Although Flagstaff was not "officially" established until the 1890s, in 1876 a group of pioneers going through the area raised a U.S. flag up a pine tree here and "flagstaff" was born. The tree became an area attraction. Today Flagstaff is a city of over 60,000. It's location in Northern Arizona, along with its proximity to a number of area attractions, make it a very nice tourist destination. It is also at a high elevation so the summers here are much, much milder than in Phoenix. Flagstaff is the county seat of Coconino County. There are two courthouses in Flagstaff; the old Coconino County Courthouse built in 1884 and a more recent one. The newer one is several blocks away from the old part of town.
There are signs directing you towards the historic old part of Flagstaff. There are trendy shops and restaurants in the area. there are quite a few intersting buildings here both historically and architecturally. Many of them (like the Federal Building built in 1936) are on the National Register of Historic Places. Definitely worth a stroll down the roads.
We finally decided to go up to Mars Hill where the Lowell Observatory is located. It has been at the forefront of astronomical research for 115 years. When we arrived a quarter to 11 AM, it was perfect timing because there was a guided tour to see the facility and the big telescope....this happens every hour until 4PM! Cool!
We were greeted by a nice man with a cheery low voice (Tim I think) and we paid only $6 for adults and kids below 5 year old were free! First thing we did was look through the exhibit for about 10 minutes which explained the different planets and there were also meteor rocks made of hard mettalic iron on display - including the 535 pound Verkamp Meteorite which you can actually touch! Unfortunately, the John V McAllister Space Theater was under repair (I think this was donated by his wife).
With about 10 other people, our guide showed us the grounds and explained the history of the museum and structures in the observatory, showing a reflecting telescope and finally the huge refractory telescope which is still being used at nights for star sightings.
There are evening programs, with telescope viewing and closing times being weather dependent. And there are no weather-related refunds.
There's also a gift shop to buy you space/star-related gifts and toys!
Sometime around 1125, a few decades after the eruption of the Sunset Crater Volcano, the Sinagua (Spanish for Without Water) began to build three different kinds of dwellings (Cliff, cave, and pueblo) all along the Walnut Canyon. They occupied the area until around 1250. The remains of these dwellings, along with the natural and rugged beauty of the canyon itself, are easily accessible from Flagstaff. The exit for Walnut Canyon National Monument is a short 10 miles away at Exit 204 from Interstate 40. For more information about Walnut Canyon National Monument see my page coming soon.
Lowell Observatory was built in 1896 due to the efforts of Percival Lowell, who hoped to prove there was life on Mars. Now it's considered to be one of the major astonomical research facilities in the United States.
We visited in the evening for a program which began at 7:30 p.m. A guide illustrated various constellations and planets in a lecture hall setting. Following this, we moved to the rotunda where we found vintage photos, historical records and read about discoveries at the observatory.
Among the objects on display were:
(picture 2) A portrait of Percival Lowell
(Picture 3) Percival Lowell's first telescope received at the age of 15
(Picture 4) In his efforts to find the perfect location for an observatory, Lowell transported this telescope in two coffin-size boxes
(Picture 5) Lowell's historic 24" Alvan Clark refractor-using a lens created in 1896, which is housed in a building constructed by two bicycle repairmen who claimed they could build anything--which they did in a year's time
The sky was not clear that night, but as the moon clouded over and reappeared numerous times, all who stood in line had an opportunity to view it.
My particular interest in the observatory was that the late Eugene Shoemaker and his wife,Carolyn were associated with it. They, along with another colleague, David Levy, discovered and named a comet which spectacularly careened into Jupiter in 1994. Mrs. Shoemaker continues to be involved with Lowell Observatory.
Daytime hours are Noon-5pm (Nov.Feb.); 9 am-5pm (Mar.-Oct.)
Evening hours are 5:30 pm Wed/Fri/Sat. from Sept.-May. No admissions after 9:30 pm
5:30 pm Mon.-Sat. from June-Aug. No admissions after 10 pm.
Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for ages 5-17 and $5 for student/senior/AAA discount
I grouped these since I only ate at one and had a beer, but there are maybe 20+ restaurants in the historic district. They were all packed with crowds at happy hour. Collins Irish Pub was where I ate and it was an okay burger with fries. The price was $8 and they and a lot of other bar food fare on the menu. Located at 2 N. Leroux St by Rte 66. Most of these eating places are really there for the drinking, and the university crowd is what is mostly down here. May get roudy later on in evening.
For a time from a different era, and one that still brings in the locals, try this bar/restaurant. It was built in 1931 and back then and now is a roadhouse bar and dancehall. Virtually none of the original decor has changed, moved, or been dusted. The place is like going back in time. It is a thrill, though to see all the items put up on the walls, hanging form the ceiling, and the old tree posts for support beams are impressive.
I was not able to go inside, but that disappointment was offset by looking at the magnificent outside facade. The church hours for inside are 9-3. The outside Gothic looking design has statues of gargoyles ringing the roof top. The colorful pick sandstone is a great contrast to the brown limestone rock they used for the base component. This is the third church after the first one was built close by in 1888. Much of the building materials used on that were moved to build this church. This church has been in operation at Beaver & Cherry Sts since 1930. There is a nativity scene on the side and also a gift store for purchases
Downtown structures are all well taken care of and not many vacant. There are some older hotels that have great reputations for elegance, and many restaurants, as well as churches. The old town area is at access of Bus 66 and Beaver Street. It runs 4 blocks long and a depth of 6 blocks. Parking on the street is free for 2 hours, if you can find a spot. The Visitor Center is on Bus 66 at Leroux St intersection and inside the railroad depot. The trains still run here too; 100 a day come through for transport to the west/east as a key artery for goods.
The Hotel Weatherford was build in 1900, and remained the premier place to stay for years. It closed and then became an apartment type community, but after 30 years of renovation, re-opened in 1999. Next to it is a restaurant called Charley's Grill and Charley's Pub, a popular place for youth to hang out. Free snacks at happy hours.
The history of this family named Riordan is interesting, and has a lot of involvement in the development of the city. Matt Riordan-pronounced Reardon-came out to Flagstaff to be a general manager for a lumber operation owned by E.E. Ayer in 1884. Lumber became a thriving business because of all the pine trees in the area and the railroad ran through the town for good transport. Two brothers came out to help Matt run the business, and by 1887, he had bought the lumber mill operation.
It continued to grow, and in 1904, they used some of the wealth to build this home, mostly all from the local woods they cut at the mill. The territory got Statehood and Michael became a Legislator, and the other brothers donated a lot of time to building up the town and also a dam for water source; Lake Mary. In 1933, the mill was sold, and eventually family members moved on. In 1980's they donated this home to Flagstaff to be an Arizona State park. It is 13,000 square feet, with both sides having the same architectural design and the middle connector is a 1,000 SF recreation and meeting room. The home had all the new features of the time, and was considered modern in that aspect. Is was designed by Charles Whittelsey, who also designed the El Tovar hotel in Grand CAnyon. The home has had a lot of work done on it, and the State may be forced to close it soon due to the economic times. That would be sad because this tour is well presented and a unique opportunity for us today to see how upscale lifestyle was like in early 1900's. Entrance fee is $6 and times are 9-4. Reservations are recommended since they only take 15-20 visitors at a time slot.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Hans and I last visited Grand Canyon thirteen years ago, in 1996, when we did a road trip with Hans' sister Nel and husband Jean.
We made a return visit to GRAND CANYON on our "Road Trip 2009".
Starting out from our motel in Flagstaff, we made our way along Highway 180 and then on to Hwy 64 and the Park's south entrance station. We paid our $25.00 US entry fee (good for seven days). Our receipt recorded us as arriving at 9:54 a.m.
First stop was the "Grand Canyon Visitor Center" which is also the location of the IMAX Theater ($12.00 US admittance fee).
Our first stop was Mather Point (7120 feet elevation). We backtracked west to Yavapai Point and then continued on Desert View Drive to Grandview Point.
As it was now past 1:30 p.m. and we were getting hungry, it was lunch time. We looked for a Picnic Area and found a lovely spot with a table sitting in the bright sunshine. It was such a quiet and peaceful spot. The only sound you heard was the soft wind blowing through the trees. Not even sight or sound of any little critters scurrying about. I thought I would at least see a squirrel or little chipmunk.
After our Picnic lunch, we headed for Moran Point (7160 feet elevation) which in my opinion is the most beautiful view, with the sight of the mighty Colorado River winding its way through the Canyon below.
Next was Lipan Point (7360 feet elevation) and finally Desert View (7438 feet elevation). We finished our day at about 6:00 p.m. A full day indeed and such a wonderful experience.
The canyon rim lies at 6,690 ft; the canyon's floor is 350 ft lower. A 0.9 mi long loop trail descends 185 ft into the canyon passing 25 cliff dwelling rooms constructed by the Sinagua people.
Most of the cliff dwelling rooms are situated near the loop trail, typically slightly above the trail and immediately outside the loop itself. A typical room might have been the dwelling of a single family, and might measure approximately two meters high by six meters long by three meters deep.
There are many more dwellings to be seen up close in the canyon just east of the Monument, although it is illegal to actually enter the canyon.
Walnut Canyon was proclaimed a national monument on November 30, 1915. It was transferred from the USDA Forest Service to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the national monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
The site was formerly known as the Canyon Diablo Crater, and scientists generally refer to it as Barringer Crater in honor of Daniel Barringer who was first to suggest that it was produced by meteorite impact. The crater is privately owned by the Barringer family via their Barringer Crater Company. The owners of the Crater proclaim it to be "the first proven, best-preserved meteorite crater on earth."
Meteor Crater lies at an elevation of about 5709 ft above sea level. It is about 4,000 ft in diameter, some 570 ft deep and is surrounded by a rim that rises 150 ft above the surrounding plains. The center of the crater is filled with 700 to 800 ft of rubble lying above crater bedrock. One of the interesting features of the crater is its squared-off outline, believed to be caused by pre-existing regional jointing (cracks) in the strata at the impact site.
Tje Hopi House building is located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, within Grand Canyon National Park in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is part of the Grand Canyon Village Historic District, and is part of the Mary Jane Colter Buildings National Historic Landmark.
Colter planned Hopi House as a sort of living museum, in which Hopi Indians could live while making and selling traditional crafts. The structure was based on Colter's interpretation of the Hopi dwelling at Oraibi, Arizona. A variety of interior spaces provided museum, sales and demonstration space. It is one of six buildings at the Grand Canyon that were designed by architect Mary Colter, along with Bright Angel Lodge, Hermit's Rest, Lookout Studio, Phantom Ranch, and Desert View Watchtower.
We and millions of people saw the 1 mile deep Grand Canyon. We stayed in Flagstaff and drove along the road to overlooks along the South Rim this includes Grand Canyon Village, Hermits Rest, and Desert View. We got out of our car numerous times to enjoy the breathtaking views.
The Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site, encompasses 1,218,375 acres and lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona. The land is semi-arid and consists of raised plateaus and structural basins typical of the southwestern United States. Drainage systems have cut deeply through the rock, forming numerous steep-walled canyons. Forests are found at higher elevations while the lower elevations are comprised of a series of desert basins.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It offers an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, a rich and diverse fossil record, a vast array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing extensive and significant geological, paleontological, archeological and biological resources. It is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The Canyon, incised by the Colorado River, is immense, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 15 miles at its widest. However, the significance of Grand Canyon is not limited to its geology.
The Park contains several major ecosystems. Its great biological diversity can be attributed to the presence of five of the seven life zones and three of the four desert types in North America. The five life zones represented are the Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian. This is equivalent to traveling from Mexico to Canada. The Park also serves as an ecological refuge, with relatively undisturbed remnants of dwindling ecosystems. It is home to numerous rare and specially protected plant and animal species. Over 1,500 plant, 355 bird, 89 mammalian, 47 reptile, 9 amphibian, and 17 fish species are found in the park.