Scattered throughout the West are remains of various frontier outposts. Once part of a thriving trade and military engine that fueled westward expansion, they survive now as remnants of the past. One exception is the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Arizona; the 1878 post is still doing business. John Lorenzo Hubbell, of American and Spanish descent, was one of the first men to recognize the artistic merit of Navajo silversmiths and rug makers. He knew there was a market for these items, so he established a trading post on the Navajo Reservation in 1878. Eventually, his empire would grow to encompass 24 trading posts.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site wagon.
©NASA.Gov/Jess Loughborough
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site remains an active commerce site
for Navajo craftspeople

The Navajos were still adjusting to life on a reservation when Hubbell arrived, and he became their trusted friend. Known as Don Lorenzo to whites and "Old Mexican" or "Double Glasses" to the Navajo, Hubbell translated and wrote letters for the Indians, explained government policy, and cared for the sick and dying when smallpox swept the reservation in 1886. Hubbell's immunity to the disease, due to a boyhood bout with smallpox, was a sign of higher power to the Navajo. Rangers lead tours of Hubbell's home and the trading post compound, where visitors can participate in the business activities of a trading post.

Members of Southwest tribes still come here to sell and trade jewelry, baskets, pottery, and other crafts. Hubbell Trading Post is typical of frontier stores of the era. A stove stands in the center of the long rectangular building, where, in the winter, Navajos talked and gossiped around its warmth. Behind the massive counters, stained with many years of use, shelves hold coffee, flour, sugar, candy, Pendleton blankets, tobacco, calico, pocketknives, and canned goods. The Hubbell rug room contains stacks of beautiful hand-woven rugs for sale, and visitors can watch weavers at work on rugs in a separate building. At sheep-shearing time, visitors may see wool being weighed and stacked for shipment, just as it was during Hubbell's day.

The adobe Hubbell Home appears as it did when Don Lorenzo lived there, complete with original furnishings and Navajo floor rugs and basketwork. He entertained many artists and politicians here. Hubbell died in 1930 and is buried next to his wife and closest Navajo friend on a hill overlooking the trading post.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site Information

Address: One mile west of Ganado, on U.S. Highway 264, Ganado, AZ
Telephone: 928/755-3475
Hours of Operation:

  • 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily (summer)
  • 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily (winter)

Admission: Hubbell Home Tours $2 per person

Learn more about these other national historic sites:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

Clara Barton National Historic Site

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

Adams National Historic Site

Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Hampton National Historic Site

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Edison National Historic Site

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Longfellow National Historic Site

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Fort Smith National Historic Site

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Boston African -American National Historic Site

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site

Saint-
Gaudens National Historic Site

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Mary McLeod Bethune House National Historic Site

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Weir Farm National Historic Site

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Friendship Hill National Historic Site

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Mc Loughlin House National Historic Site

Sewall -Belmont House National Historic Site

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Chicago Portage National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

Ninety Six National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

Christiansted National Historic Site

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Golden Spike National Historic Site

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site

Steamtown National Historic Site


To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

­ Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.