With nearly 10,000 years of human habitation by a diversity of cultural groups, the Verde Valley has a long and rich history to share. Archaeologists identify the Valley’s first human inhabitants as belonging to the nomadic Clovis culture, followed by the more sedentary Hohokam from the south. The Sinagua entered the region from the north and constructed the Tuzigoot Pueblo and the cliff dwelling at Montezuma Castle around 1000 A.D., but abandoned the area in the early 1400s.
While there is continuing dispute about the chronology, archaeologists generally place the arrival of the Yavapai around 1300, though their oral tradition suggests a much earlier time. The entrance of the Apache people is considered to have occurred between 1250 and 1450. A band of Spanish soldiers traveled through the Camp Verde area in 1582-1583, twenty-five years before the founding of Jamestown. Other than the mention of the Verde Valley in several travel logs, there are few remaining artifacts from this period of brief Spanish contact.
White settlers arrived in 1865 and began farming along the Verde River and its tributaries, beginning with a 200-acre settlement at the confluence of the Verde River and West Clear Creek. Although many of the settlers came to the Valley to farm and ranch, a rich mineral strike in the Black Hills in the late 1870s attracted a wave of newcomers and resulted in the establishment of the towns of Jerome and Clarkdale.
Today Fort Verde State Historic Park, the Yavapai-Apache Cultural Department, the Camp Verde Historical Society Museum, and the Verde Valley Archaeology Center have all made it their mission to preserve and protect the legacies of these various cultures. Visitors are encouraged to visit these sites and discover what historically made Camp Verde and the Verde Valley such attractive places to live.
Camp Verde’s Historical Sites
Camp Verde’s history has deep roots in agriculture. Over 2000 years ago, the Hohokam developed extensive networks of irrigation canals that transformed the Verde Valley into a rich agricultural area. Today, that agricultural legacy is found in local farms producing farm to table relationships with local restaurants.
Clear Creek Church and Clear Creek Cemetery
Two historic sites from the 19th century, the Clear Creek Church and Clear Creek Cemetery give a glimpse into the life of the first white settlers to call Camp Verde home.
Camp Verde Historical Society Museum and Research Center
The Camp Verde Historical Society Museum and Research Center contains a collection of documents, photographs and artifacts that tell the story of the community and surrounding area for a period of 1,000 years or more.
Fort Verde State Historic Park
Fort Verde State Historic Park is the best-preserved example of an American Indian Wars period fort in Arizona. Visitors can experience three historic house museums, all with period furnishings, that are listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places.
General Crook TrailThis is a section of the trail that famous American Indian Wars leader General George Crook blazed from Fort Whipple (Prescott), through Fort Verde (Camp Verde), and on to Fort Apache. The trail descended into the Verde Valley by way of Copper Canyon, the same grade that Interstate 17 drops into the Valley today
Historic Building Walking TourThis self-guided tour created by the Camp Verde Historical Society includes thirteen historic buildings dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. All tour stops are within walking distance of the Camp Verde Historical Society (Stop 1) and are marked with plaques.
Pecan Lane Rural Historic Landscape
One of the many iconic views of Camp Verde is the portion of Montezuma Castle Highway known as Pecan Lane. The stately row of pecan trees was planted by Eva Haydon, daughter-in-law of landowner Noah Haydon, in 1927-1928. Intended as a cash crop for her family, the trees have, over the years, yielded considerably more benefits to the community.
Historic Irrigation Ditches
For over 1,000 years, irrigation ditches helped sustain Verde Valley agriculture. The earliest operating ditch in the Valley dates from around 1200 A.D. and is still used by the U.S. Forest Service and several private parties. More recent settlers constructed the irrigation ditches that currently provide Camp Verde residents with water for farm fields, orchards, and lawns.
Historic Camp Verde
This report describes the results of two historic resource surveys of the Camp Verde area. The primary purpose of both volumes was to assemble historical and architectural information about properties that played important roles in Camp Verde’s history.
Verde Valley Archaeology Center
Established in 2010, the Verde Valley Archaeology Center is an effort to protect what is left of the valley’s ancient people. The museum on Main Street displays and interprets artifacts from both public and private collections, and in doing so has helped to stem the flow of artifacts leaving the valley. The center has an active research facility that assists archaeologists and government agencies throughout the area in identifying and cataloging artifacts. And they offer a number of programs throughout the year to help educate the public and instill an appreciation for the ancient cultures that have called the Verde Valley home.
The Yavapai-Apache Nation, a federally recognized sovereign Native American nation, is a very active part of the Verde Valley community. The tribe is comprised of descendants of the Wipukyipai (Yavapai) and Dil zhee (Tonto Apache) people. These two groups inhabited the Verde Valley and Prescott area for hundreds of years before Europeans entered the region. The hills, valleys, and canyons of Central Arizona hold many sacred places for both tribal groups. The landscape is at the heart of their heritage and sustainers of their lives.