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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Flagstaff, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

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...

Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenaged children happen to be in residence.

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  1. Arizona certainly has its share of different environments. The great deserts, the mountains, the Grand Canyon. Years ago, my husband and I went horse back riding in the desert outside of Phoenix. It seems all the bad boys back then headed out west to cause mayhem back in those days. I love the title and cover of your book. Great post.

    1. Arizona definitely has a diverse range of climate zones. You can go from desert to mountains in less than 3 hours. Horseback riding in the desert is a treat, although not for everyone. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by, Barn.

  2. I've been to Arizona, just barely when I was in Las Vegas, NV and rode on down the road a bit. But I haven't been to Flagstaff. Funny, I just never think of Flagstaff as being at a high elevation.
    I loved your Wings of the West series. Although I haven't read Into the Shadows yet, I sure am looking forward to it. I'd love to take an entire month off and do nothing but read. Well, none of us are probably going to get to do that, but I'm certain we sure would like to.
    Loved the pictures in your blog and your lovely post, Kristy. All the best to you.
    I have your story, Into the Land of Shadows, and now I really want to read it ASAP. I wish I could take a month off and catch up on all the great stories I have on my Kindle just begging me to read them.
    I like blogs like this about places I haven't seen from those of you who live there. It's just so interesting.

    1. Thank you Sarah! I force myself to read at night so it doesn't interfere with writing during the day, but then I often fall asleep. One of these days you'll have to come to Flagstaff. It's very pretty with lots of pine trees. Thanks for the kinds words about my books. I do so appreciate it from another great writer. :-) Cheers.

  3. Kristy,

    During my March trip to Phoenix, I drove through Flagstaff on the way there, and then spent the night in Flagstaff on the return trip home. I left Flagstaff just at daylight (going north). A cloud bank hovered over the peaks. It was breathtaking.

    I like the story about how Flagstaff was named. :-)

    I, too, have your story, Into the Land of Shadows. I do most of my recreational reading during early summer mornings while sitting outside with a cup of coffee. My writing time tends to kick in mid-afternoon and continue on toward the midnight hour. :-)

    1. Kaye,
      I tend to get into a writing groove later in the day, much to the dismay of my husband. I tend to putz around in the mornings. My brain just isn't that creative then, I guess. So glad you got to see Flagstaff and the peaks are frequently very beautiful. My parents have a house at the base with a great view.

  4. I've been by Flagstaff, but was on such a tight schedule I could't reall stop as I wanted. It's on the list to visit.
    I do enjoy these pieces of history, and your story is on the TBR pile I hope to complete one of these days. **Sigh** Doris

    1. Doris,
      It's a great place to set up camp to visit surrounding areas like Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater and Sedona. Hope you can make it back sometime. :-)

  5. I've not been to Arizona many times, but I have never been through Flagstaff...unless I did as a child on the way from Texas to California to visit. I love these vintage photos...this makes a story come alive, doesn't it? Usually I create towns and places in my head, but sometimes I use an actual place and rename it. Your story has got to be another winner. You are the #1 expert on Arizona!

    1. Celia,
      Haha. I'm not sure about expert. So much history, I feel I've only tapped the surface. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I love this book, Kristy, and this wonderful post! I've been briefly in Flagstaff but need to explore further for sure.