Coolidge, halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, is the commercial center of Arizona's cotton industry. In 1925, after the construction of the Coolidge Dam transformed the flat desert into rich farm and ranch land, R.J. Jones laid out an 80-acre site to found the city. The city's name honors the U.S. President who dedicated Coolidge Dam in 1930. Incorporated in 1945; the city now covers eight miles and has more than 7,000 residents. The warm dry winter climate makes it an ideal tourist and retirement center. Hundreds of thousands of visitors stop annually to see the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Coolidge. From Coolidge's founding until the early 1950s, the economy was mainly dependent on agriculture, and, to a lesser extent, mining. Growth was relatively steady until the late 1940s. As water use reached a maximum and mechanical equipment replaced farm workers, it leveled off.

 

The Coolidge economy diversified as manufacturers located in and near the city, employment increased in mines in eastern Pinal County, and greater emphasis was placed on winter tourism. Coolidge is in the major growth corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. Today, it is a regional trade and service center for agricultural producers, providing equipment, supplies, and personal services for farm families. Community efforts and the completion of the500-acre Pima-Coolidge Industrial Park just north of the city on the Gila River Indian Reservation has helped manufacturing grow. Government agencies, such as the Arizona Training Program, Central Arizona College, the Arizona State Prison, and the County Courthouse are also major sources of jobs.

 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument preserves ruins of and interprets the culture of the prehistoric Hohokam people, who farmed the Gila River Valley centuries ago. The ruins include the Casa Grande (Spanish for “Big House”), a unique four-story caliche structure built in the early 1300s, and the surrounding walled neighborhood. Bookstore and picnic areas are also available. Within a short drive from Coolidge is the Gila River Indian Reservation, with picturesque villages, Catholic missions, and an Arts and Crafts Center; the Papago Indian Reservation, with basketry and handicraft items; Pinal Pioneer Parkway, one of the state's most beautiful scenic drives; and numerous lakes, with excellent fishing and water-based activities. Coolidge offers special programs for winter visitors. November through April is filled with activities such as potlucks, tours, and festivals.