Arizona has a strong Native American presence: Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the country. Native American culture and traditions continue to play an important role in the state's history and identity.
Apache County, located in northeastern Arizona, has a rich and colorful history that spans thousands of years. The area was historically home to various Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Apache, Zuni, and Hopi peoples. These tribes thrived in the region, adapting to the challenging desert environment and establishing trading networks with nearby tribes.

European exploration of Apache County began in the 16th century when Spanish conquistadors, such as Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, ventured into the area in search of gold and other resources. However, it was not until the 19th century that significant European settlement took place. In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, the United States acquired present-day Arizona, including Apache County, from Mexico.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Apache County experienced a significant influx of settlers attracted by mining, ranching, and railroad construction. The discovery of mineral deposits, including copper, uranium, and coal, played a crucial role in the county's development. The towns of St. Johns, Springerville, and Holbrook, among others, emerged as important centers of economic activity, supporting the growth of the mining and ranching industries.

Apache County also played a significant role in the history of the Wild West. The area was part of the historic Butterfield Overland Mail Route, which facilitated communication and transportation between the East and West coasts. Notorious figures such as Billy the Kid and the legendary Apache warrior Geronimo also left their mark on the county's history, engaging in conflicts and battles that shaped the region's development.

Today, Apache County continues to embrace its diverse heritage, with a vibrant Native American culture coexisting alongside more recent settlers. The county's history is preserved and celebrated through museums, cultural events, and historical landmarks, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich tapestry of its past.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Apache County, Arizona.

  • 1879 - Apache County is established on February 24, 1879, as one of the original four counties of the Arizona Territory.
  • 1880 - The county seat is designated as St. Johns, which becomes the oldest continuously inhabited community in Arizona.
  • 1881 - The town of Holbrook is founded and quickly becomes a hub for the region's livestock industry.
  • 1882 - The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad completes a line through Winslow, bringing increased transportation and economic opportunities to the area.
  • 1889 - The famous Pleasant Valley War, a deadly feud between cattlemen, reaches its peak in Apache County.
  • 1931 - The iconic Petrified Forest National Monument is established within the county's boundaries, preserving unique geological formations and fossilized trees.
  • 1964 - The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is established, providing recreational opportunities and protecting important wildlife habitats.
  • 1986 - Apache County experiences a major economic boom when the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, begins operations.
  • 2005 - The Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park is established, featuring scenic attractions such as the spectacular Antelope Canyon.