Coconino County

Sedona, AZ


Millions of years ago, what we now know as Sedona was sitting at the bottom of a shallow sea. As the Colorado Plateau began to rise and wind and rain eroded away at the mountains to make the unique formations we see today. The amazing and vibrant red in the rocks can be attributed to a coat of iron oxide on the rocks.

About 6,000 years ago, or 4,000 B.C, nomadic tribes of hunter’s and gathers arrived in the Sedona area. It was not until the year 1,000 A.D. when somewhat more modern Indian’s arrived in Sedona. The first was the Sinagua Indians, which translates at ‘without water’ in Spanish. The Sinagua Indians built dwellings high up on the cliffs and were in good defensive and observation spots. The Sinagua’s also painted numerous petroglyphs and made a lot of pottery.

Mountains in Sedona, Arizona

Within the past few hundred years, Yavapai Apache Indians moved into Sedona while the Sinagua’s were moving out. It was these Native Americans who planted the numerous crops in the Indian Gardens.

After the Native Americans were done in the Sedona area, the area was under the control of the Spanish. It was not until the 1800’s when the Gadsden Purchase and Hidalgo Treaty gave the land to the United States of America. The first white man to live in the Sedona area was a man by the name of John Thompson. He migrated from Ireland and made his way out west to the territory of Arizona. In 1876, he stumbled across the Indian Gardens, where he built a small cabin.

Sinagua dwellings in Secret Canyon

Only about 30 years later, Dorsey Schnebly, one of the big names in Sedona’s history arrived. Dorsey moved from Gorin, Missouri in October of 1901 to Jerome. He however, wanted to go to Jerome to farm. However, when he found Sedona he knew he must stay there. Dorsey told his brother T. Carleton Schnebly to move out here too. In just two weeks, T. Carleton, his wife Sedona, and there kids showed up. When their farm began to boom, they too began to haul produce to Jerome, 25 miles to the south. When the Schnebly brother’s heard what type of market was in Flagstaff, they knew they must begin going there too. However, that would mean traveling over high mountain ridges. To solve this problem, they set with shovels, picks and other supplies. Slowly but surely, they built a steep road known today as Schnebly Hill Road.

When the Oak Creek and Sedona are begun to become popular, they decided to set up a post office. At first, they wanted to name it Oak Creek Canyon Station, however the postal service felt it was a bit too long. When they thought about another name, Dorsey asked Sedona, “What do you think we should call it, Sedona?” Right then and there, they had their name. The Schnebly family moved back to Missouri but came back to Sedona in the 1930’s.

Bell Rock and the lone road into Sedona (1950's)

Sedona, Arizona was not really known until the 1950’s when Hollywood movies captured the beauty of small town. From here on out, artists and visitors from around the world would travel to see the immense beauty of Sedona.


  1. Trimble, Marshall. Roadside History of Arizona. 2nd edition. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2004. 265-267. Print. 

  2. Schnebly-Heidinger, Lisa, Janeen Trevillyan, and The Sedona Historical Society. Images of America: Sedona. Arcadia Publishing, 2007. 7-9. Print.