Williams photo project moves to visitor center

A Williams store owner greets customers in the 1920s. This photo, along with thousands of other historic Williams photos, are being collected and displayed at the Williams Visitor Center.

A Williams store owner greets customers in the 1920s. This photo, along with thousands of other historic Williams photos, are being collected and displayed at the Williams Visitor Center.

WILLIAMS, Ariz. —The Williams Visitor Center and Williams Public Library Special Collections is having a grand unveiling of a new historic photo and artifacts exhibit May 17 at 2 p.m. at the visitor center.

The new exhibit, Gateway to Williams History, showcases photos and artifacts focusing on the rich and long history of Williams. Photos, artifacts, memorabilia and heirlooms from community members and business owners will be showcased under glass for all to see.

The new addition to the visitor center is an ongoing partnership between the city of Williams and Kaibab National Forest to gather and display historic photos and objects from the community.

Williams librarian Andrea Dunn and Kaibab historian Margaret Hangan have collaborated to collect and digitize the historic photos and now display them at the new location within the visitor center.

“This is just the beginning,” Dunn said. “It’s going to keep growing and changing.”

Dunn and other volunteers have spent the last few months painting and updating the area for the displays.

“We’ve been going in every Saturday to do work,” Dunn said. “We’ve moved cases from here (the library) to the visitor center and have built new bases. We painted the ceiling also.”

The historic photos will be displayed in the former Chamber of Commerce rooms of the visitor center.

“It’s all historic photos of Williams,” Dunn said. “It basically tells the story of Williams and the different components that make up Williams and its history.”

Dunn said the photos cover a wide range of Williams history including ranching, sheepherding, businesses, residences, schools, the railroad and the mountain men.

Dunn said she and Hangan have scanned over 4,000 photos on to computer hard drives and have boxes of photos still left to scan.

“I don’t know how many we have in boxes, but we keep getting more stuff,” she said.

Dunn said the project continues to seek historic photos and objects from Williams. She said people can either donate the items or bring them to the library to be scanned on to the computer.

“It’s going to keep growing and changing,” she said about the historic photo project. “This whole project has been in the works for some time.”

Dunn said the historic photo collection began with the efforts of former Williams resident Hubert Clark. Clark put several binders of historic photos together that are currently on display at the library.

Dunn became interested in continuing the project when she began researching the history of hiking trails around Williams.

“I wanted to get the history of the different hiking trails,” Dunn said. “So, I spent a lot of time with the Forest Service and met Margaret. She asked if we could do the historic photo project together. She has been a huge part of the project.”

Dunn and Hangan have received several grants for the project, which has gone toward computer hardware and a scanner.

Dunn says she enjoys working on the historic photo project and has learned a lot about Williams.

“We just found out Lost Canyon used to be a dude ranch,” she said. “We now are trying to find information about the cemetery. We know it has moved and I would like to figure out exactly where it was and when it happened.”

Dunn said the historic photo project will continue to evolve and is beginning with photos on the walls and table top displays.

“We eventually want to get a flip book,” she said. “We also hope to do historic talks at the center and gather oral histories.”

Dunn said the group is seeking volunteers for the project. She said anyone with historic photos of Williams, especially photos of businesses, is encouraged to bring them to the visitor center.

“We don’t have to keep them,” she said. “We can scan them and give them right back.”

Everyone is invited to join visitor center staff, city employees, volunteers, and Mayor John Moore at the ribbon cutting event. The Williams Visitor Center is located at 200 W. Railroad Avenue.

More information can be found by calling the visitor center at (928) 635-1418.

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