The Genesis of an Idea

Halfway between Tucson and El Paso and bypassed by I-10 one of the few surviving segments of Highway 80 still exists in the San Simon Valley.  Memorialized in Bob Wildmire's unfinished mural in the Rodeo Cafe, Highway 80 was once the major east/west auto route across the nation.  Known variously as the Old Spanish Trail, the Broadway of America, and the Overland Dixie Highway, Highway 80 brought travelers through the San Simon Valley.  Some passing through, some staying for a short while, and some staying on permanently Highway 80 was the introduction to the valley for many travelers.

With the construction of I-10 the valley was bypassed and over 18,000 vehicles/day now cross the state line on I-10, unknowing and unaware of the history and beauty that lies just south of the Interstate.  While some travelers are headed to Tucson or the coast some are headed to Tombstone and Bisbee.  Perhaps it takes just the right incentive to encourage folks to take the scenic route around the mountains on one of the last surviving segments of Highway 80 and enjoy an early piece of Americana and automotive history.

A proposed design for a billboard on I-10 promoting Highway 80.


  1. We met Bob Waldmire! Funny and nice guy. Nancy is sorry she did not have him sign his mural.

    Would anyone change their travel plans due to a billboard? Not many methinks.

  2. To answer your question, probably no, in my experience you reach 1% of 1% but if just a few of those traveling to Tombstone and Bisbee were to take the Historic Highway 80 route (coming or going) it might be enough to support a gas station in Rodeo. Eco tourism (birding) which the area relies on so heavily is a small slice of the pie and there are many other ways to utilize the available resources. For example, 9 weddings at the Painted Pony Resort so far. Who would have thought of the area as a wedding destination. It is a combination of visitors ideas that will generate more business to help offset the decline of cattle and support the local economy.

  3. decline of cattle! we don't eat beef except if it comes from the Mallet Ranch, no feed lot beef for us! Poor cattle, eating cactus with thorns out here and ears freezing off in North Dakota or where ever. I'm generalizing but hey............a wedding may cause less angst.

  4. I have also had beef from the Mallet ranch, really good. Some guests brought some of their beef once for a family reunion they had at PPR and I was invited to dinner. The idea we are implementing here is that there are other ways to utilized the landscape besides traditional ranching and I think we are doing a good job demonstrating that idea.