Abandoned Places, Joseph City, Arizona
Ella's frontier Trading Post
Ella's Frontier Trading Post sits on an abandoned section of Route 66 just outside the western edge of Joseph City. The business was owned and operated by Ella Blackwell, who purchased the property (previously called the Last Frontier Trading Post) in 1955 after divorcing her second husband. A former student at the Julliard School, Ella kept a piano in the store, which she claimed was established in 1873, making it the oldest such establishment on Route 66. Ella however was considered quite eccentric among locals, many of whom doubted her claim. Nevertheless, Ella's Frontier was in every way a classic tourist stop.
The Frontier Trading Post was the last business of Frederick "San Diego" Rawson, a man with a remarkable history. Born in 1861 it is said that he spent a couple of years of his childhood enslaved by Plains Indians. Returned to his family after a US Army engagement with his captors, Frederick Rawson went on to have multiple careers as a prospector, circus animal trainer and emcee, philosopher and author. He eventually came to Joseph City just after the commissioning of Highway 66 and operated a museum in town that displayed his personal collection of early western family household items, furniture, and tools. Business was too slow to support his museum and after his collection was sold Mr. Rawson moved to a small log building at the west end of town and opened an enterprise which he called "Frontier Days Trading Post".
Later he built a larger log-cabin like building from telephone poles and opened "San Diego's Old Frontier" and offered space on the premises for Navajo Indians to make their jewelry, blankets and quilts. After twenty years in business Mr. Rawson sold the Frontier to Ramon Hubbell, son of the famous Indian trader Don Lorenzo Hubbell, in 1947. Ray Meany, who owned the Hopi House Indian Trading Post west of Winslow, acquired the "Last Frontier" a few years later but his wife Ella received the property as part of a divorce settlement. It was known as "Ella's Frontier" until she died in 1984. Later owners used the building for various purposes but it has been abandoned and in ruins just west of Joseph City on the south side of old Route 66 for many years now.