Subscribe: South Mountain History
Preview: South Mountain History

South Mountain History

Historical information about Phoenix, Arizona's South Mountain Park (aka Phoenix Mountain Park) Please send tips (dates, photos, etc) and comments to:

Updated: 2018-03-08T07:57:17.233-07:00


Email Update


Updated my email address. It is now

E-Mail Account Fixed (and comment moderation disabled)


Sorry everyone. The email account was deactivated a long time ago without my knowledge. It has now been reactivated. I just thought I wasn't getting any mail (it's normally forwarded to my personal email).

All email that had been sent to it was deleted when the account was deactivated, so please resend any emails from at least the past year.

Also since I wasn't getting any emails that guests had been leaving comments (which I had to approve), I have disabled comment moderation. Now comments will appear immediately.

Sorry for any frustration this may have caused.

South Mountain Richard

City Commission Approves Plan For Municipal Park In Salt River Mountains


"AZR", April 6, 1924

Commission Plans Purchase of 14,000 Acres To Create Pleasure Resort For Phoenix

Phoenix will have a public mountain park if the plans launched by the city planning commission and approved by the city commission Friday afternoon are carried out. More than 14,000 acres of land, consisting of the Salt River Mountain range south of the city is to be acquired by purchase from the United States government and converted into a pleasure resort for the people of Phoenix, according to announcement yesterday by members of the city planning commission who have been co-operating in this movement.

The announcement follows several months of negotiation on the part of the city planning commission and prompt action on the part of the city commission as soon as the proposition was called to its attention. The city commission passed a resolution Friday afternoon requesting the United States government to withdraw the land from entry, and pledging itself to purchase 14,000 acres of land in the Salt River mountains at $1.25 per acre for the purpose of converting it into a public park.

A telegram was received at the local land office yesterday from the Secretary of the Interior Work in which the local officials were instructed to withdraw the lands involved from entry until such time as Congress may be able to take action on the question. Senators Ashurst and Cameron and Congressman Hayden have all pledged their support to such a measure, according to J. C. Dobbins, chairman of the city planning commission, and there is little doubt but that the lands will be withdrawn.

Scenic Route

Prompt action on the part of the city commission, according to Mr. Dobbins eliminated a lot of delay and will make the park a reality in a comparatively short time.

The mountains contain many canyons, trails of historic interest, hieroglyphic rocks and the topography is such that a scenic drive can be built from one end of the range to the other. Persons who are familiar with this stretch of country declare that this drive will be one of the most beautiful in Arizona.

Just at the southern end of Central avenue in the mountains is a high valley which is admirably adapted to the construction of a 36-hole golf course which may be developed into one of the finest in the country, according to Mr. Dobbins, who says that he and other members of the commission who have been working on the plans have thoroughly familiarized themselves with the topography of the region and know its possibilities.

There is a fine spring of water in this valley which when developed will furnish an ample supply of water for the development of the golf course. Other development plans are being worked out by the committee in charge consisting of W. G. Hartranft, H. L. Aller, Harry Asbury, Mrs. Louie Gage Dennett and Warren McArthur, who are working with the mountain park committee, consisting of J. C. Dobbins, Mrs. John Hampton and H. B. Wilkinson.

The committees have already had maps prepared showing the route of the proposed ridge road, which would extend for almost the full length of the range. Trails leading into the ridge road will be developed, bringing the highest points within easy access to the city of Phoenix.

Stables are also to be built in order that persons may be able to motor out from the city and secure mounts for the exploration of the more mountainous districts which are inaccessible by automobile. Members of the committee say an abundance of fresh water may be developed.

The entire cost of the project will be approximately $18,000, according to members of the city planning commission, who have made the estimate. In placing their proposition before the city commission the members declared that the entire cost of the project may be absorbed within two years at an increased levy of two cents per $100 valuation.

Max Delta Mine c1935-1936



My All Time Favorite Blog Posts


Here's what I consider the Best of the BestArticles:1. Kiwanians Build 5,940 Feet Of Trail To Top Of Telegraph Pass In Phoenix Mountain ParkGreat article from 1924! An entire trail built in a single day, with Beer and Ice Cream for their reward!2. Phoenix Mountain Park Trips Reveal History Of SouthwestTrail advice from C. M. Holbert, the park's original caretaker. So where's the Haunted Cave???3. New Mountain Park Opens Vast Territory For RecreationIf it could only get this much attention today.4. Little Known South Mountain Natural BridgeThis used to be in the park's brochure, now hardly anyone knows about it.5. Hieroglyphics Trail Formally Opened And Dedicated To PublicIt's called Geronimo trail now!6. Scorpion Gulch? It's 'Grandpa'Always wanted to know more about this place.7. Roads, Trails, Picnic Sites Constructed By CCC In PhoenixLots of hard work by those 400 boys from Colorado.8. Hikes In Park Planned Today"Unusual spectacle of snow beds lying on the higher parts of the South mountains" I would love to see that.Photos:(Remember to click the small photo to see a larger version)1. View from Telegraph Pass before the Ahwatukee FoothillsSure has changed a bit.2. South Mountain Aerial Photo from the 70'sCoolness.3. Picnic in 1930's or 1940'sOnly 1 picnic table on the south side of south mountain...enough to seat 1,000 on the north side.Maps:Please send me more! I love old maps.(Remember to click the small map to see a much larger version)1. South Mountain Master Plan Map (est 1934-1936?)Wow, a 300 foot tunnel under Telegraph pass! And Park Circle Drive which would have gone around the entire park.2. Entire 1964 South Mountain Park Brochure MapNifty stuff on here that's not on the current Natural Tunnel and Wonder Spot!3. 1942 Phoenix South Mountain Park MapThe trail names sure have changed. Check out how City trail went to the original summit.Cartoons:These are awesome! Rest in Peace, Reg.(Remember to click the small image to see a much larger version)1. 1938 Reg Manning South Mountain Big Parade2. Hieroglyphic Trail Reg. Manning CartoonFeedback is important to me. I have a full time job, and it helps me justify spending more time doing research. Thanks, and I'll see you on the trail!Also remember to click on the years in the Blog Archive in the upper left area of this page to see all the posts for each year![...]

Scorpion Gulch? It's 'Grandpa'


"PHXG", December 13, 1966

By Bud Lanker, Gazette Staff Writer

Photo Caption: William Lunsford, the original Mr. Scorpion Gulch, caters to scores of neighborhood children who know him affectionately as "Grandpa."

Meet the original Mr. Scorpion Gulch.

William Lunsford, 75, of 10227 S. Central, who holds a copyright on the name, “Scorpion Gulch,” and also has the name registered with the secretary of state, would rather be called plain “grandpa.”

That’s because children are Bill Lunsford’s life and the large number living in the neighborhood call him “grandpa.”

GRANDPA BILL doesn’t like to see two kids sharing the same bottle of pop.

“It isn’t sanitary,” he says.

So he remedies the situation by furnishing the second bottle of pop out of his own pocket.

Bill owns and operates the small store, curio shop and cactus gardens on South Central near the entrance to South Mountain Park.

IN 1936, LUNSFORD purchased the 100 feet of frontage. Her personally hauled the rock and built the store with living quarters attached where he and his wife lived and operated the business.

His wife died several years ago and Bill now lives alone.

He doesn’t make much money, what with giving away bottles of pop, and he is one of the few remaining merchants who sells penny candy. He probably gives way more than he sells. He just can’t resist giving away candy and pop to his “grandchildren” who lack the necessary money.

BILL ISN’T too well, so some of the children, at their own expense, rigged up an alarm from Bill’s place to a home so he can summon aid in case he needs it.

Over a normal weekend, some 200 children will visit “Grandpa” and partake of his candy and pop. They usually come in bunches, their parents phoning Bill that a group of them are on their way and to “watch for them.”

Bill herds the little ones safely across Central to his store. When they start come across the mountain, Bill phones the parents they are on their way home and to “watch for them.”

LUNDSFORD HAS a large stock of curios and Indian made items in his shop but because of his infirmities he is just selling out what he has on hand and not replenishing his stock.

In the adjacent cactus garden Bill has more than 1,800 species of cacti, imported from many countries.

Other business concerns in the vicinity use the name, “Scorpion Gulch,” and that’s all right with Lunsford.

TO THE MANY children who visit him daily he’d rather be known as “Grandpa.” He believes a bottle of pop from “Grandpa” tastes better than one from Scorpion Gulch.

Ruins - Resort or Mining?


This is located in an isolated portion of southwestern South Mountain Park, approximately where 21st Avenue and Ray Road would meet if it wasn't in the middle of the desert.

I have heard two different explanations for what these ruins are the remains of, a mining camp and a resort.

I would love to know for sure, if anyone has any more information (hard evidence, an article or other paperwork) that would be great, but at this point I'd love to hear any word of mouth explanations.


Picnic in 1930's or 1940's



Desert Ramblers To Make Trip Into South Mountains Tomorrow


"AZR", February 24, 1934

The Desert Ramblers, recreation branch of the Business and Professional Women's Club, will make a trip to Phoenix Mountain Park tomorrow afternoon, the outing to be held for tourists as well as local residents and club members.

These outings are specifically arranged to provide entertainment for newcomers and strangers in Arizona as well as to Phoenicians. A large, comfortable bus will leave 29 East Jefferson street and return in the early evening.

Charles M. Holbert, park custodian, will guide the part over some of the new trails and to a scenic location of one of the park headquarters. Higher peaks of the park now are accessible and offer beautiful views of Phoenix and the Salt River valley as well as the Gila river and its valley.

Capt. W. V. Joyce, Field Artillery Reserve, commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the park, will have the party conducted through the camp grounds and buildings.

W. G. Hartranft, chairman of the Phoenix planning and zoning commission, will discuss plans for the development and beautification of the park, and Miss Laura E. Herron, city playground director, will speak on "Recreation." A basket picnic supper will be held, coffee to be served by the committee in charge, Miss Mary Fiezman and Mrs. Ellen A. Copper.

Band To Play At CCC Camp


"AZR", March 8, 1934

The Phoenix Union High School Girl's band, directed by J. J. Boyer, will entertain men of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Phoenix Mountain park at 8 o'clock tomorrow night.

The program will include overtures, serenades, ensembles and solo selections as well as a few favorite marches.

This band also will appear at the annual music concert to be presented by the high school's instrumental music department March 15. The band has been active in a number of school functions this year as well as at meetings of various local organizations.

Band membership has increased to 34 players.

Public Urged To See Improvement In Park


"AZR", March 22, 1934

An invitation to the public to visit Phoenix Mountain park and view the extensive improvement program being carried out by employees of the two civilian conservation camp units stationed in the park, was issued by officials of the camps yesterday.

The invitation is particularly intended for Sundays, it was said. Work in the park has now reached the point where visitors can obtain a more complete picture of the various improvements and how they will benefit the public.

The mountain park CCC unit is the largest camp in the state, comprising of two complete companies with a total enrollment of approximately 400.

One of the major improvements now being completed is construction of a park museum and administration building near the entrance to the area. Numerous picnic areas also have been established and equipped with chairs, tables, camp ovens and other useful facilities.

Members of the camp also are enjoying a varied program of activities and entertainment outside their working hours. Tuesday night members of the Phoenix chapter, Reserve Officers' Association, were entertained at dinner in the camp.

Motion picture shows are held each Sunday afternoon for members of the personnel of the camps and boxing bouts also are regular features. Tomorrow night a group of fighters representing the two camps will stage a series of bouts with a boxing team from the CCC camp at Ashdale.

Other activities have included a baseball tournament between the Mountain park camp and others in and adjacent to the Salt River valley, won by Camp 831, one of the two in the park.

Federal Parks Man Due Today


“AZR”, February 7, 1934

Don R. Hull of the United States Park Service district office at San Francisco, is expected to arrive here today to confer with city officials relative to their application for a six-month extension of operation of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Phoenix Mountain Park.

The city recently made application for extending the camp to September 30. It was originally scheduled to be discontinued March 31. It will be possible, however, to complete the extensive improvement program planned for the park by that date.

In view of how much work is yet to be done and also of the large investment represented in the camp, it is believed the government will grant the extension.

Club Leaders In Park Tour


“AZR”, February 2, 1934

Presidents of local civic clubs were entertained yesterday at a luncheon in the Phoenix mountain park Civilian Conservation Corps camp, followed by an inspection tour over the park by the 400 “CCC” employees who have been stationed at the camp since December.

The group viewed roads that are being constructed in the 14,000 acre park, the new picnic grounds that are being cleared, improved and beautified and other improvements.

Members of the party included: Leslie J. Mahoney, president of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; Mayor F. J. Paddock, president of the Exchange club; John G. Eager, Lions club president; Frank Snell, Kiwanis club president; Elmon F. Coe, Rotary president; Justice Alfred C. Lockwood, Hiram club president; R. H. Cressingham, president, Knights of the Round Table; Paul Gasser, Casey club president and W. R. Hutchins, Engineers club president.

At the luncheon also were Capt. James R. Worthington, A. O. Harris and L. L. Pittman, of the official staffs of the camp, and George Hall, landscape architect.

1938 Reg Manning South Mountain Big Parade


This was originally published in the "AZR" over two Sundays in Feb, 1938, but the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation folks combined it into one very nicely done poster.

(Click the thumbnail to view a gigormous version)


Longer Camp Period Asked


“AZR”, January 25, 1934

APPLICATION for a six-month extension of the original date for the closing of the two civilian conservation corps camps, now operating in Phoenix Mountain park, has been made to federal authorities by the city of Phoenix, S. McN. Johnston, city manager, announced yesterday.

Don R. Hull of the district United States park service offices at San Francisco, arrived here yesterday to confer with city officials on the proposed extension and other matters relative to the camps here.

There is a strong likelihood that the application will be granted, in view of the large investment which has been made in the two camps here and also in view of the fact that the extensive improvement program in the camp which the CCC workers are carrying out cannot possibly be completed in the limited time remaining, Mr. Johnston said.

The camps were originally scheduled to be discontinued March 31. If the extension is granted they would continue to operate on through September.

The camps employ 400 workers who are building roads, trails, clearing, beautifying picnic grounds, installing facilities such as ovens, tables, benches and rest houses for picnic parties, and on other projects.

Hieroglyphic Trail Reg. Manning Cartoon


(image) Great Reg. Manning Cartoon from March 2, 1930
Click picture for a larger printable version

Lower quarter of Hieroglyphic Trail was rerouted to the east of the Heard Scout Pueblo and then renamed Geronimo, although most people still hike or bike down the old Hieroglyphic section to the west of the Heard Scout Pueblo.

Scorpion Gulch - South Mountain Trading Post


I never knew this was originally a store. Anyone remember this, or know when it opened/closed?

Update: My in-laws recall going to Scorpion Gulch in the 60's and 70's when it was a bar.

Date of photograph unknown.

Roads, Trails, Picnic Sites Constructed By CCC In Phoenix


“AZR”, January 22, 1934Water System Is Completed By WorkersThe hope of a group of far-sighted Phoenix citizens, a project awaited through years of prosperity-the improvement of Phoenix mountain park, 14,000-acre municipally owned recreational preserve, strangely enough, is at last being realized as a direct result of the depression.Four hundred young men and boys, recruited from the ranks of the unemployed for the two Civilian Conservation Corps camps established in the park last December, are busily at work on various projects which will add materially to the natural lure of the huge desert mountain preserve and will increase its usefulness to the publicRoads BuiltRoads are being built which will open up beautiful hidden recesses, huge rock-walled canyons, picnic areas and other points of interest hitherto inaccessible to the public. More than 10 miles of new road construction is included on the list of projects given prior preference. Additional miles, including construction of a 25-mile circular drive encircling the entire park, may also be built if the workers remain here for a sufficient length of time.Although operation of the camp here originally was to be discontinued soon, city officials are confident that this time will be extended provided funds to continue operation of CCC camps in the nation are appropriated by the present congress.In any event, the projects which already are certain of completion are practically sufficient to justify the $60,000 in federal funds spent to establish the camps. It is estimated that their cost, together with that of the various improvements in the park, will total $180,000.Road Tops PeakIncluded in the road projects now under way is construction of a first class 22-foot road nearly five miles in length which will ascend to the top of one of the highest peaks in the South mountain range—nearly 2,100 feet in elevation. Some remarkable scenery is visible from points along this road, particularly on the peak, from which the visitor may survey an estimated 12,000 square miles of surrounding country. This road will lead to a huge level plateau, covering nearly a square mile, where will be located a model camp or picnic area.Construction of 15 miles of horseback or hiking trails, winding through the park is another part of the “3-C” program. These, as well as the new motor drives, will open up to visitors many interesting points and beautiful scenery, including pre-historic hieroglyphic rock writings, giant cactus forests, shaded canyons and arroyos and tall mountain summits.Water System BuiltAmong the most important improvements already started is the bringing of a water supply into the park. A well already has been drilled on South Central avenue on land donated by H. Clay Parker, and a pipeline laid to the top of a peak near the north boundary of the park.A 20,000-gallon storage reservoir is being blasted out of solid rock at the top of the peak and will be lined with concrete. From this reservoir, pipelines will be laid to several adjacent picnic grounds. Because of their elevation and distance, it will not be possible to pipe water to all the numerous picnic areas to be developed in the park.Sites now being developed for picnic areas are located about one-fourth mile east of the CCC camps and are readily accessible to the public on existing roads which are being improved rapidly.Park Beauty PreservedIn developing the picnic areas, every effort is made to preserve the natural beauty of the park—its lichen covered boulders, over-hanging cliffs and existing trees and plants. The areas will be equipped wit[...]

1942 Phoenix South Mountain Park Map


(image) Click image for a large printable version.
Believed to be an official map created by City of Phoenix.
Found in an April, 1942 A.Z. Highways.

Civilian Camp Gets New Name


"AZR", December 27, 1933

A new name now graces the 400-man Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Phoenix Mountain Park, according to word received yesterday from Eighth Corps Area headquarters, Fort Sam Houston, Tex.

The camp will be known as the Phoenix Metropolitan Park camp.

Two companies-Nos. 830 and 831--of 200 men each are camped within the park, carrying out trail-building and many other improvement projects.

Second CCC Corps Arrives


"AZR", December 4, 1933

A FORCE of nearly 200 from Colorado arrived in Phoenix yesterday to join the Phoenix Mountain Park Civlian Conservation Corps camp.

They are quartered in the park in a well-equipped camp which already has been constructed.

The group arriving here yesterday was the second CCC contingent to be established in the park.

The first company arrived more than two weeks ago and already has started preparations for carrying out an extensive program of improvement within the park, a 14,000 acre municipally-owned recreation area.

Arrival of yesterday's contingent brings the camp up to its full personnel.

CCC Company Coming Here


"AZR", December 2, 1933

A company of Civilian Conservation Corps camp workers left Colorado yesterday en route to Phoenix, where they will be established for the winter in Phoenix Mountain park.

Arrival of the Colorado group will bring the population of the camp up to about 400. One company of CCC workers has been established in the park two weeks.

The second contingent is expected to arrive here tomorrow or Monday, according to information received by S. McN. Johnston, city manager.

They will be quartered with the workers already here in the elaborate camp which has been constructed in the interior of the park.

The first company already has begun preliminary work on the extensive improvement program planned within South Mountain park, a 14,000 municipally-owned recreational preserve.

Park improvements to be made include construction of many miles of new scenic drives, trails and bridle paths, reforestation, establishing and improving of new picnic grounds, and other facilities.

Entire 1964 South Mountain Park Brochure Map


South Mountain Richard

As requested, here is the entire map from the 1964 South Mountain Park brochure:

(image) Click small image to get a large readable/printable image

Request for Information


I've setup a new Email address for this blog: View my profile for a clickable link.

I would love to hear any comments about info on this blog, positive or negative. I don't even mind if people send me a simple note pointing out spelling errors or typos.

I'd like to know if anyone appreciates the info posted here, and wants me to continue working on this project. It would be great to know that the effort was worthwhile.

If you have any information or tips about anything related to the history of South Mountain, please feel free to send them in.

Old Photos
Old Newspaper Articles (or just the date of the article!)
Any tidbit of information...personal memories, anything.

I will be posting some questions soon I would like to have answered...a few mysteries I haven't found answers for yet. Stay tuned.


South Mountain Richard

Camp To Add 200 Workers


"AZR", November 29, 1933

An additional contingent of 200 workers is scheduled to arrive at the Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Phoenix Mountain park Sunday, city officials said yesterday following a visit to the camp.

The first company of workers reached the camp from projects in Colorado last week.

The original group, which also numbers 200 men, already is at work carrying out the extensive improvement program which has been outlined for the park.

The complete camp, including dormitories, mess halls, recreation halls and other facilities, already has been finished and is housing the "CCC" men. Arrival of the second company Sunday will bring the camp up to its full strength.

Projects in the park already placed under way include the building of new roads, trails and bridle paths, reforestation of areas which have been denuded of their natural desert plants, shrubs and trees, establishing of picnic grounds and installation of facilities such as camp ovens, tables, benches and sun shelters for picnic parties and similar improvements.