Steeped in Navajo tradition: Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, AZ

Very little has changed in more than a century at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, the oldest continuously operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The post, its thick stone walls protecting visitors from the blazing summers and frigid winters of the high desert, continues to lure buyers and sellers alike.

Feel the old wooden floor give slightly and squeak beneath your feet as you enter the oldest, continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

John Lorenzo Hubbell, a 25-year-old clerk and trader, learned much about the Navajos as he traveled the Southwest. He began trading in 1876 and two years later purchased the small post and surrounding land from a man eager to move on.

He acted as a bridge between the Navajos and the rest of the world. The local populace soon embraced Hubbell thanks to his kindness, patience, and generosity. He translated and wrote letters, mediated quarrels and, during the smallpox epidemic in 1886, used his home as a makeshift hospital.

His business benefited as a result, and Navajos came to socialize as much as to barter.

The Hubbell family operated the trading post until 1967, when the National Park Service took over.

Spirited atmosphere

Employees report ghostly sightings, including those of a solemn Navajo man and a little girl. Maralyn Yazzie, who has worked at Hubbell for 18 years, recalls sitting alone on a post in the rug room and feeling the post bend at the center, as if someone had sat down next to her. She says she looked to her right and saw Hubbell, who disappeared a few seconds later.

A look inside

Join a tour of the historic Hubbell home, the original home lived in by J. L. Hubbell and his family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The post’s front door opens into the “bullpen,” a high-ceilinged room where bartering took place. Shelves once crowded with bread, milk, and tins of food, now hold baskets, pots, jewelry, and souvenirs, with price tags affixed to each.

Everyone notices the post’s creaky floorboards. Each step brings another groan of protest from the planks. But this isn’t the original floor. When the post was refurbished in the 1970s, contractors took great care to maintain the squeak, as it had become the post’s signature sound.

The post has always catered to tourists as much as residents. In the early 1900s, visitors in Las Vegas boarded touring cars for long drives through the reservation. Many stopped at the trading post, known for its locally made arts and crafts.

The site consists of the original 160 acre homestead, with the trading post, family home, and visitor center as the primary attractions.

Did You Know?

Hubbell Trading Post’s museum collection contains 112 Hopi pots, 170 Navajo rugs, over 60 Navajo concho belts, 275 historic paintings, over 300 artistic drawings, 40 sculptures, and thousands of historic and archeological artifacts.

Details

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Take some time to discover this authentic Indian trading post and original 160 acre homestead. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Operating Hours: Summer (April 30-September 8), 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; winter (September 9-April 29), 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily)

Time zone: Unlike Arizona the Navajo Nation observes daylight saving time

Admission: Trading Post, free; Hubbell Home tour, $2/person

Elevation: 6,300 feet

Location: 1 mile west of Highway 191 in Ganado, on Highway 264

Camping: No camping facilities

Address: P.O. Box 150, Ganado, Arizona 86505

Contact: (928) 755-3475

Web site: nps.gov/hut

Worth Pondering…

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.

—John Steinbeck, author

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