The Early Years: 1887-1900

John Weatherford rides into town and opens his grand new hotel.

The first mention of Texas-born John W. Weatherford in Flagstaff’s newspaper of the time, The Coconino Sun, describes the young deputy riding into town. He was coming here to dispel rumors of killing among the posse that had been trying to settle the Tonto Basin Graham-Tewkesbury feud, which was later immortalized in Zane Grey’s To the Last Man. Arizona is a territory in the Wild West. The Aztec Cattle Company, the Hashknife outfit, has just about finished moving 33,000 longhorn into the region, with cattle rustlers in their dust. Denis Mathew Riordan — Indian agent, lumberman, railroader, and philanthropist — has just purchased the Ayer Lumber Company. Timber, cattle, and the railroad rule the economic landscape. It is 1887 and Flagstaff is an island of commerce and culture in this changing land. The AT&SF railroad workers had already brought the rail to Flagstaff on on their way to California and San Diego.

Weatherford is noted as a pioneer of this civic amenity in Flagstaff.

In 1896 and 1897, fires plagued the city. Ordinances were enacted requiring any new construction to be of brick or stone. In 1898, Weatherford is granted permission to “construct a brick or stone business block on the southwest corner of Leroux Street and Aspen Avenue and … a sidewalk along the south side of Aspen Avenue from Leroux to Beaver Street.” In the late 1890s, Flagstaff streets were unpaved. They were dusty in the summer and muddy in the spring. Constructing sidewalks — a community upgrade — helped grease the wheels of city paperwork.

lobbyStairsBy April, they dug out the basement. Construction for the main dining room of Charly’s restaurant broke ground in February 1899. On January 1, 1900, the $10,000 Hotel Weatherford opened its doors to the public. It was the biggest and best; according to The Coconino Sun, “There is no finer hotel in the whole southwest.” Of Weatherford they say, “He is careful of the interests of his guests and every comfort obtainable is afforded them.”