May 30, 2018

Breathing Easy in the Sonoran Desert

I'd spent the weekend in Phoenix, and I was ready to get out of the city and into the desert.

On my way to spending the night at Arcosanti (post forthcoming), a self-proclaimed Old West town called Cave Creek seemed like a good lunch stop...

...with its late 19th century-era buildings preserved as part of its Frontier Town.

Besides, the saguaro cacti were blooming...

...and since that's one species of succulent we don't have in Southern California...

...I was more than prepared to stop and smell the cactus flowers for a while.

I drove through town looking for somewhere to eat, and after considering the diner place with pancakes and the Mexican hacienda place, I settled on the spot with the best sign.

It also happened to be one of three historic landmarks in the town of Cave Creek: the former Cave Creek Service Station.

Where you once filled up your tank, now you can fill your belly with a burger or a sandwich or, as in my case, a salad.

It's adaptive reuse at its finest...

...and the ultimate road food.

But since I discovered that the old gas station wasn't the only historic landmark in town, I headed over to the Cave Creek Museum to see another one.

Lo, there is the last tubercular cabin in the state of Arizona.

That is, the last of the cabins that once housed patients with tuberculosis who'd been sent out to the desert for better air quality and other recuperative characteristics. 

Although several TB camps had been set up throughout Cave Creek in the early 20th century...

...this cabin was from the most famous one, the Desmount Sanitarium (its name a portmanteau of "desert" and "mountain").

Its current interior furnishings are either from this one, circa 1920, or others from the same area and era.

In total, there were 16 buildings in the former tuberculosis colony, which was run by Sam and Helen Jones until 1929.

The encampment actually changed locations along Cave Creek Road a few times, as the cabins were lightweight enough to be portable.

Today, the bend in the road where tuberculosis convalescents once sought rehabilitation is now marked by such landmarks as the Horny Toad, the Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse, and Stagecoach Village.

And its clean, dry air makes it a nice rest stop for locals, tourists, and bikers alike who need to escape urbanity for a while.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Barlow Sanitorium, Neglected
Photo Essay: The Rock Art of Dunsmore Park, Former Home of Mt. Lukens Sanitarium

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