Behind the Place Name: Prescott

Behind the Place Name: Prescott


Behind the Place Name: Prescott

Behind the Place Name: Prescott

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
November 29, 2022

Jerome, Clarkdale, Prescott. Just three of the unique place names in Arizona’s Verde Valley. But just how did these towns, along State routes 89 and 89A, get their names in the first place? 

We pondered this very question and set out on a fact-finding mission.

This is the second in our series, and we venture to the largest city of the bunch, Prescott. With a population just shy of 43,000, Prescott is the county seat of Yavapai County and a bustling central Arizona destination.

Arizona was officially declared a US territory in February 1863. Just one year later, Fort Whipple was moved from Chino Valley to a new, more mountainous locale that was declared "Prescott" on May 30, 1864.

It was named in honor of historian William Hickling Prescott, a man who lived and died in Massachusetts and, by all accounts, never set foot in what would become the territory of Arizona. Prescott died of complications following a stroke in 1859.

William H. Prescott is considered one of the most distinguished historians of the 19th century, being instrumental in the development of history as an academic subject. Following a stint researching Italian poetry, Prescott focused on the history of Spain, spanning from the Renaissance to the early Spanish empire.

He was left partially blind following a food fight during his freshman year at Harvard when he was struck in the eye with a slice of bread and suffered deteriorating eyesight for the rest of his life.

He has a statue and an entire building named after him in Boston, plus a street is named in his honor near Harvard, his bread-tossing alma mater across the river in Cambridge. But the once-territorial-capital of Arizona is his only U.S. namesake west of the Mississippi (And Prescott Valley, of course).

But William H. Prescott does have a global influence: The Colegio Anglo Americano Prescott in Peru is also named after him. One of his most popular works was “The History of the Conquest of Peru,” which chronicled Spain’s exploits in the country.

So, next time you're traveling to or through Prescott, you'll know how the town got its name.

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

September 23, 2021

Arizona Department of Transportation volunteers answered the call to participate on National CleanUp Day, Sept. 18, by removing more than 150 bags, or 2,053 pounds of trash from alongside Arizona’s highways. 

Forty groups from all corners of the state: Page, Yuma, Concho, Vernon, Show Low, Prescott, Chino Valley, Congress, Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Tucson, Bouse, Claypool, Sahuarita and Bullhead City, registered with ADOT for the event on the Adopt a Highway website. 

Adopt a Highway Program Manager Mary Currie said, “It’s a win for communities and the state of Arizona. One-day permits offer volunteers a way to explore one type of volunteer work among many, and to be a part of the litter solution. They get first hand experience on the process for adopting and how to conduct a litter cleanup safely. Our experience has been that some of these groups decide to complete the adoption for two-years and become regular caregivers of their segment”. 

More than half of the groups registering for the cleanup were new volunteers interested in participating for one day rather than a two-year adoption.

Every day Adopt a Highway program volunteers are giving back to Arizona somewhere in the state. ADOT strives to make it safe and as easy as possible for them to continue volunteering.  

These individual volunteers made a positive impact for drivers on the state highway system by removing all types of litter, including: cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles, aluminum cans, and other unsightly trash. Car bumpers and refrigerator doors were also found along the way. A very dangerous type of trash for travelers.

Michele Michelson and her group of eight volunteers opted for a one-day permit to help clean up SR 89A in Prescott Valley. “We are all very proud to be here in this beautiful sunshine to keep the county, the town and our state clean. I saw ADOT’s post on facebook and registered. Here we are and we’ll do it again. Who doesn’t want to keep their community clean. Thank you ADOT for offering this opportunity.”

In return for a two-year permit and a sign recognizing their group’s segment, Adopt a Highway volunteers agree to:

Adopt a minimum of two miles of state highway

Always wear Federal Highway Administration required ANSI Class II Safety vests

Read a safety brief and watch a safety video before each cleanup

Contact ADOT before cleaning up their sections

File an activity report after each cleanup, telling ADOT how many bags of litter was collected

Clean their sections at least once and preferably three or more times per year

Motorists can support Adopt a Highway volunteers by slowing down where people are picking up litter and always driving with extra caution and care. 

To learn more about ADOT’s Adopt a Highway volunteer program, please visit