Salt River Stories is a free mobile app that puts the history of the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa-Tempe metro area at your fingertips. Salt River Stories lets you explore the people, places, and moments that have shaped the region’s history. Learn about the region through layered, map-based, multimedia presentations, use social media to share your stories, and experience curated historical tours of the desert metropolis.

Why Salt River Stories?

The Salt River defines the valley in which Phoenix and the broader suburban metropolis emerged during the 20th century. The Salt River is both a watershed and valley--in which gravity forces water to flow from the Granite Reef to the East into the Valley nurturing human development in the region. First the Hohokam settled in the region setting up a system of canals, and later in the 19th century, another wave of settlers rediscovered the canals of the Hohokam and created a new hydrological infrastructure that would transform the desert from an arid desert into an agricultural center and later a tourist mecca. Over the course of the 20th century, water and human settlement would continue to transform the region, creating one of the largest metropolitan regions in the United State. We chose to call this historical project Salt River Stories to highlight the amazing ways that environment and human society have shaped the Valley of the Sun.

About Salt River Stories

Salt River Stories emerged at the intersection of two projects. In 2010, the Papago Salado Association began work on audio stories that would allow tourists to the region to experience Scottsdale and Papago Park's cultural institutions. The "Story Tour" project involved a variety of partners who collaboratively identified historic sites and an approach to introducing those important regional treasures to public audiences, especially tourists, though audio narratives. After conducting research and producing stories, Papago Salado Association worked with Scottsdale Public Television and Arizona State University to record 45 audio narratives about the region. Papago Salado Association began to explore ways to share those stories in easy-to-use mobile formats in 2012 and 2013 through its continued partnership with Arizona State University. In 2013, the project turned to using Curatescape as that platform, and came under the direction of Professor Mark Tebeau at Arizona State University. Presently, ASU undergraduates and graduates have been developing stories, often in collaboration with the broader community.


The project is built using Curatescape, a mobile framework for the Omeka archival content management system. Curatescape was created and is maintained through a partnership between Cleveland State University's Center for Public History + Digital Humanities, and the Public History Program at Arizona State University. It also advocates for a place-based approach to interpreting landscape in collaboration with students and communities.

Research Partners

This project would not be possible without the support of the School for Historical, Religious, and Philosophical Studies, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To date, the Scottsdale Public Library, Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation, Tempe History Museum, and local preservationist "Jay Mark," have been particularly generous in sharing their time and insights. Additional materials have been drawn from the Scottsdale and Tempe Offices of Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Arizona Digital Library (Arizona Memory Project.)

Oral History

Unless otherwise noted, the oral history audio used in this project was collected by students at Arizona State University.

Image Rights and Reproduction

Photographs on the Salt River Stories website and mobile apps are used with permission of their creators, owners, or other caretakers (for example, a library or archive). Sources are cited in the captions for each image. For further information about photographs, including requests for reproductions, please contact the listed source directly. Please note that Salt River Stories cannot give the contact information of private individuals, nor are we empowered to grant permission for further use of any photographs.


Stories and materials produced by project participants and creators is available through a Creative Commons non-commercial, attribution, share-alike license.


Direct all questions and comments to Dr. Mark Tebeau, Arizona State University, (480)-9650-8595 or via email at mtebeau@asu.edu.