Picacho Peak, Arizona may be home to one of the best-preserved remnants of an old Nickerson Farms Restaurant. But, it’s fading fast. As of 2014, the building has collapsed. But, it’s still interesting to drive by, take some pictures, and reminisce about the old days, when kitschy travel stops punctuated long-haul family road trips.
If you took family road trips growing up, there’s a pretty good chance that you stopped at one, or two, or a hundred Stuckey’s stores. Maybe you also stopped at a few Nickerson Farms, a competitor in the traveler-trap business, started by a former Stuckey’s franchisee, who didn’t like the way the company was running things.
Nickerson Farms promised to be more upscale, with a more proper restaurant, and another unique feature. Each restaurant sold honey made by bees on-property. Some, if not all, of the restaurants featured a window into the beehives, where you could watch the bees at work.
Despite having dozens of locations, all across the country, the business eventually failed. Most have vanished from the landscape, but at Picacho Peak, Arizona, you can still see the remnants of one — for now.
This old Nickerson Farms is located on the south side of Interstate 10, at the Picacho Peak exit, in between Tucson and Phoenix.
The sign is still nicely intact…
… but the building is definitely ‘uck’ed. It looks like the entire rear 80% of the building tilted backwards and collapsed. Only the front entrance, and the roof over the gas pump island, still stand.
From the front, you can see that there’s quite a bit more graffiti on the building.
Other websites seem to indicate that the building collapse happened just a few months before my arrival, possibly in late 2013. Earlier posts showed pictures from inside, where abandoned Naugahyde wrap-around booths and kitchen equipment gathered dust.
The online community of reminiscent Nickerson Farms fans seem to think that this building was, at least last year, one of the best examples of the restaurant still in existence. They also suggest that the sign is, most likely, the only one still standing. But, there seems to be little hope of a restoration — so see it while you can.
There are a few more remnants of better days at the Picacho Peak exit.
This old sign used to advertise the Picacho Peak Trading Post. Only a fragment of the words remains.
It’s even sadder to see what remains of the business’s old Indian, which used to stand in front of the building. Everything burned a couple of years ago, except for one of the Indian’s legs.
As you can see behind the statue’s feet, the entire trading post was reduced to ashes. RoadsideAmerica.com reports that the fire happened in November, 2002, and for at least a few months afterward, the Indian’s charred, dismembered hand lay at his feet.
Thankfully, there are a couple of businesses at Picacho Peak that are still open. The old scrapbook from my family vacation, back in 1985, mentioned that we stopped for ice cream at this Dairy Queen, on the north side of the freeway.
I was very glad that it was still there, after hiking Picacho Peak.
The Bottom Line
If you love tracking down historic roadside attractions, be sure to drive up to the ruins of Nickerson Farms and the Picacho Peak Trading Post. See what’s left, before they’re gone.
Nickerson Farms and the Picacho Peak Trading Post ruins are located on the south side of Interstate 10, at exit 219. This is the Picacho Peak exit, not the exit for Picacho, a community a few miles away.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive to Picacho Peak via I-10: