Louise Speaks: As part of our journey, you may have noticed that we are trying to visit all the county seats of Arizona. In Arizona there are 15 counties and as we travel through the state we make it a point to visit the county seats. We are leaving Arizona today heading East, as far east as Wisconsin. Our last stop as we leave the state of Arizona is the county seat of Navajo County and that is Holbrook. Again this is a city that we have visited before and blogged about, but not the county seat.
Holbrook was founded in 1881 or 1882, when the railroad was built, and named to honor the first chief engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city was 5053 residence. Navajo County borders Apache county and shares the Petrified Forest. In fact Holbrook is known as the gateway to the Petrified Forest…a must see when visiting the state of Arizona. President Roosevelt named the Petrified Forest, including part of the Painted Desert, a National Monument in 1906. Holbrook was incorporated in 1917. Most of the Beale Wagon Road became Route 66 in 1926 and passed through both the Petrified Forest and Holbrook. Tourism started taking over the economy.
The county courthouse also houses a “haunted” jail…the original, historic jail, that once held Geronimo as prisoner. The courthouse is such an unassuming building that we thought it was closed at first. Turns out there is a whole museum inside detailing the history of the area and the jail from 1898. The museum itself is great and very informative, detailing everything from the Pony Express to the school system. AND – it’s haunted, or so we were told. They leave the jail as it was – all they do is sweep the floor. There’s some beautiful artwork done by the prisoners. The cells are so creepy and cold. You are able to go upstairs, but we didn’t take the time to do so, I was told that upstairs was even more haunted because that is where a prisoner committed suicide and people can still feel his presence.
You may not think there is much to see and do in or around Holbrook but you are mistaken. Like I mentioned earlier from here you can visit the Petrified Forest National Park and also the Painted Desert…something you just have to see. While here a must stop is the Wigwam Hotel on the original Route 66. There are plenty of things around town and in the desert along Route 66 worth stopping to see and take a few pictures. Remember the Wigwam Hotel is where Oprah and Gayle stayed on their Route 66 trip, so you know it must be something to see. The most famous thing about Holbrook, is that it received the #6 ranking of the town with the “wackiest street name”…so go find “Bucket of Blood Street”…gee wouldn’t you just want that for your address…lol.
Once I-40 was opened, Holbrook fell off the map. Route 66 went right through Holbrook in the 60s so Holbrook was a main artery, but now it is just another sleepy Arizona town. You have to get off the I-40 to visit Holbrook, and with the courthouse, haunted jail and the wigwam hotel it really is worth the detour.