Sunshine Trading Post Ruins near Canyon Diablo

In a barren expanse of desert outside the remote Navajo town of Leupp stands the ruins of a large unmarked structure. Despite its advanced state of decay, the old building is still quite beautiful.

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

After exploring Ella's Trading Post and the neighboring abandoned campground and cattle ranch, I got back out on the road. Barely eleven a.m. and already I'd explored four interesting sites, it was going to be an outstanding day. I had one more site to check out before heading south to Phoenix, where I wouldn't have to worry about freezing my ass off at night.

I stopped in Winslow for gas and a quick bite to eat. I happened by a massive abandoned Senor D's travel center. I would've loved to see the inside, but it was tightly boarded up.

Senor D's abandoned travel center station in Winslow, Arizona

Next to the abandoned gas station stood an old Denny's, also abandoned.

Abandoned Denny's in Winslow, AZ

I grabbed lunch at a pizza joint called Captain Tony's. I'm not sure why a captain would open a pizzeria, but the food was pretty tasty.

After lunch I followed AZ-99 through rolling hills to the Navajo town of Leupp (pronounced LOOP). With a population just shy of a thousand people, Leupp is quite small, but has an interesting history. It was once home to a boarding school run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. During World War II, the school was transformed into the Leupp Isolation Center, a special internment camp for Japanese Americans who were transferred from other camps after being labeled as "troublemakers".

I pulled up to the rectangular piece of land, which was totally empty except for fading dirt roads and the stone ruins of what I assumed to be the Leupp Isolation Center. It turns out I was wrong and it was actually the site of the Sunrise Trading Post.

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Sunrise was built in 1920 by H.W. "Nebby" Smith, an employee of the Babbitt Brothers, who owned a trading post at the nearby settlement of Tolchaco. Smith is said to have dismantled the stone walls of the Tolchaco building, carried the stones south, and used them to build Sunrise Trading Post, all without the Babbitts' knowledge.

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

The story sounds pretty far-fetched, but I wasn't able to find any other information about the place. It is unclear when or why Sunrise Trading Post eventually closed.

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

The main building was in rough shape and looked like it had already had a run-in with a wrecking ball. A large chunk of wall was reduced to a pile of bricks and most of the roof was gone. Still I found the place beautiful. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Pacman would not be a fan of this graffiti. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

The porch out front was really nice. I would love to sit out there on a warm summer day and enjoy the view.

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

I liked the place so much, I took a rare selfie there. The "Nerd" graffiti in the background seemed appropriate. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Aside from the main structure, there were some walls left over from what was probably a barn or shed. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

And a little cylindrical building. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

I walked along a dirt road to see if I could find remnants of any other buildings. It led to an old bridge that crosses Canyon Diablo where it splits from the Little Colorado River. The canyon, which was dry at the time of my visit, meanders through miles of desert hills, eventually reaching the ruins of the notoriously lawless frontier town of Canyon Diablo. Sadly, I didn't explore the ghost town because I didn't learn of its existence until after I had left the area.

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

On the left is the defunct metal bridge across the canyon. The bridge on the right is part of the highway that crosses Little Colorado River. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Diablo Canyon bridge is no longer can no longer be crossed by vehicles.

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

I wandered around for a while, finding a few overgrown foundations, the only remnants of structures that disappeared long ago. 

On the way back to the freeway, I stopped at a lonely shop in the middle of nowhere. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

I would have loved to order a piece of pie, but the shop was closed. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

Near the freeway is a neat little ranch with a locked gate. The sign reads "No Trespassing. Navajo Nation Property." 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

I didn't try to get a closer look. The sign and what appeared to be a guard tower were enough to deter me. 

Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

I returned to Flagstaff and stopped at McDonald's to use the free internet. After several minutes of failing to connect, I tried using my phone as a hotspot, but that too failed. I overheard the manager saying that a major fiber optic cable had been cut, which meant there was no internet or phone service in Northern Arizona. The only carrier not affected was Verizon. The manager gave me directions south to Phoenix, and I was soon on my way. 

There were several really interesting sites I wanted to stop at on the way to Phoenix. Without cell service, finding them would be tricky, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. 

Next stop: an abandoned dog racing compound. It was phenomenal. I can't wait to tell you all about it next week!

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Abandoned Sunrise Trading Post Ruins in Leupp Arizona near Canyon Diabo

8 comments :

  1. This is a terrific series and the timing couldn't be better as I am heading to AZ next month to see "the boy" and my grandson. I have several "unscheduled" days and I'll be checking out some of these.
    You haven't had any run-ins with anyone, have you?
    Loved the selfie--I laughed at that one. I've only been reading your blog for a little bit. I figured you for an old guy......not someone younger than my son. Glad to see a younger fella out having an adventure.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sue! What part of Arizona are you going to be in? I have been to over a dozen more locations in Arizona, but haven't posted about them yet. I can recommend a few if you'd like.
      I have had a few run-ins with police. All of them occurred in Arizona. Twice I wasn't doing anything illegal, and twice I was trespassing, but there weren't any signs. The cops were pretty friendly (one even apologized for bothering me!) except on one occasion. I was taking a nap in the car on a public road, and the cop gave me a real hard time about it, accusing me of "casing" the neighborhood.
      Haha, I love that you figured me for an old guy. I've been told all my life that I've got an old soul, which is always nice to hear :)

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    2. Hi Jim---My boy lives in Mesa, but once I'm done visiting the family, we're heading ????
      We're retired so no schedule other than visiting friends in Oregon in October. We did the "touristy" ghost towns of Jerome, etc--but I don't consider a ghost town to have pizza, beer, and too many people!!!
      I love REMOTE, lots to explore, and well, heck--just about everything you've shown! Which ones stand out in YOUR mind as the ultimate???
      (Thanks SO much for your insights, you young old whippersnapper-LOL!!)

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    3. I'll send you an email with a few of my favorite AZ locations :)

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  2. Another great post! and bonus Selfie!

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  3. Great pics! Now, I want to know what's in the "watchtower"! And I am now singing an Eagles tune, thanks ;)

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you liked the pics. I really wanted to know what was in the tower too. I guess I'll never know.

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