20th Century Flagstaff

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20th Century Flagstaff

  Have you ever imagined living your life at a different point in time? I belong to a local writing circle and at least once a month a prompt is given along these lines. I fell into a rabbit hole of yesteryears while researching the Walkup family murders and I often wondered what it would’ve been like to live in Flagstaff in the 1930s.  

  When I started laying the groundwork for the Walkup story I wanted to share the “feel” of the town from that era. I’m not a trained writer so the best way I came up with was putting myself on the sidewalks outside of the Hotel Monte Vista. What I saw from this fictionalized vantage point was a town not too different from today. The main streets were paved and there were plenty of cars driving about. The trains that roared through daily still held a place in people’s hearts, but Route 66 had gained in importance, bringing an endless stream of visitors. One could meet friends for lunch, have their hair colored or styled at a salon, then walk up to a neighbor’s house for a weekly bridge game. Or, maybe meeting at the Orpheum Theatre to see a movie was the order of the day. The country club north of town offered a 9-hole golf course, and there were tennis courts, softball games and a myriad of other sporting activities.  

By 1937, a typical residence would have a refrigerator, washer and dryer and a vacuum cleaner. Telephone service was wide-spread and many homes had one as well as a radio, bringing the outside world a little closer. According to articles in the Coconino Sun, most people still tended to a small vegetable garden at home; however, by the 1930s the grocery store had become the mainstay for buying food. And there was always Babbitt Brothers –the store that carried almost anything a person would want to eat, wear, put in the home or play with outside. Babbitt Brothers had been into the car business since 1908–but if owning a vehicle wasn’t for you, there was at least one taxi cab company and the Greyhound Bus station in town.

What I am trying to paint a picture of is a town not as isolated as one imagines, and definitely more accessible than it was 20 years earlier. There was something about the geography of this area–a mountain town growing at the base of a larger mountain–that kept it contained. But once roads replaced horse trails and the train brought adventurous souls to the Southwest, Flagstaff took off like a rocket.

Are you ready to experience the spooky side of Flagstaff? Join our haunted walking tour and uncover the city's chilling history. From ghostly apparitions to unexplained phenomena, our expert guide will take you on a journey you'll never forget. Book now and get ready for a hair-raising adventure through the streets of Flagstaff!

Join us at one of our historic–and haunted!--downtown tours to learn more!