Monday, September 7, 2020

Flagstaff, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

It's Labor Day in the United States and my husband and I have escaped the Phoenix heat to Flagstaff, Arizona, located in Northern Arizona.

Flagstaff lies at the base of the highest mountain range in Arizona—the San Francisco Peaks. Since the mid-19th century, the town has been a popular tourist destination due to its close proximity (75 miles) to the Grand Canyon.

The San Francisco Peaks. Mt. Humphreys is the tallest
mountain in Arizona at 12,637 feet.

On July 4, 1876 a group of campers at the base of the San Francisco Peaks stripped a pine tree and used it to raise an American flag. This tree inspired the name “Flagstaff.”

Flagstaff circa 1882.

The early economy of Flagstaff consisted of timber, sheep, and cattle. The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad arrived in 1880. When the Santa Fe Railroad purchased it in 1885, Flagstaff became the largest town between Albuquerque and the Pacific Ocean.

The Babbitt sons arrived in 1881 with $17,000 and eventually settled in Flagstaff, creating the famous CO Bar Ranch which still exists today. The establishment of the Babbitt Brothers Trading Company in 1889—along with several other businesses in northern Arizona—greatly aided the growth and development of the area.

The Babbitt brothers.

Flagstaff suffered its share of criminal activity. “Cattle rustling was rampant and only conquered by stringing the culprits to a limb of a tree and riddling the bodies with bullets. Many were the shootings in the town….They write about Tombstone and other early settlements, but Flagstaff was as bad as any of them.” (from A Brand From the Burning by Charles C. Stemmer, 1959)

The Northern Arizona Normal School was established in 1899. In 1966, it was renamed Northern Arizona University.

Flagstaff circa 1899.

Massachusetts astronomer Percival Lowell established Lowell Observatory in 1894, naming Flagstaff an ideal location due to its elevation. Pluto was discovered here by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, and in 1978 Pluto’s moon, Charon, was also identified.

Lowell Observatory, 1897.

Today, Flagstaff still has a strong tourism economy due to its location to the Grand Canyon, historic Route 66, the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area, Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, Meteor Crater, and the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations.

* * * *

My novel, Into the Land of Shadows, begins and ends in Flagstaff.

Kate Kinsella has no choice but to go after Charley Barstow and talk some sense into him. After all, he's skipped town, leaving a string of broken hearts and his pregnant fiancée, Agnes McPherson. But Kate didn't count on being kidnapped by a band of criminals along the way!

Ethan Barstow is hot on his younger brother's trail, too. He rescues Kate, believing her to be Charley's fiancée, and suggests they try to find him together. Kate's reluctance has him baffled.

All hell breaks loose when they discover Charley in search of a copper mine—not wishing to be found by anyone; certainly not Kate! But, then, Kate was always trouble—and now she's brought it to his doorstep, with tales of a pregnant fiancée and his brother Ethan, who he hasn't seen in five years.

Can Ethan and Kate ever find their own love and happiness with one another through the dark deception and hurt? Or will they both return INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS...

Learn more and read Chapter One at my website.




Julie Lence said...

Wonderful blog, Kristy. I enjoyed learning the history of Flagstaff. Someday, I hope to visit. Sedona, too. Hugs!

Kristy McCaffrey said...

It's very pretty country and you can do both Flagstaff and Sedona together. Only a one hour drive separates them.

Elizabeth Clements said...

I love reading the history of places and the people who lived there. It's fun setting a story in a place you've visited or live in because that experience can add a whole new dimension to your story. This is one book I'd love to read, especially since I don't think I'll have the pleasure of visiting Flagstaff. I've always been fascinated with the American western states and always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon.

Kristy McCaffrey said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. It's always easier writing about a place you're familiar with. Thanks for stopping by!