Arizona has always had a reputation for being quite a hot, dry place. Its vast and dusty desert, although beautiful, has never offered much in the way of nourishment for human populations. And yet, it was an inevitable part of many journeys westward, leading us to hunt high and low for any miracle it had to offer in the way of survival.
One such miracle is a well – one that seems to have been around for a long, long time.
Today, this important water source is in the shape of a well. And it has been for a very long time. Discovered in the 1800’s by American pioneers moving westward to unveil the frontier and establish a new home, the water was their saving grace on a journey that they couldn’t be sure they’d see the end of. So many travelers came across it by surprise in times of hopelessness, surrounded by desolate land on all sides, that word of the life-saving well began to spread. After many travelers had come and gone, it became clear to everyone’s amazement that this spring provided water all year long.
But it was also clear that these pioneers weren’t the first to discover it. All around the springs are cliffs and rocks scattered with petroglyphs, lingual illustrations carved into stone by the tools of a past era and people no longer present in the area. Evidence has credited these to the Cohonina people, who inhabited the area between approximately 700 and 1100 CE. On the long road to the Pacific, this sight was proof that the site had been important for a very long time, and most likely, to many different people throughout history. And the new America would be no exception.
In 1857, the government tasked Lieutenant Edward Beale with surveying and establishing a second westward route, further south than the prominent Oregon Trail. With collective reverence for the miracle well growing rapidly, he knew that this would be what he based his map off of.
And it was a trail that would leave its mark on America forever. Although the exact path ceased to be used continuously, parts of it have been turned into the infamous Route 66 and Interstate 40, with others being maintained as hiking and horseback riding trails. And, of course, the well is still being visited and revered by many to this day within its preserved home, the Kaibab National Forest.