Visiting the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook this past summer was another item on my bucket list that I was able to cross off during our Route 66 travels along northern Arizona. I was really surprised the teepees looked exactly like what I’d seen in photographs.
There were once seven Wigwam Villages in the United States but today only three are open to the public—Cave Creek, Kentucky, Holbrook, Arizona, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, and Rialto, California.
The “village” concept for the motel was designed by Frank A. Redford and the first motel was opened in 1937. Chester Lewis, an Arizona motel owner, bought the rights to the wigwam design from Redford and built four more “villages”, including the one in Holbrook. Each teepee is 25 feet wide at the base and 28 feet high. Vintage automobiles decorate the parking lot and you won’t find an ice machine on the property or a telephone inside a teepee, but the rooms all have air conditioners and cable TV.
The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook closed in 1982, and shortly after in 1986 Chester Lewis died. After restoring the Holbrook Motel, Chester’s widow and children reopened the rooms in 1988. The 15 teepees are spread out in a semi-circle around the main office, which operates a museum open to the public and includes Mr. Lewis’s Indian artifacts and Civil War memorabilia along with his petrified wood collection.
While my husband browsed through the museum I struck up a conversation with another tourist and the lady had asked me if I had seen the remains of the Bucket of Blood saloon across town. I hadn’t, and as luck would have it, my husband and I were on a tight schedule and didn’t have time that day to see the remains of the saloon. But I did wonder if any historical western romance authors had ever referenced the saloon or Holbrook, Arizona, in their stories.
I found the following images and history of Holbrook and the Bucket of Blood Saloon HERE.
In the mid-1880s, Holbrook was known as a place “too tough for women and churches.” At the time there was little law enforcement when several cow punchers from the Aztec Cattle Company moved into the area. They called themselves the Hashknife Outfit, and they rustled livestock from other cattle companies. They also played a major role in the Pleasant Valley Feud, one of the longest and bloodiest land and cattle feuds in the history of the United States.
In 1886 there were 26 shooting deaths in Holbrook, which at the time only had a population of around 250. Many of the shootings were attributed directly or indirectly to the Hashknife Outfit. The Bucket of Blood Saloon got its nickname after a gunfight between the Hashknife Outfit and a group of cowboys who accused them of stealing cattle. The gun battle ended in so much death that the floors were said to be slick with a “bucket of blood.”
Years later the street that runs in front of the old saloon in Holbrook was renamed from “Central” to “Bucket of Blood St”. The new name landed on several top ten lists citing the most unusual street names.
For fun…have you ever lived on a street with an unusual name?
Until Next Time…Happy Trails!