Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project


Comprehensive Forty Year History


Internet Presentation

Version 041116



Volz Trading Post - Snow Capped Freemont and Humphreys Peaks at Flagstaff.

Photo: Neal Du Shane © 2015. All rights reserved.



Authors: Kathy Block - Neal Du Shane


Canyon Diablo, Arizona

Comprehensive Forty Year History


Copyright © 2016 Neal Du Shane


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Early communities, even outposts between major settlements, took pride in the labels they placed on themselves. Boasting how depraved, immoral and wicked their community was. Boasting how many saloons, and brothels they had. Even talking about how many of the first 20 or so individuals they had buried in their cemetery, died a violent, “boots on” death. These early western communities enjoyed characterizing themselves as rough and tumble places.

Canyon Diablo, Arizona was originally founded as a railroad camp for the construction of the Canyon Diablo Bridge.  As the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (A&P) pushed westward, through New Mexico to Needles, California, in early 1881, work was temporarily suspended by a 255 foot deep, 540 foot wide canyon. 

Canyon Diablo was named in 1853, by Lieutenant Amiel Weeks Whipple (1817 to 1863), when the canyon presented an obstacle to his Thirty Fifth Parallel survey party.  They had to travel miles out of their way to cross and continue west, and he named it "Devil's Canyon" or "Canyon Diablo" in Spanish.

Construction workers began to arrive on the site to construct a railroad bridge over the deep canyon. Road bed crews advanced rapidly ahead of the track laying steel rails. Laying track at a pace of approximately one mile per day was a normal average. Evidently the steel parts of the railroad bridge were preassembled in Alabama and it was discovered they were two feet short on each end! Unfortunately this wasn't discovered until the materials arrived by train at Canyon Diablo at the bridge site. Sabotage was suspected, but could never be proven. Somehow the plans, in any event, were misread. It took seven months for the new missing structure to be made and shipped to the end of the rail line, and brought to the canyon edge by horse-drawn wagons.

The delay left many idle workers, though Italian stonemasons shaped the original pillars for the bridge from surrounding Kaibab limestone. Crews were sent ahead to survey the railroad site, prepare the grade and bed, cut and lay out railroad ties in advance of the iron rails that would accompany the trains once the canyon was spanned. The approximately 240 workers were mostly Irish immigrants, although Hispanics, Apaches, and Navajos were also hired from a limited local labor force.

The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad encountered financial difficulties, which also stopped work during a period of reorganization from the summer of 1881 until work resumed in 1882 by the Atkinson and Topeka Railroad (A&T). The first train crossed over the bridge on July 1, 1882. Meanwhile at Canyon Diablo, tents, shacks, some wooden buildings offered various services and goods to the workers. This settlement to supply the bridge builders lasted about nineteen months, and lingered on as a flag stop between Winslow and Flagstaff, for many years. A new steel arch bridge over Canyon Diablo was built in 1947, replacing the 1882 trestle. There are remains of the original bridge supports that can still be seen on the canyon floor.



Ref 2. Diagram Courtesy Wikipedia


In 1881, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad experienced financial difficulties, so the task of completing the Canyon Diablo Bridge was given to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The first bridge was built, but had a speed restriction of 10 miles per hour across the span. In 1913, a gauntlet track (Ref 2.) was added to increase capacity, and eliminate the need for switches, but the speed restriction caused traffic delays. Management at the Santa Fe Railroad decided it was important to eliminate the traffic bottlenecks and invested millions of dollars to upgrade the bridges across the system. Construction began on a new bridge just north of the old Canyon Diablo Bridge. Construction workers began pumping concrete into the cracks of the limestone canyon walls, then built the concrete piers to support the new bridge. The new 544 foot long Canyon Diablo Bridge, which includes a 300-foot hinged arch with 120-foot spans on either side, was opened in September 1947. Because there are no speed restrictions on the new bridge, high speed intermodal freight trains race across the structure at 70 miles per hour.



Ref 2. Current Bridge



A newspaper account in the Weekly Arizona Miner, May 6, 1882, described the original Canyon Diablo Bridge:


     "The Canyon Diablo Bridge, about which so much interest is manifested in this section of Arizona, is the highest railroad bridge, with one single exception, in the world. The bridge is composed wholly of iron, and is 540 feet in length, the longest span being 100 feet, known as the Pratt Truss. The piers are built up 30 feet of stone, when the iron commences, extending 100 feet higher, making the height of the pier 220 feet, but as the bed of the canyon is still five or ten feet lower than the base of these piers, the total distance from the center of the bridge to the bottom is in the neighborhood of 230 feet, which will make it quite a task for nervous people to venture across.  When viewed from below the super -structure swings across the abyss as graceful and airy as the webs that glitter in the morning sunlight in the trees, but a closer inspection shows that every part is riveted and bolted with massive iron bars and that the fierce winds - which rage down the Canyon - cause scarcely a perceptible tremor to disturb the iron frame.*...Mr. Keepers, the engineer who has charge of the construction of this great work, is a veteran bridge builder....Canyon Diablo bridge...will remain as his greatest monument of engineering skill, and one that will stand the storms of many years."

*One contradiction to the claim about the winds was written in a 2002 article about a new bridge:

"Danger is still a resident of Canyon Diablo as strong winds have been known to race through the canyon with such force, truck trailers have been blown off railroad flatcars and sent to the bottom of the gorge...Now Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad diesel locomotives race across the Canyon Diablo Bridge....."



Ref. 3. Photo of Original Bridge



News article in the Weekly Arizona Miner, February 17, 1882, states that:


"Mr. Price, who has had great experience in building bridges, pronounces this work as 'substantial as any in the United States, so that there will not be the least danger in passing over it the hex-rust laden freight cars. The iron for the bridge is all wrought iron of huge proportion. The entire cost of this gigantic work will not fall short of three-fourths of a million dollars."


One final remark in the story was indicative of the attitudes of many about the coming of the railroad to this part of Arizona Territory:


"Twenty-five years ago, that country between the Missouri River and the Rio Grande and the Rio Grande and San Bernardino was a barren waste and inhabited by the wild Indian tribes of the far west.  Now we have Kansas and Colorado, two flourishing states made thus through the agency of the iron highway.  New Mexico has, from a Mexican element, been transformed into an American land of progress and industry, while Arizona, the fairest spot on this green earth, has been rescued from the Red Men, and we now behold it one of the greatest mineral producing Territories in the United States....All along the line from Albuquerque to the Little Colorado are being developed wonderful coal fields, the wealth of which can hardly be estimated....We have the grandest canyons on the continent, and the Prescott romantic mountain scenery, upon which tourists can speculate, study and grow fat through the pleasant summer months."

The A&P Railroad Company encountered cash-flow difficulties and could not immediately bridge the gorge. During the period of reorganization, from the summer of 1881, until late in 1882 before work resumed, the booming town of Canyon Diablo roared day and night.


Ref 4. Street Scene at Canyon Diablo






In the transitory span of its deadly beginning, famous communities like Abilene, Dodge City, Virginia City and Tombstone could not hold a candle to the evil of this end-of-the-railroad's debauchery. Main street homicides were reported to be common place. Newcomers were robbed on an inkling they carried valuables. Holdups were reported to be hourly occurrences.


In 1880, Canyon Diablo, AZ was initially founded as a railroad camp to hold supplies for the bridge. Construction was delayed due to incorrect measurements, waiting for missing materials to arrive. An additional interruption was caused by financial difficulties and it wasn’t until July 1, 1882 that the railroad Original Bridge was completed.










As mentioned previously, the canyon had earlier been given the name by Lieutenant Amiel Weeks Whipple (1817-1863) in 1853 when it presented an impassable obstacle to his thirty-fifth parallel survey party. Traveling miles out of their way to cross beyond the canyon, he appropriately named it Devil’s Canyon “Canyon Diablo” in Spanish. After the town was developed, it took the canyon's name, ironically ended up being extremely appropriate for the reputation the Railroad Camp would earn. Then have Canyon Diablo to up and blow away, when the hired hands moved on, with them went the prostitutes.


Canyon Diablo at its prime lasted only nineteen months. It lingered as a flag stop between Winslow and Flagstaff for many years. Actually, the only remnants from the Canyon Diablo of bloodshed and debauchery are the disused masonry stanchions from the original bridge that started it all at the bottom of the canyon. They poke up from the base of the canyon, some 255 feet below the bridge's contemporary replacement.

Canyon Diablo, the community, in its infancy, was a shanty town, two rows of buildings faced each other across the rocky road on the northeast line of the right-of-way. They extended southeast one mile from the yellow-painted depot.

It was the railhead for Flagstaff, Prescott and other towns west and south. Long wagon freight trains of goods passed north along the east canyon rim to the old crossing. Swinging west, freighters and stagecoaches made stops at Walnut Tanks and Turkey Tanks on the slow forty mile haul into the cedar and pine forests surrounding Flagstaff on the mountain. Other routes fanned out from the small town. A regular stage line also operated between Flagstaff and Canyon Diablo.


Ref 5. Stone structures remaining at Canyon Diablo. Photo: N. Du Shane




Stagecoaches and freight trains both hauled money and were subject to robbery as by unorganized outlaws. Uncommitted vagabonds, down on their luck who came west looking for a place to settle. Predators and wanted criminals encompassed the bulk of the hardened residents of Canyon Diablo in the beginning.

In the formative years, Canyon Diablo had an interesting rapid progression of peace officers. Editor’s Note: The following tales could be construed as Urban Legend?

Number one: to fill the position pinned on the badge at three o'clock PM; at eight PM he was buried. Nothing more is known about this individual. Job longevity - five hours.

Number two: lasted two weeks. Little is known about this hapless soul.

Number three: was a devious sort of a character who carried a loaded double barrel sawed-off shotgun. When he had a confrontation, he was not choosy who received a liberal helping of buckshot. Often aiming in the general direction and firing, to which bystanders would also receive pellets of double-0 buckshot. After three weeks, he was shot in the back with forty-five slugs fired by a resentful individual, aimed between the officer’s shoulder blades, (shot in the back) instantly ended this peace officer's appointment. (Likely more than one disgruntled individual involved or the killer had eight six-shooters at their disposal)

Number four: a contorted man, small in stature, possessing gluttonous dark eyes, made an agreement with the outlaw element. Number four, held office for six days when a local thug’s abused victim turned a blazing gun muzzle on officer, point blank range in the dark.

In the interim, several weeks passed lacking a town marshal. Eventually, in rode a pale faced, emaciated, afflicted with consumption, former preacher from Texas. He was observed entering town by the town marshal hiring committee standing in front of Keno Harry's Poker Flat. They observed he wore two low hanging pistols. Instantly they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Broke and hungry, he accepted the chance to start eating on a regular schedule once again.


Ref 6. (L) Elevated Water holding tank base. (R) Foundation of steam engine. Located near Volz Trading Post. Assuming this was the method they used to pump water from the canyon floor to supply the water needs of the community. Photo: N. Du Shane

For the record, when the town marshal hiring committee requested the new marshal’s name, for the record. He hesitated for an extended period. Looking down at the striped ducking pants that he wore, then answered self-righteously that he reckoned he was "Bill Duckin."

Although he lasted on the job for a full thirty days, he passed on before collecting his first month's pay. During his tenure, he allegedly killed a man a day. It was rumored, he wounded so many of the populous and that the railroad hospital at Winslow refused to accept any more gunshot victims.

Opulence decayed Duckin, he passed from this world on a Sunday morning. Laden with money after putting the squeeze on the businesses, for protection, he dressed himself in fancy clothes and sundries. Trying to duplicate famous lawmen of the day. He purchased two black two-button bob-tailed coats. One was his everyday coat had the side pockets cut out. Thus, while wearing it he could shove both hands down, grasp gun butts, and thrust the long barrels through between the coats edges since the holsters hung on swivels with the bottoms lopped off. In this tricky way he literally scared desperados to death. The second coat he purchased was kept unaltered for Sunday wear.

On his fatal final morning, he was strolling down Hell Street wearing his second unaltered good coat; not that he was going to church mind you. There never was a church to care for the spiritual needs of the denizens then inhabiting Canyon Diablo. It is believed, Duckin was heading for Ching Wong's beef stew counter for breakfast.

From the Colorado Saloon, backed a man wearing a black derby hat. Holding a sack of loot in his left hand, and he carried a smoking gun in his right. Halting, Duckin, resting hands in side coat pockets, ordered him to surrender. Instead, the bandit turned and opened fire. Unfortunately, Duckin realized too late, that he was wearing his Sunday unaltered coat. Which was the demise of town marshal Duckin.

Ref 7. Sheep Dip Trough Near Volz Trading Post. Photo: N. Du Shane

Number five: Ducking’s successor was Joseph (Fighting Joe) Fowler. Fighting Joe, after all had controlled the thunderous misbehavior of bad actors in Gallup, New Mexico, when the railroad reached there. A tough nut without a doubt, he had allegedly killed twenty men during his gun-fighting career.

Fighting Joe tenure lasted ten days, before outlaws put a hex on him. Then after three almost fatal encounters, narrowly escaping alive from the bushwhacking’s. Wisely, Joe returned to New Mexico without announcing his sudden and unexpected exodus from Canyon Diablo.

A sheriff by the name of Harvey H. Whitehill fought Joe, hand to hand, in a stand-off fight before being able to haul Joe to the Silver City, NM for judgement. That night a disorderly mob took Fighting Joe from behind bars and gave him an air tap dancing lesson (Hanged). ("Fighting Joe" Fowler is not be confused with Joel Fowler, who was also lynched, in Socorro, NM, January 23, 1884)

Real Estate transactions were expeditious in Canyon Diablo as well. Changing proprietorships of a saloon or gambling-parlor was by the simple convenience of killing the claimed owner of said establishment, then taking over. That was the method Keno Harry, (no documentation has been found of his surname) acquired his poker flat. That was also how he lost it to the next owner. Buried in the Canyon Diablo burial grounds, at the time, his wooden board grave marker had painted in black letters:


Yavapai County was one of the four original Arizona Counties created by the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature. The county territory was defined as being east of longitude 113° 20' and north of the Gila River. Soon thereafter, the counties of Apache, Coconino, Maricopa, and Navajo were carved from the original Yavapai County. Yavapai County's present boundaries were established in 1891.The county is named after the Yavapai people, who were the principal inhabitants at the time that this area was annexed by the United States!

At that time Flagstaff and Canyon Diablo were in Yavapai County. The County Seat was at Prescott more than one hundred miles from Canyon Diablo. Yavapai County officials refused to furnish law enforcement officers to maintain law and order in Canyon Diablo. They didn’t feel it was logical to send someone, based on the longevity experienced by previous law enforcement officers.

Despairing, Flagstaff business men petitioned Territorial Governor Frederick A. Tirtle for backing. He requested the army to step in and restore order.

The Army moved with normal habitual slothfulness, subsequently the presence of the Army became unnecessary. A&P, reorganized and with new working capital invested in the company, the gorge across the 550 foot Canyon Diablo was bridged. Then the railroad proceeded to build west to California. The lawless, rip-roaring, 24 hours a day, town of malicious immorality died virtually overnight once the bridge was completed.

All total, seven lawmen were appointed and then killed in less than two years.


The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad completed the trestle crossing of Canyon Diablo in 1882 subsequently resuming its progress West ward. Frontier travelers however, had to continue their much slower crawl into the new territory via wagon, seeking land on which to settle and find their utopia. The trail they followed passed through the same high plains as the railroad near Two Guns, east of Flagstaff. Pioneers however were forced to cut northward at the canyon, approximately 20 miles, to where the gorge dissolved into flatland and allowed passage to the west side of the canyon.

This crossing (Wolf’s crossing) (Ref 13.) was located north of the present day community of Leupp, approximately 25 miles northwest of Winslow. This made the closest community of civilization and supplies to the community of Canyon Diablo, a small settlement that had been notorious for rampant and violent crime. It was a region in which holdups were epidemic. Isolated and devoid of traffic, this trail made for a hazardous sojourn.

In 1888, an ill-fated pioneer pursuing life beyond the abyss discovered how treacherous the trail was. He was discovered abandoned just short of the crossing, the lone traveler had evidently been ambushed by highwaymen. The contents of his wagon were strewn about the ground and his animals either stolen as they were never found. From the wagon's tongue, which had been propped vertically by the yoke, hung the man himself. He had been strung up from his own mode of transportation, left to hang from a clumsily constructed gallows, abandoned on the high plains.

Officials were never able to determine the identity of the nomad and he was buried at the site of his demise. His aggressors were never identified or punished. Nor was the reason they executed their victim in such an awkward and troubling fashion, when one bullet would have humanely accomplished the same result. Exactly what transpired there at the end of the canyon remains an unknown. Another historical event unanswered.


Ref 8. Freight headed to Winslow and points east. Photo: N. Du Shane



Limited length, passenger train runs made daily trips from the division yards at Winslow to Canyon Diablo. These limited size railroad trains brought supplies, and passengers, unloading at Canyon Diablo then returned to Winslow.

Wagons with trailers waited to haul merchandise, saloon beverages, sawmill and mining machinery on to destinations. Near the depot on railroad land were located the section crew's house, stock pens, a water tank (pumped out of the canyon's depth at that time), freight docks and warehouses.

Along Hell Street stood fourteen saloons, ten gambling dens (or poker flats) four houses of ill-repute and two dance pavilions which were hardly more than houses of ill-repute themselves. None of the shacks were substantial buildings, being green lumber frames covered with tin, tar paper, and canvas. Wedged between these places were eating counters, and a grocery and dry goods store. Few had a business name lettered on their drab, unpainted false fronts.








Ref 9. Created By: N. Du Shane © All rights reserved



1.     Hermann Wolf grave (also recorded as Hermann Wolfe and Johann Hermann Woolf) plus eight other Pioneers.

2.     Two stone structures plus graves of a young girl, a woman and a man.

3.     General area (shaded yellow) where most graves are located. Large enough to house up to 100 or more graves.

4.     Corral – looked as though it is still used occasionally.

5.     Stone structure – Likely a residence or protection from hostile residents in the area.

6.     Ten graves in a straight line.

7.     Believed to be the original “Hell Street”, strewn with rubbish from the day.

8.     15,000 Square Foot structure. Housing Volz Trading Post and other businesses. Speculating that not all was covered by a roof. By far the most significant structure in Canyon Diablo. There were two water holding areas close to this structure.

At the time, with no law enforcement in the settlement, it quickly became a wild and lawless place for drifters, gamblers, and outlaws. At the time the closest law enforcement was in Prescott, the county seat, 100 miles away.

Saloons, gambling halls and brothels operated 24 hours a day, and never closed. The town comprised mostly of shacks in two rows facing each other. The main street, referred to as “Hell Street”, had over thirty structures. Wedged between these businesses were a couple of eating counters, a grocery and a dry goods store.

Allegedly, there was a population of nearly 2,000 people. Speculating realistically, in its peak, the population may have been closer to 750. Other than the 250 Railroad workers there is no economic factor to support a community of 2,000. Housing for 2,000 would require 500 to 1,000 structures which doesn’t seem to support the claimed population. Plus it was well known, promotors in those days were known to exaggerate population numbers to attract individuals to come to the community.


The burial grounds filled up quickly, referred to as “Boot Hill” by the locals. It is reported there were thirty-five graves visible with wooden markers and stone covered mounds at one time. One or two had picket fences around the grave. With time and the elements having destroyed all evidence, there is nothing left today, but that of Hermann Wolf, a trader who passed away in 1899 and may have been the only one to have died peacefully. While his grave is here, however it should be noted, he did not die at Canyon Diablo. Rather, at his trading post known as “Wolf’s Trading Post at Wolf Crossing” approximately 25 miles north. Wolf Crossing was the point where travelers crossed Canyon Diablo to continue west. See (Ref 13)

After the lack of finances, temporarily halted progress of the railroad bridge, for a seven-month delay, work on the original bridge continued. The bridge took approximately one year to complete, allowing the first train to cross the canyon on July 1, 1882 from Winslow and the east.

When you see a train getting smaller, you know it is leaving. No longer than it takes a departing train to disappear in the distance, equaled the time it took for Canyon Diablo to dry up and almost become a ghost town, if it weren’t for the local trade left behind to continue. Once the railroad workers moved on, and with them went the prostitutes, gamblers and the barmen. Easy come, easy go.

Once the original railroad bridge was completed, the community of Canyon Diablo lingered on for three decades, serving as a ranching community, but even then it began to permanently die. The majority of the criminal element had long since departed. The remaining residents petitioned the Army take over law enforcement and protection.  E.E. Ayer, who owned the largest lumber mill in the southwest located at the end of the railroad, had enough political power to demand and receive an escort of soldiers from Fort Defiance to get his machinery through.  E.E. Ayer and Flagstaff merchants then organized and provided a good salary for a Marshal at Canyon Diablo to keep the community under control. It was simple, once the lawless element had moved on, all the businessmen at the end of the tracks had to do was simply hire the Marshal for protection.


When Route 66 came through the area, the town of Two Guns sprouted up just 3.6 miles south of Canyon Diablo. Catering to the travelers along the Mother Road. Two Guns was simply a few buildings including a gas station and roadhouse. Two Guns is also a ghost town that died with the introduction of I-40.


Ref 10. Photo: N. Du Shane (c) All rights reserved


The largest remaining ruins at Canyon Diablo are that of a trading post once run by Fred Volz, a Prussian, who lived there from 1886 to 1910. This was long after the town's wild and wooly peak.


Today, several foundations along with the grave of Hermann Wolf, can be still be seen at Canyon Diablo, along with the original limestone footings for the railroad trestle, which has since been replaced with a steel arch span.




The weekend found rain storms from Phoenix to northern Arizona. On the trip up I contemplated what Plan B was going to be, if the road to Canyon Diablo was 3.6 miles of mud? Getting stuck, alone, with a four wheel drive in the middle of nowhere wasn’t my idea of a productive research experience. Fortunately it hadn’t rained that far east of Flagstaff. The road is still very rough and I’d recommend a high clearance if not a four wheel drive vehicle.

Upon arrival I drove directly to Hermann Wolf’s marker and grave (Ref 11). Other than the metal tube fence, which is showing signs of wear, tear everything was perfect.


Ref 11. Marker reads: “Hermann Wolf Died On September 1899, 69 Life Years” Photo: N. Du Shane © All rights reserved


The stone itself is remarkably well preserved and it is my opinion Hermann is buried there. Family and some professional historians want to make it appear that his grave isn’t where the headstone is. This misconception comes from the Urban Legend that unscrupulous individuals will go out and exhume a grave. To which we decided to see how easy it was to do. APCRP reassures you, exhuming a grave can take two or three days with lots of sweat and elbow grease.

Most historians agree, Hermann Wolf’s actual age was probably 89, not 69 as indicated on the stone. He died the evening of September 3, 1899, at his trading post after a brief illness at his trading post, approximately 25 miles north of Canyon Diablo. He had traveled to Flagstaff in his freight wagon to meet his brother, who had finally located him, after a long search. The brother, Franz Wolfe, was a retired Major General in the German Army from Dresden. Tragically, Hermann wasn't feeling well and returned to his trading post alone. His brother was delayed and arrived one day too late. Hermann died the night before. Hermann Wolf's body was transported by the undertaker to the Boot Hill Cemetery at the edge of Canyon Diablo for burial, and a tombstone was much later placed on his grave by a relative, possibly his sister Frau Geheimrathin Becker, originally from Kelbra am Kyffhauser, Prussia. 


Ref 12. By: N. Du Shane (c) All rights reserved.




While researching Hermann’s grave, I noticed other formations that looked as though there may be grave’s surrounding his grave. There are . . . four adult male graves on the right side of his grave and one behind. On the left side, there are two small males and two adult males. All appear to have meet violent deaths by gun or knife. Some were rail road workers, some were cowboys or herders. Counting Hermann’s there are nine graves at or near his marker.

1.     Adult male                                  5. Teen Male

2.     Adult male                                  6. Teen Male

3.     Adult male                                  7. Adult Male

4.     Adult male                                  8. Adult Male

None of the graves have headstones, but all are visible if you observe the rocks piled in obvious formations.





Ref 23. Wolf Trading Post and Crossing


Ref 14. Wolf Trading Post/Crossing 2002. Photo: Courtesy Bonnie Helten





Hermann Wolf operated a Trading Post at Wolf Crossing, located approximately sixteen miles north of Canyon Diablo. When he died at Wolf Trading Post, his remains were taken by wagon and buried at Canyon Diablo where his headstone identifies his grave.









Ref 15. By: N. Du Shane (C) All rights reserved.




It is important to consider that there may not have been an official cemetery called “Boot Hill” at Canyon Diablo as described, especially as we think of cemeteries today. “You bury em out thar” pointing south across the tracks could have been as formal as it got. This was a lawless gathering of individuals, devoid of families, churches, or government, at the time. Very likely a standing policy would have been “You kill em . . . you bury em” where they fell, mentality. The major reasoning for this theory is the small clusters of one to four graves here and there that were found, not in a formal logical pattern. The largest collection of scattered graves was an area approximately 100’ X 100’ yellow shaded area, as shown above in the .23 acre satellite image. This is as close to an official cemetery that I could find. Possibly up to the 35 graves has been mentioned in our research. Counting the other locations we discovered there could be from 75 to 115 grave sites in total scattered in and about Canyon Diablo. Nothing resembling a formal cemetery was identified.







Ref 16. View South looking at bare Burial Ground, Corral (L), and Stone Structure (R). Photo: N. Du Shane


The ground southwest of the former community and rail road track, was a burial ground, pick a spot and start digging. There are graves on the northeast, some in one row of ten, some scattered here and there. Graves were placed indiscriminately with no formal order or plan. As was the custom in that era, you buried them where they fell or were found.

Interesting to observe, as much slate type flat rock that is in this area, I found no etched rock with a name or date, not even initials. There are some remnants of wood that were likely crosses, although no engraving was found on any of these either.

When in the field doing this type of research it is critical to observe anything that doesn’t look normal to the surroundings. Case in point, the rock placement or unusual placement in relationship to other rock. Grass, weeds, bushes, trees all are clues there may be a grave there. I worked an area with several graves and observed a Pinyon Pine healthy and standing by itself, it was a couple of hundred feet away. Walked to it and sure enough there was a grave and the tree was used as the grave marker. No way to identify if it was placed or grew naturally.

Historians have written there was a cemetery at Canyon Diablo with 35 graves. Other than Hermann Wolf’s marker, there are no longer any markers visible with headstones or markers. As indicated there is still evidence remaining of graves, if you have been trained what to look for. From the graves identified, it is believed there could be double or triple that number, strewn haphazardly within the general community.

The main burial ground did not contain all the bodies laid to rest at Canyon Diablo. Graves of the nameless are scattered in unmarked graves, northeast and southwest of the tracks, and east of the canyon rim. The occupants of this ground are buried where their bodies were found or fell as was the custom of that era.



The majority of the graves identified were male, I did find two female graves: one of an adult and the other believed died in 1904 and was a 12 year old girl. Both of these were not with the general area of graves and were near a stone structure. Close at hand was an adult male but no indication to believe they were a family.



In our research we have found only one woman that was buried there. She worked in Clabberfoot Annie's house of ill repute. One morning she was found with her throat thoroughly sliced, the deed accomplished by a disgruntled working lady of B. S. Mary's (yes B. S. stands for bovine defecation!) place who mistook her bunk for that of Clabberfoot Annie. Could this be the grave of that unfortunate damsel as it is the only adult female grave identified?



Ref 17. By: N. Du Shane (c) All rights reserved


I did find a grave that is believed, is that of James Shaw, one of the men that held up the Wigwam Saloon on April 8, 1905 in Winslow.

We believe the Urban Legend regarding the saloon patrons exhuming James Shaw’s remains and pouring down an unfinished bottle they left behind when they robbed the Wigwam and patrons, to be a ruse. Careful examination of the photos, there are obvious discrepancies that don’t support this fabrication. Evidence: 1. His fingers on his hands are in different positions in each photo. 2. Knees are not tied to keep from bending. 3. Knees in different positions in each photo. 4. A different smirk/smile in each photo. 5. It is not realistic to assume a smirk when shot through either the heart or head, depending on the accounting of the shooting. 6. Logically, a corpse could not change the position of the fingers nor the expression on their face.

Interesting as a side note, the first person I talked to in Winslow, when I informed them what I was researching . . . the first words out of their mouth was the urban legend regarding this incident. It is obvious, this is a classic example of an Urban Legend and the subterfuge will likely never die. Merely too steeped in local tradition to fade away. Besides, it is a great anecdote to convey to wide-eyed astonished tourists. Fantastic premise however we believe it to be BOGUS.



Ref 18. Photo: N. Du Shane





The actual ruins of the ghost town of Canyon Diablo are no longer accessible from the SW. You must park and walk across three sets of rail road tracks, which are a main east-west route for BNSF. Use extreme caution and pay close attention to the speeding trains, (70 MPH) as there is one going east or west every five minutes it seemed. I should mention the former road crossing is posted No Trespassing by BNSF on the southwest side and can no longer be used to drive across, as the crossing has been removed. You can drive back to Two Guns and try to find a road on the northeast side of the tracks and follow it back to Canyon Diablo.

Be aware, this property is on the farthest south portion of the Navajo Nation. Be respectful of the heritage this site represents.








Ref 19. Major remaining landmark, 20’ tall Wall of Volz Trading Post. Photo: N. Du Shane


Ref 20. Wall Looking East. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 21. Wall Looking West. Photo: N. Du Shane


The front is stately with historical character. Alas this wall will be short lived as the elements are taking a toll on this 20-foot upright structure. Wind is pushing against this front and starting a concave displacement, see left photo above and a few more storms will most likely collapse this beautiful historic structure.


Ref 22. 15,000 Square Foot, Volz Trading Post. By: N. Du Shane (c) All rights reserved.


Thought-provoking to see the gigantic structure at the far NE end of Canyon Diablo. In its day it would have been a Big Box Store. On one of the old hand drawn maps we have accessed, identifies it as Ayer’s Lumber Company. We are somewhat skeptical it was a Lumber Yard, after visiting the remains. In part it was Volz Trading Post, as it has a basement under one of the structures and a very large cistern to hold water. In addition there was an above ground water tower with a steam engine which could indicate a saw mill or a pump to access water from the canyon below. It is an impressive at 300’ long by 50’ wide stone structure with one historic upright wall of the structure remaining.


1.     Retail space with only opening in back wall

2.     Retail space

3.     Retail space with basement

4.     Detached living quarters

5.     Large warehouse storage configuration

6.     Sheep Dip trough – 110’ long





Ref 23. Volz Trading Post –. Sign on roof, reads in part - "Volz, Indian Store, Navajo Blankets, Baskets, Pottery, Canyon Diablo”. Photo: Earle Forrest courtesy of Babbitt Brothers Trading Company. Circa 1905


The large 20’ stone wall seen on the left side of this structure is one the last remaining walls still visible in Canyon Diablo. Definitely the landmark to this area. Photograph of Volz Trading Post at Canyon Diablo answers many unresolved historical issues.

1.     There are three or four women in front of the trading post. (Soiled Doves, Schoolmarms, housewives, travelers, speculating)

2.     The Volz Trading Post is the structure with the remaining tall stone wall. Stone sidewall of this structure, viewed on the left of the photo.

3.     A buggy (far left) indicating a person of some importance within the community.

4.     Far right, wagon is set up similar to a bus or mass transportation vehicle, with three sets of seats, front to back.

5.     As I walked this ruin, I identified that there was three business and the photo shows three businesses. The right business had the basement.

6.     The cistern would have been under the lower hip roof on the right.

7.     Beyond this picture, to the right, was the large area either used as a warehouse of corral?

8.     Not certain what year this photo was taken but seems to be years later than the rough and rowdy days. Likely early 1900’s.

9.     Interesting, that the signage for the store is painted on the hip roof, which faced the majority of the Canyon Diablo community.

10. The steam engine, water trough for dipping sheep, water tower base, are 20’ behind the photographer to the right.



Ref 24. Historic Canyon Diablo 2015 – Blue line traces the exact route the author hiked. Satellite Image by: N. Du Shane

Ref 25. Rendering of Canyon Diablo in 1880


As I strolled along Hell Street, it appeared the current tracks may have been moved a short distance to the northeast, at the point they converted this route to a main east/west line, adding two sets of main tracks and a siding. Documentation states the original steel trestle was replaced with an iron structure, when tracks expanded from one to two. The tracks today seem a long way from the town and a depot that would have serviced it. I also tried to envision how the town was laid out.

Standing in silence as the wind gently whispered its song, I thought I could hear the heartbeat of everyday life in Canyon Diablo, a century ago. The bustle of everyday life, dogs barking, doors slamming, idle chatter, horses whining, cattle and sheep rousting about and of course pigs rutting around, devouring everything in sight on the street. (Four legged garbage disposals of the day) Yes, even loud voices in dispute and a gun shot or two. Of course the stench of human waste and garbage thrown in the street for the pigs to devour. Ah those were the good old days, weren’t they!



We have explored and researched the history of Canyon Diablo and presented information about the many graves strewn about the ghost town. Despite tales of violence, deaths, Hell Street brothels and saloons, there were other inhabitants of Canyon Diablo after the rough and rowdy beginning - railroad men, shopkeepers, post office workers, trading post owners, and even school teachers.  The following is a glimpses of the "human side of Canyon Diablo" from old newspaper articles and census records. 


The Coconino Sun, June 23, 1900, noted: "Census Enumerator Layton is counting the population in the vicinity of Canyon Diablo this week." Those census records were largely lost in a fire.


The Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 Population for Coconino County, Arizona Territory, was very difficult to achieve in isolated areas like Canyon Diablo.  Census takers, who had to provide their own transportation, at their own expense- such as horseback, mules, wagons, railroads - were paid $6 day to locate and enumerate a rather transient population. Prospectors and miners, laborers on the railroad, and others were often suspicious and uncooperative. Native Americans were not generally included on the census, but oddly enough, one page listed 33 Hopi Indians. (This would have been before the forced redistribution of lands between the Navajo and the Hopi.)  Canyon Diablo was not listed on one tidy page, but spread out over in 10 pages in what was termed the "Navajo Indian Reservation." Extremely hard to read writing listed at least 337 people on this census and their occupations. They were reflected in accounts in the old newspapers of the times.

There were at least 43 sheepherders listed. Items in the news told when they brought sheep to graze near Canyon Diablo, and when they brought them to the railroad to ship east. Here's an example:


The Coconino Sun, Dec. 12, 1913: "O.L. Zion of Flagstaff is here ahead of 1,450 sheep, 3 cars of lambs and ewes and weathers, from Harlow Yeager's range at Canyon Diablo. Yeager's last shipment sold out pretty close to a year ago."


There were 30 railroad laborers scattered thru the Census, and one page of 39 "track laborers", 3 engineers, and 1 time keeper. They were all associated with a railroad station at Canyon Diablo.


Other occupations listed were: 17 teamsters, 7 farm laborers, 16 stockmen, 2 cooks (1 was Chinese), 1 bill collector, 1 machinist, 1 mail carrier. Total of 80 listed on census.


The Post Office at Canyon Diablo, was established in 1893, with Frederick Volz as appointed Postmaster, in the Volz Trading Post.  The post office was discontinued in March 1918, twenty-five years later.  An article in the Coconino Sunday, March 8, 1918, complained that all mail had to go to the Leupp Indian Agency Headquarters, with no reason given for the change. "It will make things rather inconvenient for many stockmen who have been getting their mail at Canyon Diablo."


The stockmen grazed horses and brought them to Canyon Diablo to be shipped to other areas. Pages of ads for horses are found in the local newspaper from Flagstaff, The Coconino Sun. Here is a typical ad:


Ref 36. Ad in Coconino Sun, June 30, 1911

Note about one of the cowboys who worked for the stockmen, from The Coconino Sun, Dec. 11, 1908.


"Frank Bennett, alias 'Montana Frank,' a young man that can take the stutter out of the gait of the most fractious bronco that ever bit bunch grass, was in town from his range in the Canyon Diablo country the first of the week. Frank is much disturbed over the rumor that the government is going to have all wild horses on the range shot."


Canyon Diablo had regular voting for delegates, especially to Republican Conventions in Arizona and for County Supervisory officials.  These records, regularly reported in the newspapers, give an idea of the population at various times. In 1898, there were 200 ballots printed for the Nov. 8, 1898 election, compared to 3,000 printed for Flagstaff. In 1900, at a Republican county convention, candidates for county office were voted on. There was one delegate for each fifteen votes, to choose a sheriff, member of the Territorial Assembly, probate judge, treasurer, district attorney, recorder, surveyor, and two members of a Board of Supervisors. Canyon Diablo had five votes for one delegate. Finally, in 1906, a primary election was held at the Fred Volz building to choose one Republican and one Democrat delegate. A vote was held about statehood and in Canyon Diablo, there were six votes FOR statehood and ten AGAINST statehood. Most precincts in Coconino County voted against statehood, which was a very controversial issue that election year!


Patrick O'Toole was a prominent sheep-man at Canyon Diablo and active in politics.  He was Mayor of Canyon Diablo in 1909 and 1910, elected a judge in 1905. News items mentioned frequent trips to Flagstaff, for example, in Dec. 1910: "Mayor Pat O'Toole of Canyon Diablo turned his town over to the hired help and came to Flagstaff."

Editor’s Note: Our research found no documentation or reference that there was actually a legal city government functioning, over the 40 year existence of Canyon Diablo, AZ. The term “Mayor Patrick O’Toole” however implies that there was.


O'Toole was the subject of a "tall tale" in the Coconino Sun, Aug. 21, 1905, that shows the humor of the day:


"The Judge had a very narrow escape from drowning during one of the recent floods in Canyon Diablo.  A dam belonging to the Judge broke, sweeping him downstream.  By great presence of mind he pulled off his hat, jumped into it and paddled to the shore.  Mr. Harry Melborne (the story teller) is a reputable sheep-man and has licked up several gallons of the Hassayampa River water, consequently this story goes until the Judge denies it." (Note the legend that if you drink that water, you will never tell a lie.)


Patrick O'Toole's career was ended by his death at the age of just over 49 years old of pulmonary T.B. on Jan. 7, 1913, at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix, where he went "when he learned his condition was such that he could hardly recover ". He was born July 27, 1863, in Illinois, was single and buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Phoenix. His obituary, in the Arizona Republican, Jan. 10, 1913, stated that he had contracted T.B. two years before, and it rapidly grew worse until "death ended his suffering." He was described as "one of the best known sheep-men", with extensive sheep interests at Canyon Diablo. O'Toole also lived at Flagstaff and Winslow, and was a member of the Elks in both places.


There was an attempt to provide a school at Canyon Diablo in 1907 by petition of parents of school children, approved by the County Superintendent of Schools, who ordered a School District established at Canyon Diablo. The school was approved as Canyon Diablo District No. 7, in October, 1909. Two different teachers were mentioned in the news.

The Coconino Sun for April 18, 1907, reported: "Laurabell Wallace left Sunday for Canyon Diablo where she has a position as a teacher in the public school."

The Holbrook News, Feb. 4, 1910, reported: "There was a quiet wedding at the Court House when Miss Hannah Funston of Canyon Diablo was married to Mr. Gilbert Webster of Winslow.....The bride is a school teacher at Canyon Diablo and is quite well known there....Groom is well to do young man of Winslow. They had the well wishes of their many friends."


The county superintendent of schools announced on Dec, 4, 1911, that the Canyon Diablo school district had failed to maintain the average daily attendance required by law, and in fact had failed to maintain any school at all for the last year. The School Board declared the district lapsed.  On Aug. 16, 1912, the school district was attached to Flagstaff School District No. 1, possibly to serve any children remaining at Canyon Diablo or nearby ranches.


The railroad and highway also contributed to a loss of population. As people moved away for jobs and new opportunities, the stores serving the area also closed.  The railroad maintenance station at Canyon Diablo remained the last employer until it closed when the new railroad bridge over Canyon Diablo was built in 1947. Now there are no people living in Canyon Diablo.


A major smallpox epidemic in August 1911 was decimating the Navajo Indians and had spread to Moqui villages, as reported by Trader Volz. The usually fatal disease had killed many in less than a week.  President Roosevelt, two princes of "royal blood" and others had planned to attend ceremonies of the Moquis, which were then canceled. Volz said that 14 years ago, 286 Moquis had died of smallpox, reducing that tribe to less than 600 members.  It was feared the tribe would be almost annihilated, if medical aid wasn't promptly furnished by the government.  The Indians had no cure for the disease and were reluctant to submit to a doctor. (The Arizona Republican, Aug. 11, 1911.) The County Board of Supervisors paid a doctor $75 to help treat this outbreak.


Ref 27. 1882 Stage Line ad.

Canyon Diablo and its inhabitants were served by two main transportation systems: First the stagecoaches from Flagstaff to Canyon Diablo; then, the railroad after the Canyon Diablo Bridge was complete.  Both the stagecoach and railroad were operating for a time. An ad for the Atlantic and Pacific and Prescott Stage Line in the Arizona Weekly Miner, March, 1882, gave distances between points on its route:

There was a large, yellow-painted A&P depot on the north side of the railroad right-of-way which was probably a combination passenger depot and freight warehouse. A bunkhouse for the railroad workers existed before the Canyon Diablo Bridge was finished and later became a flag stop when the Bridge was opened. This flag stop likely had a water tower and maybe a small "sanding tower." The depot probably had various railroad equipment stored there, such as spare cars, stacks of ties and rails.  Short passenger train runs were made daily from Winslow and freight trains unloaded at Canyon Diablo.  An 1882 ad give information on the train schedules:


Ref 28. 1882 Train Schedule

Both stagecoaches and railroad trains were robbed by footloose drifters who came west looking for a place to settle.  Often they were killers and wanted criminals. These two news articles demonstrate the attitudes of the times toward the robbers and their deeds:


The station house at Canyon Diablo was robbed Dec. 1908 by a young man who, according to an account in the Coconino Sun, Dec. 15, 1908, took a plentiful supply of ammunition, Winchesters, and six shooters, and started out "to be a bad man." Deputy Sheriff Holden and a special officer of the Santa Fe railroad trailed him to Bellemont. The robber drew a .308 Savage rifle down on Holden, who was luckily standing close enough to him to strike the barrel with his hand and throw the shot off. The shot missed Holden by only two inches!  Holden "got busy with his six-shooter and plugged the robber through the shoulder, knocking him down." Then Holden and the agent disarmed the man. The article concluded that: "It is lucky indeed that Holden was so close to the desperado, this alone probably saved his life."


A daring hold-up of the Atlantic and Pacific passenger train took place in March, 1889 at Canyon Diablo. As the train stopped at the station at 4:05 AM, on the main track,  two masked men held cocked revolvers to the heads of the engineer, who was oiling the engine, and fireman and two others attacked the express car, which was quickly opened and everything in sight and the contents of a small safe, about $800, were taken. The robbers seemed to be in a hurry and didn't try to break open a large express safe.  The mail car and passengers weren't molested.  After robbery, which only took a few minutes, the robbers quickly mounted their horses and rode away towards Tonto Basin.  It took several hours to organize a pursuing party, with a deputy sheriff and two other men from Canyon Diablo joined by men from Prescott sent to Tonto Basin to try to head them off. The railroad telegraphed along the line for men to go in pursuit. The men were captured after a 600 miles pursuit by Sheriff O'Neill and a posse, which took 3 weeks! The officers followed their trail the entire time, "with a persistence which could only have one outcome: success." The news account stated that "the capture . . . is a new departure in this section, as the rule has heretofore been for them to escape." And, "As train robbing under our present system is a capital offense, it is hoped that this gang will be speedily brought to trial and the extreme penalty of the law be inflicted on them.  Let it be demonstrated that we have officers fearless and brave enough to pursue and hunt and capture and courts stern enough to administer the extreme penalty for this offense, and train robbing will soon become a lost art in Arizona." Arizona Weekly Journal Miner, April 10, 1889, and two other news items.


One tragic death and one near death show the dangers of the railroad.  In Jan. 1913, a hobo was found nearly frozen near the track north of Canyon Diablo.  The man had wandered from the track, was about exhausted and ready to give up the struggle when he sighted a horseback rider. He had made a fire and during the night his coat caught fire and partially burned, igniting all the matches he had with him.  He wanted his rescuer to build him a fire, but not knowing how badly he was frozen, the rider galloped him down the road until he limbered up and found he was out of danger, then took him to his camp. (Coconino Sun, Jan.10, 1913.)


A man named Leo Bart was killed instantly while performing his duties as a brakeman on a Santa Fe Extra in Jan. 1911. When an extra freight dragged into Flagstaff late at night, the crew was short one man.  There was no witness, but the train slowed down to enter the east switch at Canyon Diablo, to allow a passenger train from the west to pass.  Leo was last seen by the conductor on the running board, midway between cab and engine, with a lighted lantern in hand.  His job as brakeman was to throw open the switch and he'd gone forth to do so. The article commented, sadly: "The story is an old one - a railroad accident, instant death, broken hearts, and no hope of reparation.  This time the crushing blow reached a home in Flagstaff - a happy home where it would seem such cruel punishment was little deserved."  His body was brought to Flagstaff by the coroner on an early train the next morning for an inquest. (The Coconino Sun, Jan. 27, 1911.)


A final news item about the railroad at Canyon Diablo concerns attempted train wrecking. “In Nov. 1895, an eastbound passenger train was stopped in the late afternoon four miles west of Canyon Diablo by stones and ties piled in the middle of the track.  The engineer saw the obstruction in time to stop the train at a safe distance. The Sheriff and his Deputy went to Canyon Diablo and arrested a number of transients on suspicion. It was assumed that a number of tramps were made to get off a freight train at Canyon Diablo and that they were responsible for the placing of the timber and rocks on the track. A dozen tramps came in from the east and were arrested by the Sheriff, and "it is probable that he may be able to get the right ones. Tramps find it a difficult matter to ride on the A&P trains now a-days and it is a hard matter for them to get from one station to another." Coconino Weekly Sun, Nov. 10, 1895.''


A follow-up article a week later reported the Sheriff arrested all the tramps along the A&P railroad between Canyon Diablo and Bellemont.  He wanted to get the fellows that placed the obstructions on the track. "Among the number arrested were Charles Chambers, colored, and Louis Klein, and they answered the description given by the railroad men as being seen along the track a short time before the timber and stones were found on the track. Klein, who is a young Israelite, told how Chambers had placed the obstruction on the track, so that he might be avenged on the train men for putting him off a freight train." The two were held in jail to answer at the next term of court! There, Chambers was sentenced to 15 months in the territorial prison! (The Coconino Sun, Oct. 17, 1895.)


A quip about travel on the railroad shows the thoughts of some of the travelers on the railroad. "Passengers on No. 9 going toward Canyon Diablo asked the Conductor, “What if the Bridge should break and the train falls into that Canyon!”

"Don't worry,” replied the Conductor.  “This road won't miss it; it has lots of trains.” (Coconino Sun, July 1, 1921.)


A favorite activity, often mentioned in old news accounts, was taking the train to the area around Canyon Diablo and hunting for cottontail rabbits for sport and meat. This was often front page news! Here's one typical account:


"E.E. Ellinwood, Dr. Cornish, John Vories, and Dr. Coleman, Jr. were a party of gentlemen who visited Canyon Diablo last Saturday in quest of cottontail rabbits. They succeeded in killing 107 of the nimble-footed little animals, and say it wasn't a very good day for rabbits, either." (The Coconino Weekly, Dec. 31, 1891.) (NOTE: Ellinwood was a Notary Public; Cornish was Chief of Surgery for the A&P Railroad hospital; and Dr. Robert Coleman, Jr. had returned from being in charge of a Presbyterian hospital in China.  All lived in Flagstaff.)


Excursions from Canyon Diablo to Albuquerque and return on the Santa Fe Railroad, were popular.  In Sept. 1900 an inclusive fare from Winslow, $8.80; Canyon Diablo, $9.35; Flagstaff, $10.95; Bellemont, $10.70; Williams, $11.35; Ash Fork, $12; Seligman, $12.90; Peach Springs, $14; Hackberry, $14.70; and Kingman, $15.50.  Note the fares increased as the train went further west from Albuquerque.


Two Indian traders, Frederick William Volz and Hermann Wolf, offered trade goods to Native Americans near Canyon Diablo. Volz was located on the edge of Canyon Diablo (page 28, Ref. 22) & (page 29, Ref. 23) and Wolf, (page 20, Ref. 13 & 14) who is buried at Canyon Diablo, had a warehouse near the railroad tracks in Canyon Diablo and his main trading post was at a crossing of a meander of the Colorado River downstream from present-day Leupp.


Frederick William Volz was born July 4, 1856 in Germany and died June 29, 1913. He came to the United States in 1876 and had at least two brothers who also came to the United States: Walter E. Volz (1856 to 1953) and William A. Volz (1860 to 1918).  Fred Volz established a trading post to deal with the nearby Native Americans, by 1886. He was known as the trader longest at Canyon Diablo Trading Post. He married "a beautiful young Indian" (Wyandotte) in Dec. 1898, Josephine Mary Loftland, in Neosho, Missouri, when she was 24 and he was 42. They had six children together.  Frederick and Josephine and all six of their children are buried in the Lofland Family Cemetery in Ottawa County, Oklahoma.


Ref 29. Frederick & Josephine Volz. Circa Early 1900.

Fred Volz was an active entrepreneur and participant in activities at Canyon Diablo. His main trading post in Canyon Diablo was an imposing structure of Kaibab limestone on the north side of the railroad tracks. The post had been built by Charles Algert, who had opened a small store in an abandoned box car before the bridge was completed, and then sold the new building to Volz. After operating a trading post for 24 years, Volz sold his Canyon Diablo trading post to the Babbitt brothers, who operated it until 1922, when they moved the business to a new site several miles to the south along Highway 66.


Volz also had two other trading posts.  One near Oraibi (a large Moqui Indian Village), and another called "The Lakes", due to standing water when it rained.


Volz, helped by the Santa Fe Railroad, worked to establish an "Indian Village at Canyon Diablo and built some Hogans for 200 Navajo and Moqui to take up residence!


The Coconino Sun, March 29, 1902, gave some details:


"It is the purpose of Mr. Volz to maintain the primitive industries of these tribes, who are expert blanket weavers and makers of baskets and pottery and workers of silver for jewelry and ornaments, giving them employment and all opportunity to sell their productions. The Santa Fe Railroad is aiding the project for the reason that it will give passengers over their line an opportunity to see the Indians in their primitive state, as these are the only tribes of Indians in this country who still follow the customs of their fathers.


The railroad company is having a platform extended west from the depot 450 feet so as to allow passengers access to the village. When the arrangements are completed all passenger trains will stop thirty minutes, allowing passengers time to see Indian life as it is on the reservations.  It will be a great attraction for tourists as few eastern people have ever seen the Native Americans."


There were also many organized excursions to see Moqui Snake Dances at Oraibi organized by Volz.  A news article of Aug. 16, 1902, detailed one such adventure:


"Excursion to see Moqui Snake Dance at Oraibi. Expect 500 visitors. F.W. Volz of Canyon Diablo made arrangements to take 40 visitors to Oraibi. Trip of 5 days, $40,"


A more extensive excursion was led by Prof. George Wharton James, well known lecturer and author, address Grand Canyon.  Visitors traveled in wagons, being away from the railroad for about 2 weeks, visiting all the Moki villages, taking in the snake and flute dances. Expenses were $75 for each individual. Necessary teams, burros, pack horses, guides, provisions, etc. provided by Mr. James.


Fred Volz was involved in mining and selling meteorite fragments from nearby Meteor Crater. In October 1899 he donated an 80 pound piece of "meteoric iron" to the Field Columbian Museum in Chicago. In April, 1911, he loaned a valuable collection of Navajo and Moqui blankets and other items to the Archeological Institute of America in Los Angeles. The news account enthused that the loan was from F.W. Volz of Canyon Diablo, "who has made an exhaustive study of such things, and who is considered one of the best informed men on the subject in Arizona." (The Coconino Sun, April 28, 1911.)


One interesting invention by Volz was a sheep dip which works by steam. He successfully tried it out in October 1909 in company with Patrick O'Toole, the Mayor of Canyon Diablo. The writer of the article and O'Toole met Volz at the railroad station.  They were near the Buckhorn Hotel, but instead of staying there, they slept under the counter in Volz's store! Eventually the engine and vats were working and a group of sheep were used to demonstrate the invention, which worked slowly but well.


After the death of Frederick Volz, his widow Josephine held a number of private sales to settle the estate.  These were advertised in the Coconino Sun. Here's an example from March 12, 1914:


"Sale of range horses in the Volz estate. Private sale at home at Canyon Diablo at 12 noon to highest bidder for cash, gold coin of the U.S.A.  All range horses, together with increase thereof now grazing within immediately in the vicinity of the town of Canyon Diablo.  Bids on whole bunch or any one or more. Sealed envelopes to Mrs. Josephine M. Volz. Each sale is commonly known and called as a "range delivery sale."


Other legal documents advertised sales of the Volz collections of Native American items.  Josephine eventually returned to her family in Missouri.


A friend of Fred Volz, was Hermann Wolf, also an Indian trader.  Wolf was born in Kelbra am Kyffhauser in Prussia, Germany around 1810 and came to the Canyon Diablo region as a mountain man and beaver trapper. (He has also been recorded as Herman Wolf and Johann Hermann Woolf). He began trading with the Natives and participated in rendezvous of traders.  The Civil War temporarily halted official exploration of the area around the Little Colorado River, but after the war ended Wolf returned to the canyon and the Little Colorado to trap beaver. His first cabin camp was called Beaver House by the Navajos because his beaver pelts were leaned against the walls to dry.  He built a large stockade picket post possibly prior to 1868. He was definitely in the trading business on the river downstream from the mouth of Canyon Diablo in 1868. For several years his was the only outpost in the area.  Then, other traders like Volz opened trading posts.


Wolf, who never married, died the evening of September 3, 1899, at his trading post of a brief illness. His body was brought to Canyon Diablo by an undertaker and buried at Boot Hill.  Much later his wooden marker was replaced by the current marker, possibly by his sister Frau Geheimrathin Becker.


After his death, his estate was sold.  It consisted of Navajo blankets, pelts, wool, hides, and other merchandise valued at $5,328. The trading post had been taken over by the Babbitt brothers, who then sold it to the Edward Smith Indian Post Trading company. A court judgment ordered a sale and decree of foreclosure of lien on October 24, 1903. The items listed give an idea of what Wolf and Smith sold in the trading post. There was also a stone warehouse in Canyon Diablo, which was about 13 x 24 feet in size with a dirt roof.


There were assorted dishes, such as 53 soup bowls, 57 coffee cups. Farm items included 55 boxes Mica axle grease, 6 large planter's hoes, 2 small planter's hoes, 2 pair sheep shears, 4 pair saddle stirrups.  Also food such as pink beans, white beans, baking powder, black pepper in 1/4 lb. cans, 2 lb. sacks table salt. Weaponry included 2 bullet molds, cappers for reloading cartridges, black gunpowder, box .44 cal. cartridges, 3 boxes 30-30 Winchester rifle cartridges. Also various lengths of muslin and flannel, cotton clothing, etc. These and other items were to be sold in front of the courthouse in Flagstaff at 2 o'clock PM on Dec. 7, 1905 for cash, in gold coin of the U.S.A.


Ref 30. Graves right of Hermann Wolf’s grave. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 31. Graves left of Hermann Wolf’s grave. Photo: N. Du Shane


Ref 32. Believed to be the grave of James Shaw. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 33. Hermann Wolf Grave – Snow caped Freemont and Humphreys Peak at Flagstaff, 25 miles away, Photo: N. Du Shane



Ref. 34. Basement structure to the SE. Photo: N. Du Shane





Photo right – basement under 15,000 Sq. Ft. Structure

Ref. 35. Basement under one structure at Volz Trading Post. Photo: N. Du Shane


In ghost towns I’ve visited over the years it is unusual to find basements. There were three basements in Canyon Diablo. Possibly used to put food to keep it cool so these structures could have been butcher shops, restaurants, or grocery stores?


Ref 36. Artifacts strewn about. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 37. Structure foundation. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 38. Structural Remains. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 39. Tin cans litter the ground. Photo: N. Du Shane


A lot of debris, left strewn about after 100 plus years. Most noticeable are the rusty 12 oz. cans with “Church Key”, triangle punctures in their top, everywhere. For those of you that are not familiar with the turn “Church Key” these were openers used to puncture the top of beer cans prior to pop tops and pull tabs for beverage cans.


Ref 40. S.W. wall of 15,000 Sq. Ft. building of Volz Trading Post. Only wall standing, 20' in the air. Viewed from graves. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 41. Remains of a grave marker. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 42. Corral left, Stone structure right, most unmarked graves in the center. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 43. Canyon Diablo looking south, 250 feet below. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 44. Stone Residence, one of two southwest of tracks. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 45. Canyon Diablo looking NW, 250 feet below. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 46. Remains NE of tracks. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 47. Evidence of a structure NE of tracks. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 48. Last remaining intact wall towering 20'. Wind from storms will topple this impressive wall in due time. Photo: N. Du Shane


Ref 49. Three former businesses fronts on the left, cistern and continues wall behind. Photo: N. Du Shane


Ref 50. Cistern looking at warehouse to the north. Photo: N. Du Shane

Ref 51. Large deep Cistern was within the 15,000 Sq. Ft. structure: Photo: N. Du Shane







G. Name












Burial near Woman and Child








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








1 of 10 graves in row NE








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Burial Hermann Wolf grave








Poss. 12 Yr. Female Child








Soiled Dove 1 of 2 females








1. Former Marshal








2. Former Marshal








3. Former Marshal








4. Former Marshal








5. Former Marshal








6. Former Marshal








7. Former Marshal








Real Estate transaction
















Merchant @ Wolf Crossing

Ref. 52. © - all rights reserved Neal Du Shane


“Keno” in Keno Harry was a nick name and not an actual surname. Thirty-two graves listed above were researched, based on documented information and infield research. There is very possibly double or triple this number based on individuals buried randomly in the area of Canyon Diablo. They never had a Death Certificate or were recorded with no grave identified. Heritage lost forever to those that went before us.










Mexican War - Guadalupe Hidalgo




Gold Discovered in California




Railroad Land Grant




Whipple's 35th Parallel Survey leaves Ft. Smith AK




Whipple's 35th Parallel Survey reaches Los Angelis




Civil War Begins




Congress passed  Pacific Railroad Act




Charter for RR to CA. Atlantic & Pacific RR was born




Civil War Ends




A&P RR had only built 361 Miles or track




A&P RR went into receivership




St. Louis & San Fan. RR took over A&P's Land grants




Per Land Grant - A&P RR was to be completed




Tiparite Agrmnt. A&P is subord to SLSF. But operates RR




Canyon Diablo RR Camp Founded




A&P Cash Flow difficulties




Flagstaff boasted a population of 200 residents




A&P RR arrived in Flagstaff




First train over Canyon Diablo




A&P Cash Flow Issues




Keno Harry killed in Canyon Diablo




Traveler through CD west killed near Leupp




SL&SF in precarious Financial position.




Sherman Silver Act. Passed




Financial Panic




Canyon Diablo Post Office established - Volz Trading Post




A&P Reorganized to Santa Fe Pacific




Hermann Wolf Died




Revamped bridge over CD




Believed death of soiled dove




Wigwam Saloon Robbed in Winslow




James Shaw killed in CD - Robber of Wigwam in Winslow




Canyon Diablo School established




School approved District 7.




Smallpox epidemic




School couldn't meet State attendance requirements




School attached to Flagstaff School District No. 1




Post office closed after 25 years of operation




Gauntlet track was added to decrease congestion




New - Current Trestle over Canyon Diablo




SF merged with Burlington Northern BNSF

Ref 53. © - All Rights Reserved Neal Du Shane



Canyon Diablo is north of I-40 between Winslow, and Flagstaff, Arizona. Take the Two Guns Exit (#230). Travel north for approximately 3.6 miles on a rough unimproved road. CAUTION: Don’t try to reach Canyon Diablo if the ground is wet or snow laden, there is absolutely no assistance available.


Ref 54. Created by Neal Du Shane - All Rights Reserved


Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

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