Monday, April 2, 2018

Winslow, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Located in northeastern Arizona lies the town of Winslow. In 1880, Winslow became a division point for the Santa Fe Railway and in 1881 became a regular terminal. A post office was established in 1882. The town, originally just a tent settlement, was named for General Edward F. Winslow, president of the railroad.

Winslow in 1890.
Long before Flagstaff and Sedona became popular vacation towns in Arizona, everyone visited Winslow and the La Posada Hotel for special occasions. Built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway, it was the work of esteemed architect Mary Jane Colter, known for the design of many structures at the Grand Canyon. La Posada, however, was her masterpiece and favorite project.

Winslow in 1921.
La Posada is one of the last of a series of hotel-depot complexes built across the Southwestern United States in a collaboration between Fred Harvey and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Designed for a railroad traveling public, the original front door faced the tracks to the south. It was thought that most guests would arrive by train and stay for several days, so day tours to the Petrified Forest and Indian sites were made available. For a fee you could get a driver, a guide, a picnic, and a custom Packard or Cadillac touring car.

La Posada Hotel.
The Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport was designed by Charles Lindbergh and is the last remaining airfield in the world drafted by the famed pilot. Currently there are no commercial flights, but in the 1920s and ’30s TWA ran eight flights a day. Howard Hughes, the owner of TWA, was a frequent visitor.

Winslow was the biggest city in the region through the 1950’s. Fred Harvey thought it would grow to be like Santa Fe and become the cultural and money capital of northern Arizona. Downtown Winslow was so busy that Route 66—originally routed through the town—became the first divided highway in Arizona, and hosted department stores like Sears, Pennys and Wards, a 400-seat theater, and over a hundred local businesses. Unfortunately, the town declined as train travel became less prevalent and Interstate-40 bypassed the town.

Winslow was made famous in the Eagles’ 1972 song “Take It Easy”, written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and a monument on a street corner in town commemorates the reference.

Kristy standin' on the corner.
“...standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.”

Today, La Posada Hotel has been restored and tourism benefits the town, which lies in close proximity to the Navajo Reservation, the Painted Desert, and Meteor Crater.

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Unknown said...

It has always been interesting to me how song writers get the ideas for and write their songs. The story I heard about “Take it Easy” was that Jackson Browne was creating it on the piano and got stuck at the line “...such a fine sight to see...” and kept playing it when Glenn Frye just walked by and sang the whole next part off the top of his head,”...It’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford...”

Kristy McCaffrey said...

And the song is so iconic now. I've heard similar things about Elton John. He wrote some of his most famous songs in about 15 minutes. Such talent. Thanks for stopping by!!