Discover Hubbell Trading Post Where History Is Made Every Day


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Little has changed in more than 135 years at the oldest continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Reservation.

discover this authentic Navajo trading post

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

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is equal parts museum, art gallery, and general store, a place where Native Americans come to sell or trade blankets, rugs, and jewelry for groceries, tools, and clothes.

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.

Many of today’s customers are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who traded with John Lorenzo Hubbell, who bought the trading post in 1878.

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.

Hubbell had an enduring influence on Navajo rugweaving and silversmithing, for he consistently demanded and promoted excellence in craftsmanship.

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.

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

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

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

Hubbell built a trading empire that included stage and freight lines as well as several trading posts. At various times, he and his two sons, together or separately, owned 24 trading posts, a wholesale house in Winslow, and other business and ranch properties. Beyond question, he was the foremost Navajo trader of his time.

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

Much of the post looks just as it did in century-old photographs, giving visitors a sense of stepping through a portal in time.

The post’s front door opens into the bullpen, a high-ceilinged room where bartering took place. Shelves

High counters and long shelves once crowded with bread, milk, and tins of food, now hold blankets and baskets, clothing and kitchen utensils. jewelry and souvenirs, while harnesses and hardware hang from the wood beams that run the length of the ceiling.

Much of the post looks just as it did in century-old photographs, giving visitors a sense of stepping through a portal in time. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Much of the post looks just as it did in century-old photographs, giving visitors a sense of stepping through a portal in time. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A couple of side rooms hold Navajo rugs, cases of jewelry, paintings, kachinas, sculptures, and other works of art. There’s a good chance you’ll see customers negotiating trades.

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 trading post is the centerpiece of the 160-acre site. Visitors also can tour the Hubbell house; browse the visitor center (built in 1920 and used originally as a school); and see barns, corrals, wagons, and other historical farm equipment, as well as a variety farm animals, including Churro sheep and their prized wool.

The post hosts two art auctions each year. The next one will be Saturday, September 13. The auctions feature works from many tribes.

Details

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Operating Hours: 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

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

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

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

Phone: (928) 755-3475

Web site: www.nps.gov/hutr

Worth Pondering…

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

—John Steinbeck, author

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