A rickety wagon is rolling east through the desolate desert from the burgeoning farming community of Phoenix on its way to Fort McDowell. A scorching sun reflects off the baked desert floor. Travelers have no escape from the blistering heat except for their sweat soaked hats. The wagon horses hang their heads and tredge steadily toward the Verde River, a virtual oasis.
The year is 1865. The California Volunteers have established an isolated location on the west bank of the Verde as a safe haven. Camp Verde is the outpost created to protect travelers and those pursuing new lives in the West from attacks by the Apache. While Camp Verde was strategically located to provide safety for travelers, it was no match for the powerful monsoon winds and accompanying torrential downpours. When the outpost was rebuilt to withstand the weather, it was renamed Camp McDowell in honor of General Irvin McDowell.
General McDowell had an inauspicious start for a place in U.S. history, first drawing the attention of the American public when he and his union soldiers lost the first battle of Bull Run.
After the conclusion of the Civil War, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed General McDowell to oversee the Western States and all of its forts. Over time, McDowell redeemed himself as an excellent leader, which led to his lasting legacy of honor in the Southwest.
Today, McDowell Road, particularly the stretch through Southern Scottsdale, holds many memories and historic value. But, just as important, it possesses the potential to once again bounce back and become a boon for Scottsdale’s economy.
This part of Southern Scottsdale is a true Gateway to the city.
Like it has always been since Arizona was only a territory, the McDowell Road Corridor continues to be about location. It’s perfectly positioned for access from Sky Harbor Airport, Arizona State University, the Phoenix Metropolitan area, the Botanical Gardens and Phoenix Zoo. It’s also located near major freeways and offers terrific bus and trolley services for residents and visitors.
The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance is working to help McDowell Road capitalize on its location and potential — and pursue future memories for this iconic road named after General Irvin McDowell, who, ironically … never set foot in the area.