After the Mexican/American War and the Gadson Purchase, all the land of present day Arizona and New Mexico was lumped together as the New Mexico Territory. The local government in Santa Fe quickly realized that this huge land mass was too unwieldy to govern effectively from so far away and they talked about splitting it in two. But instead of putting the resulting territories next to each other, they proposed placing the New Mexico Territory on top of Arizona with the border being a horizontal line at the 34th parallel. As a side benefit, the New Mexican legislature also proposed moving all of the Indians to Arizona. Nice.
The US congress pretty much ignored all of this. The whole territory aligned itself with the confederates during the civil war, but were too far away from the action to have much impact and at the war's end congress sort of pretended the confederate states of New Mexico and Arizona never existed. They reset the boundary line in a north-south direction and gave the then territories the shape the states have today. President Lincoln appointed John Gurley to be Arizona Governor and he was so excited he promptly died before taking office and was replaced by John Nobel Goodwin.
Goodwin toured the territory and selected an area near Granite Creek for the capital of the territory, an odd choice given that there was no town there. But there were already mining operations underway, and that seemed important. The town was surveyed and laid out in 1864. In May they held a public meeting and chose the name Prescott, after a local historian, and in June they started selling lots. The town wasn't officially incorporated until 1880. Prescott was only the territorial capitol for 2 years, when the government moved to Tucson. It returned to Prescott in 1877 and remained there until it finally relocated permanently to Phoenix in 1889.
|The magnificent Governor's Mansion|
The main museum building houses exhibits covering archeology, paleontology and town history. Buildings include Fort Misery (the oldest log cabin in Arizona), a local ranch house, a tiny school house, the one time home of John Fremont (a nice Victorian home) and several others. Going through everything takes at least a couple of hours and is time well spent.
Our campground was just north of town in the Granite Dells. This area is a combination of several lakes and large granite boulders. There is
|Vicki and schnoodles in the Granite Dells|
Whiskey Row is a city block just across from the courthouse that was at one time solid saloons and brothels. There are still some saloons and restaurants but no brothels I could find. The most famous is the Palace Saloon, where you could wet your whistle and conduct business in comfort. We ate there one night. The food was actually pretty mediocre but the ambiance was fabulous. It has a huge wooden bar in the main room.
|120 year old wooden bar, definitely worth saving|
While we were in town the local theater group staged a performance of Alice in Wonderland Jr., a version of Lewis Caroll's classic based primarily on the Disney Movie and designed to have as many cast members as possible. There were, for example, three Alices (big, little and normal) and three Cheshire Cats. The piece was clearly specifically written for schools and community theaters and contains reworked versions of many songs from the movie as well as, for some unknown reason, Zippity Doo Dah from Song of the South. It was about what you would expect for a children's production but was a lot of fun and we were happy we went.
|After the curtain call|
|Grand dining room at the Governor's Mansion|
|Lovely Governor's Bedroom|
|John C Fremont house|
|Local Indian basketry|
|Images from the Phippen Gallery|
|Vicki standing at the entrance to the Palace Saloon|
|Local Indians didn't make pottery. They traded for these with their neighbors.|