Prescott is in central Arizona amid the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world. The community is 96 miles northwest of Phoenix and 90 miles southwest of Flagstaff at an elevation of 5,400 feet.
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Prescott was established in 1864, incorporated in 1881, and is the Yavapai County seat. The city is named in honor of William Hickling Prescott, a noted historian.
Commercial businesses are popping up in every direction
with a heavy concentration along Highway 69. A planned new
downtown, regional shopping center, and cross-town highway
will offer a variety of new opportunities over the next few years.
Prescott is in central Arizona amid the largest stand of
Ponderosa Pine in the world. The community is 96 miles northwest
of Phoenix and 90 miles southwest of Flagstaff at an elevation
of 5,400 feet. Prescott was established in 1864, incorporated
in 1881, and is the Yavapai County seat. The city is named
in honor of William Hickling Prescott, a noted historian.
Since Prescott’s founding as the first Territorial Capital of
Arizona and the establishment of nearby Fort Whipple, government
has been a dominant sector in Prescott’s economy.
Prescott is the headquarters of the Prescott National Forest with
an annual payroll of nearly $5 million. Other major government
employers are: Arizona Department of Transportation, the
Veterans Administration Center of Fort Whipple, Yavapai
County, the City of Prescott and the Prescott Public Schools.
The fastest growing sector of the Prescott-area economy is manufacturing.
Caradon Better-Bilt employs approximately 530, and
other plants in the area are Sturm-Ruger, Quality Plastics of
Prescott Inc., Ace Hardware Inc. (regional distribution center),
and Printpack Inc.
Cattle and sheep ranching are the main agricultural activities
with grazing lands in the Prescott National Forest under paid
permit, as well as on privately owned land. The Arizona Crop
and Livestock Reporting Service indicates 50,000 head
of cattle in Yavapai County.
Mining activity is significant in the Prescott area. Cyprus-Bagdad
Corporation maintains a large open-pit copper mine, concentrator
and electrolytic refinery in Bagdad, 66 miles west of Prescott.
Thirty church-affiliated camps and one private summer camp,
Friendly Pines are very significant to the Prescott economy.
Prescott is rich in historic and scenic attractions. Sharlot Hall
Museum and the Smoky Museum contain an array of pioneer
and Indian artifacts, which provide the real flavor of the Old West
and preserve the Southwest Indian culture.
Nearby recreational opportunities include Thumb Butte,
Prescott’s outstanding landmark; scenic drives, such as the
Senator Highway, and the Prescott National Forest, which contains
more than 1.2 million acres of land. A number of lakes are
within the immediate vicinity, including Lynx, Granite Basin,
Watson and Goldwater. Major annual events include Territorial
Days, Bluegrass Festival, and All-Indian Pow Wow in June; the
Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo and Celebration held over the
Fourth of July; the George Phippen Art Show on Memorial Day
weekend; the County Fair and the Faire on the Square in
September; and the Christmas Parade and Courthouse Lighting
Things To Do
Prescott National Forest
Prescott National Forest is located about 70 air miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, contains approximately 1,237,000 acres, and is composed of two distinct divisions. The eastern portion of the Forest, which forms the headwaters of the Verde River (sections of this river have been designated as a component of the Wild and Scenic River System), is bordered on the north by the Kaibab National Forest, on the east by the Coconino National Forest, and on the south by the Tonto National Forest. The western portion of the Forest, which includes the Bradshaw and Santa Maria mountain ranges, is separated from the eastern portion by a broad patchwork of state, private, and other Federal lands. It forms the southern and western boundaries of the town of Prescott, the first capital of the territory of Arizona. From Prescott, US highway 89 and alt 89 north, provide quick access to the forest.
The Sharlot Hall Museum
The Sharlot Hall Museum opened in 1927. The museum was the created by Sharlot M. Hall. She was a poet and one-time state historian, who had a strong love for recounting the past. Her collections and artifacts can be seen inside the museum.
The museum sits on three acres with the main building being the 1864 Governor’s Mansion. The Governor’s Mansion was created for John N. Goodwin, who was Arizona ’s first governor. The mansion has furnishings that represent the period. Visitors will also see historic buildings built between 1864 and 1937. Fort Misery is one of several period buildings. It was the first cabin built in Prescott. The John C. Fremont House was built in 1875. This house was used during the fifth territorial governor’s term. The William C. Bashford House was built in 1877. It shows the Victorian style of the times.
There are two halls that hold exhibits describing the history of Prescott and other historical events. The transportation hall has many forms of transportation. You will see horse drawn vehicles, bicycles, and cars. The Museum has a garden, amphitheater and a gift shop.
Admission t the museum is by donation only. The suggested donation is $4.00 for adults or $5.00 for a family. Children are free. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 to 5:00 pm during the months of April through October. It is open Monday through Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 during the rest of the year. It is closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is located at 415 West Gurley Street, in downtown Prescott just two blocks west of the Courthouse Plaza on Gurley Street. If you are interested, call 520-445-3122.
Sharlot Hall Museum is the perfect first stop to make when arriving in town. The museum gives you a look back in time to when Prescott first began and Arizona started to grow.
It is believed that Indians would hide out in the Granite Dells. Some artifacts have been found to substantiate these claims. The scenic Granite Dells are giant boulders that have weathered over time into interesting forms and shapes.
In the 1920’s and on through the 1950’s, the Granite Dells Resort lured many visitors to the area. Today rock climbers enjoy taking a shot at these challenging rock formations.
You can get to the Granite Dells from Prescott by taking U.S. Highway 89 north out of town for approximately four miles.
Yavapai-Prescott Indian Reservation
Yavapai-Prescott Indian Reservation is north of and adjacent to the City of Prescott. Today, there are 147 enrolled tribal members of whom approximately 115 live on the
reservation. The 1,395-acre reservation is the same elevation as
From prehistoric times, the Yavapai lived as hunters and gatherers
practicing occasional agriculture on over 9 million acres of central
and western Arizona. The three primary groups of Yavapai maintained
good relationships with each other and are now located at
Ft. McDowell, Camp Verde, and Prescott. The Yavapai are known for
weaving excellent baskets, which are displayed in many museums.
A Yavapai Indian Culture Center is planned to preserve the culture
of the Yavapai Tribe.
In an effort to ensure economic security and jobs for its members,
the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe has developed a portion of its reservation.
The Prescott Resort and Conference Center is a 162-room
resort with gaming. Across from the entrance to the hotel are additional
gaming facilities, a smoke shop, service station, convenience
market and a regional shopping center anchored by Wal-Mart and
Target retail stores.
The tribe also has an industrial park, with 17 lots for lease. The lots
are serviced by electricity, gas, sewer and water on the site. They
will accommodate buildings ranging in size from 5,000 square feet
to 50,000 square feet.
Several hundred acres on the reservation has been closed to development
to maintain its natural beauty. The reservation is a beautiful
site from which to enjoy the attractions of Prescott.
Sharlot Hall Museum and the Smoky Museum in Prescott contain an
array of pioneer and Indian artifacts which provide the flavor of the
Old West and aspects of Southwest Indian culture.
Scenic drives include the Senator Highway and the Prescott
National Forest, which covers more than 1.2 million acres. In the
area are numerous lakes such as Lynx, Willow, Granite Basin,
Watson and Goldwater. Hiking, fishing, bird watching, and hunting
are popular activities. The tribe hosts an annual Intertribal powwow in June.
Joe Walker was the first person to discover gold near Prescott. In 1963, members of the Walker party were the first white campers on Granite Creek. As word spread about the gold, others came. This drew the attention of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln decided to make Arizona a territory for two reasons. He needed a source of funding for the Civil War and he wanted to undermine the Confederates that were heading toward the west. On February 24, 1863, Congress passed a bill creating the Territory of Arizona.
It took three months for the appointed governor, Governor John N. Goodwin to arrive in Arizona. During the journey, it was decided that arriving in Tucson to set up the capital would not be beneficial, because it was rumored that there were Confederate sympathizers in Tucson. The group changed course and headed to Fort Whipple, just north of Prescott in Chino Valley.
Later, the Fort moved to Granite Creek and so the capital moved with it. This was a time when the town began to grow. The town name also changed from Granite to Prescott. Prescott was named after the historian William Hickling Prescott in 1864. The first house was established. It was used as a courthouse and as the residence for the judge. Eventually, it became a boarding house. The house was known as Fort Misery. Prescott grew quickly. Prescott was known as the town almost completely built of wood and inhabited mostly by Americans. These two facts made it a unique town in the west.
Then in 1867, the capital moved to Tucson.
Prescott had lost the mines. It was also having difficulty with the high cost of transportation of supplies to and from town, due to the Indians hostility. Soon the introduction of machinery and other modern methods of mining produced more gold mines. By 1873, many mines were springing up around Prescott. This surge in popularity caused the capital to be moved back to Prescott, but only temporarily. Finally, in 1889, the capital was permanently established in Phoenix after much discussion and debate.
During this time the population rose. Many new businesses arrived in town. One of the most popular was the saloon. There were nearly 20 saloons in town. The area was named “Whiskey Row”. Then disaster struck in 1900 when a fire tore through town. The fire burned down most of Whiskey Row and part of the capital’s wall. Nevertheless, the businesses had set up shop in front of their burned out shops the very next day.
Today you will still find many older Victorian styled homes lining the streets of the town. There are many homes and business listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You will discover pieces of its past alive today.