Scenic Sedona Historical Society tours offer local history against a spectacular backdrop
Article and photos by Joanna Dodder Nellans
If you wonder how Sedona used to look as you drive up Highway 89A through its busy business district, a Red Rock Loop History Tour with the Sedona Historical Society offers you that view into the colorful past.
The historical society conducts an annual fall tour in town as well as an annual spring tour up Oak Creek Canyon that will impress anyone with an interest in local history – especially when you couple the tours with the spectacular backdrop of the Red Rock formations and gorgeous canyon.
The society started the tours in 2009 because members thought there might be some interest. They quickly found out they were correct; every tour has sold out.
“It helps build appreciation and knowledge,” observed Janeen Trevillyan, a long-time historical society historian. In turn, the tour encourages people to help preserve and protect this history.
“If people don’t get a little heart tug once in a while, it’s harder for them to appreciate,” Janeen explained.
The Red Rock Loop tour starts at the Sedona Heritage Museum, housed in the historic Jordan family homestead (which the Sedona Historical Society owns), alongside several other historic structures and cemeteries. Gifted by the Jordan family, the museum grounds also is home to a 100-year-old telegraph station that was featured in John Wayne’s 1947 movie Angel and the Badman. The famous Red Rocks have provided the backdrop to a long list of western films, especially in the 1940s and 1950s.
Led by Janeen, the tour heads west on Highway 89A through what was once known as Grasshopper Flat, a productive pastureland where people would collect grasshoppers for fish bait. It’s now West Sedona. The comfortable shuttle turns south on Red Rock Loop Road to access several of the historic sites on the tour. You can see what this loop looked like in 1965 by watching the Western comedy movie, “The Rounders,” by the way.
Among the tour’s many stops is the historic Henry Schuerman homestead on nearby Loy Road, built around 1908. Schuerman’s granddaughter Martha Loy gifted her childhood home to the historical society in 2019. After Henry moved here from Prescott to farm, the Schuermans were prominent members of the community who sold produce throughout the region and planted Arizona’s first commercial vineyards and winery.
The Schuermans established Sedona’s first cemetery near their home in 1893 when their young daughter Clara died. Now owned by the historical society, it’s also the final resting place for the region’s first white settler John Thompson and many of his family members.
Janeen clearly enjoys sharing the stories of Sedona’s founders during these tours.
“It’s the story of these people – all the hardships they endured,” she explained.
For more information, visit https://sedonamuseum.org/
If you go....
- What: Red Rock Loop History Tour
- When: 2-5 p.m. on Sept. 27, 28, 29 and 30
- Where: Meet at the Sedona Heritage Museum, 735 Jordan Rd.
- How much: $75 for non-members. Tickets go on sale in June each year and always sell out. To keep track of the sale dates, join the Sedona Historical Society and/or subscribe to its newsletter. If you still miss out, try the waiting list because people do sometimes cancel.
- For more information: Go online to sedonamuseum.org or call 928-282-7038.