In the middle of congested Glendale, there’s an old farm tucked behind high walls and date palms. Chickens and peacocks wander the grounds as they did in 1898, and roosters greet visitors with a hearty cock-a-doodle-do.
"There is no other place like it in Arizona," says Carole DeCosmo, executive director of historic Sahuaro Ranch. "There is no historic site that dates from 1885 that is preserved in its entirety."
In its prime, contemporaries described Sahuaro Ranch as the "showplace of the Valley." William Henry Bartlett, a wealthy grain trader from Chicago, homesteaded 640 acres in 1886 and named his ranch in honor of the saguaro cactus. His plan was to bring his son, William Jr., to Arizona. William Jr. had tuberculosis, and the only prescription for the respiratory disease was rest in a dry climate. Bartlett transformed the dry desert land into a lush agricultural center thanks to the Arizona Canal, which was completed in 1885 and brought water from the Verde and Salt rivers to Glendale.
The ranch’s orchards of oranges, figs and olives and the rose garden attracted people from all over the state. Bartlett shipped his fruit out of state and made quite a chunk of change doing it. The fruit-packing shed still stands and offers visitors a glimpse into the Valley’s agricultural history.
"People no longer appreciate that there are no farms left anywhere," DeCosmo says. "We ask kids who come on the tour where vegetables come from, and they tell you the supermarket where their parents shop."
Take Interstate 10 west to Grand Avenue and go north. Turn left on 59th Avenue.
Sahuaro Ranch When: 6 a.m. to sunset daily. Museum and tours available 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday Where: 9802 N. 59th Ave., Glendale Cost: $3 for tour Information: (623) 930-4200 or