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Located in South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona, Scorpion Gulch was built as a home and store by William Lunsford. Lunsford's store sold curios, Indian-made items, sodas, and candy. It was still in operation in 1966, when Lunsford was 75. In the 1970s, it became a bar. According to the Phoenix Historic Property Register, Scorpion Gulch was built in 1936, and was first listed on the historic preservation register in October 1990. Historical photographs show a sign on the original building entitled, "South Mountain Trading Post", under which jewelry, Indian curios, and leather goods are advertised.
Below is an article transcribed from The Phoenix Gazette entitled, "Scorpion Gulch? It's 'Grandpa'" written by Bud Lanker, a Gazette staff writer that appeared in the December 13, 1966, edition.
Meet the original Mr. Scorpion Gulch.
William Lunsford, 75, of 10227 S. Central, who hold a copyright on the name, “Scorpion Gulch,” and also has the name registered with the secretary of state, would rather be called plain “grandpa.”
That's because children are Bill Lunsford's life and the large number living in the neighborhood all call him “grandpa.”
Grandpa Bill doesn’t like to see two kids sharing the same bottle of pop. “It isn’t sanitary,” he says. So he remedies the situation by furnishing the second bottle of pop out of his own pocket.
Bill owns and operates the small store, curio shop and cactus gardens on South Central near the entrance to South Mountain Park.
In 1936, Lunsford purchased the 100 feet of frontage. He personally hauled the rock and built the store with living quarters attached where he and his wife lived and operated the business. His wife died several years ago and Bill now lives alone.
He doesn’t make much money, what with giving away bottles of pop, and he is one of the few remaining merchants who sells penny candy. He probably gives away more candy than he sells. He just can’t resist giving away candy and pop to his “grandchildren” who lack the necessary money.
Bill isn’t too well, so some of the children, at their own expense, rigged up an alarm from Bill's place to a home so he can summon aid in case he needs it.
Over a normal weekend, some 200 children will visit “Grandpa” and partake of his candy and pop. They usually come in bunches, their parents phoning Bill that a group of them are on their way and to “watch for them.”
Bill herds the little ones safely across Central to his store. When they start home across the mountain, Bill phones the parents they are on their way home and to “watch for them.”
Lunford has a large stock of curios and Indian made items in his shop but because of his infirmities he is just selling out what he has on hand and not replenishing his stock.
In the adjacent cactus garden Bill has more than 1,800 species of cacti, imported from many countries. Other business concerns in the vicinity use the name, “Scorpion Gulch,” and that's all right with Lunsford.
To the many children who visit him daily he’d rather be known as “Grandpa.” He believes a bottle of pop from “Grandpa” tastes better than one from Scorpion Gulch.
—Bud Lanker, The Phoenix Gazette
Scorpion Gulch today
Today, Scorpion Gulch, and its neighboring building are open to the public. Located at 10225 S. Central Ave, Scorpion Gulch is easily accessible and visible while driving South Central Avenue toward South Mountain. The roofs of both buildings are almost all but entirely gone, either for safety, or nature's toll. It is rumored that the building was burned at one point in its history; however, this is not evident by looking at either of the buildings themselves.
The city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department began "stabilization" work on Scorpion Gulch and the building surrounding it in November 2012. The work was scheduled to be completed in February 2013. The roof of the building labeled, Scorpion Gulch" has been removed, and the wood window frames of the various structures has been replaced.
- Scorpion Gulch Gallery
Palo Verde view