Landmarks and Sites of Interest

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The information on this page has been compiled so that the members of the San Tan Historical Society may share a few of the special stories, events, and memories that have shaped the Queen Creek community. 

Change is inevitable, but by collecting and preserving the reminders of our past, we can be better prepared to embrace the challenges of our future.

Below is a listing of local landmarks and sites of interests. If your plans are to visit the locations identified, please drive carefully and courteously. Some of the landmarks are on private property. Please respect the owner’s rights and privacy. The Town also has an online Historic Tour map available.

Landmarks:  Sites of Interest: 

San Tan Historical Society Museum

San Tan MuseumThe Old Rittenhouse Elementary School, located on the S.E. corner of Ellsworth and Queen Creek roads was built in 1925. Used as a school through 1982, this building is now on the National Registry for Historic Places. The museum is open to the public every Saturday morning. Take some time to view the exhibits, and ask questions.

Queen Creek’s First School

Queen Creek’s First SchoolLocated ½ mile north of Queen Creek Road on the west side of Crismon, the first classes were held in an old muleskinners cook shack.

Our Lady of Guadalupe 

Lady of GuadalupeThe first Catholic Church building in Queen Creek is located on the north side of Ocotillo, 3/8 mile west of Ellsworth Road. It’s the two narrow stained glass windows that may have first attracted your attention as you passed by the weathered building across from Our Lady of Guadalupe in recent years. Even though obscured by afternoon shadows, their beauty often enticed a second look. They have since been removed and placed on display in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

POW Camp

During World War II, a prisoner of war (POW) camp was established on the north side of the railroad from 1942 to 1945. German POW’s were used for farm labor, and a doctor at the camp was known to have occasionally treated local residents.

Queen Creek Town Hall

Town HallThe  building that currently serves as the Town Hall for Queen Creek  began as a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It held its first service on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 1951. The stained  glass  windows in the Town Council Chamber make this Town Hall very  unique.

Ellsworth Brothers Farms

In 1928, the Rittenhouse property was sold to Leo Ellsworth, who lived on the north side of Ocotillo Road. He and his brothers formed The Ellsworth Brothers Farms, an operation that soon consisted of cotton, large acreages of farm produce, cattle, sheep, and a dairy head. Leo is credited with bringing in the first phone line to Queen Creek. The Ellsworth Store was located on the southwest corner of Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads.

Desert Wells Stage Stop

Desert Wells Stage StopLocated  just north of Chandler Heights Road on the east side of Sossaman  Road,  this site is reported to have been a small spur stop for the Arizona  Stage Company, founded in 1868. The stop provided water, shade, and protection for stages  from Florence via Olberg and on to Mesa.

Hawes Homestead

Ernest E. Hawes started farming in Queen Creek in the 1930’s. The original homestead was on the south side of Chandler Heights Road, north of the Sonoqui Wash, just west of what is now Hawes Road. An old adobe house still stands on the property.

Gold Mine

Gold MineThe Gold Mine Mountain area was the site of many mining claims, including one by a Mr. Ebert from Mesa.  A short hike from the south end of Ellsworth Road will take you to the entrance of what used to be a 200-foot tunnel, now sealed for safety.  Midway through the tunnel, Mr. Ebert reportedly found a gold vein that was 6-8 feet long. By the time equipment arrived to mine the gold, the vein had shifted in a fault line that could not be located again.

Power Farms

In 1917, J.O. Power moved to the Queen Creek area with a brother, Bernard (Buck). The homestead consisted of 320 acres and was located a half mile west of Sossaman Road on Ocotillo. More land was purchased on the west side of Power Road and a new home was built in 1938.

Hunt Highway

Named after Arizona’s first Governor (1912), George W. P. Hunt, this was the main thoroughfare from the Chandler/Phoenix area to Florence. The highway, partially paved in the late 1920s, was built by prison labor.

Sossaman Homestead

Jasper, his mother, and his brother Lee, moved to the homestead in 1919 after his father died. It consisted of 320 acres on what is now the S.W. corner of Sossaman and Ocotillo Roads. Jasper (Jap) began working for Charlie Rittenhouse, operating and maintaining the diesel engines that powered the pumps used to irrigate Queen Creek Farms.

Mansel Carter & Marion Kennedy Gravesite 

Mansel CarterMansel came to the Queen Creek area in 1948 with his prospecting buddy, Marion. They set up camp about 5 miles south of town in what is currently San Tan Mountain Regional Park. They never struck it rich, but they lived the life they wanted. Mr. Kennedy passed away in 1960, and Mansel buried him near their camp. Mr. Carter was buried next to his friend in 1987.

Germann Homestead

In 1914, everyone but John and Mathilda Germann knew that it was impossible to farm on the desert of Arizona. The Germanns purchased a relinquishment of 480 acres from a discouraged homesteader and established their home and pumping plant. Ivan Cluff purchased the Germann property in 1947and formed a partnership with Stan Turley to farm the land. Many Hohokam artifacts were also discovered in years past on this farm.

Arizona Boys Ranch

Arizona Boys Ranch grew out of the conviction that homeless boys should have an opportunity of home, school, and community regardless of race, color, or creed. A broad base of support in 1951 contributed to the founding what is now called Canyon State Academy. It was hoped that the fertile land, coupled with a livestock program, could take care of the material needs of the boys and the staff.

Rittenhouse Ranch

By 1924, the Queen Creek Farms Company was well established. The Rittenhouse wells typically pumped 2150 gallons of water per minute and were 400 feet deep. The availability of water made Charles Rittenhouse’s 1,000 acres of farmland very productive.

 Schnepf Farms

Located five miles southeast of town, the area was purchased by Jack and Maude Schnepf in 1941. Their oldest son Raymond and his wife Thora were newly married, and they moved to what was called “the home place,” while the rest of the family continued to live in Mesa.

By 1945 most of the family members were living on the farm. They were some of the first to buy a cotton picker, put in cement ditches and dig sumps to catch and recycle wastewater. Jack and Raymond invented and manufactured the aluminum irrigation tube.

Schnepf Farms is well known today for its family oriented events and celebrations. If you have an opportunity, visit the Country Store.

Site of the Railroad Water Tank

Railroad Water Tank

There were three sidings (short railroad tracks connected with the main tracks) in the Queen Creek area. The water tower, with a well and pump underneath, was located on one siding near Schnepf Farms. Another siding was at the Ellsworth crossing for loading vegetables. And the third siding was located across from the Boys Ranch. When residents needed to board the train, however, they usually just flagged it down wherever they were.

 

 

First Baptist Church of Queen Creek

The First Baptist Church of Queen Creek located on Ocotillo Road east of Ellsworth Road, built in 1946 through a community effort.

Rittenhouse Air Force BaseOne of five satellite airfields supporting Williams Field, this was the facility used for touch-and-go pilot training. It was located where Ocotillo Road intersects with Schnepf Road.

Oscar’s Market

What was once Oscar’s Market, is a building located on the northwest corner of Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads.