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Houck

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Tiny town in Navajoland

Houck is a tiny village in Navajoland on the 1930s alignment of Route 66. Visit its historic bridges, listed in the National Register of Historic Places: The Historic Querino Canyon Bridge and the 1923 bridges on old Route 66. Also stop by the 1960s Replica of Fort Courage.

Houck AZ

< Head West
Navajo ¦ Chambers ¦ Sanders

 

About Houck, Arizona

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation 5,935 ft (1.819 m), population n⁄a.
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) no DST⁄ PDT (UTC-7).

Houck is a small village in Apache county, only 11 miles from the New Mexico State Line. See a Map of Houck.

Fort Courage, Houck as time passes

The images below depict the inexorable passage of time. Then in the 1960s and now 50 years later: Fort Courage in Houck, AZ. Route 66

Mid 1960s Postcard view of Fort Courage from TV's F Troop and the Frontier West shopping center. Houck AZ
Mid 1960s Postcard view of Fort Courage from TV's F Troop and the Frontier West shopping center
Houck, AZ, Image
Ft. Courage on Route 66 in Houck Arizona, today
Street View of Ft. Courage today
Houck, AZ, Image
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

The Ancestral Puebloans, referred to nowadays as Anasazi, lived on the Colorado Plateau in an area bound by southern Nevada, Utah, Colorado on the north, and on the south, the Colorado and Little Colorado, rivers in Arizona and the Western Rio Puerco in NM. To the east, the Rio Grande River in New Mexico. They flourished as farmers between 700 and 1150 A.D., but drought and war forced them to the southest, into New Mexico, where the historic pueblos were contacted by the Spanish in the mid 1500s.

Houck lies on the southern edge of the Anasazi territory. To the south lay the land of the Mogollón, and west around Flagstaff, the Sinagua people.

The Navajo people were hunter gatherers who learned some farming abilities from the Pueblo people and later adopted goat and sheep herding when the Spaniards introduced these animals into New Mexico in the 1600s.

The Discovery of the Grand Canyon

Francisco Vázques de Coronado sent a party of twelve men under Garcia Lopez de Cardenas in 1540 to find out about a great river ("Tizá"- Spanish for Firebrand River) that ran to the west of Zuni Pueblo. They reached the village of Tuzan, in the land of the Hopi, probably modern Oraibi. From there they marched west to reach the south rim of the Grand Canyon and were the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River in Arizona.

Their trek from Zuni to Tuzan surely took them across what is now the alignment of Route 66 near Houck

They are the Diné (or "People"), and originated (like the Apache) from the Athabaskan people of Northwestern Canada and migrated to the American Southwest ca. 1400 A.D. The word "Navajo" derives from the Spanish name for them: "Apachu de Nabajo" (Apache of Nabajo) when they encountered them in 1620 north of Santa Fe.

The Navajo raids on the villages in Colonial New Mexico led to Spanish military campaigns against them. This warfare continued until the U.S. incorporated the territories after defeating Mexico in the 1846-48 Mexican-American War.

The U.S. decided to pacify the region and established a fort in what is now Arizona (at that time AZ was still a part of New Mexico), in Navajo territory: Fort Defiance.

Fort Defiance was established by Col. Edwin V. Sumner in 1851 as a military outpost in the Navajo territory. It was the first military post in what is now Arizona (in those days it was New Mexico). The site was chosen because it had very good grazing land around it.

The fort was in fact a "Defiance" to the war-like Navajo who were not allowed to use the pastures. They resisted and attacked the fort in 1856 and 1860. In 1861 the American Civil War broke out and the fort was abandoned as the Army retreated to New Mexico to face the Confederate threat.

Trivia

Apache County has the most land designated as Indian reservation of any county in the United States (68.34% of its area). Neighboring Navajo County is in third place.

This emboldened the Indians who intensified their raids on the New Mexican settlements. The new Commander in New Mexico, Brig. Gen. James Carleton clamped down on the Navajo and conducted an attrition war from the "Old" Fort Wingate) near Grants (1862).

The natives finally surrendered and were forced to march (the Long Walk) under dreadful conditions for 450 miles (720 km) to a camp near Fort Sumner in NM. The dreadful conditons of this internment place led to Carleton's replacement and the Navajo Treaty of 1868 allowed the Indians to return to their homes. The Navajo Reservation was created and Fort Defiance was reestablished as an Indian agency.

Now it is a village in the Navajo Nation in Arizona. (Map with Fort Defiance's location).

Apache County was created in 1879 and in 1895 Navajo county was split from it western part.

The Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (later the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe RR) extended their tracks into the area in the early 1880s, along the Rio Puerco River, and this brought in more settlers.

The Name: Houck

James D. Houck owned a trading post here between 1877 and 1885, he also bred sheep. He later was a member of the State legislature.

The surname "Houck" comes from Middle Dutch: "houck" a kind of sea fish and also "buck". It is a variant of Hoek.

The Navajo called the place "Ma-it-go" meaning "coyote water". Houck's first name was "Houcks Tank" after the water tank belonging to Houck. The post office opened in 1884 as "Houcks Tank", changed to "Houck" in 1895, then it closed for decades until it reopened again in 1930, as Houck.

In 1926 Route 66 was aligned through the area following the National Old Trails Highway . Houck appeared in the Rand McNally 1927 map of Route 66, as being 12 miles west of Lupton, Arizona on an unpaved but "graded road". It was realigned in 1930.

Route 66 was later replaced by I-40 in the 1960s.

Where to Stay

There is lodging along Route 66 very close to Houck:

>> Book your Hotels in Chambers, Gallup (NM) or in Holbrook.

Lodging Near Houck along Route 66

Heading West...

Heading East.... New Mexico

The Santa Fe Route 66 segment in New Mexico
Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> There are RV campgrounds near Houck, in Holbrook AZ.

Weather in Houck

Houck has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold winters. Throughout the year, the day-to-night temperature swing is considerable due to the dry air and altitude. Summer nights are cool, but winter nights are very cold.

The average high temperature in summer (July) is 95°F (35°C). The average summer low is 59°F (15°C). The winter (Jan) has an average high of 50°F (10°C); with an average low of 21.9°F, below freezing (-6.1°C).

Rainfall is scarce: only 9.5 inches per year (241 mm), and most of it falls during the Summer Monsoon period between July and October (5 in, 127 mm). There are only 50 days with precipitation every year.

Snow is quite light, only 6.5 in. per year (16.5 cm), and it falls between October and April.

Tornado risk

There is virtually no tornado risk in Houck: Apache County has no Tornado watches. The area west of this point has no tornado events at all.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
 

Route 66 and Houck, AZ
Location of Houck, Route 66

Getting to Houck

To the east is Lupton (11 mi) and the New Mexico state line. Beyond it is Manuelito, Gallup (34 mi.) and further east, the city of Albuquerque (174 miles).

To the west are Chambers (15 mi.), Holbrook (62 mi.) and Winslow (95 miles).

Map of Houck and Route66

in Arizona.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 where it overlaps the old alignment.

See Route 66's alignment in Arizona

  Click to See the "Williams to Topock" alignment (Western Part of US 66 in Arizona)

Remove or restore State shading
 

Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66's alignment in Arizona: Houck

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across Arizona

Historic Route 66 has been named an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in Arizona.

Click on the link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Arizona.

Below is more information on the Route 66's 1926 alignment that bypassed Houck, and the later 1930 alignment through Houck.

Houck, Arizona, its Sights and Attractions

Things to Do and Places to See

"Fourt Courage" town

Houck a very small village in Navajoland, on the historic Route 66, close to three historic bridges on the Mother Road.

The sign at the trading post See photo above, announces in bold letters: "Fort Courage", and, the trading post itself is bound on its eastern side by a genuine-looking "Wild West" fort: this is indeed a replica of Fort Courage, but it is not a historic site; it was an imaginary place in a TV sitcom of the 1960s the series "F Troop".

F Troop

F Troop was an American TV sitcom aired during two seasons (Sep. 1965 to Apr. 1967) with 65 episodes.

It was set in the Wild West of the 1860s and gave a comic and satirical account of the interactions between U.S. Army soldiers and Native Americans.

The bungling and inept commander, Wilton Parmenter is in charge of Fort Courage, Kansas, where Sgt. O'Rourke has dirty dealings with the Indians. See the Intro Video of the Series (External link).By clicking you will leave our Website. Come back soon!

The postcard shown above, printed in the mid 1960s, says:

"FORT COURAGE Houck, Arizona Welcome to Fort Courage, 36 miles west of Gallup, New Mexico, on Interstate 40 - Highway 66 - at Houck, Arizona. Visit our Coffee Shop, Grocery Store, Gift Shop, and Trading Post. Large selection of authentic Indian jewelry, Navajo rugs, and all types of curios and souvenirs. Motel Units, Trailer Park, and Campground.

Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Head west and visit Chambers, Holbrook (62 miles) and Winslow or head east to Lupton or further east to New Mexico to visit Gallup (34 mi.)

The Alignment of Old Route 66 near Houck

route 66 shield Arizona

Route 66 Near Houck: Allentown to Sanders

Those who enjoy driving along dirt surfaced roads should drive the 1926 alignment of Route 66 from Allentown to Sanders. If you favor a paved road, then the later alignment, built in 1930 is the choice. We detail both of these roads below, and the bridges built in the 1920s that you will encounter along them.

The 1926 alignment from Allentown to Sanders

This alignment did not go through Houck, it passed well to the south of the village.

Allentown is a small village located on the north side of I-40, on what was the alignment of Route 66 since it was created in 1926.

You can drive this segment along the original roadbed from a point just to the east of Allentown, through the town, and then, after crossing I-40 at Exit 351 and heading south, all the way to Sanders along Co. Rd. 7240, covering 15.5 miles along a rough back-country road.

This is the Map of the 1926 alignment from Allentown to Sanders.

There are two bridges across the Rio Puerco of the West in this segment, one next to Allentown, the other next to Sanders. You can drive across the first one, but not the second one (at Sanders), you will have to backtrack a very short distance, and then drive through Sanders to continue your journey west of Sanders.

Historic 1923 Bridges

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Both were built in 1923 on the Old Trails they crossed the often flooding Puerco of the West River. Their decks were built in wood, this was supplied locally and lowered the bridge costs.

Allentown Bridge, it was a Pratt deck truss bridge. Truss is the steel structure formed of triangular units that give the bridge its strength. A "Deck" truss is one where the deck (roadbed) is placed on top of the truss. And a Pratt truss is shaped so that the diagonal beams face towards the center of the bridge.

Sanders Bridge, a Pratt pony truss bridge. A "pony" is a bridge where the sides of the truss extend above the deck, but are not connected.

Along the 1930s Alignment from Allentown to Sanders

This alignment went through Houck.

The two 1923 bridges and the Old Trails alignment required improvement, so a shorter route was chosen on the north side of the railroad, west from Allentown. It was built in 1929 and in 1930 it replaced the old segment, which now is a county road.

The segment from Allentown to Houck is now overlapped by the westbound lanes of I-40, but after Houck it is the north frontage Road. You can drive along it west.

After 4 miles you will reach the Historic Querino Canyon Bridge.

For those driving along I-40, look north as you drive across the Querino Canyon Bridge and you will spot the Historic bridge (to the right).

Historic Querino Canyon Bridge

Old Route 66Houck, AZ.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Historic bridge built in 1929 across the deep Querino Canyon on U.S. Highway 66

This is the Map showing the location of the bridge

Querino Canyon is just west of Houck and has a north to south direction flowing into the Rio Puerco of the West which has a NE to SW direction. The original alignment of Route 66 when it was created in 1926 ran to the south of modern I-40, following the course of the National Old Trails Highway with a meandering alignment that crossed the Rio Puerco River twice, once near Allentown and a second time at Sanders.

The Arizona Highway Department decided to shorten the alignment and avoid crossing the Puerco River. To do so it laid down a new roadbed west of Houck to Sanders, to the north of modern I-40. As Querino Canyon lay in its way, it had to be crossed, and a bridge was designed: 77 ft. long and 20 ft. wide with a steel tressle supported by very tall steel piers rising from the canyon's bed.

Route 66 ran along this alignment an across this bridge until I-40 replaced it in the late 1960s. The bridge is still in use and is part of the local highway network.

The alignment is 17.5 miles long and this Map from Allentown to Sanders on the 1930s Route 66.

The alignment ends near Exit 399 at Sanders , but it is a dead end so Follow this map to get to Exit 339 on I-40 at Sanders.

It is here, at Exit 339 that both the 1926-1930 and 1930-1960s alignments meet.

> > See the previous segment Lupton to Allentown

> > See the next segment Sanders to Holbrook

National and State Parks near Houck

Read about the parks nearby, at Holbrook: Petrified Forest National Park.

Sources

The postcard is from the James R. Powell Route 66 Collection at the Lake County Discovery Museum, view it online, under Fair Use.

Original artwork by A. Whittall based on Google Street View Imagery.

Will Croft Barnes, Arizona Place Names, University of Arizona Press, 1988.

Historic Route 66 in Arizona All-American Road, National Scenic Byway, www.fhwa.dot.gov.

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License