Queen Creek offers a host of cultural and agritainment activities for all to enjoy. Designated as an Arizona treasure, Schnepf Farms is a family-owned working farm providing entertainment, education and delicious, locally grown fruits and vegetables. The venue also offers a variety of seasonal festivals, concerts and events.
Just across from the farm, the Queen Creek Olive Mill is Arizona’s only working olive farm and mill. Daily tours and mouth-watering meals are available to the public. For theater enthusiasts, the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center provides high-quality professional theater at prices affordable for the whole family, including Broadway shows and popular recording artists. Barney Family Sports Complex offers 67,000 square feet of air conditioned space, two 15,000-square-foot playing surfaces, including a synthetic grass field.
For fitness and fun enthusiasts, the town’s recreation division offers a variety of sporting activities, recreation and fitness classes and hosts popular special events such as Passport to Discovery and Trunk or Treat. Town tourism efforts focus on the community’s farm-to-fork farming and dining options, unique day-trips and authentic equestrian experiences. Queen Creek’s partnership with Visit Mesa, the East Valley’s regional tourism bureau, assists in the promotion of Queen Creek as a welcoming, diverse, authentic and unique destination in the East Valley, offering national and global exposure to potential visitors.
QUEEN CREEK LANDMARKS
Art at Queen Creek Marketplace
21118 S Ellsworth Loop, Queen Creek
The first is a relief of a railroad car, inspired by the preferred mode of transportation nearly 80 years ago. Referred to as the Dinky or Doodle Bug, this early version of the commuter train was once part of the daily life for Queen Creek residents. It made daily runs to and from Phoenix along Rittenhouse Road where Queen Creek Marketplace now stands.
The second art piece is a sculpture of a famous Queen Creek resident, Mansel Carter (1902-1987). Carter made his home on Goldmine Mountain, where he had filed mining claims for 40 years. Over the years, he became a genuine celebrity, welcoming visitors from all over the world.
Finally, in front of Paradise Bakery and Chipotle Fresh Mexican Grill stands a bronze pecan tree, honoring Queen Creek’s agricultural roots. The fertile valley below the San Tan Mountains offered a safe haven for the early Indian communities and the homesteaders who farmed and ranched along Queen Creek Wash. Citrus, cotton, pecans, vegetables and other crops still provide for area families, and was a fitting addition to Queen Creek Marketplace.
Barney Family Sports Complex
22050 E Queen Creek Rd., Queen Creek
This exciting indoor sports complex hosts, soccer, volleyball, flag football and roller hockey competitions, and offers day camps, classes and sports leagues for a variety of ages.
Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre
20464 E. Riggs Rd., Queen Creek
This majestic facility, located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, provides ample opportunity for events of both the English and Western equestrian persuasion, as well as home shows, RV and car shows, concerts and weddings. The park is home to a number of prestigious organizations including the Arizona Cutting Horse Association, Arizona Reined Cow Horse Association, Arizona Reining Horse Association, and Cowboy Mounted Shooting. For more information or to make a reservation, call (480) 358-3793.
Pocket Parks For Pups
22526 S Ellsworth Rd., Queen Creek
The Pocket Park for Pups is another way the town has enhanced the quality of life for residents and their pets. The one-acre, off-leash lighted park is located just south of town hall, directly across from Founders’ Park and provides two separate grass play areas for our four-legged residents
Queen Creek Olive Mill
25062 S Meridian Rd., Queen Creek
Queen Creek Olive Mill is Arizona’s only working olive farm and mill. Family owned and operated, Queen Creek Olive Mill has been producing Arizona extra virgin olive oil since 2005. Taste your way through its gourmet marketplace, enjoy real food every day at The Eatery, take an educational Olive Oil 101 Tour (conducted daily), sip coffee at Superstition Coffee, its in-house coffee roastery, enjoy weekend events and shop for real extra virgin olive oil! Committed to sustainable practices from blossom to bottle. Visit www.queencreekolivemill.com for more information.
Queen Creek Performing Arts Center
24618 S Rittenhouse Rd., Queen Creek
Broadway-quality theater, spectacular plays and entertaining musical acts. Packed with shows from national tours, such as CATS and SPAMALOT, to country music, including Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town.
San Tan Historical Society Museum
20425 S. Old Ellsworth Rd. Queen Creek
The San Tan Historical Society and Museum is an organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of our area. With collaborative support from local residents, businesses and history enthusiasts, the museum will preserve local history for all future generations to enjoy.
The museum’s mission is to collect, preserve, document and display the histories and artifacts of the Chandler Heights, Combs, Higley and Queen Creek communities and to facilitate collecting items and to encourage and educate the public to respect and participate in the conservation and preservation of the area’s past.
The San Tan Historical Society meets at the museum at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Members and guests are invited to join these public meetings.
24810 S Rittenhouse Rd, Queen Creek
In 2006 Schnepf Farms was honored as an ‘Arizona Treasure’ by the Arizona Office of Tourism. Spanning over 5,000 acres in the center of Queen Creek, Schnepf Farms is one of the largest agritourism farms in the country. Specializing in a variety of entertainment, ranging from weddings to petting zoos and from “u-pick” gardens to train rides, makes this family venue a go-to destination when visiting the South East Valley. Visit www.schnepffarms.com for more information.
QUEEN CREEK LANDMARKS
San Tan Historical Society Museum
The Old Rittenhouse Elementary School, located on the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Queen Creek roads was built in 1925. Used as a school through 1982, this building is now on the National Registry of Historic Places. The museum is open to the public every Saturday morning. Take some time to view the exhibits, and ask questions.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
The first Catholic church building in Queen Creek is located on the north side of Ocotillo, three-eighths of a mile west of Ellsworth Road. The two narrow stained glass windows may have first attracted your attention as you passed by the weathered building across from Our Lady of Guadalupe in recent years. Although obscured by afternoon shadows, their beauty often enticed a second look. They have since been removed and placed on display in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
Queen Creek Town Hall
The building that currently serves as the Town Hall for Queen Creek began as a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It held its first service on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 1951. The stained glass windows in the town council chamber make this town hall very unique.
Desert Wells Stage Stop
Located just north of Chandler Heights Road on the east side of Sossaman Road, this site is reported to have been a small spur stop for the Arizona Stage Company, founded in 1868. The stop provided water, shade and protection for stages from Florence via Olberg and on to Mesa.
The Gold Mine Mountain area was the site of many mining claims, including one by a Mr. Ebert from Mesa. A short hike from the south end of Ellsworth Road will take you to the entrance of what used to be a 200-foot tunnel, now sealed for safety. Midway through the tunnel, Mr. Ebert reportedly found a gold vein that was six to eight feet long. By the time equipment arrived to mine the gold, the vein had shifted in a fault line that could not be located again.
Named after Arizona’s first Governor (1912), George W. P. Hunt, this was the main thoroughfare from the Chandler/Phoenix area to Florence. The highway, partially paved in the late 1920s, was built by prison labor.
Mansel Carter & Marion Kennedy grave site
Mansel came to the Queen Creek area in 1948 with his prospecting buddy, Marion. They set up camp about five miles south of town in what is currently San Tan Mountain Regional Park. They never struck it rich, but they lived the life they wanted. Kennedy passed away in 1960, and Mansel buried him near their camp. Carter was buried next to his friend in 1987.
Arizona Boys Ranch
Arizona Boys Ranch grew out of the conviction that homeless boys should have an opportunity of home, school, and community regardless of race, color or creed. A broad base of support in 1951 contributed to the founding what is now called Canyon State Academy. It was hoped that the fertile land, coupled with a livestock program, could take care of the material needs of the boys and the staff.
Located five miles southeast of town, the area was purchased by Jack and Maude Schnepf in 1941. Their oldest son, Raymond, and his wife, Thora, were newly married, and they moved to what was called “the home place,” while the rest of the family continued to live in Mesa.
By 1945, most of the family members were living on the farm. They were some of the first to buy a cotton picker, put in cement ditches and dig sumps to catch and recycle wastewater. Jack and Raymond invented and manufactured the aluminum irrigation tube.
Schnepf Farms is well known today for its family oriented events and celebrations. If you have an opportunity, visit the Country Store.
First Baptist Church of Queen Creek
The First Baptist Church of Queen Creek located on Ocotillo Road east of Ellsworth Road, built in 1946 through a community effort.
What was once Oscar’s Market, is a building located on the northwest corner of Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads.
Sites of Interest
Queen Creek’s first school
Located a half-mile north of Queen Creek Road on the west side of Crismon, the first classes were held in an old muleskinners cook shack.
During World War II, a prisoner of war (POW) camp was established on the north side of the railroad from 1942 to 1945. German POWs were used for farm labor, and a doctor at the camp was known to have occasionally treated local residents.
Ellsworth Brothers Farms
In 1928, the Rittenhouse property was sold to Leo Ellsworth who lived on the north side of Ocotillo Road. He and his brothers formed The Ellsworth Brothers Farms, an operation that soon consisted of cotton, large acreages of farm produce, cattle, sheep and a dairy head. Leo is credited with bringing in the first phone line to Queen Creek. The Ellsworth Store was located on the southwest corner of Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads.
Ernest E. Hawes started farming in Queen Creek in the 1930s. The original homestead was on the south side of Chandler Heights Road, north of the Sonoqui Washington, just west of what is now Hawes Road. An old adobe house still stands on the property.
In 1914, everyone except John and Mathilda Germann knew that it was impossible to farm on the desert of Arizona. The Germanns purchased a relinquishment of 480 acres from a discouraged homesteader and established their home and pumping plant. Ivan Cluff purchased the Germann property in 1947 and formed a partnership with Stan Turley to farm the land. Many Hohokam artifacts were also discovered in years past on this farm.
In 1917, J.O. Power moved to the Queen Creek area with a brother, Bernard (Buck). The homestead consisted of 320 acres and was located a half-mile west of Sossaman Road on Ocotillo. More land was purchased on the west side of Power Road, and a new home was built in 1938.
By 1924, the Queen Creek Farms Company was well established. The Rittenhouse wells typically pumped 2,150 gallons of water per minute and were 400 feet deep. The availability of water made Charles Rittenhouse’s 1,000 acres of farmland very productive.
Jasper Sossaman, his mother, and his brother, Lee, moved to the homestead in 1919 after his father died. It consisted of 320 acres on what is now the southwest corner of Sossaman and Ocotillo roads. Jasper (Jap) began working for Charlie Rittenhouse, operating and maintaining the diesel engines that powered the pumps used to irrigate Queen Creek Farms.
There were three sidings (short railroad tracks connected with the main tracks) in the Queen Creek area. The water tower, with a well and pump underneath, was located on one siding near Schnepf Farms. Another siding was at the Ellsworth crossing for loading vegetables. And the third siding was located across from the Boys Ranch. When residents needed to board the train, however, they usually just flagged it down wherever they were.
Rittenhouse Air Force Base
One of five satellite airfields supporting Williams Field, this was the facility used for touch-and-go pilot training. It was located where Ocotillo Road intersects with Schnepf Road.