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Historic Navajo County Courthouse and Museum
Historic Navajo County Courthouse and Museum
"Gateway to the Petrified Forest"
Location of Holbrook in Navajo County, Arizona
Location of Holbrook in Navajo County, Arizona
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Coordinates: 34°54′26″N 110°9′46″W / 34.90722°N 110.16278°W / 34.90722; -110.16278Coordinates: 34°54′26″N 110°9′46″W / 34.90722°N 110.16278°W / 34.90722; -110.16278
Country United States
State Arizona
County Navajo
Incorporated 1917
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Body Holbrook City Council
 • Total 17.37 sq mi (44.99 km2)
 • Land 17.34 sq mi (44.92 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
5,082 ft (1,548 m)
 • Total 4,858
 • Density 280.10/sq mi (108.15/km2)
Time zone UTC-7 (MST (no DST))
ZIP code
Area code(s) 928
FIPS code 04-33280
GNIS ID(s) 5871, 2410773
Airport Holbrook Municipal Airport

Holbrook (Navajo: Tʼiisyaakin) is a city in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city was 5,053. The city is the county seat of Navajo County.

Holbrook was founded in 1881 or 1882, when the railroad was built, and named to honor the first chief engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, Henry Randolph Holbrook.


The Holbrook area was inhabited first by the Anasazi, then Puebloans, then the Navajo and Apache. In 1540 (some seventy years before Jamestown or the Pilgrims) Coronado searched for the Seven Cities of Cibola and camped some sixty miles east of Holbrook. Coronado sent an expedition west to find the Colorado River, and they crossed the Little Colorado some twenty-five miles east of Holbrook and found a wonderland of colors they named "El Desierto Pintada" - The Painted Desert. The expedition was then led by the Hopis to the Grand Canyon.

U.S. settlements

After the Mexican–American War ended in 1848 the area was ceded to the United States. In 1851 to 1857 the U.S. Army sent three expeditions along the 35th parallel, the third led by Lt. Beale who created a ten foot wide wagon road. The area was known as Navajo Springs for a spring a dozen miles northeast of Holbrook. Soon after a store and saloon was established at the confluence of the Rio Puerco and Little Colorado Rivers two miles east of Holbrook, and the area became known as Horsehead Crossing.

In 1876 Mormons emigrated from Utah and began settlements near Horsehead Crossing on both the Little Colorado and Rio Puerco rivers. During 1881 and 1882, railroad tracks were laid down and a railroad station was built to supply wood and water and to freight supplies south to Fort Apache. The community was then named Holbrook after the first engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The railroad sold a million acres to a Boston investment group which established the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, better known as the Hashknife Outfit. It leased another million acres of government land and became one of the largest cattle ranches ever to exist. Holbrook became its headquarters and quickly grew into a cow-town.

Wild west cow-town

The Hashknife Outfit hired cowboys, many of whom were wanted men hiding from arrest. Rustling of cattle and horses over two million acres plagued the Hashknife Outfit. With cowmen, sheepmen, farmers, rustlers and outlaws competing for the same land, a range war ensued, called both the Pleasant Valley War and the Tonto Basin War. It likely killed as many men as any of the western range wars. Many of the events that played out during the Pleasant Valley War up to 1887 occurred in and around Holbrook, including the famous Holbrook Shootout.

Holbrook shootout

On September 4, 1887 Commodore Perry Owens, the Apache County Sheriff, came to Holbrook to arrest Andy Blevins (A.K.A Andy Cooper) for horse theft (Blevins had also recently bragged about killing two men and had killed many more, including two lawmen). Sheriff Owens insisted on confronting the Blevins brothers alone, knowing there would likely be a shootout. Sheriff Owens went to the Blevins house (which still stands), knocked on the door and when Blevins asked what he want, announced he'd come to arrest Blevins. Blevins resisted arrest and a shootout occurred. Blevins, two brothers, a friend, and Blevins horse were all shot - all died except one brother. Owens emerged unscathed despite being shot at from a half-dozen feet away. Owens single-handedly taking on four men made him a western legend rivaling the Earp Brothers and Texas John Slaughter as lawmen of the west.

Later development

Holbrook was known as "the town too tough for women and churches" and in 1914 was said to be the only county seat in the U.S. that didn't have a church (the Mormons had moved twenty-five miles south to Snowflake and Taylor). The original railroad station was replaced by the Santa Fe Depot in 1892. Navajo County was divided off of Apache County in 1895 and Holbrook became the county seat. Many lawmen and cowboys from the area became Rough Riders with Teddy Roosevelt in the late 1800s. But by 1902 The Hashknife Outfit was bankrupt and the land was sold to the Babbitt brothers.

President Roosevelt named the Petrified Forest (including part of the Painted Desert) a National Monument in 1906. Holbrook was incorporated in 1917. Most of the Beale Wagon Road became Route 66 in 1926 and passed through both the Petrified Forest and Holbrook. Tourism started taking over the economy.

Holbrook meteorite

See also: meteorite falls
Holbrook meteorite small
Fragment of the "Holbrook" meteorite

After the appearance of a smoke trail in the sky on July 19, 1912, a meteorite with an estimated mass of 190 kilograms (419 pounds) exploded over the town of Holbrook, and a shower of stones fell from the sky, estimated to number more than 16,000 and varying in weight from 6.6 kilograms to less than 0.1 grams.


Holbrook is located at 34°54′26″N 110°9′46″W / 34.90722°N 110.16278°W / 34.90722; -110.16278 (34.907203, -110.162882).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.4 square miles (40 km2), all of it land.


Holbrook has a semi-arid climate (BSk) with cold to cool winters and hot summers. Although the mean snowfall is 0.16 metres (6.30 in), the median is zero, so the majority of winters do not have measurable snow. There are high diurnal temperature variations year-round.

Climate data for Holbrook, Arizona
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 74
Average high °F (°C) 50.6
Average low °F (°C) 20.9
Record low °F (°C) −20
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.71
Snowfall inches (cm) 1.5
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 4.0 3.5 4.6 2.7 3.3 1.6 6.0 8.0 5.4 4.1 3.0 3.6 49.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch) 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.6 0.6 3.4


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 206
1910 609
1920 1,206 98.0%
1930 1,115 −7.5%
1940 1,184 6.2%
1950 2,336 97.3%
1960 3,438 47.2%
1970 4,759 38.4%
1980 5,785 21.6%
1990 4,686 −19.0%
2000 4,917 4.9%
2010 5,053 2.8%
2020 4,858 −3.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,917 people, 1,626 households, and 1,195 families residing in the city. The population density was 318.4 people per square mile (122.9/km2). There were 1,906 housing units at an average density of 123.4 per square mile (47.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 59.3% White, 24.0% Native American, 2.4% Black or African American, 1.0% Asian, 8.4% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. 23.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,626 households, out of which 40.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.3% were married couples living together, 16.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.5% were non-families. Of all households 22.6% were made up of individuals, and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.93 and the average family size was 3.47.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 35.7% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,746, and the median income for a family was $36,349. Males had a median income of $30,797 versus $24,088 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,912. About 16.6% of families and 20.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.7% of those under age 18 and 3.2% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest

WigwamMotel HolbrookAZ
At the Wigwam Motel along U.S. Route 66, visitors can sleep in a teepee.


The city is served by the Holbrook Unified School District and serves 2324 students.

Three elementary schools: Park Elementary School (K–2) and Hulet Elementary School (3–5) serve the city and Indian Wells Elementary (K–6) serves the northern parts of the school district.

Holbrook Junior High School (6–8) and Holbrook High School (9–12) serve the city.

One of the four main campuses of Northland Pioneer College community college is located in Holbrook. The other three main campuses are in Show Low, Snowflake, and Winslow, all in Navajo County, Arizona.

The Holbrook Public Library is located in Holbrook.


Greyhound Lines serves Holbrook on its Los Angeles-New York line. White Mountain Connection, operated by the City of Show Low connects Holbrook with Show Low.

Holbrook is a junction between Interstate 40, U.S. Route 180, and Arizona State Route 77. Arizona State Route 377 meets Arizona State Route 77 at the southern edge of Holbrook.

Notable people

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