Kearny is named after General Stephen W. Kearny, leader
of the “Army of the West” which explored along the Gila River
in 1849-1850. He set up base camp near a site that would later
bear his name.
Kearny was a planned community built in 1958 to house
workers from the nearby Kennecott Copper Company open-pit
mine and reduction plant. It was incorporated in 1959.
This Pinal County community, located along the Gila River
almost equidistant from Phoenix and Tucson, is at an elevation of
2,070 feet. Kearny is about 78 miles southeast of Phoenix and
80 miles northeast of Tucson.
To reach Kearny from Phoenix, follow Interstate 10 east to
state Highway 60, continue east on 60 to U.S. 60, east to
Superior, turn south on state Highway 177. From Tucson, follow
U.S. 89 to Oracle Junction, turn northeast on state Highway 77
to Winkelman, turn northwest on state Highway 177.
Today, American Smelting and Refining Company operates the
large open-pit copper mine, reduction plant and smelter near
Kearny. The mine, and the company’s smelter in Hayden, provide
much of the employment for residents in Kearny. Most other
employment in Kearny is in the commercial and services sector.
Ray Mine, one of Arizona’s largest open-pit copper mining operations,
is 11 miles north of Kearny. A viewpoint is open during
daylight hours. Hills and desert vegetation of the Pinal County
area provide varied opportunities for the rockhound, photographer,
historian, bird watcher, and botanist, as well as javalina,
deer and quail hunting. Along portions of the Gila River, activities
include fishing, walking trails and picnic tables with barbecue grills.
A 10-acre lake adjacent to the river opened in 1995.
State Highway 77, which is the route to Globe, the largest
town in this mountainous mining region, and state Highway 177
provide dramatic mountain and canyon scenery. The Dripping
Spring Mountains and Tortilla Mountains have numerous recreation
areas with camping and picnicking facilities.
A few miles west of nearby Superior is the Thompson
Southwest Arboretum, a 120-acre tract on the edge of Picketpost
Mountain. The arboretum is world famous for its great variety of
rare and beautiful flowers and plants, with special attention to
Upstream from Kearny on the Gila River is Coolidge Dam, dedicated
by former President Calvin Coolidge in 1930. The dam, backing
up San Carlos Lake, is on the San Carlos Indian Reservation.
West of Kearny is Ashurst-Hayden Dam, which diverts irrigation
water stored behind Coolidge Dam to Pinal County farmland.