Twin Arrows Trading Post sits abandoned along a freeway exit outside of Flagstaff Arizona, a lost remnant of Historic Route 66.
I woke up to freezing cold air and windows covered in snow. My car windows aren’t tinted, so I was glad to have the added privacy. I pulled on my coat and looked outside. A thick layer of snow blanketed everything. In the distance a snowplow turned onto the street. I am originally from Wisconsin, and the beauty of fresh fallen snow made me nostalgic. But the sentiment was tempered with memories of shoveling driveways, scraping ice from my windshield, and navigating slippery roads. It hadn’t occurred to me to bring an ice scraper on the road trip, so I had to wait for the defroster to clear the windshield.
After exploring the abandoned remains of the Christmas Tree Inn in the ghost town of Santa Claus, Arizona, I headed east on the I-40, the freeway that made Route 66 obsolete. Segments of the old highway still exist along the interstate, some now privately owned and gated off. Along exit 219 sit the ghostly remains of Twin Arrows Trading Post. Concrete barriers line the exit ramp to prevent vehicles from accessing the property, so I drove several hundred feet past it and parked on the narrow shoulder.
The trading post, built in the late 1940s, was originally named Canyon Padre Trading Post after a nearby gorge. In 1955, owner Ted Griffith was hit by a car while removing weeds along with the property. His injuries were severe enough that he had to sell the business.
The new owners, the Troxell Family transformed the trading post into a memorable roadside attraction. They changed the name to Twin Arrows to compliment the nearby town of Two Guns, and erected the iconic arrows out front. They also added a gas station and Valentine Diner.
Valentine Diners were prefabricated restaurants sold out of Wichita Kansas by Arthur Valentine from the 1930s to the ’60s. Modeled after railroad dining cars, the portable restaurants seated 8-10 customers at a time. Valentine Diners were easy to set up and could be operated by one or two people, making them popular for small business owners.
When the interstate came through in the 1970s, business began to decline for Twin Arrows. Quicker transportation through the area decreased the demand for shops and refueling stations. The business changed hands several times before closing in the late ’90s. The property is now owned by the state of Arizona.
Weeds now grow up through the crumbling asphalt.
Gas was stored in ground tanks. The arrows, which had deteriorated over the years, were restored in 2009 during an event organized by the Hopi tribe. There was talk of restoring the entire trading post, but nothing ever came of it. The main building contained the store.
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