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Safford City

Safford City Hall is located at 717 West Main Street, Safford, AZ 85548; phone: 928-432-4000.

Beginnings [1]

Safford rapidly became a commercial center for cattle ranching and agriculture in the Valley. The nearby Army forts provided protection, but more importantly, increased the economic potential of the residents. By the mid-1880's, Safford had two stores, a grist mill and a blacksmith shop, as well as a post office, school house and thirty-three dwellings.

By 1895, the year the Gila Valley Globe and Northern Railroad arrived, Safford looked like a real town and prosperity continued to increase. New building materials and consumer goods became more available. Farming now became big business in the Gila Valley.

By 1900, farmers shipped hay, grain and other agricultural products all over the west. S.W. Kimball reported in his Notes of Stake History that Mormons had built over sixty miles of canals and brought more than 20,000 acres of land under cultivation in only twelve years. The total farm land in the valley by that year was approximately 35,000 acres. Safford grew in direct proportion to the growth of valley farming to become a regional center for banking, shipping, supplies and socialization and in 1915 became the County Seat.

The Graham County Guardian of December 2, 1922 could well afford to brag that Safford was a "progressive town in a valley of contented people." The regional center was notable because it had a bank on three of four corners of the main intersection, electric lights, a waterworks department, a motor fire apparatus, a local telephone connection, hotel accommodations, two restaurants, a modern new high school and a fine County Courthouse. Safford resident George Olney had run for governor on the Democratic ticket in 1916, and although he did not win the race, he greatly increased Safford's political prestige. Safford was on the shortest route from EL Paso to Phoenix, U.S. 180, the Trans-American Highway which was built in the early 1920's. This highway, a shortcut for automobile and truck traffic traveling from El Paso to Phoenix, has been economically important to the community, drawing in weary travelers with tourist dollars to spend.

During the twenties and thirties Safford continued to grow as a regional trade center. Tourism was also a growing business as new hotels and motels were built. Cotton was a burgeoning agricultural crop, providing a relatively stable economic environment through the Depression. Safford continued to slowly grow through the forties and fifties. The stable economy continued, though the community was somewhat dependent on fluctuating agricultural and mining fortunes. Safford continues to thrive as a regional shopping and governmental center.

  1. Linda Laird, Principal, Linda Laird & Associates, Safford Multiple Resource Area, Graham County, AZ, nomination document, 1987, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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