Mohave County Arizona

In the far northeast corner of Arizona, bordering on Utah, Nevada, and a bit of California, Mohave County holds about 200,000 Arizonans. The county has long been at the cross roads of transportation routes cutting across the country so the county has grown with the boom of the American West over the past 150 years. Further past the land has known humans along the Colorado River and throughout the area, and the mystery and allure of the desert continue to draw visitors by the millions to enjoy recreation and life in Mohave County.

Mohave County Overview and History

As one of the four original counties created by the Arizona territorial legislature in 1861, Mohave County has been part of the story of the state since the beginning. The county has split into two, regained lost territory, and then divided all the land west of the Colorado River off into Nevada, finally settling on its present boundaries in the northwest corner of Arizona.

Along the way through the years, Mohave County had five different county seats over its wild first twenty years. Although the original county boundary line included what is now the southern tip of Nevada, in 1860 before the railroad came through in 1880 ~ and a piece of a highway spanning the continent from coast to coast came through the county at Kingman, now the county seat for the past century and a half since the wild west has settled into modern America.

Some people give credit to the staunchly conservative voters and independent local culture for the claim that Mohave County is among the lowest taxed counties in Arizona. It is indisputable that the Republican voters trend strong in the area, a strong majority of the county having voted for the Republican presidential candidate over the past 65 years, dating back to Lyndon Johnson in 1964 being the last Democratic challenger to win over the county (ironically running against Arizona native Barry Goldwater).

The Battle for the County Seat

The adventures of Mohave County's wandering county seat, over the first twenty years of county history is the stuff of legend in the region. The final move of the center of county government came in 1886 under dubious circumstances, with some claiming that the group of Kingman loyalists snuck into the old Mineral Park county administration office at night to grab the county records and transport them to Kingman to set up a new county seat. However the transition came to pass, though, an election verified the result and made the move official, so that Kingman has remained the center of county government ever since.

The county seat had been in Mohave City from 1864 to 1867, when it strayed to Hardyville for five years. County business moved to Cerbat for four years and then to Mineral Park in 1877. Stories report that the publisher of the Mineral Park Record said the city was not supporting the newspaper, amid threats to move to Kingman. When the situation worsened, the publisher took his paper across the county and moved the county seat along as well.

Where the West is Still Wild

Among the wilder areas of Mohave County are the portions of national parks and recreation areas within the area. Along the Colorado River are the lower stretches of the Grand Canyon National Park as well as the Grand Canyon Paashut National Monument further west downstream. Where Boulder (now Hoover) Dam holds back the flow and creates Lake Mead, Mohave County shares part of the shores and borders of the Lake Mead Recreational Area where county residents and visitors enjoy water sports and boating. Further south along the California border the county shares parts of the Mojave Desert.

Hiking and Exploring

Trails and desert ranges are available throughout Mohave County for exploring and sightseeing some spectacular and one of a kind terrain of northwestern Arizona and the greater Grand Canyon area. Near Hoover Dam, below the Lake Mead Recreation area, the Whiterock Canyon Trail passes through a former volcanic area on the way to a side canyon that features hot springs with mineral rich water at constant temperatures of 85 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. Bath and soak in warm water that is rich in mineral like chlorides and sulphates. Located about 45 minutes drive northwest of Kingman along Highway 93 to the Lake Mead Recreation Area. The volcanic remains of the area allow water to percolate through groundwater down to fissures in the earth's crust where it comes in contact with superheated magma and bubbles back up to join the hot pools along the creek.

The Cherum Peak Trail in the Cherum Foothills Recreation Area near Kingman rises up through pinion pine and chapparal growth to gain some 700 feet in the first two miles. Hikers arrive at the ridge with spectacular views of the Black Mountains to the west and the Music Mountains toward the east, and then meet a jeep road in the desert and the trail goes with it for a half mile or so and then ascends to the peak. The last quarter mile of the trail to the summit is not recommended for mountain bikers or horses as the trail is thin in the area. Take Highway 93 about 20 miles north of Kingman to milepost 51 and then follow Big Wash Road northeast for about 13 miles.

One of the most talked about slot canyons in the Colorado River basin is found up the Crack in the Mountain Trail. Visitors who follow the entire five-mile trail enjoy spectacular views of striped rock canyon that narrows at points down to about an arms width as well as regular sightings of the Big Horn sheep that are native to the area. The many small descents along the trail are fairly easy for healthy hikers, and the seven foot descent at one point gives visitors a thrill as they descend it like a playground slide. Follow Highway 95 south to milepost 177 and then McCulloch Boulevard and go right into Sara Park after three-quarters of a mile find the trailhead to begin the trip.

For stunning views of neighboring mountain ranges and wide expansive desert views visit the Aspen Grove Trail, only about 10 miles out of Kingman on County Highway 147 in Hualapai Mountain Park. The trail is open to  non-motorized visitors including hikers, mountain bikers and horse travel. The trail was originally developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s and continues to be improved by volunteers and park maintenance workers still. Follow County Highway 147 to Hualapai Mountain Park and follow signs to the trail. Optimal season for hiking is in the cooler months of September through June.

Native's Lands

Human residents of the Colorado River area trace history back 4000 years and more, with ancestors of the present Kaibab, Fort Mojave, and Hualapai peoples adapting with artless grace to living in the austere desert environment which can be so rich along the shores of waterways cutting through the dry lands. Their people remain on the three reservations located within the boundaries of present Mohave County and throughout the area, bridging modern life and timeless cultures in the area of the Grand Canyon and beyond.

A Split County

Mohave County is two separate pieces of land. The deep gorge of the Colorado River known as the Grand Canyon cracks across the northern portion of the county between borders with Utah and Nevada. North of the canyon is the slim stretch of the county that is accessible to the rest of Mohave County by air or a road trip east or west around the canyon. Called the Arizona Strip, the section connects Utah and Nevada by way of I-15 running from Washington County in Utah to Henderson County [ ? in Nevada. The larger and more populated part of Mohave County is the southern section, home to Kingman, Lake Havasu City, and other cities and towns.

Skywalk the Canyon

Just about 70 miles northwest of Kingman, where Mohave County meets the south rim of the western Grand Canyon, visitors can imagine some of the feelings of a condor soaring over the canyon rim and hovering a thousand feet above the Colorado River below. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a clear walkway that supports curious visitors to walk out beyond the rim and stand above the abyss looking down and all around at the unique perspective of the legendary canyon.

Spirited Exploration

In the area around Mohave County Arizona dozens of ghost towns remain to be explored and photographed by intrepid modern visitors. Tales of lives lost, fortunes discovered and minerals exploited cloak the decaying remains of desert shacks and towns that lie empty now in the second century after miners and pioneers worked to scratch value out of the rough desert hills. Stretches of Highway 40 and US 93/I-11 and side roads hold clues to times past when talk of a rich ore strike drew new settlers and the booms lasted until the vein gave out, or the water spring changed course and went dry, leaving bones of old wooden houses and mining structures to be explored and documented for the twenty-first century and beyond.

Running Lines

The railroad brought new settlers, easier access to materials and goods, and new life to the boom times in the mines and towns along the route. First called the Atlantic and Pacific, later the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line followed the heavily traveled route through northern Arizona and across Mohave County. Where the railroad went, people ventured, and towns like Kingman steadily grew, while mining towns and other settlements grew and shrank, depending on the fortunes of the minerals and water and other resources.

A Big Piece

Mohave County is a big piece of land. It is a county with land area of 13, 401 ~ square miles . Mohave County is so big, it is not only the second biggest county in Arizona, it is the fifth largest county in all of the contiguous United States. A lot of the land area is open land, remote stretches of desert that remain mostly wild, full mostly of yucca, prickly pear, creosote, and mesquite, habitat for mule deer, coyote, fox, small birds and mammals and birds of prey who circle the skies above on the lookout for a meal.

Mohave County has a lot of water frontage, for a desert region especially. With more than one million miles of shoreline along the Colorado River and lakes in the county its total shore distance is greater than any other county in the country. The elevation above sea level ranges dramatically in the county, from 482 feet at the lowest point of the Grand Canyon in northern Mohave County to 8417 feet at the greatest summit of the Hualapai Mountains.

Lake Havasu and the City that Grew Around the Lake

Among the water reclamation projects of the 1930s that helped to bring water to the dry areas and allow further development was the construction of Parker Dam in 1934 through 1938, creating 450 miles of new shoreline in Mohave County and filling with 211 billion gallons of water by 1940 to 1942 when the water filled in to create Lake Havasu. It was some twenty years later in 1963 that the owner of McCulloch Motors was looking for a place to test outboard engines and discovered the area as a potential residential community. With cunning recruitment techniques and some amazing public projects including moving the stone work of a century-old bridge from London to the edge of the lake, Lake Havasu City grew up in the desert to the thriving community it has become today.

Working with a former Disney designer, C.V. Wood, McCulloch bought the old London Bridge from the city of London and used the original stones, carefully marked and shipped across the Atlantic and around to the west coast by way of the Panama Canal, to cover a modern construction of a bridge and recreate the historic structure in the Arizona desert. When completed in 1973, a channel was dredged to the dry land where the bridge stood, and an "island" was connected on the far side of the bridge to the rest of Lake Havasu City.

The city developers flew in residents from cold climates of the northern regions of the United States and showed off the 16,520 acres they intended to develop to some 137,000 potential buyers between 1968 and 1978. Flying the customers in during winter months, the developers showcased the warmth and pleasant surroundings of the burgeoning community, and built the population steadily up over the coming decades to now be the most populous city in Mohave County.

Visitors come by the millions to enjoy the boating and recreation on the Lake, sightsee along the London Bridge and replicas of famous lighthouses along the shore, and enjoy the pleasant year round weather of Lake Havasu.

Mohave County Seat Overview and History - Kingman, Arizona

In 1857 Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale led the experimental Camel Corps on their Western expedition, laying out the wagon route along the 35th parallel through what would become Kingman Arizona. The route became popular, as successive generations improved the path, paved the road, laid railroad track nearby, connected the highway and the railroad east to west, coast to coast across America, setting the new town of Kingman up to observe the history of the coming century passing through.

The US government set up Fort Mojave near the Colorado River to guard against threats from natives in the area as more settlers from the east passed through and established homes in the area. Soldiers off duty explored neighboring hills and found gold, silver, and other minerals in the ground and word spread east and west, drawing adventurous treasure seekers. Fortunes rose and fell with the discovery of nuggets of gold, veins of silver, and stones of turquoise.

Situated among three mountain ranges, the Cerbat, Hualapai, and Black Mountains, Kingman averages about 3300 feet elevation with a temperate climate year round, although warm in the summer months. The city sits alongside the paths of Highway 40 and US 93/Interstate 11.

History Through Town

A lot of the history of the US of the past century and a half back to the 1850s runs through Kingman, where the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) connect the east coast with the west. The stretch of the legendary Route 66 highway through Kingman is judged by many to be the longest remaining driveable stretch of the famous route of many a road trip west before freeways and interstates divided the land.

Lewis Kingman, a railroad engineer who led the surveying and laying of some 1325 miles of rails through what became the town that would bear his name. In 1880 Kingman's team surveyed the route for the railroad and by 1883 the track was in place and locomotives traveled through on regular journeys from east to west across America

 Although Kingman was officially founded in 1882 and eventually became the county seat in 1887 it was not incorporated as a city until 1951 when a ballot iniative passed after much debate. The Mohave County Miner newspaper moved to Kingman in 1886 after first being established in 1882 nearby in Mineral Park.

Some say it is ironic that Kingman started out and remained a transportation hub rather than a mining town, considering the rich minerals in the three mountain ranges surrounding the town. Mining went on around the Mohave County area of course, and Kingman benefited from the growth and commerce of the booming economy from the late nineteenth century into the early twentieth.

Cattle came into the rich grasslands of the valley around Kingman in the 1870s, helping to bring more settlements that developed into the town. The Alta Arizona, a newspaper in the area, is the first to mention the new city in June of 1882, noting that: "There is a new town on the tapis, at or near Beale Springs." The coming railroad and growing settlement of the west had put the town on the map and in the news, mentioned again in November of that year in the Alta Arizona mentions that what had been called Middleton was now to be known as Kingman, and that the town featured a rooming house, some stores, and other buildings going up.

In the next five years, as the railway ran through town, Kingman grew and attracted new residents and new businesses until that fateful night in 1887 when the county records traveled with conspirators from Mineral Park to Kingman and the town became the new (and lasting) county seat of Mohave County. Throughout the coming decades the population swelled, from some 300 people in 1890 to more than 500 by 1900. A building boom followed the population growth, fueled even more by the discovery of Gold Road, a rich strike in the Black Mountains that added to Kingman's economy as a growing mining center.

By 1919 the region's main industry was in the yucca fiber business, weaving rope from the abundant yucca plants in the region. The city now boasted two drug stores, two churches, a picture show, and many hotels, saloons, and assorted local shops and businesses that grew from the population boom and the frequent visitors passing through on the railroad.

A famous visitor from the era now rests in Locomotive Park in Kingman. Santa Fe Locomotive Number 3759 logged some 2,585,600 miles on journeys along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line through Kingman, and upon retirement came to rest as a monument to rail travel in the area at the local park.  No. 3759 ran at top speed of 100 miles per hour on steam power, first from coal in 1927 through '41 and then converted over to run on oil for the last years of service from 1941 through 1953. In 1957 the railroad donated old No. 3759 to the City of Kingman, and groups of schoolkids helped pull the caboose into place to celebrate the occasion.

As decades passed more modes of transportation arose, and not only did Kingman have a railroad junction and the most famous highway in America in Route 66 passing through town, but the city also welcomed air transportation as well in 1929. Famed pilot Charles Lindbergh selected the area for the new airport, Port Kingman, and Col. Lindbergh and his peer the legendary flier Amelia Earhart were both at the dedication on 8 June 1929 when Port Kingman became the first commercial airport in Arizona.

Power Generators

Work on the Kingman Powerhouse began construction in 1908 and over the next 29 years the source of electric power fueled the growth of mines, building, and commerce in Mohave County until the addition of Boulder (now Hoover) Dam in the mid 1930s. In fact the Kingman Powerhouse helped to provide the power needed for the massive construction project that was the dam building, and so even though the dam replaced the Powerhouse, the legend lived on.

A Santa Fe railroad spur was added to transport equipment and material to the building of the powerhouse. Two large dynamos arrived to power the oil-fired steam of the original 1500 watts of the plant.

Not only was Kingman the gateway to the west by land, rail, and air, but the city became known as the gateway to Boulder (now Hoover) Dam on the Colorado River near the Nevada border. Through the 1930s the excitement over the construction rippled through Kingman and the entire Mohave County area. Roads in the area improved as goods and materials for the project passed through and mining in the area boomed even more as electricity allowed further and faster progress in pursuit of the mineral riches in the hills of Mohave County and beyond.

Kingman's Unlikely Star of the Silver Screen

Andy Devine was born 7 Oct. 1905 in Flagstaff Arizona, the son of a railroad worker and his wife, an educator. Following a tragic railroad accident when Tom Devine, Andy's father, lost his leg, the family moved to Kingman where Tom purchased and ran the Beale Hotel. Young Andy grew up in Kingman and found his way to Los Angeles in the 1920s, where he got work as a movie extra in silent films of the time. The coming of the sound era for movies seemed it might end Andy's work on the big screen, as a childhood accident back in Kingman had damaged his vocal cords and left him with a squeaky, two-tone voice.

As it developed, the quirky sound of his talking made him a hit as a side character in the talkies, and Andy Devine went on to star in over 400 films throughout his career. It was as a wagon driver on the set of Stagecoach that he met John Wayne; the two went on to be life-long friends as well as frequently appearing in the same movies. Will Rodgers introduced Andy to his future wife on the set of a film directed by Hollywood legend John Ford. Some teased him about the age gap, as Devine was 28 at the time and his love interest was 19, but they fell in love, married, and had five children together. His funeral in 1971 brought Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne to tears as they mourned the loss of dear friend and unlikely movie star Andy Devine. The main avenue through his hometown of Kingman has been renamed Andy Devine Way in honor of his work and contributions to the city.

Army Business in Kingman

In World War II the US Army Air Force developed the Kingman Army Airfield in the area as an aerial gunning training base. Over the course of the war more than 36,000 gunners received training at the base, and contributed to the history and vitality of the growing county seat of Mohave County, Kingman Arizona.

By 1919 the region's main industry was in the yucca fiber business, weaving rope from the abundant yucca plants in the region. The city now boasted two drug stores, two churches, a picture show, and many hotels, saloons, and assorted local shops and businesses that grew from the population boom and the frequent visitors passing through on the railroad.

A famous visitor from the era now rests in Locomotive Park in Kingman. Santa Fe Locomotive Number 3759 logged some 2,585,600 miles on journeys along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line through Kingman, and upon retirement came to rest as a monument to rail travel in the area at the local park.  No. 3759 ran at top speed of 100 miles per hour on steam power, first from coal in 1927 through '41 and then converted over to run on oil for the last years of service from 1941 through 1953. In 1957 the railroad donated old No. 3759 to the City of Kingman, and groups of schoolkids helped pull the caboose into place to celebrate the occasion.

As decades passed more modes of transportation arose, and not only did Kingman have a railroad junction and the most famous highway in America in Route 66 passing through town, but the city also welcomed air transportation as well in 1929. Famed pilot Charles Lindbergh selected the area for the new airport, Port Kingman, and Col. Lindbergh and his peer the legendary flier Amelia Earhart were both at the dedication on 8 June 1929 when Port Kingman became the first commercial airport in Arizona.

Power Generators

Work on the Kingman Powerhouse began construction in 1908 and over the next 29 years the source of electric power fueled the growth of mines, building, and commerce in Mohave County until the addition of Boulder (now Hoover) Dam in the mid 1930s. In fact the Kingman Powerhouse helped to provide the power needed for the massive construction project that was the dam building, and so even though the dam replaced the Powerhouse, the legend lived on.

A Santa Fe railroad spur was added to transport equipment and material to the building of the powerhouse. Two large dynamos arrived to power the oil-fired steam of the original 1500 watts of the plant.

Not only was Kingman the gateway to the west by land, rail, and air, but the city became known as the gateway to Boulder (now Hoover) Dam on the Colorado River near the Nevada border. Through the 1930s the excitement over the construction rippled through Kingman and the entire Mohave County area. Roads in the area improved as goods and materials for the project passed through and mining in the area boomed even more as electricity allowed further and faster progress in pursuit of the mineral riches in the hills of Mohave County and beyond.

Kingman's Unlikely Star of the Silver Screen

Andy Devine was born 7 Oct. 1905 in Flagstaff Arizona, the son of a railroad worker and his wife, an educator. Following a tragic railroad accident when Tom Devine, Andy's father, lost his leg, the family moved to Kingman where Tom purchased and ran the Beale Hotel. Young Andy grew up in Kingman and found his way to Los Angeles in the 1920s, where he got work as a movie extra in silent films of the time. The coming of the sound era for movies seemed it might end Andy's work on the big screen, as a childhood accident back in Kingman had damaged his vocal cords and left him with a squeaky, two-tone voice.

As it developed, the quirky sound of his talking made him a hit as a side character in the talkies, and Andy Devine went on to star in over 400 films throughout his career. It was as a wagon driver on the set of Stagecoach that he met John Wayne; the two went on to be life-long friends as well as frequently appearing in the same movies. Will Rodgers introduced Andy to his future wife on the set of a film directed by Hollywood legend John Ford. Some teased him about the age gap, as Devine was 28 at the time and his love interest was 19, but they fell in love, married, and had five children together. His funeral in 1971 brought Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne to tears as they mourned the loss of dear friend and unlikely movie star Andy Devine. The main avenue through his hometown of Kingman has been renamed Andy Devine Way in honor of his work and contributions to the city.

Army Business in Kingman

In World War II the US Army Air Force developed the Kingman Army Airfield in the area as an aerial gunning training base. Over the course of the war more than 36,000 gunners received training at the base, and contributed to the history and vitality of the growing county seat of Mohave County, Kingman Arizona.

Precious Stones

Kingman later developed a legend as the "turquoise capital of the world" as one of the largest suppliers of the prized stones derives from a mountain in the area. L. W. Hardy of LW Hardy Company developed and sponsored a competitive local softball team that he called the Turquoise Kings. The team won trophies for their work on the diamond and awards for the unique and striking looks of their distinctive uniforms as the cagey capitalist got maximum public relations value of his investment in sporting endeavors for his company.

Big Leagues Come to Town

At the spot in Locomotive Park where the retired train now rests a major league exhibition game took place in Kingman. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs met in 1924 for a show game, as reported in the Kingman Daily Miner at the time. Big league clubs still come to Arizona regularly every year for spring training now, but the game in '24 was a high point for the development of the young town at the time.

Mohave County Courthouse Overview and History

The current Mohave County Administration building is in Kingman at 700 West Beale Street and the county jail is adjacent at 501 South Highway 66, but previously the county administration was next to the old court house. Mohave County employs some 1350 people in municipal government centered in Kingman.

The old county court house was designed in Art Moderne style in 1927 ~

Mohave County Sheriff

The Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster oversees the department with main location at 600 West Beale Street and sub-stations in Mohave Valley at 9880 Vanderslice, Beaver Dam at 700 North Highway 91, and Lake Havasu at 3500 Highway 95. The Mohave County Sheriff is comprised of a Boating Safety division, criminal and civil, including civil tax and civil documents divisions, and Animal Control, among other duties in running the county jail and overseeing the county roads.

Kingman Police Department

The Kingman Police Department headquarters is located at 2730 East Andy Devine Ave. in town. The mission of the department is to promote quality of life for all citizens, visitors, and residents by means of participating actively in the community and working on a proactive basis to reduce crime and apprehend criminals so as to address community concerns and increase peace in the community. The department features a Bike Patrol, neighborhood officer patrols and community teams, school resource officers watching over and assisting in the safe education of local school children, animal control officers helping to address animal issues in the community, detectives investigating crimes, and much more

Kingman is served by the Kingman Area Regional Transit (KART) which operates four fixed routes in the area, logging some 190,000 miles traveled every year on the journeys to deliver 7000 to 10,000 passengers to destinations around town every month. The service is supported by users as well as Federal Transit Authority and Arizona State Department of Transportation, as well as Kingman city general funds and advertising revenue from the vehicles as they travel the area.

Lake Havasu City Police Department

The growing city of Lake Havasu is served by a police force that handles criminal investigation and apprehension, traffic control and response, animal control, school resource officers, bicycle registration and much more in the city. The department is located at 2360 McCulloch Boulevard, North Lake Havasu City.

Mohave County Jail

Serving the outlying areas of the county as well as the cities of the area including Kingman, Lake Havasu City, and Bullhead City the Mohave County Jail is in Kingman at 501 South Highway 66. The facility is 242,000 square feet, housing 688 inmate beds in pod arrangements. Most of the inmates are held for misdemeanor violations of Arizona law including driving under the influence, domestic violence crimes, and shoplifting. Some inmates face serious felony charges, either while awaiting trial or on supervised parole in the system after conviction

Distance and Direction From Kingman to Phoenix

The county seat of Mohave County, Kingman, is located in the northwest of the state of Arizona. The state capital, Phoenix, is located approximately 196 miles southwest of Kingman on US 93 or a combination of US 93 and Arizona Route 74 west, either of which is about three hours traveling time by car. Flights travel from Kingman to Phoenix as well as buses for public transportation.