Pima is on the Gila River in north-central Graham County. It

was founded in 1879 by Mormon settlers seeking an attractive

canal site in the Gila Valley. In addition to locating a canal line, the

colonists laid out a town site and named it Smithville for Mormon

leader Jesse Smith.


The Gila River was one of the main waterways followed by

American fur trappers and mountain men in their search for pelts in

the 1820s and 1830s. The lands aside the river served as the Gila

Trail along which General Stephen W. Kearny brought a part of his

“Army of the West” in 1846. The town, at an elevation of 2,885

feet, originally was in Pima County, and when it got a post office in

1880, the name was changed to Pima after the Indian tribe of that



Incorporated in 1884, Pima is approximately 134 miles from Tucson

and 160 miles from Phoenix. From Tucson, the route to Pima is east

on Interstate 10 to U.S. 191, turning north to Safford, then north-west

on U.S. 70. From Phoenix, Pima is reached via U.S. 60 to

Globe, then U.S. 70.


Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Graham County,

with much of it centered in the Pima-Thatcher-Safford area. Pima

historically has been an agricultural center, with irrigation water

coming from the Gila River. Principal crops are cotton, alfalfa and

grains. Cattle and beef are important, too. As a farm trade center,

Pima serves surrounding agricultural areas and other portions of

eastern Arizona.


Pima is also becoming a popular retirement community. Partly due

to an increase in tourism and winter visitors, wholesale and retail

trade and services comprise a fourth of the county's employment.

But government, with 37 percent of the total, is the largest employer

in the county. This covers employment by county, state and federal

offices, as well as by the community college in Thatcher.


Pima is approximately 15 miles north of a portion of the Coronado

National Forest, which provides numerous recreational facilities.

Two of the most popular areas are the Pinaleno Mountains and

10,720-foot Mount Graham. Swift Trail, a 36-mile tour (one of the

many scenic drives in the area), provides a route to the summit of

Mount Graham and features many picnic and camping sites.

Forty-nine miles away is the ranger station at Columbine and Riggs

Lake, which has facilities for fishing, boating and other water-oriented

activities. U.S. 70 connects Pima to the recreation areas at

San Carlos Lake and Coolidge Dam, as well as other attractions

such as Cluff Ranch, the frontier fortifications of Fort Thomas and

Geronimo, and the historic cattle-shipping point of Calva.