Ghost Towns of the Mother Road: Valentine, Arizona

Route 66  The area around what became known as Valentine, Arizona was established in 1898 when President William McKinley set aside land for an Indian School.   By the way, if you missed Monday’s article about “Henry P. Ewing, The Blind Miner,” check it out here.  Henry was the first superintendent of the Indian School.

The location was first named Truxton for some landmarks (named after a local family), but in 1910 the town name was officially changed to Valentine in honor of Robert G. Valentine, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  After the Indian School was built, a separate school for Anglo children was built, referred to as “The Red Schoolhouse.”

With the schools located there and the eventual opening of the “Mother Road,” at one point several hundred residents called Valentine home.  In 1937 the Indian School closed, although it was re-opened later and then remained open until 1969.  Both schools still stand today, although neither is used.

Tourism and the schools weren’t the only reason to call Valentine home, however.  For years there had been mining in the area as well as railroad lines and the commerce associated with those industries.  With the name “Valentine” the town received huge amounts of mail around the February holiday – sent off to sweethearts everywhere and postmarked “Valentine, Arizona”.

After World War II and the end of gas rationing and penny-pinching, Americans bought cars and increasingly traveled more.  But, of course, with progress comes even more progress and when Interstate 40 was built and Valentine eventually by-passed in 1978, the town declined.  A few residents remained (and still do today).  The Post Office was still handling fifty to sixty pieces of mail per day (except during Valentine’s season), according to a 1982 Kingman Daily Miner article.  Two women, Jacqueline Grigg and her sister-in-law Shell Grigg ran the Post Office, alternating work weeks.

On August 15, 1990, an horrific event occurred when the Post Office was robbed and Jackie Grigg was murdered.  Her husband bulldozed the building and left the area.  The Post Office was transferred to Kingman (where cards can still get the special “Valentine” postmark for the holiday).

Since 2006, a non-profit organization called Keepers of the Wild houses over one hundred exotic animals (rescued) such as lions, tigers, cougars, monkeys and more (but not a zoo).  The organization offers both general admission and guided safari tours.  Check out their web site here for more information.

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.



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