My wife and I recently spent a weekend in Winslow, at the wonderful La Posada Hotel. Yes, it’s the same Winslow made famous in the Eagles first hit single, Take It Easy. You can actually stand on the corner, near a bronze statue of a guitar player, and a real flat-bed Ford. All of this is positioned in front of a mural depicting the story of the song.
This little desert town is located on historic Route 66, just south of I-40, and is less than 60 miles (96 km) east of Flagstaff.Route 66, along with the train that runs just behind La Posada, brought many people to town and the hotel. In the 1930’s and 1940’s the hotel served 1,000 meals a day, and the newsstand sold 500,000 postcards a year. Before World War II, it was so busy that the restaurants in the hotel served 3,000 meals a day. When you see the size of the property, it’s hard to imagine that many people going in and out each day.
As you drive through town you will see a mix of old and new. Old houses and buildings are plentiful, as are some new fast food restaurants and even a WalMart Supercenter.
Winslow, like many towns on Route 66, went into decline as I-40 cut across the country. These towns were bypassed by the freeway and the businesses suffered greatly. Also, as fewer people took the train, preferring to travel by car, Winslow had a huge decrease in visitors.
Another blow to Winslow was World War II, which prevented many people from traveling. Troop trains would come through, and soldiers would get a meal at La Posada, but they didn’t stay at the hotel.
The Lindbergh Regional Airport, designed by Charles Lindbergh, is a mile west of Winslow, and the U.S. Forest Service has a firefighting Air Tanker base there. TWA and Frontier Airlines used to fly into the airport, but TWA’s last scheduled flight to Winslow was in 1953 and Frontier’s last flights were in 1974–75.
The airport was founded in 1929 by Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT). Aviator Charles Lindbergh was the head of TAT’s Technical Committee, and chose Winslow as one of twelve critical refueling stops on the nation’s first transcontinental passenger line. For many years after its creation, it was the only all-weather airport between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California.
Charles Augustus Lindbergh, (1902-1974), was an American aviator, and made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927. This flight gained him immediate international fame, and the nicknames “Lucky Lindy” and the “Lone Eagle.”
The star of the town is the La Posada Hotel. My wife and I had talked about staying here for years, and finally had the time. We had to reserve pretty far out as weekends are often booked months in advance.
Built in 1929, it was the last Fred Harvey House built by the Santa Fe Railroad. Mary Jane Colter was the chief architect for the Fred Harvey Company, and one of only a few women architects in the country. Ms. Colter considered La Posada to be her crown jewel, because she designed everything from the building and landscaping to the maids’ outfits. She also designed several buildings at the Grand Canyon, including the Watchtower and the El Tovar Hotel where she did the interior design. We’ve seen all of these buildings, and they really are wonderful.
La Posada cost about $2,000,000 to build, which would be about $40,000,000 in today’s dollars. The hotel survived the depression, and closed to the public in 1957. In the 1960’s it was used as offices for the Santa Fe Railway, and was almost demolished several times over the next 40 years. The railroad destroyed much of the building’s history. It sold the custom furnishings, painted over many murals, and even threw out Ms. Colter’s architectural drawings of the hotel. I hate to see non-creative people/organizations destroy great works of art and architecture simply because of their own ignorance or lack of concern about the wonders of yesteryear.
In 1997, the current owners, Allan Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion, bought La Posada and moved in. They quickly started the estimated $12,000,000 renovation of the building.
The thing I noticed the most about La Posada is the peace and quiet. You can stroll through three gardens, watch the trains go by, browse through the gift shop and book store, enjoy the art that hangs throughout the property and much more. On Saturday night the hotel was sold out, yet we never heard another person all night. It’s all very relaxing.
We love the history of the hotel and its quiet atmosphere and look forward to going back soon.
Many Hollywood stars, and other famous people, have stayed in the hotel. Here’s a photo showing some of them.
La Posada also contains an award winning restaurant, The Turquoise Room. Being a vegetarian, I know that most restaurants only have one or two items on the menu that I can eat. The same goes for The Turquoise Room, but I would drive for over an hour just to have their Killer Vegetable Platter. It’s an amazing collection of colors, textures and flavors that I will never forget.
There are many other historic places to see in town, including the Lorenzo Hubbell Trading Post and the 9-11 Memorial Garden.
The trading post is now the town’s Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. It contains historic displays, wonderful architecture and more travel brochures than you will know what to do with.
The 9-11 Memorial Garden contains a 14 foot and 15 foot beam from the World Trade Center. These are the largest pieces of the building given to any community in the country.
Near Winslow are many other interesting places to see. The Little Painted Desert, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of Winslow, has the colors and banding of the soil just like the full sized Painted Desert. The parking area has been abandoned, so the picnic table and unusable bathroom have a definite post-apocalyptic look to them. It would be a great place to shoot a scene for a movie. And about 60 miles (96 km) away is the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert.
There’s plenty to do in, and around, Winslow for a weekend or longer. Enjoy the piece and quite, scenery and history of the area. Head on over to Winslow, get out of the rat race and enjoy a relaxing time at La Posada.