Charles Metcalfe was a man of many talents. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1855, the same year that his father, a Mexican American War veteran and captain of a steamboat on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, died. His youth was spent in Missouri. As a young man he began working in the lead mines near Webb City and served as that city’s first city treasurer. He learned the publishing business in Anthony, Kansas.
In 1880 he continued his westward trek by following the railroad into the New Mexico Territory where he worked as a publisher and miner. He was married in Las Cruces in 1885, and then moved to the west coast, first to Puget Sound and then Los Angeles.
Leaving his family with his wife’s parents in California, Metcalfe took a prospecting trip to the Arizona Territory in spring. That fall he arrived in Kingman.
He continued to prospect in the area after being hired by Kean Charles, publisher of the newspaper, Our Mineral Wealth, and accepting a position as bookkeeper for Gaddis & Perry, Mercantile Company. His wife and four children arrived in Kingman by train in the spring of 1896.
The following spring, he bought a parcel of land between First, Spring and Oak Streets. In addition to a small house, there was a windmill and small orchard.
His community service work began in 1898 when he was appointed trustee of schools. Shortly afterwards he accepted the position of Superintendent of the Public Schools of Mohave County. Over the years he would also serve as the Kingman postmaster, and Probate Judge of Mohave County.
After acquisition of a large tract of property adjoining his home site, he had it surveyed and divided into 210 lots in what was named the Metcalfe Addition. To prompt sales, he had seven model houses constructed. And to curtail costs Metcalfe drew up his own maps and prepared his own deed papers.
Next, he acquired the west half of section 23. Reportedly he purchased the property for a bargain basement price as it bordered the town dump. An according to a published article, there was also an issue with Indians setting up an encampment in the area.
But Metcalfe was a man of vision. The primary road to Chloride, White Cliffs, and Union Pass that crossed over Coyote Pass ran through this section. Traces of this old road can still be found in the pass near Beale Springs within site of U.S. 93.
Today a section of this property known as Monolith Gardens is a beauty spot in the Cerbat Foothills trail system. Interestingly Metcalf had mused in an editorial that the property was ideally suited for use as a park.
Metcalfe developed numerous housing tracts in the first decades of the 20th century. These include the Boulder Dam Addition, Hollywood Addition, and the West Kingman Addition.
Shortly before state hood in 1912, Metcalfe established the Arizona Wallapai Mining Company in the Hualapai Mountains and became the principal owner of the Great Eastern group of mines, leading mineral producers in Mohave County.
During the months of summer, he and his family often stayed at the mine property in the Hualapai Mountains, a pine forested oasis. Inspired by an interview about communities that used sections of government land for recreation given by the late President McKinley, Metcalfe petitioned Senator Carl Hayden to designate section 20 in the Hualapai Mountains as a park. As a result, Metcalfe is often referenced as the father of Hualapai Mountain Park.
Metcalfe also established a quarry in the Cerbat Mountains. Stone from the quarry would be used to construct the courthouse, the Elks Lodge, the Bonelli House and numerous other buildings in Kingman.
In 1934, as a gift to the city, he deeded this land for use as a park. Located along U.S. 466 and U.S. 93 just a block off Route 66, it became a popular stop for travelers. Dr. Walter Brazie oversaw its transformation with expansive landscaping that included the stone border walls in 1957. In 1982, Kingman’s centennial year, a commemorative monument was built and dedicated.