Coconino County is the largest county in Arizona and the second largest county in terms of square miles in the United States. It is larger than the nine smallest American states with 18,661 total square miles, 18,619 of which are entirely land. Water comprises the remaining 43 square miles of the county.
The entire population of Coconino County is 134,421 residents. Around 30 percent of the county’s population is Native American. The name “Coconino” actually derives from the language of the Havasupai tribe and its word “Cohonino.”
Coconino County is home to several national and state parks as well as reservations including the Grand Canyon National Park, the Havasupai Nation, parts of the Navajo Nation, the Hualapai Nation, and the Hopi Nation. The county has a relatively young population with the median age being 30. Around 35 percent of the households in the county have children younger than 18 living in them.
A fair portion of the county’s population is also bilingual. Almost 19 percent of county residents speak Navajo while another seven percent speak Spanish.
Flagstaff serves as the county’s seat. Other cities that are located in Coconino County include:
• Happy Jack
Smaller towns found in Coconino County are Fredonia and Tusayan.
The county has two major interstates running through it, Interstates 40 and 17. It is also served by several smaller federal and state highways including U.S. 89 and U.S. 180. State highways going through Coconino County include:
In addition to the number of highways and interstates running through it, Coconino County is also served by several modes of transportation. The county is home to a number of municipal and regional airports like the Grand Canyon National Park Airport in Tusayan and Pulliam Airport in Flagstaff.
Greyhound and Mountain Line bus lines travel through and make stops in Coconino County. Tourists can also arrive in the county via the Grand Canyon Railway.
Tourists coming to Coconino County often stop to visit the sites on the four major Native American reservations here. The Havasupai Nation, for example, generates revenue by welcoming tourists to their reservations’ rivers and waterfalls. This tribe has lived in the Grand Canyon for more than 800 years. It has a population of 730 people. The name Havasupai means “people of the blue-green water.”
In 1882, the American government forced the Havasupai tribe from its land onto a reservation of 518 square feet. The tribe battled the American judicial system until 1975 when it regained more than 185,000 square feet of its land.
The Navajo Nation is another Native American tribe that resides in parts of Coconino County. The Navajo are one of the largest tribes in the country with more than 350,000 members. The territory of the Navajo Nation spans more than 17 million acres in Northern Arizona as well as Southeastern Utah and Northwest New Mexico.
It has its own elected legislature as well as a national judicial system. It also has its own law enforcement agency, social services department, health services, and educational system.
The official name of the Navajo is the Dine, referring to the Long Walk or forced relocation off the tribe’s lands in the 1880s. The tribe is famous for its clans and oral history. Both influence the behavior and culture of the tribe.
The Hualapai Nation is not as large as the Navajo Nation. However, it still has 2300 members and resides entirely in Coconino County.
The name “Hualapai” means “people of the tall pines.” The nation’s territory spans parts of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. It is headquartered in Peach Springs. The nation has its own school system that teaches classes in both English and in the Hualapai language.
Finally, the Hopi Nation also resides entirely in Coconino County. The Hopi are sometimes referred to as the Pueblo. They were given this name by Spanish explorers because the tribe lived and continues to live in villages. The Spanish word for “village” is pueblo.
This tribe of 19,000 residents earns revenue like the Havasupai Nation by welcoming tourists to its reservation each year. The nation maintains a cultural center where guests can come to learn more about the tribe and the area of Coconino County on which it is located.
The nation also runs several hotels where guests can stay and enjoy activities like swimming and fine dining while in the area. While some Native American tribes in Arizona own and operate casinos to generate revenue, the Hopi have consistently voted against gambling as a source of income.
Coconino County Seat Overview and History
Flagstaff serves as the seat of Coconino County. Founded in 1876, this city of more than 70,000 residents sits in the south-central part of the county. The total population of its entire metro area is around 139,000 residents.
The story behind Flagstaff’s name is not known for its sure. However, most historians agree that it can be traced to a Boston scouting party that stopped in the area to celebrate the Fourth of July. Members of the party created a flag pole from ponderosa pine. This event served as the basis for the city getting its name from the flag pole or flagstaff on which the scouting party flew the American flag that day.
It was during the same time that Flagstaff was officially founded as a mining camp in Coconino County. The town eventually began attracting newcomers not only for the mining opportunities but also for the promise of grazing sheep and cattle in the area. Workers also came to fill jobs in the city’s growing timber industry. It was during the 1880s and the town’s growth that Flagstaff got its first post office and railroad.
With its geological location along the Colorado Plateau, Flagstaff is prized among astronomers for its high altitude. Despite being surrounded by the largest ponderosa pine forest in the U.S., the city is still a prime location for astronomers to come and gaze at the night skies through any of the city’s dozens of telescopes.
In fact, Pluto was discovered by an astronomer using one of the observatory telescopes in Flagstaff. The most famous of observatories in Flagstaff is the Lowell Observatory.
Flagstaff is also surrounded by a number of mountain ranges including Mount Elden and the San Francisco Peaks. It is also close to Humphrey Peak and the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.
Given its close proximity to some of the most scenic mountains in the country, it is little wonder that Flagstaff is a major draw for tourists each year. Millions of people from all over the world come to Flagstaff to visit the Grand Canyon National Park and Oak Creek Canyon. Other tourist spots include the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater and historic Route 66 which travels through parts of Flagstaff and Coconino County.
While tourism remains one of the most lucrative industries in Flagstaff, the city also generates revenue through other forms of business as well. In the mid-1980s, city leaders gathered to transform the city into a center for finance, government, and shopping.
A new city hall and library was built. The county’s administrative offices also located to downtown Flagstaff. Today, the city is home to national and global businesses like Joy Cones, Nestle Purina Petcare, and a Walgreens distribution center.
The U.S. Naval Observatory and the U.S. Geological Survey also call Flagstaff home. Likewise, Flagstaff is home to Northern Arizona University.
As a university town, Flagstaff has an above average number of residents who completed high school and at least a four-year college degree. Close to 90 percent of Flagstaff residents have a high school diploma. Around 40 percent of city residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is higher than the national average of 24 percent.
Incidentally, the city has a young population with the median age being 27. Close to 33 percent of Flagstaff households report having children younger than 18 living with them. Twelve percent of the city’s population is Native American while 73 percent is white.
With a young population, it is also no surprise that Flagstaff has an active arts and culture scene. The Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra hold numerous performances throughout the year. The Orpheum Theater welcomes dozens of popular bands to the city while Heritage Park is the scene for dozens of free concerts each year.
Likewise, the city has its own opera troupe that hosts light opera and theatrical performances for residents. Finally, the university also puts on plays and concerts for the public during the school year.
Coconino County Courthouse – History and Overview
The county courthouse of Coconino County is located in Flagstaff and is more than 124 years old. It is located at 200 North San Francisco Street at the corner of East Birch Avenue. The building itself was built between 1894 and 1895 by H. Clements and Company from Los Angeles. The architect for the building was J.N. Pierson.
Built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the Coconino County courthouse is a two-story red sandstone building. It faces southwest and has a four-story red sandstone tower on its southwest corner. At the base of the tower is the main entrance into the courthouse. The main entrance has two arches that serve as a frame for the courthouse’s recessed doors.
In 2002, Coconino County leaders agreed to build a new judicial center onto the existing courthouse. The judicial center was built on the north side of the courthouse. The architect for the new Coconino County courthouse was Johnson Walzer Associates. The Skidmore Contracting Corporation was the construction company in charge of building the new judicial center.
The judicial center for Coconino County faces west and is a two-story red brick building. It has a recessed porch on its south side on the first floor. The upper windows in the building are vertical while the roof features a flat line. The judicial center building itself is attached to the courthouse on its south side.
The Coconino County courthouse is home to the county’s superior court. The superior court hears cases regarding real property, civil claims of $10,000 or more, and felony prosecutions. It also hears cases involving probate matters and divorces as well as appeals in criminal cases from lower courts.
Further, the Superior Court of Coconino County oversees judicial programs like:
• Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR
• Conciliation court
• Drug court
• Integrated family court
• Veteran’s court
There are six separate divisions of the Superior Court of Coconino County as well as one juvenile division. All of the divisions are overseen by judges who are elected to their positions.
The website for the superior court has resources that the public is welcome to use to pursue legal cases or answer legal questions. Coconino County residents can visit the website for information about adult probation, jury duty, and juvenile court cases and schedules. The website also has links for court filing fees, administrative orders, and superior court calendars.
The clerk of the superior court oversees both the superior court and the judicial center. The clerk is elected into his or her position by Coconino County residents. The clerk serves as the official record keeper and financial office for all of Coconino County.
Additionally, the Coconino County Superior Court clerk also carries out dozens of other duties including:
• Providing the public, court, and media with access to all records of the superior court of Coconino County
• Attending all sessions of the superior court to record its actions
• Initiating action in superior court civil, criminal, juvenile, adoption, probate, and domestic relations cases
• Collecting and disbursing court-ordered victim restitution, fines and fees in a timely manner
• Receiving, distributing, and preserving all official court documents
• Storing exhibits for court cases
• Issuing and recording marriage licenses
• Processing all records in juvenile matters like dependency, severance, adoption, and delinquencies
• Processing applications for passports
• Acting as a commissioner to establish jury pools and grand juries for superior court cases as well as county and state trials
The website for the Coconino County Clerk of the Superior Court serves as a resource of information for people who are filing or participating in legal cases being heard by the court. People can start the filing process on the clerk’s website and also find out how much the filing fees are.
People can also upload documents needed for their cases on the website. If they are not sure of what documents to file, they can access the Coconino County law library on the site for the clerk of the county court.
Most of the resources on the website are free to access and updated on a regular basis so people always have access to the most relevant information. The site also provides a list of court contact information for county residents.