Thursday, July 28, 2011

How the railroad built Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook

By the 1880s, a new sound echoed across the plains of the northern Arizona Territory. The clatter of metal on metal slowly spread from east to west as rails were hammered into rocky ground. The workers brought a need for civilization, and towns grew in the railway's wake. Among the first was Holbrook, a dusty cattle settlement before the tracks arrived, Richmond said. Before long, what was once largely the territory of Mormon ranchers became an international community as Holbrook morphed into a construction center. Native Americans joined laborers from England, Ireland and Mexico. Mormons, too, joined in large numbers, Richmond said. The railway fostered new and expanded industries. The need for timber grew exponentially, and lumbermen descended on Flagstaff to build mills, supplying railroad ties as well as wood to build homes and businesses. In a territory known for harsh deserts, the first industry would be borne by its pine-covered slopes. Cattlemen also benefitted from the railroad, gaining access to markets to the east and west. And it was mining, not tourism, that had financiers backing a railroad to the Grand Canyon in the 1890s (though tourism would later provide a much richer vein)...more

No comments: