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Clifton, Greenlee County, Arizona

Louise Speaks:  Our final county seat of the day is the town of Clifton which is the county seat of Greenlee County.  Clifton is only 43 miles from 13922565Safford so just a short drive away.  The town is only  15  square miles      one of the smallest towns we’ve been to, but the county has an area of 1,848   square miles.  Clifton has a hot semi-arid climate that closely borders on both the hot desert climate and the cool semi-arid climate.  Summers are very hot and sometimes humid, with most rainfall coming from the monsoons between July and October.  Winters are mild but with very cold nights and are very dry.  As of 2000, there were 2,596 residents living in the town of Clifton.  I would suspect that number has decreased since then.  This makes Greenlee County the least populous county in Arizona.

The economy of Greenlee County is dominated by the Morenci Mine,  the largest copper mining operation in North America, and one of the largest copper mines in the world.  As of 2008, the mine complex, had about 4,000 employees.

The Town of Clifton operates under a Council-Manager form of government with seven elected councilman including a Mayor and Vice Mayor and a town manager appointed by the council.  Each council member is elected to a four-year term.

100_5682Greenlee County was created in 1909 and named for Mason Greenlee who was an early settler in the Clifton area.  Greenlee County was Arizona’s 14th county and formed from part of Graham County, which opposed the formation because Graham County would lose considerable revenue.  Clifton has always been the county seat.  I’m finding that many of the 15 counties in Arizona were formed as a part of another county.

5311671Greenlee County used to be the most reliably Democratic county in Arizona.  It voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election from 1912 to 1996.  However, it has supported the Republican candidate in each of the four most recent presidential elections.

Because the town was so small, there really is nothing to do here but find the courthouse, take our picture and head out of town.  Four county seats in one day makes for a busy day…but we did it.

Thelma Speaks:

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Safford, Graham County, Arizona

100_5678Louise Speaks:  Safford, the county seat for Graham County is the third county seat we are visiting today.  Safford is only 78 miles from Globe so an easy drive down south. Graham County was formed in 1881 by the 11th Territorial Legislature and was created from parts of Apache and Pima counties.  Like I had said before this is how many of the Arizona Counties were formed…by just taking parts of neighboring counties and making a new one. The City of Safford was incorporated in 1901.

thGraham County is a  located in the southeastern part of Arizona. The county has a  population of about 37,220, making it the third-least populous county in Arizona.  The county is home to several organizations including Eastern Arizona College and the Mount Graham international Observatory which includes one of the world’s largest and most powerful telescopes.  Graham County is also home to the Arizona Salsa Trail and the annual Salsa Fest.  I mean if I’m gong to be known for something the Salsa Fest sounds pretty good.

You will notice as you go through the 15 counties of Arizona that most of them are named after Indian tribes.  Graham County is named after the mountain by the same name and was the first Arizonan county to break the tradition of naming counties for Native Americans.  Many counties followed suit in later years.

375px-Safford,_ArizonaThe terrain for Graham County is mostly composed of high desert plains at the base of medium to large basalt mountains.  This area is rather unique for Arizona, since it actually has a small river running through its major valley all year round. And since most of the land is on the edges between the mountains and the high desert plains the area is known as a transition area between two major biomes. A biome is a particular terrain, climate, elevation combination which has a particular array of plant and animal life.  Graham County is one of the areas with the widest variety of animal and bird life of any area in the United States. This is also the site of the only two designated Riparian Areas in the United States. A Riparian area is that area near running water that supports water loving plants, water birds and amphibians. Yes, Graham County has that much water. They have the Gila River, the Bonita Creek, and underneath the land flows mineral water springs, artesian wells, and even some potable fresh water.

175010Since our main focus for today was to try and see as many county seats and their court houses as possible, we didn’t really check into what fun things there are to do in Safford, but with all the water available, I’m sure water activities are plentiful.  There are a couple of spas and resorts and a lake close by.  Safford has a warm high desert climate, much hotter than most places in eastern Arizona due to its relatively low elevation of 2,953 feet.  Safford has been known to  reach temperatures almost as hot as found in Phoenix.

I’m not a big fan of the southern part of Arizona, so I was glad this was only a quick stop.  There may be things to do here, but I was glad to leave.  Safford gets a C rating, just because it had a great looking court house, and a nice lake close by.

 Thelma Speaks:


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Globe, Gila County, AZ

Louise Speaks:  This is our second county seat today.  Globe is only 55 miles from Florence, but it is in another county and is a new county seat. Globe did have a few things of interest to see and you can read about them separately.  But our main focus today was to see the county seats and share with you a bit of Arizona history, county by county.

Gila County Courthouse

Gila County Courthouse

We had a bit of an adventure trying to find the Gila

Veterans Memorial

Veterans Memorial

County Court House.  Turns out there are two…well sort of.  The address I  had lead us to the Gila County Complex.  A pretty boring building in comparison to the other court houses we have seen across the state.  But it did have a memorial out front to all the armed forces.  Each branch of the military was represented with plaques and names of veterans.  There were benches where you could sit down, and although it was on the main street of town, it was a quiet place to just stop and read the memorial.

Original Courthouse

Original Courthouse

We then began a journey, or a search if you will to find the original court house.  We did find it, but the building has been sold and is now the Cobra Valley Center for the Arts.  What a beautiful building to now be an art museum.  When looking at it, it still does look like a court house, minus the flags, and I don’t understand why they stopped using this building as a court house.  I’m sure there were reasons, but the new one is pretty UNimpressive and probably the most ordinary building we’ve seen so far.

broad-street-southAs far as a brief history of Gila County…well it goes like this.  Arizona is known for just taking a piece of this and a piece of that and making a new county.  For example, when I first moved to Arizona there were only 14 counties….now there are fifteen.  This is how Gila County was formed.   Gila County was formed from parts of Maricopa County, and Pinal County on February 8, 1881.    So that means that the land surrounding Florence was larger than it is now.   The original county seat was in the mining community of Globe City, now shortened to Globe, Arizona.  Gila County has an area of 7,247 square miles, about equal to that of the State of New Jersey.  Mining, tourism, government and retirees are most important in the present-day Globe economy.

There are a few more things to do in Globe than there was in Florence.  Parts of Globe is part of the Indian Reservation, so of course there is now a casino.  Many of the historic buildings, like the original court house are now transformed into something else.  We did visit a few other sites today, but like I said earlier, you can read about them separately.  That being said, Globe is an average town and I’m giving it a rating of a C. 

Thelma Speaks: