Because there really isn’t much happening in Arizona during the intense heat, I will take this week’s Friday Guess What? Blog and share about life in our “wide spot in the desert.”
It all started Palm Sunday 2004, when we exited a major highway and drove nearly 30 miles of Saguaro covered desert on Route 74 for Mike to preach his first sermon at Morristown Christian Fellowship. There were moments we wondered if we would ever see a sign of human life again. But at the end of the road a handful of people welcomed us to their little church.
“Welcome to Morristown, Arizona” is the common greeting offered to strangers. It seems necessary to let the person know where they are. I have also learned to add, Arizona, to assure the weary traveler that they are still in the state.
This view of the community was taken while driving atop the overpass for the railroad tracks. Morristown exists because of a depot stop as the rail carried people and cargo to and from Phoenix.
There was at one time a famous resort where the wealthy would enjoy our spectacular views and winter climate. John F. Kennedy, Rockefellers, Carnegies, Wrigleys, and others would exit at the depot and travel by horse and buggy to Castle Hot Springs Resort. Very few small towns have the distinction of the world’s elite having slept there!
I don’t have a picture of the existing main building because it is only accessible by horse or 4WD. I have neither.
Morristown is located where Route 74 dead-ends into Route 60. This main intersection has no traffic light. Actually, there isn’t a traffic light for 10 miles north, 10 miles south, 30 miles east and who knows how many miles west.
Most travelers don’t even realize they’ve sped through a neighborhood on their way to Las Vegas or Phoenix. There isn’t any reason to stop.
The town hasn’t had a gas station for dozens of years. Here is the what’s left of the original store and station.
The only things one can purchase in town are stamps from the Post Office, cactus from the nursery (though in 7 years I’ve never seen it open), peaches when in season at the pick-your-own orchard, and gems when the owner is in town and not panning for gold. Beside the Gem Store is the community recycle collection box. We are certainly doing our part to be green.
Main Street consists of Morristown Elementary School, Fire Department, Post Office and across the street sits the church. Castle Hot Springs and Rockaway Hills Roads intersect at the hub of town. There are 7 stop signs for this one intersection. It’s a local thing. Outsiders would never understand. 😉
The school serves children Pre-K through 8th grades. The average class size is 15 students. That’s every teachers dream!
The school serves a community of a few hundred residents: mostly cowboys, some retirees, a growing population of Hispanics, some left-over hippies from the 60’s and a few Anglo working class families. Mix in this an unknown number of those just running from the law and you have the Wild West of M’town.
Most people in M’town own horses. I don’t think it would be too farfetched to say that horses might out number humans. Rodeo is the sport of choice. In the city, every home has a swimming pool. In this town, every home has a corral.
Days start early on the ranches with feedings, riding, and rodeo training. Many kids do an hour or more of chores before arriving at school. They often work the ranch until sunset. It is a hard life but no one complains.
Complainers are shot and buried in the local cemetery. Just kidding, I think.
Complainers may not be tolerated but braggers are encouraged. M’town is home to the world’s largest biker bar. Actually the building isn’t that large but since the outdoor patio, band stage, dance floor, and rodeo grounds are all enclosed behind one fence, it qualifies.
Here’s a fact most don’t believe: we have our own Airpark. I am not sure why, but some years ago several multi-millionaires decided M’town would be the perfect place for their large homes and small planes. The airstrip serves as their driveway. So it is important to look UP both ways before entering. I thought you might enjoy reading their sign.
Right in the heart of this community, you will find our little church. It is the only place of worship for miles in any direction. We started with about 12 members and now reach over 120 men, women, and mostly children each week.
The original one room school building (circa 1920s) housed the weekly church meetings for the traveling pastor. This building is now home for the community library. This and the current church building (circa 1950s) stand true to the enduring strength of the people and their God.
The worship center is small but our God meets us there in big ways.
When we came to this little town, we were missionaries in a strange land. But now we call it home.
I will end today with a picture of our newest addition to the church. Meet Noah and his five older siblings.
Now you know why we call this wide spot in the desert, home.