Valley of the Moon – Tucson, AZ

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Valley of the Moon is a unique children’s fantasy park located at 2544 E. Allen Road just north of Prince Road, between Tucson Blvd. and Country Club in north Tucson, Arizona (Pima County).

“If you ever dreamed of fairies dancing in the moonlight, or wished you lived with gnomes, then this is the place for you.” – comment on Yahoo! Travel

Called a “hidden gem in the desert”, Valley of the Moon is a a magical 2 1/2 acre landscape of winding paths, stone towers and walls, hidden grottoes, pools, and miniature scenes made from rock and stucco designed to bring mental and spiritual relaxation to visitors of all ages.

The park was created by George Phar Legler, a former postal clerk who envisioned a world of fantasy of imagination filled with rock structures, gnomes and fairies.

He purchased the land for the park in 1917 and with the help from friends created The Valley of the Moon, where for years, he conducted free Fantasy Fairy Tours, telling children stories, performing magic tricks and visiting with fairies and other magical creatures.

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Some of the parks attractions included the Wizard’s Tower, Fairy Queen’s Magic Grotto, Temple of the Fairies, Tall Fairy House, Gnome Village, Bunny Land Theater, Enchanted Garden, Caves of Thor, Mystic Pool, the Rabbit Hole, the Troll Bridge, the Caves of Terror and Fairy Dell (aka, “Penny land,” a wishing well surrounded by concrete statues of gnomes.

Nicknamed “The Mountain Gnome,” Legler’s philosophy throughout life was “Happiness is Given, not Sold.”

Legler described his artistic intention in his c. 1945 five-cent souvenir series booklet, ‘Moon Twist from Valley of the Moon,’ where he wrote “In the Valley of the Moon, mineralized rock, cliffs and caves are blended with both tropical and desert flora. It is a spot where the fantasy ‘touch of three’ creeps into your veins: Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and Lewis Carroll.”

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In 1953, Life magazine (June 29, 1953 p.114) presented a pictorial essay on the Valley of the Moon, and a Tucson magazine writer declared, “Should Disneyland cover the entire state of California, not one corner would speak to childhood as does this imperfect, perfect little theatre.”

Leger would tell his visitors that “evil deeds only cause more evil deeds and that kindness is the reward of kindness. Dressed as the “wizard,” he used the Valley of the Moon to give a lesson in kindness. He was helped by his rabbits Jackie the Wise, Lady June, Sugar Plum, Blue Boy, Reckless Jack and a host of others.”

During the 1960s, Leger park closed due to ill-health, but in 1971, a group of Catalina High School teens who had visited the park in their youth convinced Leger to reopen the park with a promise to maintain and preserve the site.

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On Mr. Legler’s 97th birthday, then-Mayor Lew Murphy presented him with the Tucson Outstanding Citizen Award for the creation of the Valley of the Moon and his devotion to the free entertainment of Tucson’s children.

George Phar Legler died February 22, 1982 at the age of 97. His ashes were scattered in his Valley of the Moon. The operations of the park were assumed by the George Phar Legler Society, Inc., a group of volunteers who wished to continue Leger’s legacy. The park is open and free to the public the first Saturday of every month.

The park was placed on the Arizona Register of Historical Sites in 1975. On July 27, 2011, Valley of the Moon was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“Some day in your life, when the late afternoon sunlit crown, perhaps in springtime, in the late afternoon, travel the rainbow’s bend to this Faerie Town, and know the incredible beauty of the Valley of the Moon.” – George Legler.

In recent years, the park still gives tours on a limited basis as well as hosts Halloween, Christmas and Wedding events.

Efforts have been made to halt the deterioration of the park through fundraisers and calling in experts in the field of landscaping, architect to make recommendations on how to sustain the park into the future. Volunteers with technical skills (welding, carpentry, electrical, etc.) were sought to continue the restoration on the park.

A number of relocated sculptures from the closed Magic Carpet Golf property (The Pygmy Hut, The Castle, The Old Stump and The Spider Web) were placed on permanent display in front of the park. In addition, more than 150 plants and trees were installed on the park grounds.

In the fall of 2014, the Valley of the Moon hosted “The Harry Potter and the Haunted Ruins” walking theater through the month of October.

NOTE: “The Valley of the Moon” (1913) is a novel by American writer Jack London. The novel tells the story of a working-class couple, Billy and Saxon Roberts, struggling laborers in Oakland at the Turn-of-the-Century, who left the city life behind and settle on farmland in the Valley of the Moon (the name for the wine-growing Sonoma Valley of California).

There is also a Valley of the Moon Nature Trail near Clifton, Montana, a Valley of the Moon in Anza Borrego Desert in East San Diego County, and the Valley of the Moon Winery in Glen Ellen, California.

In addition, there was a song called “In the Valley of the Moon” written by Jeff Branen, and sung by Helen Clark & Henry Burr in the early part of the 20th century.

The George P. Leger (1932 – 1984) & The Valley of the Moon Collection is housed in the Library and Archives of the Arizona Historical Society at 949 East Second Street in Tucson, AZ 85719.

Valley of the Moon
2544 E Allen Rd
Tucson, AZ 85716

Valley of the Moon (Website)
Valley of the Moon – News Story (Video)
Valley of the Moon – Tour (Video)
Valley of the Moon – October Event (Video)
National Register of Historic Places Application for the Valley of the Moon (PDF)

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About

Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Parks - Amusement

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