Barr: Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute adds sign at Desert Wells Stage Stop

A new sign has been added at the Desert Wells Stage Stop in Queen Creek. From left are Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute members Corissa Ruggiero, Colette Huxtable, Kelly Crandall, Rob Burgheimer and Jason Barr. Not pictured are Khara Erickson, Jesse Roth and Sarah Winnegar. (Submitted photo)

As a group from the Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute, we were tasked with coming up with ideas for a local project that we could do which would have a positive impact on our community.

For our project, prompted by a suggestion from the town, we decided to add a sign to the Desert Wells Stage Stop which would add some historical context to the site.

Preserving history is quite important to the town along with many municipalities across both the country and the world.

Knowing more about one’s area can make residents feel more comfortable and may create a sense of civic pride.

Knowing our history also helps us make better decisions in the future.

In light of the Town of Queen Creek turning 30 in 2019, we felt this was an important opportunity to add to the preservation of this young town’s history.

It was also a crucial opportunity to add another amenity that can draw traffic from the Sonoqui Wash Trail.

The sign was placed northeast of the Chandler Heights and Sossaman Road intersection in Queen Creek, at the Sonoqui Wash Trail. (Submitted graphic)

The new sign will provide a linkage between the wash path and the historic stage stop site. This project will add to the richness of experience people will enjoy as they hike the wash trail which, when completed, will eventually loop around the town.

For a little background: the Arizona Stage Co. was founded in 1868 and used the Desert Wells Stage Stop until 1916. The site was a rest stop used by freight wagons and stage lines that came from Florence via Olberg through the gap in the San Tan Mountains to Mesa. It provided water, shade, and served as a general place of protection from the brutal Arizona sun.

On land owned by Sylvester Andrada, a government report listed the on-site well as being 114 feet deep while maintaining an active depth of 14 feet of water. A large cement and stone structure served as the holding tank for the water. The foundation of that tank is what is visible to visitors today.

After the stage-stop years, the structure was converted to a small shelter made of adobe and rock.

The site is rich in local folklore. Jasper Sossaman, the oldest surviving account of the site, said he found a Native American body near the stop in 1919. In addition, local folklore contains stories of Native American robberies of the stage cash box using quivers of arrows to complete the theft.

With its implications for preserving history, local folklore and adding to recreational experience of the nearby wash trail, our group feels like the new sign with the added site context is a more than worthy project. We are proud to present the new sign as our contribution to the town as engaged citizens and participants in the Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute program.

Jason Barr
Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute

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