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Author Archives: Susan Olberding

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First automobile trip to the Grand Canyon

First automobile trip to the Grand Canyon

First automobile trip to the Grand Canyon People eager to see the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in 1901 traveled however they could — by foot, wagon, horse, a rollicking stage ride and railroad. Just four months after the train arrived at the South Rim, the first automobile departed Flagstaff on Saturday afternoon Jan. 4, 1902, with many townspeople present to watch, cheer and jeer.

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Highway 180: A Timeless Trail

Highway 180: A Timeless Trail

The mostly two-lane U.S. Highway 180 travels through historic, scenic and scientific regions in northern Arizona. The highway winds through Texas and New Mexico before reaching the eastern border of Arizona where it generally follows ancient paths and wagon roads that connected small communities and water sources.

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‘…Going Sketching Now, Will Write Again Soon…’

The above quote is from artist Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton in a letter to her mother in Philadelphia. Colton was among the Eastern born and trained artists who relocated to Arizona in the early 20th century to experience for themselves the surreal colors in the ever-changing panorama of Arizona landscapes, the native peoples, and regional uniqueness. Their painting canvases attempted to capture what they saw. Some stayed only briefly while others remained for their lifetimes.

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Locating Lowell

Locating Lowell

Flagstaff was but 12 years old in 1894 and still struggling to exist, but the rough town became a topic of international attention when an eminent New Englander arrived to scout possible locations to establish an observatory. The opening of Lowell Observatory was the first of several major scientific organizations to locate in the town that was already well-known to scientists and explorers for its unique attributes.

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A forest by any other name

A forest by any other name

The July 3, 1908, edition of Flagstaff’s Coconino Sun announced: “The San Francisco Mtns and Grand Canyon(South) National Forests have been consolidated under the name of the Coconino Nation(al) Forest. While this will be confusing for a few years, it will greatly simplify the work of the Supervisor’s office.”

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Veit Springs: A Home on the Mountain

An early resident in the Flagstaff area was German Ludwig Veit (pronounced Wait) who homesteaded at 8,500 feet on a slope of Mt. Agassiz, one of the peaks of San Francisco Mountain. He received a patent to the 160-acre parcel in 1891. Two springs and a relatively flat area to farm prompted Veit to select the unlikely spot where he and his family lived for two decades. Their nearest human neighbors were five miles away in Hart Prairie or Fort Valley, many of whom were also of German descent. The property then became a bird study area and later, the Lamar Haines Memorial Environmental Study Area.

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Bringing Water to the South Rim

Common sense dictates that settlement near the south rim of the Grand Canyon should never have occurred, as the area lacks a permanent groundwater supply. As part of the Coconino Plateau, the rim slopes away from the canyon toward the southwest and precipitation drains away from the edge of the gorge. Yet the mystique and splendor of the Grand Canyon have always drawn adventurers and the curious, which ultimately led to the establishment of a community known as Grand Canyon Village.

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