…and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads, 66 is the mother road, the road of flight.
– John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath
Few individuals have been more responsible for the American image of the old west than Zane Grey. An Ohio native, Grey was a skilled baseball player and went to the University of Pennsylvania on a scholarship for the sport. There he studied dentistry and eventually started a practice in New York. But it wasn’t long before he abandoned his trade and took up writing.
Over the course of 40 years, Grey wrote some 90 books. While he eventually made his home in Southern California, Grey traveled often through Flagstaff and kept a cabin near Payson that overlooked the Mogollon Rim, where he stayed several weeks out of the year. Grey traveled most of the year and returned home to pursue writing.
His stories focused on the conquest of the old west and the idea of manifest destiny. Grey, who wrote during the early 20th century, was criticized by some for romanticizing the west by creating unrealistic and larger than life characters. Yet after his early best-seller, “Riders of the Purple Sage,” Grey became a household name and his novels would cast the western genre.
1) The planet Pluto (or not-planet… whatever floats your boat) was discovered at Lowell Observatory by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Many locals (me included) still call Pluto a planet because hey, we were proud of it. But that’s besides the point.
2) It’s 6,910ft above sea level, making it the 20th highest altitude city in the USA.
3) The city’s name, Flagstaff, comes from the wooden staff that the founders planted to claim the land, and which is still planted on top of our city hall. If you look up to the top of the building, you can see the pole is in fact a wooden staff.
4) Probably the coolest city ever. The locals are culturally diverse, accepting, easy-going, helpful, tree-hugging, pot-smoking, shoeless, unwashed hippies, as well as college students, retired couples, health/fitness freaks, yoga people, artists, dancers, musicians, jocks, cheerleaders, braniacs, hikers, spirit guides, sk8ters, emos, goths, and generally cheerful people.
Flagstaff (Navajo: Kinłání Dookʼoʼoosłííd Biyaagi, Havasupai: Wii Hagnbaj or Wii Baggwa) is a city located in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2012, the city’s estimated population was 67,468. The combined metropolitan area of Flagstaff has a population 114,568. It is the county seat of Coconino County. The city is named after a Ponderosa Pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston (known as the “Second Boston Party”) to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.
Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, along the western side of the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the continental United States. Flagstaff is located adjacent to Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona. Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m), is located about 10 miles (16 km) north of Flagstaff in Kachina Peaks Wilderness.
Flagstaff’s early economy was based on the lumber, railroad, and ranching industries. Today, the city remains an important distribution hub for companies such as Nestlé Purina PetCare and Walgreens, and is home to Lowell Observatory, The U.S. Naval Observatory, the United States Geological Survey Flagstaff Station, and Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater, and historic Route 66. The city is also a center for medical device manufacturing, since Flagstaff is home to W. L. Gore and Associates.
PHOTOS OF FLAGSTAFF AZ. OVER A PERIOD OF ELEVEN YEARS