After exploring the abandoned remains of the Christmas Tree Inn in the ghost town of Santa Claus, Arizona, I headed east on the I-40, the freeway that made Route 66 obsolete. Segments of the old highway still exist along the interstate, some now privately owned and gated off. Along exit 219 sit the ghostly remains of Twin Arrows Trading Post. Concrete barriers line the exit ramp to prevent vehicles from accessing the property, so I drove several hundred feet past it and parked on the narrow shoulder.
The trading post, built in the late 1940s, was originally named Canyon Padre Trading Post after a nearby gorge. In 1955, owner Ted Griffith was hit by a car while removing weeds along the property. His injuries were severe enough that he had to sell the business.
The new owners, the Troxell Family transformed the trading post into a memorable roadside attraction. They changed the name to Twin Arrows to compliment the nearby town of Two Guns, and erected the iconic arrows out front. They also added a gas station and Valentine Diner.
Valentine Diners were prefabricated restaurants sold out of Wichita Kansas by Arthur Valentine from the 1930s to the '60s. Modeled after railroad dining cars, the portable restaurants seated 8-10 customers at a time. Valentine Diners were easy to set up and could be operated by one or two people, making them popular for small business owners.
A large hole has been ripped in the back wall of the diner.
When the interstate came through in the 1970s, business began to decline for Twin Arrows. Quicker transportation through the area decreased the demand for shops and refueling stations. The business changed hands several times before closing in the late '90s. The property is now owned by the state of Arizona.
Weeds now grow up through the crumbling asphalt.
Gas was stored in above-ground tanks.
The arrows, which had deteriorated over the years, were restored in 2009 during an event organized by the Hopi tribe. There was talk of restoring the entire trading post, but nothing ever came of it.
and living quarters.
The structure is badly weathered. Water dripped from the ceiling in many places.
A large chunk of ceiling had caved in, and flurries of snow fell lazily through the opening.
The large fireplace in the living room is still intact.
The office, exposed to the elements, was littered with snow and tumbleweed.
On the back patio lay an overturned picnic table, where workers probably sat on their lunch breaks.
Several apartments behind the main building housed employees who worked at the service station and diner.
The reservoir tank once stored precious water piped in from nearby Drye ranch. Kind of an ironic name, don't you think?
I'm not sure exactly what this little building was used for.
Judging by the state of things, I'd say the chance to restore the buildings is long gone.
Fortunately a Facebook page was created to document the history of this neat old roadside attraction: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Twin-Arrows-Trading-Post/767379229987962?fref=ts . It contains some personal accounts from people who lived and worked there. There is even mention of a time when they saw a distant mushroom cloud from a nuclear weapon test.
By the time I finished exploring this neat little gem, my fingers were numb. I got back in the car, cranked up the heat, and began the short drive to the incredible ghost town of Two Guns. I can hardly wait to share my pictures and tell you all about it's dark history!
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