Category Archives: Prescott

Future ‘Megapolitan’ area will take in tri-cities

[Source: Cindy Barks, Daily Courier] — As Arizona’s cities continue to grow and meld together into a massive
“Megapolitan,” preservation of Prescott’s unique features will become even more critical. That was one of the points that prominent Arizona attorney and land-use expert Grady Gammage Jr (pictured) made Monday night in his comments to about 75 people who turned out at the Yavapai College Performance Hall for the latest segment of the 2050 Visioning planning effort’s series of speakers.

Gammage, who helped to author the recently released Morrison Institute report, “Megapolitan – Arizona’s Sun Corridor,” focused on the study’s premise that Arizona’s major cities would continue to grow together in coming decades. By about 2035, Gammage predicted that the population corridor would form one major “Megapolitan” that would include six Arizona counties and would stretch northwest from Sierra Vista near the Mexican border, ultimately encompassing Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott, and Chino Valley. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

City of Prescott to build water tower above Indian Hill

The city of Prescott plans to build a huge 1.3 gallon water tower with a 85 foot cluster cell tower above “Indian Hill”. The city has already bulldozed the Indian ruins of to one side. To find out how you can help stop the further desecration of this site, contact Debra Kaukol, founder of the “Save Indian Hill” coalition, at or 928-776-1956.

Historic Prescott cemetery getting new protection from vandals

[Source: Joanna Dodder Nellans, Daily Courier] — A group of volunteers took their first step recently to ensure the safety of a piece of Prescott’s history. Fourteen years after its creation, the Yavapai Cemetery Association has raised enough money to start putting up sections of fence to protect the historic Citizens Cemetery along Sheldon Street better from vandalism. Records show 2,750 people were buried here between 1864 and 1939 when it filled up, and many more remain unlisted.

For the first 40 years, no map of the cemetery existed, association president Pat Atchison said. A call for information went out, but, by then, much of the personal information was lost to time. The map shows hundreds of graves as “unknown.” Until the Cemetery Association came along 14 years ago, the county-owned cemetery was in disrepair, Atchison said. When volunteers cleared out bushes and weeds, it became less vulnerable to vandalism. But by then, only 845 of the burials still had some sort of headstone. “It just seems a shame, because once that’s gone, it’s just one less thing about that person that’s still on the face of the earth,” Atchison said. “And it’s the history of Prescott.”

To contribute to the fence fund, donors may send checks to the Yavapai Cemetery Association, 201 S. Pleasant St., Prescott, AZ 86303. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Jo. L. Keener, Daily Courier.]

Ruffner earns the ‘Arizona ‘Historymakers’ achievement

[Source: Ken Hedler, Daily Courier] —Elisabeth Ruffner, who arrived in Prescott as a bride in 1940, said people in her hometown of Cincinnati revered their city’s history. Ruffner, 88, became interested in historical preservation that year when her late husband, Lester Ward “Budge” Ruffner, went to work as a partner in a funeral home in a Victorian home on South Cortez Street. She said she helped to save the building, which dates to the 1880s. She continues the enthusiasm to this day, in some cases helping to preserve and restore buildings that she predates, such as the Hassayampa Inn. The hotel, which dates to 1927, displays a Governor’s Award that she received in 1987 for historic preservation in the rehabilitation/restoration category.

Ruffner said she and Prescott architect Bill Otwell have helped to secure National Register of Historic Places designations for the Hassayampa Inn, the Elks Opera House and other buildings in Prescott. Ruffner has provided “inestimable” help in preserving the hotel, General Manager Tilden “Skip” Drinkard said. “Let’s say ‘priceless,'” Drinkard continued. “What Elisabeth has done is help us establish a real credible history of this hotel.” Ruffner is due for another honor March 29 when the Historical League Inc. of the Arizona Historical Society honors residents who have contributed significantly toward preserving the state’s history. The league will honor Ruffner and five others as Arizona Historymakers at the black-tie dinner in the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale.

The press release on the event cites Ruffner for more than 50 years of “dedicated effort and expertise” to the City of Prescott and Yavapai County. It mentions her efforts to establish a community hospital and public library. Ruffner said she founded the auxiliary of Prescott Community Hospital – now Yavapai Regional Medical Center – in 1943 – and helped to write the bylaws for the hospital association. Three years earlier, Prescott women sought her help because she was new in town to establish a new library building, replacing the Carnegie Library, Ruffner said. The state Historical Society sought nominees for Historymakers from every historical society in Arizona, said Patricia Faur, who handles its publicity. The society receives 90 to 100 nominees a year. “I have lived a good life in this little town, and I am continuing to serve it,” Ruffner said.

History of Prescott airport dates back more than eight decades

[Source: Cindy Barks, Daily Courier] — Prescott’s long and storied aviation past was apparent this past week during a presentation on the history of Ernest A. Love Field Airport. Not only did the city’s Historic Preservation Specialist Nancy Burgess offer a report on the 80 years since the first dedication of the Prescott Airport, but a local octogenarian offered a real-life look at how the airport had affected his life. Burgess’ presentation took place during the February 13 meeting of the local chapter of the American Aviation Historic Society at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

As Burgess was describing one of the airport’s signature events – the staging of a training school for fighter pilots during World War II – one of the audience members, 83-year-old Cal Cohen (pictured), offered to give a first-hand account. “I was here in 1942 for flight training,” Cohen told the crowd of more than 75 that gathered for the monthly aviation-oriented program. While he downplayed the training. “Mostly, we chased antelope,” he joked, the training obviously helped shape Cohen’s future. So much so that some 60 years later, he returned to Prescott as a retiree and has lived in the community for the past five years. Burgess explained that Prescott’s airport officially formed in 1928, with a dedication on the prairie-dog-hole-riddled land northeast of Prescott. But, Burgess said, “Prior to that dedication, the Prescott Airport already had a history.” As far back as 1913, she said, “there was a need for some kind of landing field in Prescott.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Prescott Capital Needs Committee conducts first meeting

[Source: Cindy Barks, Daily Courier] — From non-profit leaders to former City Council members to small business owners to retirees, the new committee responsible for looking into a possible city bond issue has plenty of diversity. The group, which the city initially tagged the Blue Ribbon Committee, conducted its inaugural meeting Wednesday afternoon at Prescott City Hall. And before the hour-long kick-off meeting ended, the group had not only chosen a chairman, vice chairman and secretary, but had also changed its name and its meeting location.

At 21 members, the group is relatively large, and members were conscious of that when they pushed for a chairman that would keep meetings moving along briskly. Ultimately, members chose United Way Executive Director Tammy Linn to chair the meetings. Bob Weiss of Yavapai Title will serve as vice chairman, while long-time Prescottonian and preservation advocate Elisabeth Ruffner will serve as secretary. The three group leaders were among the appointments that the seven Prescott City Council members made to the committee. After their January goal-setting retreat, council members agreed to form the committee to look into a possible November election for a bond issue to pay for a host of necessary city projects. Each council member made three appointments to the committee, bringing the total to 21. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

New Civic Tourism Book & Conference

Dan Shilling, past director of the Arizona Humanities Council, has recently released the book, Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Place, the result of a three-year project at Sharlot Hall Museum. Many readers may have attended the March 2006 national conference in Prescott, which was hailed by some as a “landmark” meeting. Another conference will be held this October.

Civic tourism is an extension of heritage tourism, ecotourism, geotourism, and other “place-based” models. The mission is to “reframe” tourism’s purpose, from an end to a means – from a growth goal to a tool that helps citizens preserve and enhance what they love about their place. Shilling suggests three strategies: (1) “Reframe Economics” encourages communities to connect tourism planning to contemporary restorative economic policies; (2) “Connect to the Public” suggests engagement practices that foster support for a responsible tourism ethic; and (3) “Invest in the Story” urges a robust financial and conceptual investment to place-making.

David Weaver, professor of tourism at the University of South Carolina, and author of Sustainable Tourism: Practice and Procedures, writes, “In his groundbreaking book on civic tourism, Dan Shilling invites your community to engage in a conversation about tourism and place that it cannot afford not to have.” The book, which is 128 pages, includes dozens of “conversation starters” and more than 80 best practices and suggestions. It is available from, and costs only $12.

The 2008 civic tourism conference will be held October 15-18, 2008, in the Blackstone Valley of Rhode Island, one hour south of Boston and one hour north of Newport, RI. The conversation has gone national now, even international, and the next meeting will feature more people who practice responsible, place-based tourism. For further information visit, or call Dan at 602-300-6694.

Something for everyone in Prescott

[Source: Coty Dolores Miranda, Arizona Republic] — Prescott has so many fans that it has earned a variety of names and descriptions. “Everybody’s Hometown” is one, thanks to the small-town hospitality and Western flavor, particularly on display during Prescott Frontier Days and World’s Oldest Rodeo each July Fourth weekend. A “Top 10 True Western Town,” bestowed by True West magazine, is another, not to mention an “Emerging Art Town,” according to Southwest Art magazine, a “Distinctive Destination,” according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a “Preserve America Community,” so named by first lady Laura Bush, and a spot on Money magazine’s “Top 5 Places to Retire” list. But no matter how you refer to Prescott, be sure to pronounce it “Preskit,” as the locals do. Here are some of the city’s highlights.

Things to do

  • HERITAGE PARK ZOOLOGICAL SANCTUARY. This park got its start 15 years ago as a home for creatures rescued from the wild or from inappropriate captive situations. Here they’re displayed in natural habitats, making a visit educational and fun. The best way to enjoy this 10-acre zoo is by taking a guided tour with a docent. It’s an up-close and personal look at tigers, jaguars, black bears, a mountain lion and creepy-crawlies such as those in the Tarantula Grotto and the soon-to-be completed Reptile House. Bring a picnic and let the kids unwind on the playground. Details: or 877-778-6008.
  • THUMB BUTTE TRAIL. With more than 450 miles of multiuse trails winding past ponderosa pines, granite boulders, Native American petroglyphs and pristine lakes, there’s no end to outdoor activities around Prescott. One of the closest trails to downtown (and one of the most popular) is Thumb Butte Trail. This moderate, 1.75-mile hike on a paved path takes about an hour to complete. From the top, you can see the city, the Bradshaw Mountains, Sierra Prietas, Granite Mountain, Mingus Mountain and the San Francisco Peaks. Details: Prescott National Forest, or 928-443-8000.
  • PEAVINE TRAIL. Another favorite hiking and biking route, this flat, easy trail, which follows the route of the old Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway, leads through riparian areas to the Granite Dells, above Watson Lake. It’s about 10.4 miles round trip. Details: or 928-777-1588.
  • DRIVING TOURS. The Prescott Chamber of Commerce has itineraries and driving directions for four self-guided driving tours: Williamson Valley, Walnut Grove, Limestone Canyon and Bradshaw Mountains. All start at Courthouse Plaza. Pack a lunch and plenty of water and enjoy nature while learning some history of central Arizona. Details: Prescott Chamber of Commerce, 800-266-7534.

Historic buildings

Here are two of note in a city with numerous historic structures:

  • YAVAPAI COUNTY COURTHOUSE. The courthouse (pictured), constructed of white granite and ringed by towering pine trees, is the centerpiece of Courthouse Plaza, a popular public gathering place that features two bronze statues by sculptor Solon Borglum. One is Memorial to the Rough Riders, which has been called one of the finest equestrian bronze sculptures in the world. Locals refer to it as the “Buckey O’Neill statue” in honor of a former mayor who died at the Battle of San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. Cowboy at Rest is the other Borglum statue on the plaza. Borglum’s brother, Gutzon, sculpted the faces on Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota. Details: 120 S. Cortez St., 928-771-3312.
  • ELKS OPERA HOUSE. The restoration of the 102-year-old structure is ongoing, funded by contributions. Local author Christopher E. Hoy has written a children’s book, The Elk in the Attic, to raise money for the work. The elk in the book is named Bill, as is the majestic elk statue that was restored to the top of the opera house after having been removed in 1971. Made of Arizona copper, Bill was restored to his former glory. The opera house’s dated, modern-era marquee is scheduled to be removed to further the restoration. Details: 117 E. Gurley St., 888-858-3557 or The Elk in the Attic ($12) can be ordered at the opera house Web site or

[Note: To read the full article, click here.]