Hubbell Trading Post
Cultural Landscape Report
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Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site consists of the aggregation of historic buildings, structures, and agricultural fields that were designed and constructed by the J.L. Hubbell family and the local Navajo community. The property was added to the Historic Sites Register in 1960 and administratively listed as a National Historic Landmark with passage of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act. National Park Service administration began in 1967.

The existing park boundaries include the original 160 acres that were claimed by homestead and eventually granted to J.L. Hubbell in 1906, however it should be noted that a substantial amount of additional acreage located outside of the official homestead boundary was actively utilized by the Hubbell family and contributed to the development and operation of the trading post operation. Key use areas identified outside of the National Park Service boundaries include the irrigation reservoir, Hubbell Hill, Ganado Lake and Dam, and the main irrigation canal that served the Hubbell agricultural fields. Because of the significance of these areas with regard to the overall spatial organization and daily operation of the historic trading post they are addressed in this study.

view from shed area
Figure 44. View from the shed area toward Hubbell Hill, 1993.


As mentioned above, the majority of the Hubbell Trading Post cultural landscape is owned and managed by the National Park Service while three additional areas lie within the Navajo Reservation lands. The overall spatial organization of the landscape is much the same as it was historically with the exception of the addition of facilities for visitor use and park staff.

Seven character areas have been identified within the Hubbell landscape. These areas were identified during analysis of historic land use activities and provide a manageable means of documenting, describing, and organizing management and treatment recommendations for the myriad character-defining features that contribute to the integrity of the trading post landscape. The seven areas are comprised of the agricultural fields, trading post and residential compound, barn lot with associated sheds and corrals, specialty garden areas including the vegetable and flower gardens, school and chapter house site, Hubbell Hill, and the irrigation reservoir and main canal including Ganado Lake and Dam.

The majority of these areas were spatially contiguous and visually connected due to the open nature of the landscape in and around Ganado. The exception to this was the Ganado dam and portions of the main irrigation canal located approximately 2.5 miles from the trading post site. These conditions are very much the same today. The various activities that were performed in each area during the different periods of site occupation and use have changed somewhat, however this will be discussed in the section on land use.

The historic terraces and irrigation features are still readily discerned by the astute visitor in looking south across the abandoned agricultural fields that border the park's entry road and continue south and west behind the historic trading post corrals and sheep pens. Of the five fields that once comprised the Hubbell fields one has been modified to provide a residential housing complex for park employees. The remaining four fields are abandoned but continue to reflect their historic land use patterns although they are slowly undergoing successional vegetation change as they fill in with the shrubby growth of sage, Russian thistle, and chamisa. The sewage lagoon that was constructed in the 1960's along the northern edge of one of the agricultural fields is no longer functional as a lagoon but serves as a staging area or bone yard for the park maintenance division. The earthen embankment provides a visual screen for the assortment of materials stockpiled within although other boneyard areas within the park are openly visible.

The historic trading post continues to operate and serve the community as well as an increasing number of park visitors. As evidenced in the following photographs the large parking area adjacent to the trading post remains as informal as it was historically (figures 45 and 46). The warehouse adjoining the trading post continues to be utilized for storage purposes by the trader and the addition to the south provides the park with curatorial storage and staff office space.

freight wagons
Figure 45. Loaded freight wagons east of Trading Post, around 1906. (RP 54).

parking lot
Figure 46. Vehicle parking east of Trading Post, 1933.

The residential compound area is used for park staff housing, VIP lodging, and visitor interpretation. Visitors are free to explore the compound and are provided access to the Hubbell residence through ranger led open house tours. The guest hogan has been rehabilitated to provide on site lodging for VIP's, and the manager's residence is occupied by a park employee. The residential compound continues to be definable as a vernacular working yard and retains a variety of features that are reflective of the historic land use patterns and the spatial organization of the area. These features include a privy structure now used as the park's fire hose house, an active chicken house and pen, and a clothes line.

The historic barn is utilized by the park for a variety of purposes including storage of large curatorial objects, feed and tack storage and shelter for the park's three resident horses and one mule. The surrounding barn lot with its wagon sheds, corrals and pens also contains feed and water troughs for the park's horse. In addition to providing an enclosure for the horse the area is used for storage and display of large curatorial objects such as wagons, manure spreaders, and horse-drawn hay balers.

Remnants of the Hubbell family's specialty gardens areas used for growing vegetables and flowers remain evident throughout the landscape. One area that lies adjacent to the Hubbell residence is annually cultivated with a variety of vegetables by the park staff. The Hubbell family's primary vegetable garden area remains surrounded by a fenced enclosure however it is rapidly filling with young seedlings and sprouts from the wild plums that were once under controlled cultivation in the vicinity. Surviving historic plant specimens including roses, lilacs, and yuccas belie the locations of flower beds and decorative plantings throughout the residential compound and areas adjacent to the barn lot area.

The old school house/chapter house functions as the park's administrative office and visitor contact station/exhibit hall. The area surrounding the historic chapter house includes public restroom facilities, two picnic areas, a small parking area with spaces reserved for the disabled and park staff, and the park library located in the historic root cellar.

For the purposes of this study, the existing conditions of the remaining areas which are outside of the National Park Service boundary continue to be significant to the overall landscape with regard to spatial organization and land use patterns. Hubbell Hill remains undeveloped with the exception of the Hubbell family gravesites along the top eastern edge of the ridge. The irrigation reservoir constructed as a holding area for supplying the Hubbell fields lies abandoned just outside of the park boundary to the south. The main canal of the irrigation ditch and its numerous features including sluice gates, reverse siphons, and aqueducts are in various states of disrepair both above and below the Hubbell reservoir. The main canal serves to connect the Hubbell reservoir with Ganado Lake located approximately 2.5 miles northeast of the trading post. Ganado Lake served as the water source for the Hubbell irrigation system.

In 1990 the lake was drained for the second time to facilitate the replacement of the historic dam which had been declared a safety hazard by the Bureau of Reclamation. Construction on the new dam was initiated during the summer of 1994 and the new structure was completed in late September of 1995. It is estimated that the lake will need approximately three to five years to fill to a point where adequate water can be drawn off for irrigation purposes.


The circulation system associated with the present day Hubbell cultural landscape is made up of primary and secondary roads, paths and trails, walkways, and parking areas. Arizona State Highway 264, a well maintained paved highway that ranges from two to three lanes serves as the primary road that accesses the park. The entry road connects with Highway 264 and is approximately four tenths (.4) mile in length. This entry road is paved with asphalt for the first 1200', however once visitors cross the wooden plank surfaced bridge they experience the crunching sounds and slow speeds of the gravel surfaced road that leads the remainder of the way to the trading post and the visitor center.

Two secondary service roads branch off of the entry road and lead to the park housing and maintenance areas. Both of these roads are surfaced with asphalt, have cattle guards and are not intended for visitor use. Another secondary park service road branches off of the entry road and follows the perimeter of the park along the boundary fence. Sections of this road follow the alignment of the primary historic entry road to the trading post while other sections follow the historic field road alignments. The road continues to be maintained as a bladed dirt service road kept accessible for park maintenance vehicles or pedestrian use by park staff and visitors.

The road that once served as the primary route to the trading post complex now lies abandoned from the trading post north to the highway and serves as a service road and pedestrian lane as it runs to the south. The surface of the northern end of this road is comprised of decomposed asphalt that is naturally revegetating with native species such as rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), four-wing salt bush (Atriplex canescens),and shade scale (Atriplex confertifolia) (figure 47). Remnants of the old highway bridge that carried the road across the Pueblo Colorado Wash consist of a few timber pilings. The road was abandoned in 1967 and the bridge was demolished in 1968. Just south of the barn the road narrows down to a single lane that runs between two large terraced fields and a row of aged cottonwood trees. Vehicular use of this road is limited to park maintenance staff, however both park staff and visitors alike use the lane for walking and hiking. Although the road is criss-crossed with tightly strung barbed wire fences, numerous stiles are available for the use of pedestrians.

Figure 47. Section of old, abandoned highway on north side of Pueblo Colorado Wash, 1993.

While numerous informal paths continue to be utilized throughout the Hubbell landscape, the primary path runs alongside the entry road and connects the staff housing area with the administrative office and trading post. The path is visually inconspicuous as it is a single width trace of trodden vegetation and compacted soil. Another path that is daily used by staff and visitors alike is the stepping stone path that runs north - south between the trading post building and the Hubbell residence. The other paths and trails found in the park include a random network of desire lines and undeliniated pedestrian use areas.

Flagstone surfaced walks of reddish tan sandstone are located around the old chapter house that now serves as the park's Administrative Office/Visitor Center and along the north and west sides of the Hubbell residence connecting the family house with the guest hogan and the manager's residence.

Vehicular parking is provided in two separate areas. A small parking area providing reserved spaces for disabled access, park staff, and authorized vehicles is located adjacent to the Administrative Office/Visitor Center. The lot is surfaced with compacted gravel and peeled logs are used as wheel stops for the individual parking spaces. The larger parking lot is also surfaced with compacted gravel and it remains informal with no officially delineated parking spaces. Its informal character remains highly compatible with the historic landscape and allows flexibility for visitors parking oversize recreational vehicles.

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Last Updated: 26-Apr-2004