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Willcox, at an elevation of 4,167 feet, is in the northern
part of the Sulphur Springs Valley, which cuts through
Cochise County for nearly 100 miles and averages more than
15 miles in width. The town was established in 1880 and
incorporated in 1915. Located on I-10 halfway between
Phoenix and El Paso, Texas, Willcox serves as the major trade
and service center for agriculture and tourism within the county.
Willcox was once known as the Cattle Capital of the nation.
Cattle are still an important aspect of the economy, and a large
livestock auction is held in Willcox. Row crops such as cotton
and small grains are significant as well.
The diversification of agriculture has resulted in establishment
of apple orchards, pistachio and pecan groves, ostrich
farms, grape vineyards, and two hydroponics tomato green
houses. A well-established-Pick-It” industry provides fresh
produce for all of southern Arizona.
Willcox also has support industries such as finance, utilities,
schools, government, communications and a full-scale
health center. The community is home to several corporate
Tourists, as well as traveling business people, have an
important impact on the city’s economy. With a mild, year-round
climate, relatively inexpensive land and housing, and a
pleasant rural lifestyle, Willcox is a desirable retirement community.
The city is part of the Arizona Main Street Program.
Cochise County is unparalleled in its historical, cultural, scenic
and recreational features. From the rugged Dos Cabezas Peaks
and the Chiricahua Mountains to Cochise Stronghold in
Dragoon Mountains (part of the Coronado National Forest),
the dramatic changes in scenery and wildlife will both delight
and amaze visitors. These awe-inspiring mountains and mystifying
deserts were once the homeland of the Chiricahua Apache
Indians, and it is the great chief Cochise that the county gets
Visitors are encouraged to “Travel the Magic Circle of
Cochise,” a journey through the area that will bring its rich history
and unique and dramatic geology to life. The Cochise Information
Center, operated by the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and
Agriculture has information on the tour.
Willcox, hometown of TV, movie and radio personality Rex Allen,
annually celebrates “Rex Allen Days” on the first weekend of
October with a parade, country fair, PRCA rodeo, concert, golf
tournament and dances. Willcox also hosts Wings Over
Willcox/Sand hill Crane Celebration the third weekend in January;
the Magic Circle Bike Challenge (Labor Day weekend); and the
Christmas Apple Festival (first Friday and Saturday in December).
Pearce is in Southern Arizona. It is in Cochise County. The town is located along Interstate 191 between Wilcox and Douglas in the Sulphur Springs Valley. Pearce lies 85 miles southeast of Tucson, 50 miles north of Douglas, 30 miles southeast of Benson and 30 miles southwest of Wilcox.
The area around Pearce draws many because of its mild climate year round and its proximity to major towns. The town sits at an elevation of 4,500 feet. The southwest desert climate has a low winter temperature of 40 degrees and a summer high temperature of 100 degrees. Many consider Pearce just a ghost town, but the area around Pearce is growing. Many small communities are springing up and Pearce seems to be on its way back.
In 1894, Jimmy Pearce discovered a piece of ore with a golden color inside. Pearce had been a miner in Tombstone but had purchased a ranch near where the town of Pearce is today. He had the specimen checked out and it was confirmed. There was gold on his property.
All five members of his family had a claim on the mine, which was soon called the Commonwealth Mine. The Commonwealth Mine is estimated to have produced thirty million in gold. Soon a town was established and the mine was booming. Later, Pearce sold out for a quarter of a million.
The peak of production had been realized by 1896. The town had a school, hotels, saloons and a motion-picture theater. At one point, the town hit a population of over a thousand.
The mine did operate until 1904 when cave-ins caused a temporary shutdown. The following year, a cyanide plant was erected and another fortune was made extracting the tailings. The mine closed in the 1930’s and the mining town diminished in size.
Today, all that is left of the mining town is a few ruins. However, the area around Pearce is coming back. Many people are drawn to the area’s climate, history and great location in southern Arizona.
One attraction that has a wealth of information on the culture and art of the Native American is the Amerind Foundation. The foundation is only 19 miles from town. It is a nonprofit archaeological research center and museum focused on the Native American culture of the Southwest and Northern Mexico. There are collections of artifacts from as far as the Arctic and South America. It is important to call ahead for times, days and tour information.
An outdoor activity rich with the history of the old west is just minutes from town. Cochise Stronghold Canyon was once the hideout for the Apache Indian Chief Cochise and his band of warriors. Today, it is a camping and picnicking ground.