Originally Published: September 16, 2011 10:07 p.m.
Just in time for the Best Fest in Prescott, the Yavapai County Arizona Centennial Committee is publishing a book about the county's colorful history.
"Around Yavapai County: Celebrating Arizona's Centennial" is an Arcadia Publishing book that emphasizes historic photos.
The public can buy copies of the book for $22 at the centennial committee's booth this weekend at the Best Fest, which celebrates the state's centennial.
Dozens of historical societies and historians from communities throughout the county contributed photos and text to the 128-page book.
"It involved a lot of people who are really dedicated to Yavapai County history and culture and people," said co-editor/author Karen Despain, a centennial committee member and Daily Courier newspaper editor.
The book features nearly 200 photos, many of them from long-time Yavapai County families, that have not been published before.
"That's one of the strong points of Arcadia books," said co-editor/author Nancy Burgess, an author and historian who recently retired from her job as the City of Prescott's historic preservation specialist. "A lot of people like their history that way."
The book offers an overview of the 8,125-square-mile county's diverse communities and landscapes.
"Maybe they'll see one picture they're interested in, and they'll want to know more," Burgess said.
One of the favorites of Burgess and Despain is a Sedona Historical Society photo of two elderly men and an elderly woman standing outside their humble home - a tent under a rock overhang. One man is holding an accordion while the other is holding a gun. They clearly lived a tough life, but they're all smiling.
"Names of places such as Grief Hill, Yellowjacket Gulch, Lonesome Pocket, Blind Indian Creek and Battle Flat tell of past events and harsher times," the book notes.
Many of the photos show places that no longer exist, such as the Congress goldmine on page 58, with President William McKinley pictured on a tour. Once one of the largest goldmine operations in the state, only a few remnants remain today.
Other places look much the same, such as Montezuma Well that now is part of a national monument. Burgess enjoys the book's photo of men in a boat fishing from the well.
To follow the Arcadia format, Despain and Burgess had to condense 22 communities into chapters based on geographical regions, along with a short one focusing on the Prescott National Forest and chapters contributed by each of the county's Indian tribes, the Yavapai-Prescott and the Yavapai-Apache.
"We had to really pare it down, which was hard," Burgess said.
County Centennial Committee Chair Janis Ann Sterling penned the book's introduction that offers a short overview of how the state and county came to be established.
"We hope this book will encourage both residents and visitors to learn about and appreciate the rich history of Yavapai County, and to enjoy the spectacular scenery and historical places, together with the people and local characters who have made Yavapai County what it is today," Sterling wrote.
She noted that more than 1,000 buildings, structures, sites and objects in this county are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the entire community of Jerome. Many are located in Arizona's first territorial capital of Prescott.
"Today, the Yavapai County Arizona Centennial Committee invites the reader to an adventure: to become a tourist in Yavapai County, to visit its communities and scenic places, and to appreciate its history," the book says.
The book makes a great companion for such an adventure, Despain said.