Prescott Heritage Trail: A Link To History

Photo caption: President resident Dennis Gallagher and his wife MaryAnn are proud to have had a part in creating the Prescott Heritage Trail History Hunt that takes walkers on an hourlong stroll around historical downtown Prescott.  Gallagher is founder and president of the Prescott Western Heritage Foundation.

The rich frontier and Western heritage of Prescott is again spotlighted in a self-guided walking tour of streets surrounding and adjacent to the iconic century-old Courthouse Square.

The multi-stop casual walk will take history seekers on a roughly hourlong stroll down what are now sidewalks and paved streets — but what 150 years ago were primitive horse and stagecoach paths and cattle trails.

Chamber of Commerce volunteer Annette Schiller said, “The Heritage Trail is among our most popular downtown attractions for tourists.”

Beginning at the Prescott Chamber of Commerce on Gurley Street, which now is the official Visitor’s Center in the City, explorers will find stop No. 1. It is the site of what then were the Prescott fire station on the first floor and the City Jail on the second.

The classical Romanesque brick building survived fires and other destructive forces. It’s an ideal spot to begin the learning lesson of Western history in Arizona’s original territorial capital.

A well-illustrated color map available at the Visitor’s Center will guide strollers on a casual History Hunt that encircles the heart of picturesque “Everybody’s Hometown.” Each site is clearly identified with a large bronze plaque, under which is a commemorative coin signifying the unique history for the specific location.

The coins were the concept of Dennis Gallagher, founder and president, Prescott Western Heritage Foundation. Gallagher is reluctant to take much credit for this latest community accent, but personnel with both the City and the Prescott Chamber of Commerce praise him for his vision in promoting the preservation of qualities and characteristics that make Prescott a national and international destination.

Gallagher, a retired engineer with considerable foreign experience, lives in Prescott. He often is seen wandering Prescott streets in his distinctive Western attire. (See related story-Western Heritage Banquet, p. 54)

Among stops along the tour, each with its own detailed historical account prominently displayed, are:

  • City Jail
  • Ruffner Plaza Stables
  • Fire of 1900
  • Montezuma Street-Whiskey Row
  • Palace Saloon
  • St. Michael Hotel
  • Mike the Dog
  • Centennial Tree
  • Timeline by Fran Wildman
  • Roughrider Statue
  • War Memorial
  • Yavapai County Courthouse
  • Statehood Tree
  • Bashford-Burmister Store
  • Bashford Block
  • Prescott National Bank
  • Bank of Arizona
  • Knights of Pythias
  • 19. Goldwater Store
  • Well on Plaza
  • City Hall-Statue
  • Federal Building
  • Sharlot Hall Museum
  • Smoki Museum
  • Phippen Museum

Note: The Sharlot Hall Museum, Smoki Museum and Phippen Museum sites likely will require transportation for those wanting to see them.

Ann Steward, of the City of Prescott Tourism Office, said this past fall a “Hunt for History” program began. Its purpose — to encourage youngsters to explore Prescott’s heritage and gain more in-depth understanding of its significance in Southwestern history.

It is hoped that the number of historic sites can be doubled in the near future, with the ultimate intent of connecting the Heritage Trail system to the City’s Greenways Trail System.