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The Authentic Historic Cameron Trading Post, Restaurant and Hotel & Gallery Near Grand Canyon

Updated on September 15, 2020
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I've lived in Arizona for 70 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books and travel.



The History of Cameron Trading Post

When a track suspension bridge was built across the Little Colorado gorge in 1911, brothers Hubert and C Dick Richardson built a trading post from native stone and named it Cameron in honor of Ralph Henry Cameron who was Arizona's first senator. Senator Cameron had lent his support to the building of the suspension bridge. While today trading posts function primarily as a fine place to buy Native American crafts, both old and new, when the concept of a trading post and traders first came into being, a trading post had many functions. Once the trading post was fully established, Cameron received a post office designation in 1916..

In the early days, the trading post was the heart of a community and the trader and his family had many roles. The trading post was the place where Native Americans such as the Navajo and Hopi peoples near Cameron could trade their hand crafted arts or livestock for groceries, bolts of cloth, tobacco, coffee, and other items. Many times the trader would be expected to act as an interpreter for his customers in government matters. A system of pawn was expected where some item of value would be left for cash and then the item left could be redeemed at a later date, or sold if the item was not redeemed, thereby creating a system of banking. To build a customer base, a trader had to develop a knowledge of Native languages and a reputation of fairness, establish a bond of trust, and provide hospitality for those who traveled many miles to trade. Hospitality meant allowing customers to stay the night, and providing popular items such as coffee, biscuits, tinned peaches and sticks of candy.

Original portion of Hotel


The Development of Cameron Trading Post

In addition to being a trading post, Cameron is located near the the Grand Canyon and was one of the few places where travelers could get a meal and stay the night, so the Richardsons began expanding their tourist business. They built a hotel with six rooms and would continue to build more rooms, until in 1992-93 a low rise motel was built behind the original hotel. The rooms are a comfortable size, and decorated with western furnishings. Highway 64 just south of Cameron, leads to the east entrance of the South Rim of Grand Canyon and Arizona Highway 89A leads to the North Rim.

Behind the hotel, Mabel Richardson had a series of terraces built that she developed into gardens. The gardens are still well cared for today and are often overlooked by visitors to the trading post because they don't know about them.

The original hotel is being used as a gallery for unusual and rare Native American works of art and should not be missed.

An RV park with full hook ups off Highway 89A was added, and a service station at Cameron has been a welcome sight to many travelers.

Mary Richardson's Gardens

Planted by Mary Richardson, the gardens offer a tranquil green space.
Planted by Mary Richardson, the gardens offer a tranquil green space. | Source

Inside Cameron Trading Post

For many travelers, the first stop inside the Trading Post is their clean rest rooms or their restaurant which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant menu has American, Mexican and Native American dishes. The most popular item is the Navajo taco which has a base of fry bread, a layer of beans & beef, a layer of lettuce and a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Another popular item is their green chili stew.

Their merchandise has a wide range of items and within each category a range of prices. Tourist items include t-shirts, sweat shirts with Arizona humor and logos, postcards, books on local topics and machine made jewelry. The next classification is hand made made new jewelry, hand made new baskets, pottery and katchinas and other interesting sterling silver items. The most expensive category includes Navajo rugs, baskets with woven-in designs, jewelry signed by well known silversmiths and larger pieces of pottery signed by well known potters, and old pawn items There really is something in most budgets available depending upon the quality and personal taste. Many of the clerks in the retail area are Native Americans who can answer questions about designs, quality and artists.

Cameron Motel Lobby in the 1960s

Relaxation with Indian decor--Description on back of postcard
Relaxation with Indian decor--Description on back of postcard | Source

A Wide Variety of Native American Jewelry Both New and Old Pawn


Navajo Rugs Have Become True American Art Forms


Cameron Trading Post Today

Today, the Cameron Trading Post is over a century old and continues to buy wool and pinions and seeks fine Native American Fine Arts. While continuing to attract tourists from all over the world, Cameron still maintains its place in the local community. Many of the employees are from families who have worked at Cameron for generations.

I recommend that visitors interested in buying Native American Arts, do some research before buying. A good book for learning about Navajo Rugs is Navajo Rugs the Essential Guide by Don Dedera. It's important to learn about the process of natural dyes, the softness of the wool, the tightness of the stitch and the various patterns. Another great book to learn more about Hopi Silversmithing is Hopi Silver, the History and Hallmarks of Hopi Silversmithing.

Cameron Trading Post is listed in most of the Trading Post guide books as a must see and rated highly by most visitors.ithing.

Navajo Rugs the Essential Guide

© 2018 mactavers


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