Snapshot Expeditions
Terree@MsTerree.com
 

Wetherill  ~ Colville Trading Post and Lodge

   

John and Louisa Wetherill ~ Kayenta, Arizona ~ circa 1929

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Old Kayenta
A Motoring Tourist Adventure

 

 

The Wetherill and Colville Trading Post and Lodge had been established for nearly two decades by the time the Clocks made their initial motor tours to Kayenta.

Arrival at the post resulted in warm greetings between friends, a home cooked meal, and rustic accommodations.  The pleasant shade and green lawn in front of the lodge presented a contrasting respite to the surrounding barren landscape.

Excerpts from Muriel Clock's essay, entitled "Tsaybega," are included here.  Although her description paints a romantic picture of the lodge and Mrs. Wetherill, a terse comment in her annual log may have more accurately reflected Muriel's impression of the accommodations.  In 1935, Muriel had written that the, "same old cold room" had been theirs for the overnight stay in Kayenta.

The trip from Flagstaff was an all day affair, requiring an early departure to ensure arrival well before dusk.  Traveling after the sun had set was "no joke in this country" as Edmund Patterson remarked in 1939.  Excerpts from his untitled essay describing a six day journey with Charles Clock are also included.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Kayenta ~ 44 miles"
Crossroad at Begashibito, Arizona

The lure of the desert is so intense that autumn after autumn has found us wandering about in Northern Arizona.  The desert keeps beckoning with a charm which soon becomes irresistible.... Like all games, each trip holds in store unexpected surprises of good fortune or hard luck; endurance tests, both physical and mental. 

Introduction to "Tsaybega" ~ Muriel B. Clock, circa 1934

One of our favorite destinations, a hundred and seventy-five miles from the nearest railroad, is a rambling red sand stone trading post whose doors are never locked, night or day.  There are few guest books any place which can offer a list of such interesting names as Kayenta, a little outpost of civilization amidst the wild beauty of the desert.  Kayenta for thirty years has been the home of Louisa Wetherill, author of a recent book, Traders to the Navajos.

"Tsaybega" ~ Muriel B. Clock, circa 1934

 Wetherill Lodge, circa 1929

"Little outpost of civilization" ~ Kayenta

 Louisa Wetherill and Hoskinnini Begay, circa 1929

 

A Navajo trading post is an institution peculiar unto itself.  It is a most extraordinary experience to sit around a hearth fire, intently listening in, to absorb all of the interesting bed time stories, when suddenly, without knocking, a Navajo medicine man, Hoskinini Begay [sic], enters, gravely shakes hands with Mrs. Wetherill, and then joining the circle sits by the fire to look and listen.  It is a pleasantly strange mixture of the old civilization and the new.

"Tsaybega" ~ Muriel B. Clock, circa 1934

Mrs. Wetherill excels as a story teller, relating all manner of thrilling adventures; experiences of her own besides the exotic and fascinating clan legends of the Navajo people.  The Navajos have a beautiful and impressive philosophy.  Their code of living is based upon the inborn belief that anger is the worst sin and an evil thought is the next worst.  In one of their ceremonies the singer chants four times...  

 

Louisa Wetherill and adopted daughters, Fanny and Betty, circa 1929

Wetherill Lodge, Black Mesa in the background, circa 1929

 

Front porch and lawn, Wetherill Lodge, circa 1929

View of Skeleton Mesa, Kayenta, circa 2003

 

Boarding school and hospital located behind the trading post; Skeleton Mesa in the background, circa 1929

Laguna Wash Crossing, circa 1929.

 

..This was Sunday and being heathens from outside we were surprised to find the gas station at Kayenta closed.  Luckily we had enough to take us through, so without stopping at the post, we pushed on, leaving the hospital and the Indian school behind us as we climbed the divide over the Tyende Mesa, between Kayenta and Monument Valley...

 Untitled ~ Edmund D. Patterson ~ circa 1939

 

Owl Rock (right) and Agathla Peak (center), circa 1929

...As we topped out, Owls Cap on the left and the magnificent Agatha [sic] Needle gave us a taste of what was coming, and we stopped for pictures. 

 Untitled ~ Edmund D. Patterson ~ circa 1939

Owl Rock and Agathla Peak, circa 2002

The road to Monument Valley was not paved until late 1950s

...Returning a few days later Charles, Edmund and I decided to climb up to the base of Agatha [sic], but after going up to where the car looked like a brown bug on the ribbon of road below, we found we were only half way to the shaft and gave it up.  To our bewilderment we picked up plenty of petrified wood amid the lava.  There's a problem for a geologist.  This shaft must tower 1000 feet from its actual base....

 Untitled ~ Edmund D. Patterson ~ circa 1939

Agathla Peak, circa 1929

Agathla Peak, circa 2002

   

Copyright 2001 ~  Terree Duncan ~ All Rights Reserved