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Gila Bend Town

Maricopa County, Arizona

Gila Bend Town Hall is located at 644 West Pima Street, Gila Bend, AZ 85337.


About Gila Bend [†]

Since ancient times, the "bend" of the Gila River has provided water and refuge for travelers following its path. In the late 1870s, the Town was relocated several miles south of the Gila River, just north of the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way.

While the railroad was still active, the automobile quickly supplanted it as the most influential mode of travel affecting the economic and community development of Gila Bend. Construction of Gillespie Dam was completed in 1921. Additionally, the adoption of the Federal Highway Act in 1921 resulted in the building of the Yuma- Phoenix-Tucson-Douglas Highway, now known as US Highway 80. Housing for migrant field workers was also constructed in 1921 on the south side of Gila Bend.

Gila Bend saw tremendous development with the start of World War II. In July 1941, Gila Bend was selected as a location for a County airfield. In 1942, a second airfield was funded—the Gila Bend Auxiliary Airfield. The Gila Bend Auxiliary Airfield continues to serve as a major US Air Force training facility, with two million additional acres of land to the south and west of Gila Bend reserved for a gunnery range. In 1986, the name of the Gila Bend Gunnery Range was changed to the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range. In 1999, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) withdrew a portion of the land from the Gunnery Range, resulting in the current area of approximately 1.7 million acres.

While the railroad industry continued to decline following the Depression, automobile and truck traffic continue to increase through Gila Bend. Improvements to the transportation infrastructure during the 1950s created a sustained period of growth in Gila Bend. Interstate 8 (I-8), south of Gila Bend, was completed in 1973, essentially removing all cross-country travel between Tucson and Yuma that previously had to transit through the town, thus changing transportation patterns.

Gila Bend is located approximately 65 miles southwest of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It is positioned along State Route 85 (SR 85), which connects Interstate 10, approximately 30 miles north of the community, with Interstate 8 (I-8), which bisects the community.

Gila Bend is situated on the south side of the Gila River, in relatively flat terrain at approximately 735 feet above sea level. The Gila Bend Mountains (with Woolsey Peak at 3,270 feet) are located north of the Town. The North and South Maricopa Mountains are located to the east and south, respectively. These low rocky mountain ranges provide a scenic backdrop for the community. The Gila River flows from the north, making a sharp turn to the west at Gila Bend, hence the Town's name. West of the Town, Painted Rock Dam creates Arizona's second largest lake during flooding events, second in surface size only to Roosevelt Lake.

† Town of Gila Bend, General Plan 2026, adopted 2017, www.gilabendaz.org, accessed March, 2021.