STREET SMARTS

Contractor Blacklidge built homes on namesake street

2012-11-20T00:00:00Z Contractor Blacklidge built homes on namesake streetDavid Leighton Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Frank E. Blacklidge Sr., the namesake of a street in central Tucson between Fort Lowell Road and Glenn Street, was an early contractor who was also a celebrated rancher and cook.

Blacklidge was born in Redondo Beach, Calif., on Nov. 15, 1888. In 1890 or 1891, he arrived in Benson with his family.

His parents divorced in 1892, and his mother, Laura (Trask) Blacklidge, gained custody of Frank, his brother, Harry J., and his sister, Myrtle.

He spent much of his childhood on his grandfather Jacob Trask's ranch. At about 10 years old, he roped his first steer while riding an old horse named Baldy. This experience came in handy later on when he worked as a cowhand for Jim Cummings on his Circle Five Ranch close to Peña Blanca Lake.

In 1912, the year Arizona gained statehood, Blacklidge was living in Patagonia, which was then so small that its jail was a "grilled iron door" at the entrance to a small mine just south of town. Blacklidge was one of the first people to enjoy the new jail, after a night of drinking with a cowboy friend, while driving a Model T.

In 1921 he arrived in Tucson, where he established a contracting company. Business was slow during the Great Depression, so he ran the O-J Ranch south of Three Points, off the road to Sasabe.

Blacklidge, whose nickname was "Pancho," loved to cook and reminisced in a 1966 Arizona Daily Star article about a Fourth of July celebration at the ranch, where neighboring families barbecued, drank moonshine and danced to a fiddle and guitar. Some of his recipes were even published in Sunset magazine and a few cookbooks.

In the 1920s, Blacklidge built many of the homes on what is now Blacklidge Drive. This street was first recorded in the county records in 1922 and was one block long, between Cherry and Campbell avenues. He owned a little ranch at 4200 E. Glenn St., just west of Columbus Boulevard.

He was married twice, first to Eleanor (Roberts) Blacklidge of Tombstone, with whom he had two children: Frank E. Blacklidge Jr. in 1926 and Ruth Marie Blacklidge in 1925. After Eleanor died in 1927, he married Augusta Frances (Haller) Blacklidge, who helped raise the kids.

Blacklidge died in 1973 in Tucson at the age of 84.

Editors' note

Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at streetsmarts@azstarnet.com.

Sources: Interview with Norma Stock and emails from Jeri Ward (relatives of Frank E. Blacklidge Sr.) Katie Laos, "Everybody Cooks: For Statehood Day," Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 14, 1966 Kimberly Matas, "Frank Blacklidge Jr.: His was a spirit of exploration, adventure," Arizona Daily Star, July 28, 2009 Decree of Divorce (Feb. 18, 1892) - First Judicial District of the Territory of Arizona (held at the Arizona Historical Society) Death certificate for Eleanor Roberts Blacklidge, birth certificates for Frank Jr. and Ruth Marie Blacklidge, Office of Vital Records "The Blacklidges - Where They Came From" by Harry J. Blacklidge (AHS file) Dedicated to Angelina Leighton-Rodriguez

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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