing and wartime service curtailed most leisure travel), and Mrs. Bartholow operated the cadet cafeteria at Thunderbird II Airfield, now known as Scottsdale Airport.
• In 1928 Sylvia Evans and Lucy Cuthbert expanded their tearoom at the southern base of Camelback Mountain into the Jokake Inn. They offered accommodations decorated with art and crafts by local artisans and featured cuisine that drew inn guests as well as locals. Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife, Olgivanna, stayed at Jokake before building Taliesin West as their winter home and architectural school. Jokake had stables and a Desert Camp near today’s Ancala Country Club on Shea Boulevard — a day’s horseback ride from the inn. Guests could experience a two-day trek across the desert, staying in the rustic cabin at the southern foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Although no longer used as an inn, the main building of Jokake stands inside the entrance to The Phoenician Resort.
• Kiami Lodge opened in 1937 on the west side Scottsdale at Jackrabbit roads. Phoenix Indian School art student Charles Loloma painted a mural of a thunderbird on the wall of the dining room. Hopi Kotchaftewa often shared cultural experiences with guests of the lodge, which also featured a swimming pool, expansive patio and cactus garden. According to an early brochure, it accommodated 30 guests “in detached guest houses or ‘hogans’ of Indian adobe construction with typical flat beamed roofs, source of the name Kiami.”
• Mark and Janet Gruber opened El Chorro Lodge in the 1930s in buildings that had been part of Judson School for Girls. Located on the north side of Camelback Road, just east of the Camelback Inn, El Chorro accommodated 12 guests during the winter. It stopped offering rooms and became a popular restaurant that it is today.
• Although leisure travel was limited during World War II, many were introduced to the Scottsdale/Phoenix area during military training or civilian war industry work in the 1940s. After the war, when car, rail and air travel experienced a resurgence, many guest ranches were quickly opened to accommodate travelers who were coming for shorter stays. After spending the war years “escaping” anxieties by watching Western movies, travel to the Valley of the Sun was extra appealing. Merchant Malcolm White coined the slogan “Scottsdale: The West’s Most Western Town” to attract tourists, and the newly formed Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce adopted the slogan for its tourism promotions.
• Among the guest ranches and inns opening in the late 1940s/early 1950s — and which greatly benefited from new air conditioning technology — were Robert Evans’ Paradise Inn, Dorothy Patterson’s Ride n Rock Ranch on Indian Bend, the Puntenney’s Rancho Vista Bonita at Pinnacle Peak and Pima roads, the Silverman’s Paradise Valley Guest Ranch at Chaparral and Scottsdale roads, Royal Palms on Camelback, Casa Hermosa Inn, Casa Blanca Inn, Flying-T Ranch, The Bunk House, Sundown Ranch, Yellow Boot Ranch, Sundial Guest Ranch, Turquoise Ranch, Kachina Lodge, El Estribo Lodge, Outpost Lodge, Diamond K, Hitching Post Lodge and T-Dart Ranch.
• By 1956, Scottsdale gained its first two year-round resort hotels — the Hotel Valley Ho and the Safari Hotel. Dozens of restaurants opened throughout Downtown Scottsdale to cater to car-driving hotel guests. Special events began in the 1950s that thrive today — Spring Training baseball, the Parada del Sol parade and rodeo, the All-Arabian Horse Show, art shows and golf tournaments. After Scottsdale’s 1951 incorporation, streets got paved and named, businesses were licensed and utilities were in place. Scottsdale became even more appealing to visitors.
And the rest, as they say, is Scottsdale’s tourism history.
Happy National Travel and Tourism Week; we salute our historic and current hoteliers, their employees, the staff of Experience Scottsdale, event coordinators and promoters, restaurateurs, transportation operators and all those who make Scottsdale such a desirable destination. You make this a great place to live and work — like being on a perpetual vacation.