20. Queen Creek Road

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    Queen Creek Road, as one might guess, was named after the town of Queen Creek located in central Arizona in Maricopa County. The town of Queen Creek was formerly known as Rittenhouse, due to a railroad spur located near Rittenhouse and Ellsworth roads. The name Rittenhouse is from one of the first families to the area.

    Rittenhouse can be traced back to Charles Rittenhouse, a land developer who, in 1924, purchased 1000 acres of desert and established the Queen Creek Farms Company. Rittenhouse remained the name of the town and community for twenty three years, until 1947, when a new post office was built.

    It was not until the community grew and the railroad ceased to operate that the name changed to Queen Creek. The name Queen Creek can be traced over one hundred miles to the eastern mountains surrounding Superior. In 1870, silver was discovered in the mountains, giving birth to the Silver King Mine. As luck would have it, the Silver King Mine would become the richest silver mine ever to be found in Arizona.

    Silver fever sent prospectors out to search for more, and in 1880 an outcropping was found near Superior. Because the ore found there was nearly as good in quality as that of the Silver King Mine, the new mine was dubbed the Silver Queen Mine.

    Just at the base of the Silver Queen Mine was a creek. Nearby is an oddly shaped mountain which resembles a picket post, so the creek came to be known as Picket Post Creek. With the opening of the new Silver Queen Mine, the creek’s name was changed and has since been known as Queen Creek.

    Agriculture has and always will be a dynamic factor in the plans and future of Queen Creek. As far back as the 1930’s potatoes have played a major contribution to that foundation. The ties to the potato are so important that in years past school children would often be released from classes in the middle of May to help with the harvest.

    “It took work and it wasn’t all roses, but that is past history.” In an article published by the California Farmer on December 21, 1957, J.O. Combs, senior partner of Combs, Combs, & Clegg at Queen Creek thought it was interesting that they had been able to make a productive ranch out of jack rabbit sagebrush--land that could have been bought for 5 cents an acre when he first came through 30 years before. “We arrived via horse-drawn wagon form Texas,” J.O. said. “Dad had a string of some 50 horses. A jackass burro was my sole possession. I remember that we camped not far from here at the only well in this part of the country, and Dad paid 10 cents a head straight across the board. The guy was so tickled to have so much business, that he invited the whole family for dinner, free.”

    By the late 1950’s the Combs spread included 1870 acres of cleared land, feed pens for 1400 steers, 12,000 hens in cages, an unbelievably large hog farm, and over $400,000 worth of miscellaneous machinery already paid off.

    Queen Creek had its share of shady characters as well. According to an article from the Historical Society archives, entitled "Wright’s Market At Queen Creek Robbed Of $900", “…the night of March 31, two unidentified persons broke into Wright’s Market at Queen Creek making off with the safe and its contents valued at more than $900. The culprits, it is reported, entered the store through the front and office doors, loaded the safe possibly on a truck and hauled it a mile out on the desert where it was blown open.”

    By Joseph Morales & Daniel Mwaura

     

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