9/17/2008 1:38:00 PM From prehistory to current history, my, how we've grown
The PV motel still sports its original sign, and it still houses the many construction workers who come to the community to work on projects such as housing, hotels and restaurants. Photo courtesy PV Historical Society
Prescott Valley's history as an incorporated town goes back only to 1978, but the history of its inhabitants goes back eons to when mammoths and prehistoric camels and horses roamed the area.
Longtime area historian Jean Cross said someone walking along the Agua Fria wash near the end of what is now Long Mesa Drive spotted some unusual bones in 1984. The Fain Jordan site yielded part of a mammoth tusk and a molar, as well as camel and horse bones. The relics reside in Sharlot Hall Museum's storage rooms now.
But the early humans in Prescott Valley left more visible evidence. The Fitzmaurice Ruin in Fain Park is what remains of a prehistoric Indian group's hilltop rock dwelling from an estimated 14,000 years ago.
Nearby, also in Fain Park, the Barlow-Massicks House is evidence of the miners who flocked to the area seeking gold in the 1860s.
Twenty-two years after Captain Joseph R. Walker's party discovered gold along Lynx Creek in 1863, the Englishman Thomas Barlow-Massicks came to "Lonesome Valley," as it was known, to start the Lynx Creek Hydraulic Works, and build his grand 4-story Victorian mansion which area residents later termed The Castle.
The location of the town of Massicks is questionable, since none of its buildings, including a post office, general store and homes for 100 residents, stands today. But historians generally believe it was along Lynx Creek near the mansion. A tall stone chimney may be the remains of the first store.
Along with miners, ranchers found their way to the area, Granville "Dan" Fain among the most notable, with some 50,000 acres in his Rafter 11 ranch.
It also attracted the family of Sharlot Hall, the first woman to hold territorial office. Her father homesteaded near Lynx Creek in 1882, but moved to Orchard Ranch in 1890. Parts of her razed home became a cabin Shirley Sellers and Sue Fain reconstructed on Prescott Valley's Romero Circle and moved to Orchard Ranch mobile home park in 2003.
Dan Fain's son, Norman, serving as a state senator from 1942-44, was instrumental in connecting Prescott to Phoenix via Prescott Valley. His proposal led to Interstate 17 from Phoenix to Cordes Junction, and State Route 69 through Mayer, Humboldt, Dewey and Prescott Valley to Prescott.
That road allowed Prescott Valley's "modern" development to begin.
Self-proclaimed "King of Land Schemes," Ned Warren (really Nathan Waxman, said Cross), founded Prescott Valley, Inc. (PVI), and sent sales staff around the country in the mid-1960s, targeting the Midwest and offering free steak dinners to potential buyers of its 1/3-acre lots. Many bought multiple $1,500 lots sight unseen.
Cross said the first actual residents in 1967 were sisters - Vida Anderson and Evelyn Myers - whose mobile home still stands on Jay Court.
PVI built the Prescott Valley Motel, another town fixture with its original sign, to house the new landowners. It even had a swimming pool and playground.
A few other makeshift buildings were in place. The post office, designed to service the entire Agua Fria Valley, opened in Jan. 1969. Cross said the building was a tack room moved from the stables at what is now Mountain Valley Park, and stood where Circle K is presently. Later, the real estate company bought out a bookstore, built shelves and the post office also became the first library.
The Wegge family served burgers, malts and more from The Valley Hut. With a large addition, it became Sandberg's Family Restaurant, and now is Cardenas Mexican Restaurant.
Arco station attendants pumped gas for residents. The building now houses Mingus Motors.
Lake Yavapai, at the location of the present Urban Forest lakes, had a dock and rowboats.
The small strip mall next to it had a grocery store, beauty salon and laundromat. Beyond it, the sales office for PVI stood.
Little else existed, and some of the new buyers felt sellers had misrepresented their purchase by showing slides mostly of Prescott in the presentations, Cross said.
She speculated that developers called the town Prescott Valley because they never meant it to be a real town, but an offshoot of Prescott.
"People did not know there was nothing here," Cross said.
But Hollywood heard of it, and filmed the movie, "The Mountain Men," in 1969, mostly near Yeager Canyon at the base of Mingus Mountain.
On Aug. 22, 1978, 62 percent of the area's 1,521 residents, with Ken Renken, head of the Prescott Valley Community Association leading the charge, voted to incorporate. The first town council was sworn in on Dec. 28, 1978.
Rainbow Stained Glass occupies what was the newly incorporated town's first town hall. The first general election occurred in May of '79, and by 1981, larger businesses such as the Better-Bilt Aluminum plant (now MI Home Products) were in place.
A small group, Cross included, is working with the town to preserve and establish "Old Town PV" before it is lost in the phenomenal and visionary growth which has turned Prescott Valley into a thriving community of nearly 40,000 over the past 30 years.
And we still have horses, but no camels or mammoths.