Sedona has been shaped by some of the most primal forces on the planet.
Once under ancient oceans, Sedona was also a hotbed of volcanic activity. Moved by the shifting of the earth, eroded by wind, rain, and natural springs, the area literally and symbolically epitomizes intense growth, movement, and change.
It is not a wonder that millions of visitors from all over the world come here each year to experience the same.
Native American peoples have inhabited the land as early as 9000 B.C.
Originally populated by big game hunters, the area gave way to hunter gatherers, and later agricultural tribes who prospered for thousands of years in the region. The cliff dwelling Anasazi appeared about 1000 years ago, then mysteriously migrated away from the region, possibly due to drought.
Next, in 650 A.D. the Sinagua moved into the area. Possibly the first Sedona artists, they are known for their art, pottery, baskets, and cliff dwellings. You can still enjoy their structures and rock art at the Honanki, Palatki, and V-Bar Heritage sites.
After 1400 A.D. both Yavapai and Apache tribes inhabited the area, except for a deplorable 25 years during which they were forced to relocate to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. They are now recognized as the Yavapai Apache nation.
Sedona’s recent history began in the late 1800s and early 1900s when settlers began to inhabit and farm the area. In 1876, under the country’s 1862 Homestead Act, J.J. Thompson claimed ‘squatters rights’ to a piece of land across from what is now Indian Gardens. He was Oak Creek Canyon’s first settler.
A few years later, Abraham James, claimed ‘squatters rights’ on land along Oak Creek that later became the town of Sedona. He is credited with naming many of the famous rock formations including Bell Rock.
More settlers came, bringing with them horses and cattle. They built ranches and began to farm the region. The new arrivals dug irrigation ditches, some of which can still be seen today.
Frank Pendley, whose original homestead was on the current site of Slide Rock State park, planted orchards and constructed an irrigation system which can still be seen along the park today.
In 1899, Carl (T.C.) Schnebly and his wife Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly moved to Oak creek and boarded visitors in their home on the grounds that have now become Tlaquepaque and Los Abrigados.
T.C. opened the first post office in Sedona. The first two names he proposed for the town – “Oak Creek Crossing” and “Schnebly Station” – were rejected by the Postmaster General in Washington D.C. because they were too long for a cancellation stamp! His brother suggested that the town be named for T.C.’s wife. On June 26, 1902 the Postmaster approved the new name – Sedona. There were only 55 residents at the time!
Sedona Schnebly was a hard working frontier woman, who took care of guests, raised her children, farmed, branded cattle, made soap, canned and performed all the other requisite chores of a woman managing a hotel, farm, and family. Tragically, in 1905 her oldest daughter Pearl was killed when trampled by a horse. In their grief, the family moved back to their hometown in Missouri.
The Schneblys returned to Sedona in the 1930s, and moved into a tiny house in what is now Uptown. Sedona washed and ironed uniforms and worked in nearby orchards. Still industrious, she saved and raised funds to build the Wayside Chapel before her death in 1950. It seems fitting that the town is named after a woman as strong and beautiful in spirit, as the land itself.
In the late 1970’s Dick Sutphen, a hypnotherapist, introduced the Sedona vortex energy to the world in his book “Past Lives, Future Loves.” During a long book tour a few years later he was asked to draw maps to the Sedona vortex he had experienced in nearly every city he visited, thus inspiring countless individuals to visit Sedona and feel its healing energy for themselves.
When he returned to Sedona, one of his early students, Paige Bryant, a local channel, announced that she had identified that vortex as well as several others in the area.
Pete A. Sanders, an Honors Graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with principal studies in Bio-Medical Chemistry and Brain Science, has since become another leader in training people how to access and use the Sedona Vortex energy.
Due to these pioneers, and the work of many others, word spread. Sedona’s Vortices (Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Boynton Canyon, and Airport Mesa) became a major attraction for visitors seeking spiritual upliftment.
You can learn more about my personal vortex experiences here.
Tourism flourished. People continued to visit in ever-increasing numbers – many of them coming to enjoy the vortex experience.
In 1987, Sedona’s blossoming reputation as a spiritual mecca, attracted thousands more as spiritual seekers from all over the globe world flocked to Sedona for the Harmonic Convergence. Known as one of the first globally coordinated spiritual events, it was said to mark the end of the Mayan Calendar’s cycles of “hell” and usher in an age of peace.
Sedona’s population also began to increase dramatically in the 1980’s. The town was incorporated in 1988 and has since become a mecca for world travelers on their way from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, as well as a sanctuary for large numbers of spiritual seekers who find peace and healing in the serene beauty of the area.
Sedona’s continues to evolve. The town not only supports diverse spiritual traditions, but also has a culture that encourages and supports the arts.
Building codes ensure the natural beauty is preserved, the harmony of nature is minimally disrupted, and that art is incorporated into larger projects. In spite of the millions of tourist that visit each year, Sedona still offers acres of unspoiled land and an aura of small town charm.
Echoes of the distant past merge with the comfort of the modern world, making Sedona a timeless land of art, beauty, healing, and heart.