Almost 20 years ago, during the summer of 1997, long-time Pinnacle Peak resident George Seitts wrote a letter to A Peek at the Peak’s elditor Eileen Rendahl. The letter was published in the August 1997 edition with the title “Memories from George Seitts.” In this article, the Seitts’ letter is combined with photographs from my book Images of America – Pinnacle Peak, which was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2011.
Les Conklin, Editor
Memories from George Seitts
As published in A Peek at the Peak, August 1997
My family came to Arizona in 1955 from New York and had a lease/purchase for 120 acres of land at the southeast corner of present day Pima and Pinnacle Peak Road. This encompassed the area where the Pinnacle Peak Plaza is located together with portions of land where The Country Club Estates is developed.
In the early days, it was called the Rancho Bonita Vista Guest Ranch and was developed by the Putney family which consisted of 12 block guest houses. Later a group of 12 doctors from Phoenix bought the property. Sometimes in the early 1960’s the ranch was renamed Rustler’s Rest. The Ranch also included a woodworking shop, a pool, a stage for entertainment and stables. Water was supplied by a well, but upon numerous occasions we had to haul water.
Immediately west of the ranch was a mini western town/ movie set consisting of about 5 stores, a shooting range and an adobe jail. This is where the Country Club Estates is now. In the early days, several movies were shot there. At this time, there was no Pima Road. It was simply known as the power line road for serving the electric lines that came north. Pinnacle Peak was a bumpy, rugged dirt road that continued north and east where Pima, Happy Valley and Alma School roads presently are.
At the time the entire area was open range where cattle grazed and raising cattle was about the only business except Pinnacle Peak Patio, Reatta Pass and Rustler’s Rest. There were few fences, in fact, we had a white burro that roamed the area and was frequently seen as far west as 57th Street and Bell, but always returned. If you killed a cow, you paid for it! There were times that range beef was on the menu.
On weekends after the cowboys were paid, they would gather at the ranch to drink and eat. Some would stay and party for over two nights before riding back to their ranches. Many would run out of money, and we often would find an old car or truck in our driveway as payment for the credit given to them. They would usually return, pay their bills and pick up their vehicles. They were some of the most loyal people in the world!
The only food and entertainment this far north was Rustler’s Roost, Pinnacle Peak Patio and Reatta Pass. Weekends were really busy what with all of the local cowboys, plus city folks who became weekend cowboys. What made it special was the “Cowboy” way, good steaks and cold drinks. Mayor Drinkwater, long before he became mayor, was a loyal friend and customer. It also was a place for people to drop out, escape, hide out. Lots of folks came through who had problems, a need to start over. There were times when one of us would run out of beer and would have to make a beer run down to Drinkwater’s at Shea. A long trek on bad roads!
The entire area was country. It was cowboy. It was cowboy bars. People were friendly and welcomed outsiders as long as they earned their spurs and didn’t prove stuffy. You had people with tons of money friendly with people who lived out of their pickups. It was America at its best but it wasn’t Paradise Lost either. The locals referred to it as “The Hill” when you went to town in those days. My folks would always say that we had to get back to the Hill. for something different, the people around here went to Cave Creek and to Harold’s Corral.
he northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak Roads, where the Pinnacle of Scottsdale shopping center presently is, was vacant except for Don Pablo’s trading post, if you could call it that. No one really knew what Don Pablo’s real name was, except that he came from a wealthy family back east that supposed exiled him. He had several hogans plus a store that held furs, old guns, blankets, Indian jewelry and lots of other stuff. He traveled throughout the country, buying from Indians and traders and then storing it in his hogans. He was a bit eccentric but very social. We’re not certain that he ever married, but he did have a son that he hadn’t seen in over twenty years. If he didn’t like you, he refused to sell anything to you! Women were generally not admitted. Just north at Scottsdale and Happy Valley there still is a high bank of dirt that was a dirt bike racetrack, the sound of which would irritate Don Pablo.
Further north, Desert Highlands area had some small homes scattered around. Near Reatta Pass, the Kellogg cereal family had a ranch. There still is the original adobe house north of the Cookshack and across the present road. Kemper Marley ran a large cattle business in the area. He used to come to Rustler’s Rest and played cards with a neighbor named Everett Brown who also had large tracts of grazing land and a cattle business in the area. When Brownie lost, and ran out of money, it was said that he would sign over land to Marley.
The Southeast corner of Pinnacle Peak and Scottsdale Roads was known as Curry’s Corner. This is where Rawhide presently sets. There was a wooden shack on Pinnacle Peak Road that sold soft drinks, had a gas pump and a rattlesnake cage that he used to hold the snakes in that he bought.
In retrospect, it was a beautiful place to live, but it was desolate and not an easy place to make a living. As a teenager, I always wanted to be in Scottsdale with my friends.
The desert is a powerful place; people have lived here for thousands of years. It’s’ a place to live forever. We should grab on and enjoy it while we can.
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