Below you will find interesting facts, trivia and information for tour escorts to share with passengers. If your group would like customized escort notes, contact Joyce at JLingenfelter@flagstaffaz.gov.
Located in Coconino County, Arizona
Population as of 2010: 65,870
Elevation 7,000 feet/ 2,100 meters
Situated at the base of the San Francisco Peaks which rise up to 12,633 feet/3,851 meters
The San Francisco Peaks – named after St. Francis of Assisi by the Franscisan Friars in 1629. Comprised of three major peaks: Mt. Humphreys (the highest peak in the State at 12,633 feet), Agassiz, Fremont and three lesser peaks: Aubineau, Rees and Doyle. The peaks are formed from one volcanic peak that erupted periodically over 2 million years ago. The volcano is now extinct. The Peaks are considered sacred by all of the Native tribes in Northern Arizona.
Flagstaff earliest beginning came about as a road was built through the area between 1857 and 1860. The road, known as the Beale Road, was funded by the Federal Government to transverse the newly created Arizona Territory. People used this road in wagons and on horseback on their way to California.
During the first year of the roads construction a group of emigrants from Boston on the way to California set up camp alongside a natural spring. It was July 4, 1876 and the Centennial celebration of America’s Independence Day. To celebrate the group erected a pine tree trunk as a staff and raised an American flag. The group moved on but the staff and the flag remained. Over the years groups traveling the Beale Road knew of a good stopping point at the “flag staff”.
The area surrounding the “flag staff” remained very isolated until 1880 when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad began to lay track connecting Albuquerque to California. To provide supplies to the railroad workers a town was established in 1881 that was named Flagstaff with a population of approximately 200.
Early in its history, Flagstaff’s economy was based on timber, sheep ranching and the railroad. Today, education and tourism are the area’s top industries.
Route 66 was established in 1926, connecting Chicago to Santa Monica. Flagstaff’s economy grew to include motels and restaurants for travelers on the “mother road”.
Tourism took root in Flagstaff in 1892 when the Grand Canyon Stage Coach line was established. The trip took 11 hours (one-way) at a cost of $20.00. Today over 5 million people travel to the Grand Canyon via train, bus and automobile. However, the ride from Flagstaff by car is now substantially shorter at 90 minutes.
Flagstaff is home to Northern Arizona University. Founded in 1899 as Northern Arizona Normal School, the school offered high school diplomas and teaching certificates. Today, university today offers Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral degrees with an enrollment of over 17,000 students. NAU plays an important role in the lives of Flagstaff residents as the community’s largest employer. NAU additionally enhances the community with a variety of fine arts, theater and sporting events.
On October 24th, 2001, the City of Flagstaff became the world’s first “International Dark Sky City.” The designation was awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a nearly 10,000 member tax-exempt non-profit organization dedicated to building awareness of the problems of light pollution as it affects astronomy and the public, and to promote quality outdoor lighting.
As home to two world-class observatories, Lowell Observatory and the Naval Observatory, Flagstaff has long understood the importance of keeping light pollution at bay. The nation’s first lighting ordinance was put into effect here in 1958.
Fun Flagstaff Facts:
- Flagstaff is located in the largest ponderosa pine forest in North America.
- It has never reached 100 degrees in Flagstaff – average summer temperature is 80.
- Named Top Adventure Town in Arizona – National Geographic Adventure Sept 2007
- Best Towns in America – Outside Magazine August 2007
- Sitting at an altitude of 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is higher than the Mile High City – Denver.
- Flagstaff is the county seat of the second largest county in the United States.
1060 Sunset Crater erupts.
1060-? Sinagua culture thrives on land enriched by Sunset Crater eruption. The remainders of their civilization are now Wupatki National Monument.
1540 Spanish Explorer Coronado travels through the area in search of the Seven Cities of Gold.
1846 Begins the Mexican-American War. After the war, the U.S. takes possession of most of what is now called Arizona.
1859 The Beale Wagon Road, which passed through Flagstaff, is completed. This allowed thousands of pioneers to travel between California and the East.
1881 Flagstaff’s first post office is built and the town’s name becomes official.
1882 The nation’s third transcontinental railroad reaches Flagstaff.
1891 Coconino County is formed as part of the Arizona Territory and Flagstaff is named the county seat.
1894 Flagstaff becomes home to Lowell Observatory.
1895 Coconino County Courthouse construction completed. The building is still standing in downtown Flagstaff.
1899 Northern Arizona Normal School founded in Flagstaff. It would eventually become Northern Arizona University.
1900 The first public census taken in Flagstaff counts 1,271 residents.
1928 The Museum of Northern Arizona is founded as a repository of Native American artifacts and natural history specimens.
1930 The planet Pluto is discovered by astronomers working at Lowell Observatory.
1938 The Snowbowl ski area opens on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks. It was served by one towrope, which was powered by an automobile engine.
1990 Restoration of downtown Flagstaff begins when members of the Babbitt family repurchase the old Babbitt Building on the corner of Aspen and San Francisco streets.