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Arizona Flag - Legends of the High Desert IconARIZONA LEGENDS

Flagstaff - City of Seven Wonders

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Flagstaff Arizona Postcard

Flagstaff Vintage Postcard



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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.

Old Town Flagstaff, 1882How 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 to Flagstaff 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.


Walnut Canyon Indian Ruins

Walnut Canyon Indian Ruins, courtesy American Southwest


When the area locals began to frequent the nearby Indian ruins, now encompassed within Walnut Canyon National Monument, Michael Riordan took a major interest. As word of the ruins spread, an alarming scale of looting and destruction began to occur there. In no time at all, the newly formed Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce denounced the mutilation of the cliff dwellings. However, no formal steps were taken to protect the ruins until they became part of the San Francisco Mountain Forest Preserve in 1904.


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.


Another one of Flagstaff's early influential citizens was a man named John Weatherford who built the Hotel Weatherford, opened on January 1, 1900. This old hotel has welcomed both presidents and gunslingers from the Wild West and continues to operate today after extensive restoration. In 1911, he opened the Majestic Opera House, which showed Flagstaff residents their first movies. Unfortunately in the wee hours of January 1, 1915, the Majestic House’s roof and walls collapsed under 61 inches of snow. Not to be deterred, Weatherford rebuilt a bigger and better theater, The Orpheum, which opened its doors in August, 1917. Today, the Orpheum Theater is a Flagstaff landmark and continues to entertain a new generation of Flagstaff residents and visitors.




Continued Next Page

Hotel Weatherford in the early 1900s

Hotel Weatherford in the early 1900s. Orpheum Theater

is to the right. Photo courtesy Cline Library, Northern

Arizona University


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From Legends' General Store

History-Travel Tech - See hundreds of historic documents and travel videos on DVD and CD. From vintage films, to antique book collections, historic maps, old time radio shows, and more, there is something here for every history buff. From the American Revolution to the Civil War an onward to the Atomic Age; from Native Americans to American Presidents; from Oregon to Florida, and everything in between, you're sure find something you will enjoy or will be the perfect gift. These products can be very useful for geneology research, home-schooling, historical fact finding, and just pure entertainment.


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