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 develop 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 by Professor Mark Tebeau & Cleveland State University's Center for Public History + Digital Humanities. The project advocates an approach to place interpretation based within local communities.

Research Partners

This project would not have been 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 following organizations have been especially helpful, providing access to materials and/or providing guidance:

  • Arizona State Office of Historic Preservation
  • Tempe History Museum
  • Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation
  • Scottsdale Public Library
  • Scottsdale Office of Historic Preservation
  • Tempe Office of Historic Preservation
  • Arizona State University Libraries

Additionally, local preservationists, including especially jay Mark, as well as archivists, 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

Most photographs (as well as other digital objects) on the Salt River Stories website and mobile apps are drawn from public archives and/or the Internet. Sources are cited in the captions for each image (and/or digital object.) For further information about photographs, including requests for reproductions, contact the listed source directly. We support an open internet and endorse the approach embodied in the Creative Commons. If you have questions about any images and/or if one of our team members inadvertently violated copyright on an image, please contact us immediately.


Stories and materials produced by Salt River Stories authors and content creators is available for use through a Creative Commons non-commercial, attribution, share-alike license. Appropriate citation information is listed at the end of each story.


Direct all questions and comments to Dr. Mark Tebeau, Arizona State University, (480)-965-8595 or via email: mtebeau@asu.edu.

Privacy Policy

Arizona State University operates the Salt River Stories website and app. Whenever you use Salt River Stories, we collect basic information that your browser or device sends to us that is called Log Data. This Log Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol (IP) address, browser or device version, content that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, and other statistics, including your location (if you have given us permission to do so, e.g. by enabling location services in your browser or device). We use this information only to provide core functionality and do not collect personally identifiable information for marketing or any other purpose. On the website – but not in the mobile apps – Salt River Stories shares some collected information with Google for the purpose of analyzing general usage patterns. Google's terms and policies are available here. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our Privacy Policy, please contact us.