Hubbell Trading Post
Cultural Landscape Report
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Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site was authorized by an act of Congress August 28th 1965, Public Law 89-148, and was established in 1967 at which time the National Park Service assumed administration of the property. In 1960 the property was listed in the Historic Sites Register and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The authorization allowed for the purchase of the "site and remaining structures...including the contents of cultural and historical value, together with such additional land and interests in land...needed to preserve and protect the post and its environs for the benefit and enjoyment of the public." The park was established with the intent that the trading post be "operated along the lines close to those that were in effect when it was an active post." The park is located in Apache County just west of the community of Ganado, Arizona and is entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation Reservation.

Quoting from the park's 1980 Development Concept Plan (DCP), "the significance of the historic resources at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site lies in the overall impact of the Navajo traders on the history of the American Southwest and the Navajo people." The 160 acre complex represents an intact and fully operational trading post and its associated farmland that dates from the third quarter of the nineteenth century and according to the DCP it "is considered the best surviving example of an Indian trading post in the United States."

Consistent with its enacting legislation, the park's 1980 Interpretive Prospectus defines the following objectives for interpretation:

1) to operate the trading post in a traditional manner, continuing as an agent of cultural exchange;

2) to present the significance of Hubbell Trading Post NHS, illustrating the role and function of the Indian trader, the trading post, and its evolution over time;

3) to encourage community use of the site, particularly among the Navajo population;

4) to maintain the cultural scene; at the grounds, the compound, the trading post, and in the surrounding farmland;

5) to emphasize personal services in the interpretive program, and to encourage the employment of Navajos to communicate the theme of intercultural relations; and

6) to perpetuate historical trading post-related crafts, especially weaving and silver smithing.


The site selected for this study is the entire 160 acres that comprise the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site located in northeastern Arizona within Apache County (figures 1 and 2). Approximately 154 acres are held by the Park Service in fee title and 6 acres as scenic easement. The park is located just off of Arizona State Highway 264 approximately one mile west of Ganado and fifty five miles northwest of Gallup, New Mexico and it is entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation Reservation. The 160 acre Hubbell homestead was unique in being one of very few parcels of privately owned land claimed and subsequently retained in the Four Corners area during the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, a time during which the Navajo Nation Reservation boundaries were expanded.

The site sits at an elevation of 6325 feet and is included within the Colorado Plateau physiographic province. The Pueblo Colorado Wash, a tributary of the Little Colorado River comprises the major drainage system running through the site. According to a soil erosion study the surficial geology exposed in the study area is classified as part of the Triassic age Chinle formation which is comprised of a complex stratigraphy consisting of claystone, clayey sandstone, and ledge forming sandstones. [1] The soils within the Pueblo Colorado Wash consist of deep loamy, sandy, clayey soils and immediately adjacent to the floodplains are shallow fine-grained soils overlying the Chinle sandstones and claystones. Streambank erosion is a problem along the Pueblo Colorado Wash.

The vegetation within the project area is classified as "Great Basin Microphyll Desert" and it includes natural vegetation communities such as pinon-juniper, greasewood-fourwing saltbush, sage brush, and rabbit brush in addition to several introduced or naturalized species including elm, Russian-olive, currant, apple, and alfalfa to name a only a few. [2]

The park's 1972 Master Plan defines three types of land classification (general outdoor recreation, natural environment, and historic and cultural areas) and three types of zones (public use and development zone, preservation conservation zone/scenic easement, and private development zone) within the 160 acre tract (figure 3). As this is the park's approved Management Plan and is used to guide both management and development decisions, it will be discussed further in this report's Recommendations section.

Figure 1. Vicinity map; adapted from 1972 Hubbell Trading Post Master Plan. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Figure 2. Project locale. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)


The intent of this project was to document past land use as well as to record the existing condition of the landscape associated with John Lorenzo Hubbell's trading post, homesite and farming operation located in Ganado, Arizona.

The Hubbell trading post was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960 although the documentation and designation of boundaries was never finalized. A 1989 draft National Register Registration form documents its significance in the fields of architecture, archeology, commerce, and ethnic heritage/Native American studies. This project reveals that the landscape is the medium which integrates all of these areas of significance and gives them meaning to today's scholar and park visitor alike. A site visit to the Hubbell landscape allows one to understand the meaning of phrases such as "sense of place" or "landscape continuum" as it readily reflects the continuum of use as a trading post operation and farmstead for the past 120 years.

The land associated with Hubbell Trading Post was established as the site of the Leonard trading post as early as 1874 or 1875 and although the site development and design has changed somewhat over the past 120 years or so, the property continues to function as the site of an active and operating trading post. The continued preservation of the historic scene which includes a myriad of cultural resources including buildings and structures, landscape, and archeological resources will allow the park visitor and the local community to continue to experience the 'sense of place' that is associated with this site.

This cultural landscape report has been prepared to assist in the development of a management program that will serve to enhance and preserve the character-defining elements within this significant cultural landscape resource. The report discusses existing problems and issues with regard to site management and potential development, describes research methodology, presents research findings and analysis of those findings, and provides recommendations for the long term preservation and management of the cultural landscape associated with Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site.

Recommendations include management alternatives, design guidelines and maintenance standards, and treatment recommendations. The report also provides a summary documentation of actual treatment that has been undertaken on site dating from NPS ownership to the present date.

Items obtained from the Hubbell Trading Post collection are noted by use of the park's catalog number, such as HUTR 222.

Figure 3. Land classification and management zone map; adapted from 1972 Hubbell Trading Post Master Plan. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)


Because cultural landscapes are generally comprised of a complex assemblage of character defining elements with many being dynamic in nature and constantly changing, they present a real challenge for resource managers.

While change must be provided for in planning for the resource's long term management, maintenance, and preservation, the amount of change allowed must be determined for each individual subarea that comprises the whole of the landscape to insure that the overall integrity of the resource is maintained. These determinations will also reflect the amount and types of development that may occur within and adjacent to the resource area.

Based on discussions with both park and regional staff, the following problems and issues have been noted and will be addressed in the recommendations portion of this report. These include:

1) Circulation

a) ADA parking and site accessibility

b) facilitating staff, traders, and visitors on site

i) foot traffic
ii) vehicular traffic

2) Erosion Control

a) Pueblo Colorado Wash...downcutting, bank slumping

b) around tree roots and embankment at Visitor Center

3) Management Needs

a) vegetation (invasive exotics. elms, Russian olive, white poplar, herbaceous species)...undesirables

b) historic vegetation (apples, currants, lilacs, and other)

c) general maintenance and repair

4) Loss of Character-Defining Features

a) circulation patterns

b) terraces and historic vegetation (fields/vegetable gardens/flower gardens/orchard)

c) small scale features (tree-house/stiles, etc)

d) irrigation ditches/headgates

5) Associated Lands

a) Hubbell Hill — grave sites of many of Hubbell family members

b) Hubbell Reservoir — essential to proposed rehabilitation of agricultural lands

c) Ganado Dam and Irrigation Canal — essential to operation of irrigation system for proposed rehabilitation of agricultural fields

d) adjacent developments — potential visual and environmental quality impacts to historic site

6) Future Development

a) rehabilitation of agricultural lands

i) restoration of water rights/water usage
ii) rehabilitation of Ganado Dam and canal
iii) establish agricultural leasing agreement

b) rehabilitation of kitchen garden or ornamental vegetation

i) management/operation concerns

c) interpretation programming


The research conducted for this project consisted of three distinct approaches. Each required various research methods and will be discussed below. The three approaches include: a background study/literature search; archival research; and field research. The background study/literature search involved reviewing existing National Park Service documents and research reports for Hubbell Trading Post Historic Site and adjacent areas, as well as conducting a background study of the settlement history of the Four Corners area and Navajo traders. The background study consisted of examining regional and local histories, personal journals and accounts of early expeditions and settlement in the study area. Comparative studies were reviewed for information pertaining to the life and ways of Navajo traders in the Arizona territory.

Archival facilities in Washington, D.C., Tucson, Phoenix, Window Rock, Tuba City, Ganado, Arizona, Denver, Colorado, and Santa Fe, Farmington, and Albuquerque, New Mexico were utilized and provided invaluable data in the form of historic maps, photograph collections, land records, aerial photographs, topographic maps, and postal records. Some information was obtained through telephone correspondence, however when practical the original primary source data was examined first hand by the author with hopes of finding some specific references to the historic landscape.

Field research was initiated following some preliminary archival data collection and the preparation of a site base map. The draft cultural landscape inventory (CLI) field survey form was utilized to maintain consistency in the recording of field data.

Field research entailed the use of historic maps, aerial photographs, and period photographs to locate biotic and abiotic landscape features including field boundaries, formally planted vegetation, semi-natural vegetation, building sites, circulation systems and existing plant communities. A pedestrian level reconnaissance survey was conducted over the entire 160 acre property. The existing condition of all structural landscape features located during field reconnaissance was noted and documented using a 35mm camera with black and white print and color slide film and mapped to scale using aerial photo overlays and existing topographic maps for the site.

Previously existing park documents, technical reports, transcribed interviews, and unpublished manuscript files were utilized during the research and analysis phase of this study. Numerous contacts were made during the course of this project and myriad persons provided information regarding the landscape and its history.


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Last Updated: 26-Apr-2004