A Sedona Set Piece: Old Telegraph Office to hit the trail

Photos courtesy Sedona Historical Society

Photos courtesy Sedona Historical Society

SEDONA -- The Jerome Historical Society displays the Aubrey Headframe, a lingering entry into its historic mining days. The Clemenceau Heritage Museum has reclaimed the old Bank of Clemenceau building, the last remaining history of the smelter town of Cottonwood's past. The Cornville Historical Society is working its historic post office. The Camp Verde Historical Society has the Old Jail. Now, the Sedona Heritage Museum is about to move the last surviving piece of Sedona West movie set to the old uptown orchard.

It's the Telegraph Office Relocation & Restoration Project.

Nearly 100 movies were filmed in the Sedona area, most during the golden age of western films during the 1940s and 1950s.

The museum tells us, "moviemaking in Sedona began in 1923, with Zane Grey's Call of the Canyon. In 1945, John Wayne came to town for his first stint as producer on Angel and the Badman, costarring the beautiful Gail Russell. For this film, Wayne had a western town set built in what is now the Sedona West residential subdivision. Streets there are named after movies made here, like Johnny Guitar, Pony Soldier, and Gun Fury. Stars who worked in Sedona include Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Sterling Hayden, Joan Crawford, Glenn Ford, Robert Young, Tyrone Power, Rock Hudson, Elvis Presley, Sam Elliott, Robert De Niro and Johnny Depp."

A key set piece of the Angel and the Badman movie was the telegraph office.

Ron Maassen, president of the Sedona Historical Society and leader of the telegraph office restoration project, says the telegraph office actually had its own history before it was part of the movie set. The telegraph office was a train station in its earliest form, located in Winona, east of Flagstaff.

Maassen says the train stop was part of the Atlantic and Pacific line, one of two separate lines that much of the U. S. but were not connected. The A&P came through the Flagstaff area during the 1880s. It eventually became part of the Santa Fe railway. The train station was actually called Walnut.

In 1946, the abandoned station house was moved to Sedona to become part of the movie set. Rancher Otto Hallermund owned the property west of Sedona at the time and moved the depot.

Angel and the Badman was shot in the spring of 1946 and released in 1947. That became the train depot-cum-telegraph office's one and only movie.

Maassen says that Hallermund also owned property on the Loop Road and that's how the Telegraph office ended up there on a sprawling property above the creek.

On the Loop Road, the telegraph office became the "great room" of a small home that sprawled with additions. Maasen says those have now been fully removed to get the telegraphic office back to its original state.

A niece of Otto and his wife Sally lived into the Loop Road house for a time.

Flash forward to the present. About a year ago, the historical society discovered the history of the little house and contacted its present owner, John Marmaduke, of Jupiter, Fla. Marmaduke agreed to donate the building to the historical society and the rest is...um...history.

Since that time, Maassen says the society has undertaken an extensive campaign to fund the $100,000 project goal to move the building from the Loop Road location to the Museum site in uptown Sedona.

A foundation has already been poured for the structure's future home.

A lot of volunteers have committed to work to restore the structure. A gala event March 15, "Angel and the Badman Returns to Sedona," kicks off from 6 to 9 p.m. at Reds in Sedona Rouge Hotel with dinner and a silent auction.

-- Follow the reporter on Twitter @_jhutchinson and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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