WILLIAMS, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- The town of Williams, in northern Arizona, is referred to as the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon." It's located along I-40 west of Flagstaff, just 60 miles south of the famous National Park.

Cattle and sheep ranchers who first came to the area around 1876 settled Williams. The town lies along the route of the old Beale Wagon Road, which was a well-known route used by immigrants making their way west to California.

Beale wagon trail

The Beale wagon road ran along the 35th parallel across Arizona. It became a well traveled route to California. (SOURCE LegendsofAmerica.com)

As people began to stay in the area, the town was formally founded in 1881. Twenty years later, in 1901, Williams was incorporated. 

A statue of the town's namesake, "Old Bill Williams", stands in Monument Park, located on the west side of the city. The large mountain directly south of town, Bill Williams Mountain, is also named after the famous mountain man.

The historic Grand Canyon Railway calls Williams home. The locomotive makes daily runs hauling visitors up to the Grand Canyon. The ride is filled with nostalgia, history, and a sort of bygone romance of yesteryear.

Grand Canyon Railroad

The Grand Canyon Railway provides a memorable ride from Williams to the Grand Canyon. It's historic route runs north out of town right to the train depot at the Grand Canyon National Park.

Historic Route 66 runs right through Williams attracting classic car enthusiasts to enjoy the vintage roadway. When the classic highway was completed in Williams in 1926, Williams saw an economic boom as Americans hit the road for adventure.

Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66 in Williams draws visitors from around the world who enjoy the classic cars in the downtown drag in Williams.

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Eric is an assignment editor and content producer with AZ Family-3TV & CBS 5 News. Read more about Eric in his bio.

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