Flagstaff 101

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(Source: NAU.edu) (Source: NAU.edu)

Literally surrounded by seven natural wonders, Flagstaff, Arizona is often called the "The City of Seven Wonders" because it sits in the midst of the Coconino National Forest and is surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater National Monument, and the San Francisco Peaks.

Located along an old wagon road to California, the first white settler in the area, Edward Whipple, opened a saloon near a spring in 1871. A second pioneer, by the name of F.F. McMillen, settled north of present day Flagstaff in 1876. Soon, more and more people populated the area that was plentiful with water, game, and lumbering opportunities. Others began cattle and sheep ranching.

How Flagstaff obtained its name has several versions, all having to do with stripping a lone pine tree and making it into a flagpole. The spring and its small settlement underwent several names beginning with Antelope Spring, then Flagstaff, and then Old Town. By the time the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (now the Santa Fe) came through in 1882 there were ten buildings in Old Town, but they soon moved closer to the new railroad depot. In no time at all, Old Town was almost deserted and when a post office was established near the new train depot, it assumed the name of Flagstaff. With the new railroad, the lumber and cattle businesses began to thrive, assuring the growth of the community.

Three brothers by the names of Michael, Tim, and Denis Riordan were some of the first to profit from the lumber when they formed the Arizona Lumber and Timber Company. Though Denis would soon move on to California, Michael and Tim would remain in the community making essential contributions to its development, including bringing electricity toFlagstaff and building nearby Lake Mary.

In 1891 Coconino County was created by the Arizona Territorial Assembly. When an election was held to determine the permanent county seat, Flagstaff won out over nearby Williams, hands down.

In 1899, the University of Northern Arizona was established and Flagstaff soon became the cultural center of Northern Arizona. By the early 1900s, Flagstaff's "Seven Wonders” had become well known and tourism became its biggest industry as Flagstaff continued to grow at a slow and steady pace.

Still a relatively small town at just a little over 50,000 residents, Flagstaff is a great place to "park” yourself to see the surrounding wonders. Situated at the base of San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff is located at the intersection of US Interstate 40 and US Interstate 17.

Source: LegendsOfAmerica.com

More information: Flagstaff.AZ.gov

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