In a far away place in time, before any man can remember, the forces of the universe created ancient winds that began to blow rose-colored sand grains into magnificent mesas of crimson beauty, sculpted by winds and waters into monuments of timeless beauty.
A canvas of panoramic wonders stands today as Mother Nature’s own masterpiece, called Sedona. At just over one hundred years old, Sedona’s enchanting beauty continues to glow.
Around 8,000 B.C., the Paleo-Indians came to the Sedona area via a natural land bridge that connected North America to Ancient Asia. The Hohokam had moved into the area by 700 A.D. and introduced irrigation farming.
Next, the Sinaguan tribe (Sinagua means “without water,” or farmers who rely on rainfall alone) arrived in the Sedona area. They were forced to leave after a violent volcanic eruption in 1066 A.D., which created the Sunset Crater.
The residual volcanic ash, however, made the soils very fertile. This attracted the highly civilized Anasazi or “Ancient Ones” to join the returning Sinaguans. The Anasazi taught them to build sophisticated multi-storied pueblos, whose remains still stand today.
In the late 1300’s, an unexplained, strange occurrence caused these people to leave; it seems almost overnight. Remnants of their corncobs show they were still roasting in their fires when the time of their exit suddenly arrived!
It was the quest for gold and silver that first brought the white man to Sedona. Around 1583, it is believed that Antonio de Espejo was the first white man to travel to Red Rock Country. Perhaps he didn’t find silver or gold here in the way he thought he would, but the scenic countryside was certainly a precious sight to behold!
The History of Sedona
Pioneers, prospectors and trappers began to arrive in the early 1800s. In 1876 John “Jim” Thompson built his cabin in Oak Creek Canyon and became the first permanent white settler. Then a rugged escaped convict from Califor-nia, named C.J. “Bear” Howard, built his hide- out cabin at the West Fork of Oak Creek.
Bear Howard’s cabin ironically became the Mayhew Lodge, where years later it was expanded and became a secret refuge of elite movie stars and presidents from around the world!
In 1901 a Pennsylvania Dutch couple, Theodore and Sedona Schnebly, moved to the area and purchased 80 acres. Hoping to get a post office established here, Theodore submitted the name “Schnebly Station.” It was rejected because it was too long.
His brother, Ellsworth, suggested using his wife’s name. In 1902 the town was officially named “Sedona”.
Author and producer, Zane Grey, was an avid hunter and lover of the wildlife in this area and wrote his famous book “Call of the Canyon”.
In 1923 Zane Grey convinced producer, Jesse Lasky to film the silent hit movie based on that book in its actual setting. After its success, film crews flocked to Sedona’s beautiful Red Rock Country. Since then hundreds of movies have been filmed here. Today, it is not unusual to see Hollywood film crews shooting movies, TV commercials, music videos and TV programs all using Sedona’s natural beauty as their backdrop.
A work of art in itself, Sedona, is a land of majestic beauty. Every sunrise and sunset inspires a new drama. The rocks are painted by the light into breathtaking hues of red and gold.
Crude etchings in the rocks near ancient Indian ruins mark the beginning of Sedona’s Art History. Their petroglyphs (etchings) and pictographs (paintings) are relished today as timeless art forms. They can still be viewed in the many Indian ruins that dot the Sedona area.
Sedona’s popularity in the modern-art world began with the dream of the great Egyptian- born American sculptor named Nassan Gobran. Once in Sedona, Gobran met Max Ernst, the internationally famed surrealist who was one of the originators of the collage.
Gobran’s dream for Sedona was to make it “a center for the arts” because it was “an artist’s haven.” Gobran’s dream became a reality on April 28, 1961, when the old Jordan apple-packing barn was purchased and became the Sedona Arts Center.
Another major landmark in Sedona’s art history was the founding of the Cowboy Artists of America.
Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton and Robert MacLeod founded this group on June 23, 1965. Its purpose is to authentically perpetuate the memory and culture of the Old West. Today it is one of the most influential groups in American Art. Now, there are over 47 art galleries and more than 400 artists reside in Sedona, along with an unknown number of authors, actors, and oth- ers of the creative spirit.
In 1994, Joey Best Productions along with Laurie Seymour and volunteers produced the First Annual Sedona Film Festival video tributes for Donald O’Connor and Ann Miller. Today, the International Sedona Film Festival has become a world-class venue.
Later, the Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Film Making was founded. It is an excellent center for the creative filmmaker. Several of the students are already achieving global attention and awards.
Sedona’s Best invites you to embark on your own journey to discover and celebrate the wonderful history, art and beauty of Sedona.
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