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|The Texaco gas station Navajo is has the octagonal shape of a hogan. 9-03.|
Boomtown. The WPA Guide to 1930's Arizona lists the population of Navajo as 25 and describes the settlement as a small trading post. By 1946 when Jack D. Rittenhouse's A Guidebook to Highway 66 was published, Navajo was practically booming. The population had skyrocketed to 52, and the facilities were listed as "Marty's Trading Post, with gas and groceries; a small neat cafe in a house back [sic] of the trading post, and five tourist cabins."
Convenience hogan. Today the trading post has been replaced by a modern Texaco gas station with a Subway sandwich shop in a convenience market built in the shape of a hogan, the traditional Navajo dwelling. The walls of a hogan like those of a log cabin are made of logs laid on top of one another and notched at the ends to interlock at the corners. Cracks between the logs are sealed with mud. Instead of having just four walls, the hogan has eight to form a hexagon.
The cleverly designed roof is dome shaped without any supporting center posts or beams, and rises from the shoulder height walls to a center of about 10 feet. It is constructed by placing poles between the midpoints of adjacent log walls. Poles of progressively shorter lengths fill in the triangular gap between that pole and the corner of the outer wall. The process is repeated with poles being placed between the midpoints of adjacent poles until the open area in the center can be filled with short poles. The entire roof is then sealed with a thick layer of clay which becomes waterproof when it dries.
What's in a name? Navajo is located in Apache County, following what seems to be a quirky tradition for place names in Arizona. Fort Apache is in Navajo County, and Apache, the town, is in Cochise County. The little town of Maricopa is not located in Maricopa County, but in adjacent Pinal County. It is the town of Coolidge which is home to the famous Casa Grande ruins, not the nearby town of Casa Grande. The Cochise settlement is indeed in Cochise County and Lake Mojave is in Mojave County. Arizona City is in Arizona, but so are Colorado City and Kansas Settlement.
Historic Navajo Springs. Within six miles south of Navajo is a site of such historic significance that it has its own monument, even though it is so off the beaten track that it requires a permit from the Navajo Nation to get there. Navajo Springs gets its name from the water that seeps out of the ground at various spots over a wide area providing a major watering place for early travelers. In 1863 became the locus for the establishment of the Arizona Territory, which owes its existence in no small part to the Confederate States of America.
The Confederacy's first territory. When the territory which would eventually become Arizona was acquired by the United States in the mid 1800's, it was administered as the New Mexico Territory--a name referencing the country which had unwillingly contributed much of the territory. The New Mexico territory stretched from Texas to California and included areas which are now New Mexico, Arizona and a small portion of Nevada.
The New Mexico Territory was administered from the territorial capitol in Santa Fe. The southwestern region of the territory became known locally as "Arizona." The Arizonans who had come largely from Texas and other southern states felt isolated from and unappreciated by the territorial government. Appeals by the Arizonans to form a separate territory were ignored by Washington, but not by the Confederate States of America as they were being formed by the seceding states in 1861.
Arizona secedes. After the United States government revoked a mail contract with the Butterfield Stage Line further isolating the area, conventions were held in March 1861 in Tucson and Mesilla (in what is now New Mexico) declaring the secession of Arizona from the New Mexico Territory and from the United States. Unlike the geographical configuration of the states, Confederate Arizona was formed from the southern half of the New Mexico Territory below the 34th parallel (just north of Phoenix). A delegate to the Confederate Congress was chosen and the Confederate Stars and Bars was flown over the new territory replacing the US flag. Arizona had become the Confederacy's first, last and only territory.
Lincoln accedes. In seceding, the Arizonans finally got Washington's attention. Congress passed a measure creating the new Territory of Arizona from the western half of the New Mexico Territory and President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law on February 24, 1863, finally giving Arizonans their own territory.
With all deliberate speed, a delegation was sent to inaugurate the government of the new Arizona Territory. When they reached Navajo Springs on December 29, 1863, barely inside the border of the new territory, an inauguration ceremony was held.
Unfortunately, the governor of the new territory appointed by President Lincoln, John Addison Gurley, could not attend the ceremony since he died before the government's inauguration. The first living governor of Arizona, as well as all other territorial and state governors can be viewed on our Governors of Arizona page.
If you really must visit Navajo Springs, check out Tom Jonas's "Where is Navajo Springs?"