Pima County

Pima County was the last of the four original counties established in1864. It was the second largest, reaching south of the Gila River and covering almost the entire Arizona portion of the Gadsden Purchase. As time went on, the counties of Maricopa, Pinal, Cochise, Graham and Santa Cruz were carved out of it. Today, it covers 9,184 square miles.
The name “Pima” came from the Spaniards traveling through this area. During their journeys, they came across the Indians. The Spanish gave them the name Pima, after asking them their name and their response was “pim.” This word actually means “no,” but the term stuck. The county and the Indians living here still hold onto the name Pima.

Tucson is the county seat. It was also the Arizona Territorial Capital from 1867 to 1877. The town was also selected to be the new home of the University of Arizona . In 1891, classes began with just 32 students and 6 teachers. Needless to say, the school has grown. Currently, it is one of the top research universities in the nation and Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona .

Pima County has countless attractions for visitors to see. The Mission of San Xavier del Bac began construction in 1793 and was completed in 1797. Since its completion, it has served the Tohono O’odham Indian community. There is a museum located near the mission, where you will find more information. Those in the area sometimees refer to the mission as “The Dove of the Desert.” It is a beautiful sight set against the desert landscape. Services are still conducted today. Saguaro National Monument is actually divided into two sections. One is located to the east of Tucson and other is to the west.

The eastern part has a drive through the magnificent saguaros. There is a visitor center, hiking trails and picnic areas available. The western section also has a driving tour, hiking trails, visitor center and picnic area. This monument is a perfect place to learn more about the Sonoran Desert and how important the giant saguaro is to those living here. In 1937, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was created to protect the organ pipe cactus living in this region. There are over 250 species of birds and animals living at the monument. Two drives through the monument allow visitors to see some of the rare cactus.

The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the fragile riparian environment in this area. Endangered bobwhite quail, Gambel quail, mule deer and javelina live in this region. Those traveling to the refuge should find out more about where to hike, before heading out. The Catalina State Park covers 5,500 acres near the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The park offers numerous hiking trails that cross scenic areas. A unique section of the park is the equestrian center. The center provides trailer parking and riding trails. Bird watching, camping and picnicking are more of the activities that visitors enjoy during a trip to the park. Sabino Canyon Recreational Area is a gorgeous canyon within the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest Tucson. Pima County has wonderful scenery for those to explore.

Marana
Marana is in Southern Arizona . It is in Pima County. The town is located along Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix. Tucson is one mile to the south of town.

Overview:
Marana has long been a transportation center for farming and ranching. It is a pleasant rural community, enjoying the benefits of being located near a large metropolitan city. The town sits at an elevation of 2,055 feet. The warm desert climate has a winter low Temperature of 40 degrees and a summer high Temperature of 100 degrees. The town’s goal is to be the best place in the state to live, work, play and learn.

Community Features:
Marana has several outdoor activities. Picacho Peak State Park is 15 miles to the north. Picacho Peak was an early landmark for those traveling the desert and the site of the Arizona ‘s only Civil War battle. The park offers hiking, camping and picnicking. Twenty miles to the east is Catalina State Park. When the early Spaniards passed through the area, they thought the mountains took on a cathedral-like appearance. They named them La Iglesia, meaning, “church.” Today, the mountain range is called the Santa Catalina Mountains. The park offers camping, picnicking and birdwatching. There is also an equestrian center that is a staging place for trail riders and trailer parking.

History:

Marana appeared on the map in 1881, when the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived. The name Marana comes from the Spanish word, meaning “jungle” or “impassable tangle.” This was appropriate because railroad construction workers had to chop their way through the mesquite brush and catclaw to make way for the line.
During World War I, the population grew. Ranching and the railroad were the main contributors to prosperity. Marana established a school and a hospital at this same time.
In 1920, Edwin R. Post arrived in the area with a plan. He drilled wells into the desert floor and began pumping. The water was used for in an extensive irrigation canal system. The town boomed from 1920 to 1924 with cotton farming and for a short time the town was called Postvale.
Construction of the Marana Army Air Field began in 1942, just north of town. The base was used as an air transport basic training school. The highway was improved between Tucson and Phoenix to help in the military efforts. Then in 1945, the base was deactivated. During the Korean War, it was reopened. Today, it is used as a storage place for civilian planes.

In 1959, Titan Missile sites were established, as a part of the ballistic missile installations in and around Tucson. There are five sites near Marana.

The widening of Interstate 10 in 1961 had a big impact. Marana’s downtown business district had to be removed and relocated. This change ruined main street. Visitors upon arriving in town, will find that Marana does not have a true main street like so many other small towns.

In 1977, Marana was incorporated. Soon, the town began an aggressive annexation process. These annexations have encouraged new business growth.

Today, Marana has a variety of new home developments. However, agriculture still plays a part in the town’s economy. The University of Arizona has even established an agricultural center. Tourism also is a part in the community. Three championship golf courses offer lots of outdoor fun. Visitors are close to many attractions and outdoor activities. Marana wants to be “The Biggest Little Town in America.”

Sahuarita
Sahuarita is in Southern Arizona . It is in Pima County. The town is located along Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales, just north of Green Valley. The Santa Cruz River flows to the east of town.

Overview:
Sahuarita is a great place for visitors to stop in and pick up some delicious pecans. The town sits at an elevation of 2,540 feet. The southwestern climate has a winter low Temperature of 40 degrees and a summer high Temperature of 100 degrees.

History:
This small community began as a ranch. The word Sahuarita means “little saguaro cactus” and is pronounced sah-wah-REE-tah. Long ago, the country was thick with saguaros, thus the name. Later, the town became a stage stop. Then, it was a railroad station for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Today, it is the new home of the Santa Cruz Valley Pecan Company and Pecan Store. Sahuarita has an ideal location along the Santa Cruz River, making conditions right for the world’s largest pecan grove. The grove stretches more than 5,550 acres.

Oro Valley
Oro Valley is in Southern Arizona . It is in Pima County. The town is in a valley formed by the Santa Cruz River and Gold Creek, with the pinnacles of Pusch Ridge towering nearby in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Covering 304 square miles, the town is located on State Highway 77. Tucson is just 6 miles to the south.Overview

Oro Valley is becoming one the fastest growing communities in Southern Arizona . Today Oro Valley’s population is 25,500. The town sits at an elevation of 2,620 feet. The warm desert climate has a winter low Temperature of 40 degrees and a summer high Temperature of 99 degrees. Oro Valley is set among the rugged mountains, yet close to the comforts of Tucson. There are many advantages to living here, such as the beauty of the desert and the proximity to lots of outdoor activities.

History:

Oro Valley is a relatively new community. The town began as a popular traveler’s way station and farming area, after World War II.

The town was incorporated in 1974 and since then has really taken off. Many people move here to be a part of the numerous subdivisions being built and the wonderful surrounding cactus gardens of the Sonoran Desert. Tourism plays an important role in the town’s economy.

Community Features:

Oro Valley has a unique attraction. Biosphere 2 is a three-acre model of the earth’s ecosystem. Its mission is to serve as a center for teaching, learning and research about the Earth and its systems. There are tours offered daily.

Visitors will find several outdoor activities near town. Catalina State Park is situated to the east. When the early Spaniards passed through the area, they thought the mountains took on a cathedral-like appearance. They named them La Iglesia meaning, “church.”┬áToday, the mountain range is called the Santa Catalina Mountains. The park offers camping, picnicking and birdwatching. There is also an equestrian center that is a staging place for trail riders and trailer parking. The Pinal Pioneer Highway begins north of town on State Highway 79. The highway heads to the town of Florence passing by all kinds of desert fauna. There are plaques along the highway with information on the various plants. It is a gorgeous desert drive.

Pima
Pima is in Eastern Arizona . It is in Graham County. The town covers two square miles. The town is located on Interstate 70. Pima is approximately 134 miles from Tucson and 160 miles from Phoenix. If you are coming from Tucson, take Interstate 10 east out of town to U.S. 191 and head north toward Safford. Once you are in Safford, take U.S. 70 west into Pima. If you are coming from Phoenix, take U.S. 60 east out of town to Globe and then take U.S. 70 into Pima.

Pima is a becoming a retirement and tourist spot. There are so many recreational facilities located nearby that there is something fun to do for everyone. Pima began as an agricultural community. Today Pima’s population is 1,725. The town sits at an elevation of 2,885 feet. The mild climate is found all year round with a summer high Temperature of 99 degrees and a winter low Temperature of 30 degrees. Pima is known as “The Little Town with it All”.

One great attraction in town is the Eastern Arizona Museum and Historical Society. This museum has wonderful displays that preserve the heritage of the area. Visitors can even arrange for tours when you call in advance. Another popular hang out is the Graham County Fairgrounds and Recreational Area located in the town of Safford. The 220-area complex has facilities for fairs, an equestrian arena, an oval racetrack and many public recreation spots.

These recreation areas range from tennis courts to baseball fields and 56 picnic tables. The Graham County Fairgrounds and Recreational Area is the place to be if you are interested in small town fun. Discovery Park is a fun place to go explore the past, present and future of the desert southwest. There are 200 acres of scientific, historical and cultural exhibits including the Gov Aker Observatory and the space stimeulator ride called the Polaris Shuttlecraft. The Discovery Park Express narrow-gauge train takes you on a tour of Nature’s Hideaway with wildlife, flora and fauna.

Most of the activities available around Pima are outdoor activities. There are so many to choose from its hard to decide where to start. The Swift Trail (State Highway 366) is one of Arizona ‘s most popular scenic drives. The drive begins just eight miles south of Safford. The trail takes you up to the top of Mount Graham in the Pinaleno Mountains. There are many spectacular sights along this drive. Columbine is a great camping area. Riggs Flat Lake has fishing and camping. However, the last section of the trail leading to the lake is closed during the winter season. Visitors will want to head to the lake in the spring and summer to enjoy the water fun.

Another lake that has lots to offer is the Lake Roper State Park. This lake is only four miles south of Safford. The park has 240 acres and 30 acres of water. Visitors will find two developed areas, which surround a small man made lake. The park has picnicking, camping, boating and a natural hot spring. The Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area has been a popular recreational spot since the turn of the century. It lies at the base of Mount Graham and is only five miles south of Pima. Visitors can choose from fishing, camping and photography. Wildlife can be spotted at several ponds and riparian areas located in the area. It is a wonderful spot to enjoy nature.

The Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area is a vast wilderness. It is an area that has no trails, no facilities and no signs. The area is for those interested in really getting in touch with the outdoors. Hikers, campers and those wanting to see wildlife will enjoy heading to the Aravaipa Canyon. The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is a wonderful piece of land including a 15-mile segment of Bonita Creek and 23 miles of the Gila River. This area is the prefect place to take a kayak, canoe or raft. Visitors can float down the Gila Rive taking in the variety of birds that make this place their new home.

History:
Fur trappers and mountain men first used the area around Pima as they searched for pelts during the 1820′s and 1830′s. These men were traveling along the nearby Gila River. This river eventually served as a trail called the Gila Trail. In 1846, General Stephen W. Kearny used the trail as he headed west with his army.

It wasn’t until 1879, when a group of Mormon settlers arrived in the area that a community was created. They were looking for a site to build a canal and grow crops. They discovered that the Gila Valley was ideal. It was close to Mount Graham and to other mountains in the north. The settlers laid out a town site and quickly built a canal system for their crops. They named the town Smithville in honor of the Mormon leader Jesse Smith.

Then in 1880, the town established a post office. It was at this time that the town changed its name to Pima, after the local Indian tribe. The town was incorporated four years later in 1884.

Throughout the town’s history, agriculture has been its most important economic source. The Gila River, along with the canals that were built helped the crops grow and prosper. The main crops harvested were and still are today alfalfa, cotton and grain. Farms also raise cattle.
Recently, the town has become a popular retirement community and tourist spot. The town continues to grown today.