Coconino County, carved out of Yavapai County, was created by the 16th Territorial Assembly in1891. That same year, an election was held to determine the permanent county seat. Flagstaff, which had been designated the temporary county seat, won out over Williams by a vote of 419 to 97.Flagstaff, home of Northern Arizona University, remains the county seat. The original county courthouse, with additions, is still in use. Coconino County lies in the central region of northern Arizona, which was crossed by Spanish expeditions during the16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and by fur trappers and traders in the 1820s and1830s. Cattle and sheep ranching started in the 1870s, and when the railroad began serving the area a decade later, the lumber business boomed.
The county is a year-round Mecca for outdoor activities. With 18,608 square miles, Coconino is the second largest county in the United States and the largest in Arizona, but is one of the most sparsely populated. It is characterized by rugged mountains, deep canyons and thick forests of pine, spruce, piñon, aspen and oak. Within its borders are many scenic sites – the most popular and impressive is Grand Canyon National Park. Other attractions are Oak Creek Canyon, Sunset Crater National Monument, prehistoric Indian ruins at Wupatki, Walnut Canyon, the Navajo National Monument, the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona’s highest point at 12,633 feet, and Lake Powell, with 1,960 miles of shoreline. Indian reservations comprise 38.1 percent of the land and are home to the Navajo, Hopi, Paiute, Havasupai and Hualapai tribes. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management control32.3 percent of the land; the state of Arizona owns 9.5 percent; other public lands comprise 6.8percent; and the remaining 13.3 percent is owned by individuals or corporations. Most of the city of Flagstaff is an Enterprise Zone.