Peach Springs, Arizona “The Trading Post”
Peach Springs is located in the rolling hills of northwest Arizona between Kingman and Seligman, north of Interstate 40. Population in 2020 was 1361. The old town lies within the territory of the Hualapai people. The springs were reliable water sources that were used by Native Americans for centuries. Explorers became aware of the springs during trips west in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Beginning in 1858, emigrants traveling west along the Beale Wagon Road used Peach Springs as a rest stop and watering place.
After the Civil War, in 1866, the U.S. government granted the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe) a right-of-way to build a transcontinental railroad, and construction through northern Arizona was completed in 1883. With its abundant water, Peach Springs became a major east/west junction for the steam-powered railroad.
A lively railroad town sprouted along the tracks at Peach Springs. A post office was established in 1887. Peach Springs became known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Tourists traveling into the canyon via Peach Springs motivated the construction of a “Harvey House” restaurant and hotel. This period of prosperity lasted for nearly twenty years.
At the turn of the century, the railroad constructed the Santa Fe and Grand Canyon Railway via Williams to the Grand Canyon. The decline in tourist traffic through Peach Springs led to a decline in the town. In 1907, the railroad moved its junction point to Seligman, leaving Peach Springs as only a minor stop along the tracks.
With the “Good Roads” movement of the 1910s came the National Old Trails Road which passed through Peach Springs bringing a new era of prosperity for the town. By 1917, E. H. Carpenter
opened a trading post. In 1921, his friend Ancel Early Taylor bought a half interest in the store, and by 1924 Taylor was the sole owner of the Peach Springs Trading Post. In 1926, the National Old Trails Road became part of Route 66. With the widening and improving the road, traffic through the town steadily increased. Taylor’s trading post business boomed, and two years later he razed the frame store and constructed a new stone building to house the trading post.
The Peach Springs Trading Post enabled the Hualapai to swap traditional craft items, like baskets, and food for canned foods, cloth, medicine, and other processed goods. The Peach Springs Trading Post did a brisk business selling crafts to tourists passing through on Route 66. New owners bought the Peach Springs Trading Post in 1936 and continued to operate it in similar ways.
The Hualapai Tribe acquired the Peach Springs Trading Post in early 1950 and continued to use it as a post office and store until 1965 when the post office moved to a new building. In the early 1970s, after the construction of a new tribal store in Peach Springs, the old trading post became office space for the Job Corps.
Soon after, the new Interstate 40 between Kingman and Seligman bypassed the 84-mile stretch of Route 66 that had passed through Peach Springs. After the completion of Interstate 40, Peach Springs became nearly extinct. Peach Springs served as an inspiration for the fictional town Radiator Springs in the Pixar 2006 animated movie Cars, which depicts the decline of traffic through towns along Route 66. The Peach Springs Trading Post was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
These days the Trading Post is used as offices for the Hualapai Tribal Forestry, Wildlife Conservation, and Game and Fish.