66710 Hwy 60
(PO Box 700)
Salome, Arizona 85348
Phone: (928) 859-3846
Providing online information for the communities of the Arizona Outback
since 1997 ... www.AZOutback.net
Who Was Dick Wick Hall?
Some of the West’s most colorful characters ended up in Arizona sooner or later. For some, it was the lure of the boom town bonanzas. Others found it a refuge from the restrictions of more established societies in the East.
To McMullen Valley Dick Wick Hall holds a special place in the Heart of Arizona's Outback.
Dick Wick Hall was a noted humorist, and writer, prospector, and businessman. He not only became "Arizona’s most Famous Humorist" and nationally was compared to Will Rogers and Mark Twain. Locally he was Publisher of the ‘Salome Sun’ 1925- 1926, owner of the ‘Laughing Gas’ gas station, creator of ‘ The Salome Frog’ and the ‘Greasewood Golf Lynx’, published in the Saturday Evening Post, author of a syndicated column in 28 newspapers from New York to California 1925 – 1926, co-editor of the Wickenburg News-Herald, 1901.
Salome was established in 1904 with the help of Charles W. Pratt in the area that Dick Wick Hall liked to call ‘Happy Valley’. It was during that time that Mrs. (Salome) Pratt attempted to walk on the hot desert sand in her bare feet and proceeded to ‘dance’ to her destination.
There and then Dick Wick Hall named the town ’Salome – where she danced - Arizona’. The founder of Salome is honored with both a historical marker on Highway 60 and Center Street, and the historical gravesite near the site of his old office and home, located at the intersection of Center and Hall Streets.
A Little Biography
Dick Wick Hall was born Richard DeForest Hall at Creston, Iowa in 1877. After graduating from high school in Creston, Hall attended the University of Nebraska for one year studying ornithology and engineering. He then held a series of jobs, including guarding government buildings, and working for the railroad. Hall came to Arizona in 1898 to live with the Hopi and observe their snake dance. He then wandered Arizona for several years taking various jobs, ranching, working in territorial government offices in Phoenix, and operating an amusement park in Phoenix.
For DeForest Hall, it was the wide open spaces and the weather. He liked the high desert around Wickenburg so well that he changed his middle name to Wick. Dick Wick Hall as he became known, (he needed a new first name to rhyme with his new middle name). The Los Angeles to Phoenix highway wasn’t much more than a cattle trail in the 1920s and Hall’s dry sense of humor seemed to fit real well with the local climate. He was an instant hit with travelers.
Eventually he came to Wickenburg where he started a newspaper with his brother Ernest. During this time, Hall had his name legally changed to Dick Wick, Wick being short for Wickenburg. A year into the newspaper business found Hall deeply in debt and looking for new opportunities.
He decided to sell the newspaper and headed further west where he became involved in an irrigation project in northern Yuma County. When the railroad made plans to lay rail towards California from Wickenburg, Hall saw an opportunity. In 1904, along with several other investors, he founded the town of Salome along the proposed railroad route. When the railroad passed twenty miles further south than originally planned, Hall uprooted the Salome post office and moved it south to meet the railroad, despite a number of protests.
For the next several decades, Hall was in and out of Salome frequently. He was ecstatic in 1909 when a prospector found gold near Salome. He wrote letters and news articles; sold mining stock and town lots to anyone he could persuade to purchase them. This venture came to naught when the numerous miners eventually found nothing of value on the land. An avid speculator, he was enchanted with mining, and later oil, as a method of amassing riches. His many ventures in land, mining and oil were plagued with problems and often left him empty handed. He tirelessly promoted the development of the Salome area and the improvement of roads.
In 1921 Hall started a gas station and garage, out west of Wickenburg in a forlorn spot he named Salome, and began publishing a small humorous broadsheet to pass out to the tourists called the Salome Sun. It became a national phenomenon as the passing tourists spread the publication, and Hall soon found his writings published in numerous newspapers and magazines around the country including the Los Angeles Examiner and the Saturday Evening Post.
Hall plastered homemade signs on the walls of his so-called Laughing Gas Station, and along the dusty road for several miles in both directions poking fun at the weather, bumps and ruts on the Arizona highways. One advertised “Free Hot Air” while another proclaimed, “Arizona Roads Are Like Arizona People: Good, Bad and Worse.” The best laughgetter was, “Smile, Smile, Smile, You Don’t Have To Stay Here But We Do.” The eye-catching signs provided a welcome relief to bone-weary travelers and inspired even the most cynical Californian to grin and bear it.
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