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The Apache Trail was built by prison labor: The Apache Trail is a scenic drive through the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. The road was built in the early 1900s using prison labor from the nearby Yuma Territorial Prison.
Gila County, AZ has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, such as the Tonto Apache and the Western Apache. These tribes relied on hunting, gathering, and agriculture to sustain their communities.

In the mid-19th century, European settlers began to arrive in the area. The discovery of gold in 1862 sparked a mining boom, attracting prospectors from all over the country. Towns like Globe and Miami quickly developed as mining centers, and Gila County became a hub of activity.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the expansion of the mining industry in Gila County. Copper mining in particular flourished, with numerous mines opening in the region. The mining boom brought economic prosperity and population growth to the area, leading to the establishment of schools, businesses, and infrastructure.

However, the mining industry went into decline in the mid-20th century, resulting in a population decrease and economic challenges for Gila County. Despite this, the region remains a popular tourist destination, thanks to its beautiful natural landscapes, including the Tonto National Forest and the Salt River. Today, Gila County continues to preserve its cultural heritage and promote economic diversification while embracing its history as a mining center.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Gila County, Arizona.

  • 1881 - Gila County is established by the Arizona Territorial Legislature.
  • 1874 - Discovery of silver in Globe leads to a mining boom in the area.
  • 1876 - Globe is founded as a mining camp.
  • 1888 - The railroad reaches Globe, further stimulating the mining industry.
  • 1915 - Construction of Theodore Roosevelt Dam begins on the Salt River, providing water for irrigation and hydroelectric power.
  • 1922 - Completion of Theodore Roosevelt Dam, creating Roosevelt Lake, a popular recreation spot.
  • 1953 - Hayden is established as a planned community for Kennecott Copper Corporation employees.
  • 1989 - Forest fires cause significant damage to parts of Gila County.
  • 2002 - Rodeo-Chediski Fire, one of the largest wildfires in Arizona history, burns over 468,000 acres in Gila County.
  • 2013 - Yarnell Hill Fire claims the lives of 19 firefighters in the vicinity of Yarnell.