Reminiscing: Getting Around was Both Good and Bad News

By Liz Stapleton-Ogden

From A Peek at the Peak, April 1989


“Peak Promise” by Kathy Howard

At the March 28th Val Trans election, hundreds of voters in this area grabbed at the opportunity to sign a petition advocating widening P1ma Road to four lanes. This concern for wider, faster roads to travel on would have given early Pinnacle Peak settler K. T. Palmer quite a chuckle were he still around.

In 1934, when he moved to the Peak area to “prove up” his homestead, there really was nothing remotely resembling a real read; just bumpy, dusty pathways across the desert. K. T.’s own property lay on no trail at all, so one of his first tasks was to clear a crude track from what was then called Pinnacle Peak Road (now the part of Happy Valley Road now going east from Pima Road) to his home site.

This cleared track enabled him to haul in lumber for the original homestead, but since the trail crossed property not his own; K. T. next had to set about building a more permanent road along his section line (now Jomax Road, just north of Desert Highlands back wall).

peak_banner1989_900Building the section road involved some two miles of construction, all with hand labor, done on the weekend when K. T. was not in his office in Phoenix practicing law. It meant digging out trees, catclaw aw, greasewood, and cactus. Fortunately, friends often came out to help on the project m exchange for a plate of beans and cornbread simmered overnight in the hot ashes left from burning brush torn out in the road building project.

One advantage K. T. had over modern travelers was that his thirty miles each way trek to work did not involve much traffic. In the early years of living at Pinnacle Peak, his car was often the only one to traverse the first ten miles of the trip. For the next ten miles or so, frequently only two cars per hour used the road.

KT Palmer stands in front of his homestead on the western slopes of Pinnacle Peak.

KT Palmer stands in front of his homestead on the western slopes of Pinnacle Peak.

K. T. wrote: “It was possible to get stuck in the mud, in rainy weather, or have a flat tire and never have a soul come by to help out. What few neighbors we had, and they were miles away, didn’t go to town more than once a week. They couldn’t afford to.”

Although driving in to work is definitely a different experience now, some other things haven’t changed very much from those early days. K. T. commented that about every four or five months the county would reluctantly send out a grader and give his road a once-over. If he were lucky, this would happen after a storm. More generally, they would grade the road, and then it would rain. This still is the way things usually happen here on his old homestead road.

 More to come in the next issue about the early days of Pinnacle Peak. pioneering.

For additional information about K.T. Palmer and Pinnacle Peak history, read Get Your Signed Copy of “Pinnacle Peak” Today.



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Author: The Peak

Published on behalf of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association by the editorial staff.

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  1. REALLY interesting article, Liz. Keep them coming in the next edition.

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    • It is a great article. Actually, it is from the March 1989 issue of The Peak. Fortunately, Liz wrote a follow-up article in the April 1989 issue of The Peak. I plan to re-publish that article in the next issue (February Update 2017) around the middle of the month. Thanks for your comment. I will re-publish more of Liz’s articles. If you look at the articles in the “Oldies but Goodies” category, you will find some of her articles that I have already re-published. Les Conklin

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