Hualapai Tribe’s Osterman Gas Station on Route 66 named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
May 9, 2023
May 9, 2023 (PHOENIX) – The Hualapai Tribe, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Arizona’s State Historic Preservation Office, a division of Arizona State Parks and Trails, announced today that the historic Osterman Gas Station has been named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2023. The former filling station, owned by the Hualapai Tribe, is located in Peach Springs, Ariz., the tribal capital, along Route 66.
“Arizona’s rich cultural heritage is a precious legacy we must steward. The Osterman Gas Station and its role in Peach Springs, contributing to the town’s mid-century prosperity is an important piece of Americana,” said Governor Katie Hobbs. “With recognition of its significance and support, it can once again serve as a meaningful piece of the Peach Springs revitalization plans of the Hualapai Tribe.”
The Osterman Gas Station was built in 1929, and is one of few remaining commercial buildings in Peach Springs from the early twentieth century. The station has been seen as a key community gathering place by the Hualapai people living in Peach Springs.
“The Osterman Gas Station is meaningful to the Hualapai people due to the significance of this being the last gas station out five that used to be here,” said Sherry J. Parker, chairperson of the Hualapai Tribe. “It provides history of our tourism days when traffic came through with buses stopping daily. It is a reminder of days gone by and stands as a representation of the significance of our contribution to Route 66.”
By the mid-twentieth century, Peach Springs was one of the busiest communities along Route 66 between Kingman and Flagstaff. The Osterman Gas Station exemplifies the privately-owned businesses that thrived along the historic route, catering to travelers and tourists before Interstate 40 was completed in 1979 and traffic on the “Mother Road” drastically slowed.
Preservation efforts on the structure began over a decade ago, and in 2012, the station was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Time and extreme weather have taken its toll and the Tribe is currently in consultation with experts to develop and raise funds for a preservation and reuse plan. Grant funding, including an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant from Arizona State Parks and Trails, has been secured for repairs.
The 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list brings greater awareness to places that are of historical significance that are at imminent risk of being lost forever if not preserved. Arizona’s State Historic Preservation Officer, Kathryn Leonard, said, “It is our hope that being named to the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list will be as impactful for the Osterman Gas Station as it has been for other historic places.” Leonard continued, “The Osterman Gas Station holds an important place in the story of Route 66 and within the Hualapai tribal community, and support is needed to preserve this historic and cultural resource in Arizona.”
Since 1988, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has listed more than 300 sites on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places annual list. Only a handful of those historic places that have been named have been lost, but for most, the listing is a turning point for renewed support for preservation efforts.
“The Osterman Gas Station has been a focal point of the Hualapai Nation for generations, and its story illustrates the important but often untold history of diverse communities along the legendary Route 66,” said Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Thanks to the Tribe’s commitment to steward this historic place, the Hualapai-owned gas station is poised to reach a new generation of tribal members and travelers through thoughtful reuse and planning, but it urgently needs stabilization and repair.”
In 2022, another culturally significant location in Arizona was named to the 11 Most Endangered Historic list by the National Trust for Historic Preservation: Camp Naco in Bisbee, Ariz. This military camp was used from 1919-1923 and is a touchstone for the history of the Buffalo Soldiers. Camp Naco was named to the list in May of last year and in October received an $4.6 million from the State of Arizona as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and in January 2023 they received an additional $3.5 million from the Mellon Foundation’s Monument Project Initiative.
About Arizona State Parks and Trails
Managing and conserving Arizona's natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners. For information about the more than 30 Arizona state parks and natural areas, the State Trail and Off-Highway Vehicle programs, and State Historic Preservation Office, call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com.
About Hualapai Tribe
The Hualapai Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in northwestern Arizona. Hualapai means "People of the Tall Pines." In 1883 an executive order established the Hualapai reservation. The reservation encompasses about one million acres along 108 miles of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River.
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.savingplaces.org.