Nature Landscape

Our History

It was 1916 when John and Marie Peach arrived in Yuma from Chicago. Both came through Ellis Island as children from Czechoslovakia. John was a tailor, the only one in Yuma, and Marie was a buttonhole maker. John’s brother-in-law had a tailor shop since 1914, but with him passing away, John and Marie came to Yuma to help. Mary Peach had told John if he came to Yuma, he could make a good living. They bought and ran several hotels on Main Street. While doing this, in 1932, Marie opened the only ladies’ to-wear shop. It became known as The Fashion on Main Street.
Entrance to the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel

In 1928, there was a shortage of lumber, so the Peach’s bought the right to tear down the old Southern Pacific Railroad hotel for the lumber. The railroad would not sell the land but did sell them the lumber that came from the hotel. They used this lumber to build Peach Auto Court on the outskirts of Yuma.

In 1938, The Coronado was built with the beams from the old Southern Pacific Railroad Hotel. The hotel had a cottage and 14 guest rooms. With the increase in business, the hotel expanded in 1940. Due to the shortage of rooms during the war, they received permission from the government in 1944 to expand The Coronado yet again.

After the war in 1946, there was an increase in tourism and a need for further additions, including the restaurant, which was leased out. The restaurant was built on the site where the first airplane to land in Arizona landed on October 25, 1911. There was also a new brand of hotel called the ‘Best Western’ starting up, and The Coronado Hotel became one of the hotels to join the Best Western group. With the need to modernize in 1963, a pool was added, a new lobby, and 14 guest rooms.

On October 8, 1990, the Yuma Landing Restaurant & Lounge was no longer leased out and became part of The Coronado. With its ideal location in the heart of historic downtown Yuma, it also became the place to house memorabilia dating back to the beginning of the hotel.

In 1994, another expansion of non-smoking rooms completed the block-to-block appearance of The Coronado. Then just a year later, an annex of 26 rooms along with a second swimming pool was added adjacent to the hotel. In 1996, the museum opened inside the cottage, which was the original hotel lobby. The Casa de Coronado Museum’s collection ranges from information and photographs of old Yuma to Best Western memorabilia, with the hotel being one of the chain’s charter members. An additional wing was also added to the property, providing the hotel with an additional 40 rooms.

The hotel is currently finishing a five-year renovation project and was recently ranked as a silver level Green Leader on Trip Advisor. Today the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel is proud to be an independently owned and operated hotel, under their own brand, that continues to strive to improve and modernize with the changing times, and always do its best to meet the needs of the guests. Owners John & Yvonne Peach make every effort to maintain the unique identity of this historic hotel.

Yuma Film History

Lights, Camera, Action!

Yuma, Arizona, continues to be a prime filming location

Since the late 1920s, Yuma has been an ideal location for filming movies, TV shows, and commercials. The region boasts ideal filming locations with diverse landscapes ranging from the Colorado River to the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area, Algodones in bordering Mexico, Fort Yuma-Quechan and Cocopah Indian Reservations, and different sites like the Yuma Territorial Prison, the Quartermaster Depot, the ‘ghost train’ at Pivot Point, acres of farmlands, and the historic downtown district. With an international airport, numerous hotel rooms, restaurants, parks, trails, and golf courses, the city has all the amenities to accommodate film crews, whether they are working on set or taking a break, and the historic Yuma Theatre is a popular site to host film screenings.

Movie Clapper and Film Reel
Hollywood movies filmed in and around Yuma, Arizona include:
  • 1930’s ‘Morocco’ starring Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich.
  • 1942’s ‘Road to Morocco,’ directed by David Butler, starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, and Anthony Quinn.
  • 1943’s ‘Sahara,’ starring Humphrey Bogart, Lloyd Bridges, and Bruce Bennett.
  • The original 1957’s version of ‘3:10 to Yuma’, directed by Delmer Daves, starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin.
  • 1977’s ‘Stars Wars’, featuring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill.
  • 1983’s ‘Return of the Jedi,’ starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill.
  • 1987’s ‘Spaceballs,’ directed by Mel Brooks, starring Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Bill Pullman.
  • A remake of ‘The Getaway’ in 1993, directed by Ronald Donaldson, starring Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, with Michael Madsen, James Woods, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jennifer Tilly in supporting roles
  • 1993’s ‘True Lies’ with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • 1993’s ‘Stargate’ with Kurt Russell and James Spader.
  • 2005’s ‘Jarhead,’ directed by Sam Mendes, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, and Chris Cooper.
  • 2011’s ‘To Kill a Memory,’ filmed at Yuma’s Territorial Prison.

On April 10, 2015, the movie ‘Cowboy Zombies’ showed at the Historic Yuma Theater. Produced by the Winters Film Group, this film is a classic western film for kids with a twist…zombies! Set in the Arizona Territory, circa 1873, it is the story of a group of disparate people who band together to survive in a world gone mad. With a cast of unique and engaging actors (including our friend Lee Whitestar), zombies, and the backdrop of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, this film is very entertaining. Learn more and watch the trailer at

Over the years, the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel has been honored to accommodate a number of celebrities, including Tom Mix, who won an Oscar for his role as Father O’Malley in ‘Going my Way’; actor, USO and Oscar host Bing Crosby, Hattie McDaniel who won an Oscar for her supporting role as Mammy in ‘Gone with the Wind,’ Bounty Hunter’s Duane Lee “Dog” Chapman, Sr., and musician Collin Raye. Our on-site restaurant, the Yuma Landing, has a large display of historic photos of Yuma, including its rich film history.

In April 2014, as part of Yuma’s Centennial Celebration, the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel was proud to sponsor the showing of ‘The Getaway’ in the ‘Made in Yuma Movie Marathon.’ In January 2015, an Epic Star Wars Gathering was filmed in our nearby Imperial Sand Dunes, and we were happy to have some of the crew stay at the hotel and dine in the Yuma Landing Bar & Grill.

Yuma Railroad History

Southern Pacific (SP) rails cross the Colorado River into Arizona in 1877, changing Yuma life forever. The company’s reliance upon men and women of industry, honesty, and reliability fosters a firm community foundation in the low-slung burg. Conductors, engineers, dispatchers, and all the other workers who make a railroad roll, help build a civic consciousness and add culture. Many join the ranks of elected and appointed public servants.
Along with these society stalwarts, another exceptional brethren of the railroad—its free riders, spice life in Yuma. The railroad’s creative minds and determined workers find parallels among the matchless characters who ride the rails in nomadic foray across the local division. A fascinating, at times violent ballet of hobos, brakemen, railroad police, and the citizenry ensues.
In Arizona, free train rides begin with the inception of rail transportation. Be it circumstances or volition; some individuals view jumping freight trains as the “only way to ride.” Lack of a regular job, a dwelling to call their own, or a guiding purpose in their lives defines many in this loose-knit group of railroad ramblers. In “hobo jungles” across the nation, a culture grows among the “freight car literati” of mostly male travelers, complete with a code of honor.
Many stories of “Wandering Willies’” and their free travel across the desert end in sadness. Around some of the breed, legends swirl along the desert rails. Few accounts prove as gripping as the sorrowful tale of Charles E. Drumgold. His speaks of a hobo gone mad for lost love. It seems, on his very first railroad trip, Drumgold “misplaces” his wife and children.
Setting out on foot west from El Paso in search of his family, Drumgold plods his love-lost heart back and forth across the desolate southern Arizona and California deserts, always refusing to ride the trains that race beside him. Through the years, every railroad man from El Paso to Colton, California, grows to know him as “Desert or Arizona Charlie.”
Reports tell of Desert Charlie’s “scant clothing…tattered and torn, his shirt sleeves in shreds leaving his arms to bake and blister in the desert sun.” A small amount of money from his well-heeled brother, a San Francisco jeweler, fuels the tireless, “irreparably crazed” seeker.
Charlie asks rails along the way for tidings of his loved ones. The “kind-hearted knights of the rail pass the word on from one to another to look out for him,” notes one news report. “The decrepit, demented old man imagines he is paid to watch the railroad track and prevent wrecks.”
In January 1908, Drumgold’s brother places the beloved desert drifter into a private asylum. Shortly afterward, reports of Desert Charlie’s death circulate among the local division. Rails mourn his passing, sure that “another strange waif of the desert” has expired.
No wonder railroader Jack Heyl threatens to “throw a fit and swear that he’d change his brand” when he sees southern Arizona’s renowned tramp crawl out from under a Yuma freight car the following year. Debunking stories of his rumored demise, Charlie jumps to his feet and shakes the startled Heyl’s hand “as if he had never been reported dead and buried for lo, these many days,” states the report.
Good news for the SP, because in his millions of steps and countless miles that he trods through the years, Desert Charlie comes upon many potential rail accidents. Designating himself a trackwalker for the SP, Charlie saves “the Southern Pacific thousands of dollars through his news of washouts, obstructions, etc.,” the report vouches. On occasion, brakemen and other rails slip him a little money, which he accepts as part of his “salary.”
The SP fails to heed some warnings, however. During April 1899, one “Backdoor Bum” advises the railroad, to no avail, of a fire burning at the Ligurta Wash, 26 miles east of Yuma. Morning winds whip a hobo-started coal blaze, igniting the railroad bridge’s support trestle.
For nine hours, no train approaches the burning trestle until a “mammoth” 110-ton locomotive, pulling three or four heavily loaded freight cars, crosses its fire-weakened wooden timbers.
The snorting steel behemoth dives off the track to collapse into a fiery heap in the wash. “The big engine…turned in the twinkling of an eye into a fearful agent of destruction, stood upright in the wash…with its nose jammed into the opposite bank.” Freight cars follow the engine off the track and burst into flames, killing the conductor, the fireman, and two tramps. Doctors send the engineer to SP’s hospital with severe scalding on his head, shoulders, and arms.
Tales of the railroad’s “roaming royalty,” such as Desert Charlie’s story and that of the Ligurta Wash Fire, abound in Yuma history. Some heartwarming, many tragic; each forms an element in the historical mosaic of a lifestyle outside society’s confines.