History of Sedona

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This heavenly location is a tourist haven, offering spacious panoramic views like no other. At an elevation of 4,500 feet, the average year-round temperature is about 74 degrees, avoiding the extremes of neighboring cities Flagstaff and Phoenix. Appealing to visitors from all over the world, this is the second most popular attraction in Arizona, right behind the Grand Canyon National Park.

Sedonas earliest history was written upon the face of the land with tremendous earthly upheavals, intense heat and incredible elemental force. The entire Verde Valley was once covered by seas, and the withdrawal of these waters created dynamic earthly changes. Erosion and time have designed fanciful rock formations in memorable hues of red and orange which erupt in vivid color at days end.

The earliest human remnants were left by ancient peoples referred to as the Desert Culture, from which sprang the Anasazi and Hohokam groups among others. Anasazi is a Navajo name, which when translated means "the ancient ones who are not us." Some researchers believe that the Hopi tribe, which currently reside on mesas farther north and east, are direct descendants of this culture. Research suggests that the Hopi may, in fact, have originated from the Anasazi group.

The Sinagua, whose Spanish name means "without water", were a hardy agrarian society who dry farmed and traded extensively in the area from about 1100-1400 AD. Commerce was not limited to nearby tribes, but flourished as a hub, trading with groups from the Pacific coastal regions as well as from South America. Salt and copper were major exported items, while imported products included exotic bird feathers from South America and shells from the West Coast. There are indications that point to many tribes putting aside differences for celebrations and religious ceremonies which took place in this region.

Traces of these ancient civilizations can be found hidden in the remains of the great pueblos which once housed them. The Palatki ruin, constructed by the Sinagua and located between Sedona and Clarkdale, offers glimpses of the past depicted through charcoal rock drawings of snakes and Kokopelli. Researchers believe that some of these pictographs were actually the identifying symbols of a particular family or clan. It is believed that as many as 50 people may have once resided in these two pueblos. Honanki, another nearby Sinaguan ruin, held as many as 60 rooms and the structure quality is considered "world-class."

Southeast of Sedona you'll find Montezumas Castle and nearby Montezumas Well, fabulous examples of cliff dwellings which were also built by the Sinagua people in the same time period. The area was originally occupied by the Hohokam, who farmed the bottomland using a unique irrigation system, which extended for more than a mile from the fresh springs of Montezumas Well.

When the volcanic ash remains from an eruption farther north drew the Hohokam to more fertile lands, the Sinagua people settled in. Many changes took place for the people at this point; some theorize that they borrowed masonry techniques from the Anasazi to the north, building above ground dwellings for the first time. The Sinagua also began using the irrigation techniques of the Hohokam. Early in the 15th century, these people vanished from the area for reasons that remain a mystery.

These early cultures left traces etched and painted on the surfaces of immoveable rocks. These renderings are referred to as "rock art" and consist of petroglyphs, which are designs etched or scratched into the rock, as well as pictographs, where symbols are painted or drawn on. Canyon walls are also decorated with the artistic creations of these people. One Anasazi figure believed to represent fertility repeats throughout Pueblo Indian ruins in the four corners region and is called "Kokopelli." This image appears as a humpbacked flute player and is a common figure found on local pottery and jewelry. Native American stories describe him as a traveling musician and scoundrel, who carried blankets, babies and seeds in his back with which he used to seduce maidens.

Unfortunately, many of these images have become damaged by visitors who do not realize how fragile and important they are. Oils from the skin will attract dirt and actually damage the pigments on the rock, so its vital to look, but don't touch. Some visitors have inscribed walls with their own initials, permanently defacing the remains. Local forestry service workers are responsible for the protection of these remains, and anyone who damages these ruins may pay a fee of up to $100,000. Please leave any visited areas the way you found them so that others may also discover and enjoy them.

Europeans first arrived in this region in 1583, with a group of Spanish explorers, in search of legendary native mines in the 16th century.

By the early 20th century there were about 20 families squatting here, and one of these first settlers was T.C. Schnebly and his wife. Schnebly recognized the need for mail service and petitioned the first post office, recommending several names. After his suggested names were rejected by the Postmaster General due to their length, Schneblys brother suggested that he use his wifes first name, at which point the area officially became Sedona.

Abundant apples and peaches were Sedonas first industry, soon to be surpassed by tourism as awareness of the areas breathtaking panorama increased. Artists, including Max Ernst and others, started moving into the area by the middle of the 20th century, drawn like magnets by the regions dramatic scenery and incomparable views.

Dramatic colors, scenery and open spaces scream to be captured and recorded on film. More than 70 movies were filmed in this area over the years. More than 40 of these were filmed at A Territorial House, a local bed and breakfast. Red Rock Crossings film history includes many titles like the 1950s Broken Arrow, starring James Stewart and Johnny Guitar with Joan Crawford.

Most recently, tourism accounts largely for the local economic base. The U.S. Forestry service has estimated that about four million visitors enjoy the red rocks region annually. Fine dining, artwork and incomparable views attract discerning travelers.

Major visitor attractions here include four Energy Vortexes which are purported to have spiritual healing properties. Visitors the world over come to experience the power which emanates from the red earth in four specific areas. These points include Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, Table-top Mountain and the mystical Cathedral Rock. Local psychics and healers offer guidance and support while you climb the ladder of spiritual growth and centering.

Choose to listen to the quiet whisperings of the past as you gaze at ancient ruins, or raise your awareness in the throes of spiritual energies at the vortexes. Certainly you'll be altered forever by the quiet unfolding drama of the canyon and creek below, and from ebullient colors which shout and echo from the rocks above.