Sedona Area Historical Sites

Sedona Arizona is one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Although it is particularly famed for red rock cliffs, buttes and eerie formations, there is much more to Sedona than staring at the views and hiking the areas numerous trails. The area is loaded with historic sites, art galleries and, even wineries. And don’t forget the restaurants.

While this article focuses on some of the Sedona Area’s Historical Sites, other articles in this series looks at:

·Sedona Area hikes and Sights;

· Sedona Area Restaurants;

· Sedona Area Art Galleries; and

· Sedona Area Wineries.


Sedona Historical Sites

Montezuma Castle National Monument. One of the many, and by far best preserved Sinaqua settlement in the valley around Oak Creek. The highlight and primary focus of the park is the five-story, 35 family dwelling dug out of a cliff face. Exhibits explain the history of and the mystery of abandonment of the community. We were lucky to arrive just as a ranger was about to begin a very good talk that explained the people and the different theories as to why they built their village in such a difficult location. And why and how it disappeared. As for the first question, the reason for building high up a cliff face probably had less to do with security than on protection from floods, natural air conditioning and possibly even the views. Where did they go? Temperature and rainfall estimates suggest that the evacuation may have been largely attributable to years of high heat and especially drought that cut into all their food sources. And what happened to the people of the village? DNA tests suggest that they just melted into other communities in other locations throughout southwest.

Montezuma dwellingsMontezuma remnants

Tuzigoot National Monument. Another Sinaqua settlement in the Verde Valley. This one, however, was built in the pueblo style, with rooms added, as needed, on top of a hilltop that provided 360-degree views. The restored ruins provide a good feel for how the community used to look and the visitor’s center, with its displays of minerals (that the inhabitants mined and traded), pottery and tools showed how they lived.

Tuzigoot ruins-gTuzigoot museum

Palatki Heritage Site. These ruins, which require reservations, were fascinating. Although the unrestored Sinagua cliff dwellings were relatively small (originally housing 40-60 people), the cliffs were among the most beautiful we have seen on the area. The highlights, however, were two caverns, a short distance from the dwellings, that were covered with petroglyphs (which are carved into the stone) and especially pictoglyphs (which are drawn) created by Sinagua, Yavapai, Hopi and Apaches over a1,000-year period. Then there was the 100-year old name of one of the valley’s early Western settlers and a one-room cave dwelling build by an early 20th century resident. The guides, all of whom are volunteers, are wonderful, bringing the history alive with detailed speculation as to when each was created and what they are likely to represent, including one that shows aspiring figure atop a horse–something the natives could not have visualized before the first Spanish arrival. And, as shown in our blog on Sedona Area Hikes and Sights, the site has also has some of the most beautiful red rock formations in the Sedona area.

Palatki mtns-vg (2)Palatki ruins-distance-gPalatki glyph-animals-vgPalatki glyph-g

Jerome. The town of Jerome, which was built into the side of a mountain, was created as a mining camp in 1883. It was incorporated into a town in 1889, after the founding of mine that would end up producing more than $1 billion worth of copper, gold and silver during its 70 years in operation. The town’s fortune paralleled that of the mines. The boom town, which was known as "the wickedest town in the West" in the early 1900’s, grew to more than 15,000 people by 1929, before beginning to fade as the price of copper plummeted during the recession, resulting in a three-year closing of the mines. While they prospered during the war, the mines closed for good in 1953. By the end of the decade, the population had plummeted to 50 and the brick and masonry buildings were on the verge of becoming a large ghost town. The turnaround began in 1976. Buildings have been renovated, artists and restaurants moved in the population grew back to 500–not counting the roughly 1 million tourists per year that are drawn to the town’s scenery, history (a state historical park, mining museum and historic plaques on dozens of restored buildings). A fun day trip from Sedona, especially when combined with a wine tasting stop in historic downtown Cottonwood.

Jerome-distance-gJerome town-gmining museum-g

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