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First Settlement at Indian Gardens & Oak Creek Visitor Center

IMG_8971On my friend and my way into Sedona Arizona we stopped at the first visitor center we saw, Oak Creek Visitor Center. It is located just 4 miles north of Sedona off 89A next to the Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market. We wanted to gather some information and find out about different sights that we might be interested in seeing while we were there.

We took a few moments to look around the tiny store about the size of a small bedroom and then went to speak with the employee behind the counter. She was extremely friendly and helpful, I wish I could remember her name. She told us about different hikes we could try, gave us a few maps of the area including one that stretched up to the Grand Canyon, and showed us an amazing book which I ended up purchasing.

As we headed out I remembered that right before we turned off the road to pull into the parking lot I had noticed a history marker on the opposite side of the road. I ran back inside to ask her about it and she told me how Indian Gardens was the homesite of the first settler in Oak Creek Canyon. In 1875 scouts from Fort Verde, now Camp Verde, captured a small band of Tonto Apache Indians. The following year, Jim Thompson took “squatter rights” to that piece of land. There he found the Indian’s deserted gardens where the Indians had grown corn and squash and healthy springs. He decided to built a log cabin and named it Indian Gardens Ranch.

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Since then the name has been changed to Indian Gardens and as the years past Thompson expanded his settlement to include more cabins, a 2-story building, and even a school. While the none of the structures are there today and development has occurred with new cabins and establishments where the old cabins and school were located, the river and some stone walls are still there. So, while there isn’t really much to see, it’s still nice to learn about the history of a place and be at the original location of where others settled long ago.

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