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Willcox City

Willcox City Hall is located at 101 South Railroad Avenue, Willcox, AZ 85643; phone: 520-384-4271.

Joe Mee House, ca. 1930, 265 West Stewart Street, Willcox, AZ, National Register

Photo: Joe Mee House, ca. 1930, 265 West Stewart Street, Willcox, AZ. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Photographed by User:Ammodramus (own work), 2012, [cc-by-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed June, 2015.

Beginnings [1]

Willcox was founded in 1880 as a freighting and shipping point on the second transcontinental railroad to serve all-of southeastern Arizona. The southern railroad route was vital to the opening of the Southwest for settlement, mining, and commerce The Willcox Railroad Station, built in 1880, is the last known intact, onsite, original station on the second transcontinental route which ran from Los Angeles to Chicago.

During the final years of the Indian Wars, Willcox functioned as an important military shipping point for the goods and troops that were necessary for the defeat of the Apache Indians, which occurred with the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. The small community quickly grew to become an important center of commerce for all of southeastern Arizona and was the only trade center in the 5,000 square mile Sulphur Springs Valley until 1900. Trade goods brought by rail and unloaded at the Willcox Railroad Station were freighted to Army forts, mining camps, and ranches in the region by freighting companies owned by Pablo Soto and Henry A. Morgan. These two men also operated mercantile establishments on Railroad Avenue: the Norton-Morgan Commercial Company and the Soto Brothers Mercantile.

Cattle ranching was the major industry in the Sulphur Springs Valley after the 1880's. Cattle ranchers such as Henry Hooker, who founded the Sierra Bonita ranch which still encompasses 48,000 acres, and the Riggs family, whose holdings still include 175,000 acres, were important to the growth of the historic commercial district of Willcox. Ranching families also built town homes in Willcox from which they conducted business: Hooker Town House, Johnson/Tillotson Home, Saxon Home.

Mining activities in the region depended on Willcox as a shipping point and commercial center. Local businessman Pablo Soto and rancher James A. Riggs were involved in the development of the mines in Dos Cabezas. Local merchants at the Schwertner Saloon, Norton-Morgan Commercial Company and the Soto Brothers Mercantile provided supplies. Local banks, the Willcox Bank and Trust, the Central Bank and Trust, and the Riggs Bank/Bank of Willcox, cashed the cowboy's and miner's paychecks and arranged the necessary financing for the ranchers and mine owners.

  1. Linda Laird, Linda Laird & Associates, , nomination document, 1985, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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