The stagecoach stopped in 1916, and ever since then, parched, hungry and weary travelers have been stopping at Jakes Corner in Gila County. Today it is a destination for the modern motorcycle cowboy. But back in the day, it was quite the place.
In 1916, the corner was a stage stop on the Annie Hardt ranch. Whenever the Salt River flooded, stagecoaches would stop and wait for the waters to recede on their journey from Globe to Payson.
Annie would put out fruits and vegetables and passersby would leave money in a collection box.
In 1924 George Felton, A bronc rider who traveled the world with his Friend, Charlie Meadows (known as “Arizona Charlie” – the co-creator of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo in Payson, Arizona) in a Wild West Show. George was an accomplished rider, who had a standing $1,000 bet he could ride any horse. He would place a silver dollar in each stirrup, and when the horse stopped, those silver dollars were still there.
George Felton had a place on Hardt Creek, part of the Annie Hardt Homestead, where Jake’s Corner is located today. This area was a wide-open space along the trail, stages took from Payson to Globe. Usually, a two-day journey, the stages would hold up here if the Salt River was running deep. George and his wife, Virginia, offered their place as a refuge until the water receded. During their stay, she would put out a vegetable/fruit table set up with a donation box. Virginia would check the donation box daily. This arrangement led to a small settlement, which became a stage stop in 1916. While George was off with the Wild West Show and other adventures, Virginia ran the store for 16 years.
1924: The First Buildings were constructed by the Felton’s, a store, bar and gas station.
1940: The Felton’s sold the business to Payson Pioneer, Polly Brown.
1946: Jake and Nina Stephenson purchased Jake’s Corner. This is where the business became known as “Jake’s Corner.” Jake died in 1949, but Nina continued to run the store and bar until she married.
1972: Pete Connolly bought Jake’s Corner. Traffic picked up on Highway 188! The Slate Creek “cut off” was closed between the Beeline Hwy and the H-4 Ranch in Tonto Basin. Highway 188’s road was freshly paved, and fishermen and campers came to visit the wildlife of nearby Mt. Ord.
1982: Harry Strahan and Bud Decker buy Jake’s Corner and build a bigger store in 1984. More trailer spaces are created, and parcels are subdivided into smaller lots.
1989: Norma Blakely purchases the Jake’s Corner Bar, the oldest bar in Gila County in the same building with the same name.
1990: Dan Smyers buys the place, and the “Dan’s Town” sign is created.
1998: Jerry and Caroline Morrison become the new owners. The old building burned to the ground in 1999, leaving only the old tree that still stands between the main building and the Sherriff’s Office. The building was rebuilt in 2000, and reopened as it stands today.
December 2004: Mike Gauvin purchased Jake’s Corner and left in July 2011. A movie titled, “Jake’s Corner” was created in 2008, using the bar as its primary setting.
July 2011: Jake’s Corner was taken over by Rick Heppler, as a majority partner. He managed it until his death. His sister then stepped in as a manager until 2018.
2018 to Present: Lucille Aragon is currently the owner of Jake’s Corner and continues holding events and offering parched motorcycle cowboys, fishermen, and sightseeing tourists a place to “STOP” and get a drink and a great burger!
Over a century of history and counting… if the walls at Jake’s corner could talk, oh the stories, they would tell. Gila County is full of places just like this. Many of them have withstood the test of time and offer a glimpse of the past. Whenever you are out this way, we invite you to stop and EXPLORE THE WILD history of Gila County. For more information about Jake's Corner visit: https://www.discovergilacounty.com/jakes-corner #discovergilacounty