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Graham County, Arizona

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      Graham County, formed in 1881 by the 11th Territorial Legislature, was created from parts of Apache and Pima counties. The Legislature broke with the tradition of naming Arizona counties after local Indian tribes when the new county called

    Graham was named after the 10,516 foot Mount Graham, the highest peak in the area. The mountain, in turn, had been named Graham after Lt. Col. James Duncan Graham, a senior officer in Brig. Gen. Stephen W. Kearney's U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.

      Graham County's early history was one of exploration rather than settlement there were no notable Spanish or Mexican communities. Most of its inhabitants were Apaches. Camp Goodwin was established in 1866, but abandoned when the troops moved to establish Fort Apache in 1871.

      In the 1870s, farming communities began to appear along the Gila River, which traverses the county from east to west. Munsonvilie, now San Jose, was established in 1873; Safford followed in 1874; Solomonville in 1876; Smithville, now known as Pima, in 1879. In the next decade, Thatcher, Eden, Central, and Bryce were settled all within a few miles of each other. This was, and is today, a rich agricultural area.

      Safford was the first county seat, but it was moved to Solomonville after two years. In 1915, after an election, the county seat was returned to Safford where it remains.

      Graham County was almost twice its present size prior to the formation of Greenlee County. The county now measures 4,630 square miles, of which 22 square miles are water. The San Carlos Indian Reservation covers approximately one-third of the land, with San Carlos Lake a popular site for its excellent fishing and camping. Recreation and tourism follow farming and ranching as the principal industries in Graham County.

      Individual or corporate ownership accounts for 9.9 percent of land ownership; the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, 38 percent; the state of Arizona, 18 percent; Indian reservations, 36 percent. All of Graham County is an Enterprise Zone.

      Source: Arizona-A Review of its Resources Published 1891.
GRAHAM County was organized at the same time as Gila, from the counties of Pima and Apache. It contains 6,485 square miles. It is bounded on the East by New Mexico, on the West by Pinal and Gila, on the North by Apache, and on the South by Cochise County. It is a mountainous county, but, in the valleys which lie between the mountains, good pasturage for numerous herds of cattle is found. The Pueblo Viejo, through which the Gila River flows, is one of the finest farming valleys in the Territory, and is rapidly settling up. The county has also extensive mineral deposits, copper, silver and gold, being found in large quantities in the portion of the county lying along the San Francisco River and its tributaries, in the eastern part of the county. Solomonville, though smaller than Clifton, has, nevertheless, because more centrally situated, been made the county seat, and has a very fine agricultural country surrounding it. It has a population of about 500, while Clifton easily doubles it in this respect. Safford, the former county seat, is situated six miles down the valley from Solomonville.

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This page last updated on -- 13 Oct 2016

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