Listen ... you can hear the history<BR>Cliff Dwellers Lodge – an unlikely spot for former New Yorkers

Just a hop, skip and a jump from the Cliff Dwellers Lodge is the primitive outhouse.

The Russells, according to Campbell, "had not planned on settling in the high, lonely desert" some 50 miles northeast of the canyon's North Rim.

But settle they did, and Blanche – in a far fling from the Follies – "began to serve meals in return for labor to build a house, and the place slowly began to take shape as a makeshift residence and gathering place where food and drinks were served," Campbell explained. "A few long boards functioned as a counter along the side of the front porch, and customers would sit on benches outside to eat."

Completion of the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River in 1929 brought considerably more traffic to what was then Highway 89, as travelers no longer had to depend on Lee's Ferry to cross the river. And paving of the road in the mid-1930s spurred still further the influx of motorists. This led to the installation of a single hand-operated gasoline pump near the main rock building – a welcome convenience for motorists along that bleak stretch of highway, where filling stations were few and far between.

Also, Campbell relates, "Various wooden structures covered with tarpaper were constructed on the premises over the years, serving as crude residences for tourists. A donkey corral and pigeon coops were built, housing pigeons for sale," and "the giant rock standing in front of the house was named Pigeon Rock, since pigeons often roosted on it."

The old lodge's stark setting has proven to be a magnet for the producers of print and television commercials over the years, with the Bravo Card, Chevrolet trucks and Mercury automobiles being among them. And portions of the 1948 movie, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," starring John Wayne, Joanne Dru and John Agar, took place along the aforementioned Vermilion Cliffs.

As another sidelight, Campbell's booklet contains a photograph of Art Greene Sr., the late patriarch of the family that subsequently purchased Cliff Dwellers, sitting on a boulder with a special visitor, actress Irish McCalla. The actress, who starred as "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle" – a 1950s family adventure series on television – was a Prescott resident from 1982 until 2000, when she moved to a Tucson care home. She died there this past Feb. 1 from a brain tumor and stroke complications at the age of 73.

In her concluding paean to Old Cliff Dwellers, Campbell wrote: "These odd rock structures house a unique piece of history in a deafeningly quiet part of Arizona. Those who visit the Cliff Dwellers area have a chance to imagine what life was like in simpler times and to enjoy a peaceful respite from more congested places."

I couldn't have said it better myself … so I didn't.

Contact Jerry Jackson at jjackson@prescottaz.com.