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Happy Birthday to Gila County: Truly the ‘Heart of Arizona’

Submitted photo: Gila County Courthouse, circa 1888.

Contributed article by Carol Broeder

Gila County – Nicknamed the “Heart of Arizona,” Gila County’s location in the heart of the Grand Canyon State is just one of many reasons.

With a population of 53,500 and an area of ​​4,796 square miles, Gila County enjoys Arizona's best combination of desert, mountains, and lakes, making it a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts to live, work, and play.

Gila County was created on February 8, 1881 from parts of Maricopa and Pinal counties, and later added the northern portion of Yavapai County.

Since that date, Gila County has had a total of 78 supervisors, according to District 2 Supervisor Tim Humphrey.

“The first audit committee consisted of J.K. Smith; Joseph Chamberlain and George Danforth,” he said. “They appointed themselves directors and held their first official board meeting on March 5, 1881.” About a month later, he said, the first election of directors was held on April 4, 1881. Ta.

Submitted photo: Gila County Courthouse, circa 1903.

As a soup. “Mining and ranching have supported Gila County since the 1800s,” Humphrey said.
When silver was discovered at Grove in 1874, the deposits brought miners, but within a decade vast copper deposits had overtaken the position.

Copper, silver and gold are still mined here, and Western heritage is more than just artifacts and surfaces. Mining and ranching were the mainstays of his economy in the first half of the 20th century.

The education, healthcare, tourism, retail and construction industries now employ a larger and more diverse workforce, but with 30 farms and approximately 15,000 cattle continuing to be managed, the copper shine still shines. The industry continues to operate and employs approximately 3,000 workers.

“Our county is rich in history, from the famous Pleasant Valley War between the Grahams and Tewksburys, one of America's costliest wars, to George W.P. As far as the county where two governors lived, Rose Mofford,” District 3 says. Supervisor Woody Klein describes himself as “always a proud citizen” who was born and raised in Gila County.

District 1 Superintendent Steve Christensen also talks about our rich and impressive history, including the world's oldest continuous rodeo. Annual Hashknife Pony Express. Zane Gray's Cabin and Ancient Native American Heritage.

Home to 17 communities, Gila County is known for its three Apache Nations: the Tonto Apache Reservation and sections of both the Fort Apache Reservation and the San Carlos Apache Reservation.
Gila County is both the “Heart of Arizona” and the “Treasure of Arizona” for more than 140 years. Christensen says.

“Its natural beauty and diverse ecosystem offers visitors and residents everything from a rich desert landscape of saguaros to the world's largest forest of ponderosa pines,” he explains. “Unique features such as the Tonto Natural Bridge, Fossil Creek and the Mogollon Rim make Gila County a unique place in Arizona.”

Submitted photo: Gila County Courthouse, circa 1907.

Located on the northeastern edge of the Sonoran Desert, Gila County covers a wide range of habitats, from the iconic saguaro cacti of the low desert to pinyon-juniper grasslands and montane forests of chaparral, pine, fir, and aspen.

Roosevelt Lake, one of Arizona's most popular lakes for fishing, boating, and recreation, is located entirely within Gila County.

At 1,080 feet, this scenic bridge spanning the lake is the longest two-lane, single-span steel arch bridge in North America.

In addition to Tonto National Monument and Fossil Creek, Gila County also boasts Salt River Preserve and popular campgrounds in the Tonto National Forest.

Speaking of bragging, there is one more thing. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, north of Payson, is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.

The bridge stands 183 feet tall over a 400-foot tunnel that is 150 feet long at its widest point.

Gila County Manager James Menlove perhaps says it best when describing his own journey. “Here in Gila County, we are blessed to see beautiful scenery every day as we drive. My week started with a dawn drive around Lake Roosevelt that broke records.” -While heading to Payson Build the bridge and turn north for your first view of the “majestic mountains” of the Mogollon Rim. ”

“Another day's meeting will involve driving either Highway 60, the state's official designated scenic road, or State Route 288, which runs from the desert to the pines,” he said. . “Dawn in Gila County is another opportunity to be inspired by sunrises and fiery sunsets more breathtaking than any painting… Happy Birthday, Gila County!”

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