This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Why there is a road in Phoenix called Camelback


The road in Phoenix called Camelback is named after a mountain in the city that appears to be in the shape of a camel, lying down.

If you've lived in Phoenix, or visited much, this "mountain" (actually it's just kind of a big hill) is very visible. The mountain itself is along a range called the Phoenix Mountains that stretches from 19th Avenue to 64th Street. Between 44th Street and 64th Street is Camelback Mountain. The best view of it, in order to see the camel's back, is from the south. The head of the camel points west, and the camel's back (the hump) is to your right. Good views of it can be seen from the airport, and from the I-10 freeway.

I've lived in Phoenix for a long time, and the mountains that surround the valley (which is called the Salt River Valley) are like the faces of friends to me. A lot of things change in Phoenix, but the mountains remain the same. I've been trying to learn all of the names of them over the past few years, and I'm still working on it, but I recognize them, even if I can't put the correct label on all of them all of the time.

Yes, I know that Camelback Mountain is easy. But I tend to be wary of names that seem too easy. I remember being disappointed when I looked at a map and decided that the town of Snowflake would be a good place to drive up to and see snow. Then I found that it was named after two guys named "Snow" and "Flake". And that pleasant lake that's just north of me was created by the engineer who built the dam whose name was Carl Pleasant, Lake Pleasant. So I tend to be wary of easy answers.

But rest assured that there's nothing more to Camelback Road than the fact that since the pioneers first looked around at the Salt River Valley, they saw what looked like a camel's back. And the road to it, and just south of it, which now extend the entire length of the valley (including places where you can't even see Camelback Mountain) is named after the most-recognizable mountain in Phoenix.

Image at the top of this post: Looking north at Camel Back Mountain in 1934.



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