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 Safford 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.
Greenlee 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.
Greenlee 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.