Welcome to DesertPipes.com
This site was developed to document the beginning of Skateboarding in huge cement Pipes, pioneered in the late 1970’s at the famous “Desert Pipes” in Arizona by many people.
I have lost contact with many of my old friends over the years, we have all moved on to other places and hopefully happy new lives. I hope this site brings back some memories of those radd days of our youth, shredding the Desert Pipes. Not many skaters could afford cameras back then, and video cameras were almost unheard of for the average skater, so not much has survived over the years. I dug through my personal collection so I could share these images with all the friends I skated with, because many of us will never forget the feeling of skateboarding in the giant pipe sections, or flying through a downhill Pipeline.
This site is dedicated to all the brothers I skated with who are no longer with us, Morgan McCarthy, Cameron Redford, Paul S. & Bart, Crazy Kenny, Brent Slater, Shane Ditton, Vince B, Rubio & Gibbs, My Stepdad Wylder, my Grandmother Eva & my Dogs AXL, Maya & Shadow …
We Miss You All, Rest In Peace
The Desert pipes were built as part of the Central Arizona Project, a series of canals built to bring water from the Colorado River to irrigate the desert. Wherever the canals had to cross a river or major wash, they put in the monster cement pipes. The project was funded by Big Brother, and the CAP canals were built by the Bureau of Reclamations. Barging construction sites for skateboarding terrain was risky, but worth it (I am not endorsing any illegal activity, well maybe).
The pipes were made by a private company called Ameron, and they were so large the company had to build factories on each project site to manufacture the 24 ft. cement pipes. A huge “Pipemobile” was built to transport the pipe sections to where the pipelines were assembled. There were 4 major projects that I am aware of, all during the period from 1976 to 1980.
I was in High school during this time, and my friends and I had been skateboarding in empty pools since grade school. We lived and breathed skateboarding, we bought all the magazines, knew all the pro’s names, lusted after all the new equipment. We started out on plastic boards and ball bearing wheels, and evolved as the equipment got better. We were lucky, empty pools were easy to find in Phoenix, we learned to carve fast, and “hitting tile” and going over the light was our big rush. Little did we know what was waiting out in the desert nearby…
Around 1975 the Lake Pleasant Pipes were built near a very popular desert party spot called “the Flumes”, a downhill canal where everyone went to drink, go tubing, and swim. We started to see pro skateboarders from California out there, doing something new called “fakies” and “180 kickturns” in the pipe sections. Once skateboarders had discovered riding vertical was possible in empty swimming pools, Pipes became the ultimate big game for us skateboarders to get higher, beyond vertical. I recall our goal riding pipes was to try to get our boards above our heads. The rest is history, vertical skateboarding has evolved into the mainstream, but Pipe riding still remains relatively underground (Give Thanks).
The photos of me were obviously taken by my friends, some of them were very talented photographers as well, and I must give them credit. Larry Mead shot many of the Centennial and Hassayampa pix of us, Mike Lanning shot a lot of the Florence photos and also helped me to get my first 35 mm camera, and Joe Albillar shot many pool and pipe shots and continues to give me inspiration. Also I must Thank Mike Slater, Doug Edwards, John Holman and Rob Locker for their photo and video contributions and awesome support. Thanks guys wherever you are, I will never forget you!
If you were a skateboarder in the Phoenix, AZ area during the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties, I probably have photos of you, especially the PV and West Side Crew. I rode tons of Empty PooLs with many hot skaters, including the Concrete Jungle, Deadcat Pool, LoveBowls, and many more. The photos posted here are just the tip of the iceberg, I have many other rolls of skateboarding photos I have not had time to scan and restore.
Skateboarding will take you places you never imagined you would go, and you will find yourself having adventures you will never forget. Always remember your roots and style make you who you are…