Arizona Trails

Arizona Trails
The Counties and Towns of Arizona


 1864-1887

A MAP showing the county boundaries, as accurately as is possible on a small scale, is given on here.

Map

 Apache county, so named from the Indian tribe, or perhaps immediately from the fort, has an area of 20,940 square miles, ranking second in extent. It was created from Yavapai by' act of 1879 and curtailed in 1881 by the cutting-off of that part of Graham between the Black and Gila rivers. The county seat was originally at Snowflake, but was moved to Springerville in 1880, and to St John in 1881. That portion north of latitude 35°, or of the railroad, is a region of plateaux and mesas from 4,000 to 7,000 feet above the level of the sea, with peaks rising to nearly twice those heights. The few streams run in deep canons and are dry in summer, and though the plateau produces good grass, the country is for the most part valueless for agricultural purposes. Here, however, are immense coal deposits, which are sure to assume great value in time. The northern portion is covered by the Moqui and Navajo Indian reservations, having practically no white inhabitants. The Moqui towns and the ruins of Chelly Canon are among the most interesting relics of antiquity to be found in the United States; Fort Defiance is the oldest post in the county; and the famous 'diamond-fields,' of 1872 are to he found—on the maps—in the extreme north. , South of the railroad the county is well watered by the Colorado Chiquito and its branches, supporting a population of nearly 6,000, a prominent element being the Mormons, numbering about 3,000, and whose occupation dates from 1876-7. Besides the grazing and farming lands, there are valuable forests of pine. The extreme south, about Fort Apache, is included in the San Carlos, or White Mountain, Indian reservation. St John, the county seat, is a thriving village of over 1,000 inhabitants, with two newspapers; and Holbrook on the railroad, with a population of about 500 and one newspaper, is the distributing point for all the county. Yavapai county, so named from the Indian tribe, was one of the four original counties created by the first legislature of 1864. At that time it included over half of the whole territory—all north of the Gila and east of the meridian of 113" 20'; and it still comprises more than one fourth, with an area of about 28,000 square miles. North of latitude 35', or of the railroad, is the Colorado plateau, cut to a depth of 1,000 to 6,000 feet by the grand canon of the great river, and by the hardly less wonderful canons of the Colorado Chiquito and other branches. This region has some fine forests and extensive grazing lands, but as a rule little water available for agriculture ; and it is for the most part unoccupied, except by the Hualapai and Suppai Indians, and by a few Mormons on the Utah frontier. South of latitude 35°, the country is mountainous, but has many fertile valleys, of which that of the Verde is most extensive. It is well timbered, and has in most parts plenty of water, the climate being the most agreeable to be found in the territory. Here the lands are tilled to some extent without irrigation. All the mountains are rich in the precious metals ; but most of the mines, as of the population, about 10,000 souls—perhaps considerably more—are in the southwestern corner of the county. Prescott, founded in 1864 on Granite Creek, at an altitude of about 5,500 feet, is delightfully situated, and has many fine buildings of wood, brick, and stone. More than others in Arizona, it is described as resembling an eastern town. In 1864-7, Prescott was the temporary seat of government, and since 1877 has been the permanent capital; it has many large mercantile establishments; is well supplied with banks and with public buildings; and has three daily newspapers, including the Arizona Miner, the oldest journal of the territory. Its population is about 2,000. Flagstaff, with perhaps 500 inhabitants, is the leading railroad town, and the centre of an active lumbering and mercantile industry. The Arizona Central Railroad to connect Prescott with the Atlantic and Pacific in the north, and with Phoenix in the south, is expected to accomplish great things for the capital and for the country.

Mojave, named from the Indian tribe, was another of the four counties organized in 1864. At that time it included all that part of Nevada south of latitude 37°, the county seat being Hardyville. In 1865 all north of Roaring Rapid, or about 35° 50', was set off as Pah-Ute county, with the county seat at Callville, moved the next year to St Thomas. In 1866 that part of both counties lying west of the Colorado and longitude 114° was attached to Nevada; in 1871 what was left of Pah-Ute was reattached to Mojave; in 1877 the county seat was moved to Mineral Park; and in 1883 the county north of the Colorado was extended east some 50 miles to Kanab Wash. The present area is about 12,500 square miles. The region is traversed from north to south by a succession of mineral-bearing mountain ranges, separated by narrow valleys, fertile, but for the most part without water, though prospectively valuable for grazing purposes with the aid of artesian wells. The most valuable agricultural lands are embraced in the Colorado bottom. The county has many rich mines of gold, silver, copper, and lead, and from the beginning has been the field of frequent excitements, alternating with periods of depression. The railroad, however, has brought the promise of increased prosperity. Its population is about 1,500, of which Mineral Park, the county seat, contains nearly one third. It is built chiefly of adobe, and is the distributing point of supplies for the different mining camps. Kingman is the principal railroad town.

Yuma is another of the original counties, named like the rest from its chief aboriginal tribe; and it is the only county whose boundaries have never been changed. It has an area of 10,138 square miles, and is for the most part an arid desert, marked in the west by parallel north and south ranges, and in the east by detached spurs. The chief characteristic of its climate is extreme heat. It will never do to publish a work on Arizona without repeating John Phoenix' old story of the wicked Yuma soldier, who, after death, was stationed in a region reputed to be hot, yet was obliged to send back for his blankets. The heat, however, is much less oppressive than the thermometer would indicate, the air being pure and healthful. Agricultural possibilities depend mainly on the reclamation of Colorado bottoms by extensive irrigation works, and there are also broad tracts of grazing lands that may be utilized by means of wells. With these artificial aids, it is by no means improbable that in time Yuma may take a very prominent rank among the counties of the territory. Its placers on the Gila and Colorado were the foundation of several 'rushes' from 1858 to 1864, and are still worked to some extent, the sands in many places being rich in gold if water could be obtained for washing. Deep mines, as elsewhere noted, have yielded rich treasures of silver, lead, and copper, the raining industry here having been less disastrously affected than elsewhere by Indian hostilities, and by transportation difficulties. Yuma, or the region about the Gila and Colorado junction, figures prominently in the early Spanish annals, as already presented in this volume, though the ill-fated missions were on the California side, where also in later emigrant and ferry times Fort Yuma, now abandoned, was the centre of desert life. A remnant of the Yuma Indians, a once powerful tribe of the Gila valley, has now a reservation on the California shore at the old fort. Arizona City, since called Yuma, opposite the fort, came into existence with the old ferry establishment, and though, encountering many obstacles, including several partial destruction by flood, it prospered exceedingly from 1864-5, as the principal distributing point for all the military posts, towns, and mining camps in the territory. The coming of the railroad in 1877-—and Yuma had the honor of a first visit from the iron horse—took away much of its commercial glory; but it is still a town of about 1,000 inhabitants, site of the territorial prison, with a brisk local trade, and an excellent newspaper in the Arizona Sentinel; and its position on the railroad and the great river gives promise of permanent prosperity within somewhat narrow limits. The county seat has been here since 1871, being removed from La Paz, a town which rose and fell with the Colorado mining excitement of 1862-7. Ehrenberg, founded—as Mineral City—in 1863, a few miles below on the river, flourished with the decay of La Paz from 1867-9, and became an active trade centre, though losing for the most part its prominence when the stage gave way to the locomotive. The Colorado Indian reservation above La Paz, where a part of the Mojave tribe have their home, has been noticed in another chapter.

Pima county, bearing like the others the name of its aboriginal inhabitants, included at the time of its organization in 1864 all south of the Gila and east of Yuma, or nearly all of the Gadsden purchase. A part of Maricopa was cut off in 1873, of Pinal in 1875, Cochise and a part of Graham in 1881. Its present area is about 10,500 square miles. Tucson has always been the county seat, and in 1867-77 was also the territorial capital. Western and northern Pima, the former known as Papagueria, is an arid plain sparsely covered in spots with grass and shrubs; not without fertility, but having for the most part no water, and dotted here and there with isolated mountains and short ranges. The south-eastern portion in and adjoining the valley of the Santa Cruz, the county's only stream of importance, but sinking in the sand before reaching the Gila, is a fertile and agreeable region, though not well wooded or watered, and bordered by lofty mountain ranges. Here were the only Arizona settlements of Spanish and Mexican times, the presidios and missions of the Apache frontier dating from early in the eighteenth century. This early history has been as fully presented as the fragmentary records permit, and need not be even outlined here. The prosperity and antiquity of these establishments have always been exaggerated by modern writers, but their very existence under the circumstances was remarkable. Their nearest approach to real prosperity was in 1790 to 1815. • The north-eastern and southeastern parts of the county are traversed by the Southern Pacific and Guaymas railroads, respectively. With about 15,000 inhabitants, Pima is the most populous of all the counties, and many of its mining districts, as elsewhere noted, give good promise of future wealth. Tucson, founded in 1776, having at times in the old regime a population of over 1,000, but greatly reduced in the last days of Mexican and first of American rule, gained something by the disasters of 1861, which depopulated the rest of the county, still more by the renewal of mining industry following the peace of 1873-4, and received its last and greatest impetus on the completion of the railroad. With 10,000 inhabitants or a little more, about one third being of Mexican race, Tucson is and is likely to remain the territorial metropolis and centre of trade. Large portions of the city have still the characteristics of a Spanish American town with its adobe buildings; but recent improvements have been marked and rapid, brick and wood replacing to a considerable extent the original building material. Its schools, churches, and other public buildings are not discreditable to an American town of the century, while many merchants transact wholesale business on a large scale. The other old settlements of the valley, such as Bac, Tubac, Tumacdcori, and Calabazas, must still seek their glory in the remote past or future. At San Javier still stands the famous old church of mission times, which constitutes the county's most notable relic of modern antiquity. Here also is the reservation set apart for the Papagos, an interesting portion of Pima's population, and in many respects Arizona's most promising aboriginal tribe. At Quijotoa in the west two new towns sprang into existence, Logan and New Virginia, but their future, depending on that of the mines, is at present problematic or even doubtful. Nogales is the frontier custom-house town on the railroad, part of it being in Sonora. With Pima county's position on the Mexican border, its strong element of foreign and Indian population, its old-time history and traditions, its bloody Indian wars perhaps finally ended in 1886, its peculiar political and secession experiences of 1861-2, and its successive periods of excitement and depression in mining industry, it must be regarded as the representative county of Arizona in the past; and in the future, with its metropolis, its undeveloped mineral resources, its fertile though limited farming lands, and its existing and projected railroad facilities, Pima is not unlikely to retain its prominence.

Cochise county, named for the famous chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, lies east of Pima, from which it was cut off in 1881, forming the south-eastern corner of the territory, and having an area of 5,925 square miles. The county seat is at Tombstone. It is a region of wooded mountains and grassy valleys, affording a considerable area of grazing lands, but only slight agricultural promise, for lack of water. The San Pedro is the only permanent stream, carrying but little water in summer; but artesian wells have proved successful in Sulphur Spring, one of the county's eastern valleys. The stock-raising industry promises well; but it is to the wonderful metallic wealth of its hills that Cochise owes its world-wide fame, and particularly to developments in the Tombstone lodes, which have proved by far the most extensive and productive in the territory. This region has been the field of the most bloody and longest continued Indian atrocities; and it has suffered much in later years from the pest of border outlaws ; but it is hoped that its pioneer troubles and youthful irregularities are for the most part at an end. Tombstone, where the first house was built in 1879, and which has been twice nearly destroyed by fire, has been the most flourishing mining camp in the territory, and is now a town of nearly 4,000 inhabitants, chiefly built of adobe, but having many fine brick structures. An ample and excellent supply of water is brought from the Huachuca mountains, over 20 miles distant; and the city is well supplied with newspapers, schools, churches, and mercantile establishments, to say nothing of saloons and other adjuncts of civilization. Bisbee, in the extreme south, is a town of nearly 500 inhabitants, built up at the works of the Copper Queen Company, and the prospective centre of a rich mining district. Benson is at the junction of the Guaymas railroad with the main overland line, and the centre of a large grazing district, having large smelting-works, a newspaper, and a population of 500. Fairbanks, on the Guaymas railroad, is the point of departure of stages for Tombstone. Willcox, with about the same population, is a railroad station in the north-east, the point of departure for places in Graham and Gila counties, having also its newspaper.

We now come to the four new counties along the Gila, cut off at different dates since 1871 from Yavapai on the north and Pima on the south. The easternmost is Maricopa, created in 1871, increased from Pima in 1873, losing part of Pinal in 1875, extended in the north-east to longitude 110° in 1877, and losing northern Gila in 1881. Its present area is 9,354 square miles, and its county seat has been Phoenix from the first. The name, like those of all the counties before mentioned, is that of the principal aboriginal tribe. The extreme western portion does not differ much in its natural features from Yuma, having in the north the famous Vulture mines and in the south the Myers district. Above the big bend, however, on the Gila, Salt, and Verde rivers, the plain is favorably situated for irrigation from the streams ; and this eastern portion of Maricopa, especially the Salt River valley, forms the largest and most available body of farming land in the territory. By canals that have been and are being constructed, large areas of the desert are being transformed into grain-fields, orchards, vineyards, and gardens. Apparently the county must always maintain its agricultural supremacy. Here is one of the Pima Indian reservations, and here the Mormons have their most prosperous settlements. The county's great need is additional facilities for transportation, which will be afforded by a railroad connecting the Atlantic and Pacific and Prescott in the north with the Southern Pacific—which traverses Maricopa from east to west, south of the Gila—and Tucson in the south. The population is about 6,000. The first settlement was at Wickenburg in the extreme north in 18(33 ; but the valley settlement, the digging of canals, the raising of crops, and the building of houses date from 1867-8 ; and the founding of Phoenix—so called from the new civilization that was expected to rise here from the ashes of the past—from 1870. This is a thriving town of some 3,000 inhabitants, built largely of adobe, but with many structures of brick and wood, on an open plain formerly classified as desert but now distinguished among Arizona towns for its wealth of shade trees and attractive homes. Excessive heat is the only drawback to comfort in this favored region. The city is reached by a stage route of about 80 miles from Maricopa station on the Southern Pacific, but railroad connection with the north and south cannot be long delayed

Farther east on the Gila is Pinal county, named for its pine groves, or perhaps directly from the Pinal Apaches, created in 1875 from Pima and Yavapai, slightly extended westward in 1877 to correct an error of boundary, and losing the Globe district of southern Gila in 1881. Its present area is 5,210 square miles, and its county seat Florence. The southern portion of the county is largely a desert, traversed in the west by the railroad and the underground channel of the Santa Cruz, and in the east by the San Pedro and several ranges of mineral-bearing mountains. In the northern hills are several mining districts grouped around the famous Silver King as a centre. Along the Gila, which traverses the county from east to west, is a body of fine irrigable land, similar to that in Maricopa, though of less extent. In the west, lying along the river, is the Pima reservation, parts of which have been cultivated for centuries with undiminished yield; while farther up the valley eastward is a tract irrigated and utilized by settlers m recent years, and closely resembling in most respects that on Salt River. The lower San Pedro also contains a limited amount of good farming land.

The railroad extends about 70 miles across the southwestern part of the county ; and in this region stands also the famous Casa Grande, an adobe structure which was probably seen by the Spaniards in 1540, and was certainly built at a much earlier date. Florence, on the Gila, is the county seat and metropolis, and has a population of over 1,000, in many respects resembling the town of Phoenix. Casa Grande station, with nearly 500 inhabitants, is the principal railroad town, and Silver King and Pinal are the most flourishing settlements of the mining region. By reason of its situation and varied resources, this county bids fair to be permanently one of the most prosperous in Arizona. The Deer Creek coal-field, of great prospective value, is on the eastern frontier of Pinal, within the Indian reservation. A large portion of the county is included in the Reavis land grant.

Gila county, named for the river, was created from Maricopa and Pinal in 1881, being extended eastward to the San Carlos in 1885. Globe City is its county seat, and it is the smallest of Arizona counties, having an area of 3,400 square miles, and a population of about 1,500. Gila is essentially a mining community, its settlement dating from the discovery of the Globe district lodes in 1876, and all its many mountains and ranges being rich in gold and silver, as noted in another chapter. The mountains are also well timbered, and the valleys, small but numerous, are fertile, with abundance of grass, and some of them well watered by the Salt River and its tributary creeks. Much of the best land is, however, within the limits of the San Carlos reservation, and thus closed to settlers. Globe City, the chief town and county seat, is a flourishing place on Pinal Creek, in the centre of the southern part of the county, a town of wood and brick buildings, having nearly 1,000 inhabitants. The great need of Globe, and of all the Gila camps, is railroad communication with the outer world, the distance at present to railroad stations, Willcox in the south-east or Casa Grande in the south-west, being over 100 miles."

Graham county, so called probably from the mountain peak of that name,was created in 1881 from Pima and Apache, the county seat being at first Safford, but moved to Solomonville in 1883. In 1885 a small tract west of the San Carlos was cut off and added to Gila, the remaining area being about 6,475 square miles. Its population is about 4,000. In the north, west, and south are large tracts of excellent grazing land, the half-dozen ranchos of H. C. Hooker, and especially the Sierra Bonita of 500 square miles, with its thoroughbred horses and cattle, being famous throughout the territory; but a very large part of the north-western region, about one fourth of the whole county, is within the White Mountain Indian reservation. In the central portion of the Gila is a fine tract of fertile and irrigable land, notably the Pueblo Viejo valley, once inhabited by Puello tribes, as is indicated by traces of aboriginal structures. This region is as yet but sparsely settled, but is being gradually occupied by Mormon and other settlers. In the east, adjoining New Mexico on the tributaries of the San Francisco, are the copper mines, which are among the most productive in the world, this region being connected by a narrow-gauge railroad with the Southern Pacific at Lordsburg, New Mexico. Solomonville, named for a pioneer family, is an adobe town of nearly 400 inhabitants, in the centre of the Pueblo Viejo valley. Clifton, the metropolis, with a population of about 1,000, is built in a canon of the San Francisco River, where are the reduction-works of the Arizona Copper Company, and is the terminus of the railroad. Fort Grant and Camp Thomas are the county's military posts, Smithville and Central are Mormon villages on the Gila."


Source History of Arizona and New Mexico Hubert Howe Bancroft 1530-188

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