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In the early 1900s, W. J. Murphy laid out a resort called Ingleside far from Phoenix. The area, roughly bounded by 56th Street, 64th Street, Thomas Road and Lafayette Boulevard was called Ingleside with the hope it would eventually be the most ideal site for a residential district in the Salt River Valley. The Ingleside Inn was created as a place for potential investors to stay while tours were conducted and sales were made.
W. J. Murphy was the driving force behind Ingleside and much of the other early development in the Phoenix metropolitan area. He was born near Utica, N. Y., in 1839. As a young man, his family moved to Pontiac, Ill., where he lived until the outbreak of the Civil War. Murphy then joined Battery M, First Illinois artillery for the duration of the war. He rose to the rank of second lieutenant.
After the war, Murphy returned to Pontiac and went into the hardware business for a few years. In 1881, he came to Arizona as a grading contractor on the construction of the Atlantic-Pacific Railroad near Peach Springs.
In 1883, Murphy took on the contract to build about 40 miles of the Arizona Canal from the Granite Reef Dam to New River. Murphy was not paid cash for his efforts, only stocks and bonds in the water company.
Before Murphy took on the contract, he researched the water situation in Arizona. The secretary of the Interior wrote Murphy “from records which the department has of the flow of the Salt and Verde Rivers extending over many years, I will state without hesitation that in my opinion there is water enough to amply irrigate 250,000 acres of land without storage. ” With that glowing recommendation, Murphy took on the contract.
Not only did Murphy build the canal, he had to sell the bonds and securities to pay for supplies and workers. Murphy traveled extensively to Chicago, New York and San Francisco to do this.
The contract Murphy signed was very strict. It required the canal to be done to a certain point by noon on Feb. 15, 1884. If he did not meet the deadline, Murphy would forfeit the contract and his interest in the completed work. Murphy was in San Francisco raising money when the day arrived. Phoenix had been cut off from the rest of the country for two weeks because of severe winter storms. The first message out of Phoenix was taken across the Gila River by an Indian who swam the treacherous currents.
The contractors working for Murphy were asked to quit their contracts so his enemies could ‘bust Murphy. ’The workers remained loyal and completed the canal to the required point by 10 a. m. on Feb. 15, 1884, only two hours before the deadline.
After the successful completion of his contract, Murphy helped open the Valley Bank, originally called the First National Bank of Phoenix, and planted orchards and trees throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area. It was said he planted more than 33 miles of avenue trees including the trees on North Central Avenue.
Murphy was also credited with planting some 635 acres of orange and grapefruit trees, 700 acres of apricots, along with peaches, almonds and grapes. Ingleside had extensive orchards for guests to stroll through. Other attractions for guests at Ingleside included picnics at Echo Canyon on the north side of Camelback Mountain, horseback riding, and a golf course that eventually became the Arizona Country Club.
Murphy conducted tours from what became the Ingleside Inn to promote and sell his real estate and agricultural land investments. After Murphy died in 1923, his son Ralph ran the Ingleside Inn as a resort until Ralph lost it in the Great Depression. Others ran the resort until it closed for good in the early 1940s.
After the death of W. J. Murphy in 1923, The Arizona Gazette editorialized “faith in God, faith in man and faith in himself were never known to leave Mr. Murphy… he could lead in the midst of opposition with a smile on his face and a courage in his heart that won people over and made them friends. ”
Mike Miller. Photo courtesy of Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, History and Archives Division, Phoenix, #97-2133.

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