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 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
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:
To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:
- National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- Arizona State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Arizona as well as other recreational activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.