Nogales, Santa Cruz, AZ

Louise Speaks:    Being that we live in Arizona, I thought it would be interesting to go to ALL the county seats in the state.  That way we could say we truly have toured and blogged about the entire state of Arizona.  There are currently 15 counties in Arizona, and this is our last county seat.  It’s taken almost 4 years to do this, but only because we only do these county seats as we are heading to somewhere else.  The last few counties we have taken day trips and just visited the county seat because we wanted to end this project of visiting all 15 counties.  We never thought this day would get here….County Seat Project Completed!!

100_9163Nogales is right on the Arizona / Mexico border.  In fact there is a Nogales Arizona and a Nogales Mexico.  It is the closest Mexican port to the Phoenix metropolitan area.  Due to its location on the border and its major ports of entry, Nogales funnels an estimated $30 billion worth of international trade into Arizona and the United States, per year, in fresh produce and manufactured goods from Mexico.  While on our RV trip to Patigonia, we took a day trip to Nogales in order to complete this project of visiting all 15 counties of Arizona.  Santa Cruz is a county  in southern Arizona.  As of the 2015 census , the population of Nogales was  only 46,461.  The county was established in 1899.  The courthouse itself was built in 1904 and looks just beautiful after all these years.  Nogales borders between southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico.  Santa Cruz County, was formed on March 15, 1899, out of what was then Pima County, (see Pima County Seat Post).  The county is named after the Santa Cruz River,  which was named in the late 17th century by Father Kino.   Santa Cruz means  “holy cross”  in Spanish.  After that Father Kino built the famous mission which still stands today at the Tumacacori National Historical Park, which we have posted about separately.

As I had blogged about earlier, when we went to Pena Blanca Lake we had to go through Nogales.  Turning the wrong way when going to the lake and we could have ended up in Mexico.  Other than crossing the  border to go into Mexico there is not much to see or do in Nogales, but today visiting Nogales, completed a four year project and for that I am grateful.

Yuma, Yuma County, AZ

Louise Speaks:  As part of our journey, you may have noticed that we are trying to visit all the county seats of Arizona. In Arizona there are 15 counties and as we travel through the state we make it a point to visit the county seats. This trip we just wanted to get away and spend some winter time someplace warm so we decided to head south to Yuma.

100_8912We are going to have to come back to this booming town to see the actual attractions like the Territorial Prison.  This trip was to visit the county seat of Yuma County which just happens to be in the city of Yuma.  Yuma is located in the southwestern corner of the state.  It borders Mexico to the south and California to the West.  The population of the city was 93,064 in 2010,  up from 77,515 in 2000.   More than 85,000 retirees make Yuma their winter residence.  We are here in December, and I feel like that number is low because every license plate in the RV park is from a different state or Canada.

One of the reasons there are so many people here this time of the year is the weather.  Yuma is noted for its weather extremes. Of any populated place in the  United States, Yuma is the driest, the sunniest, and the least humid.  It also has the lowest frequency of precipitation and has the highest number of days per year, 175,  with a daily maximum temperature of 90 °F  or higher.  This makes for extremely hot summers and very warm winters. The sun is said to shine during about 90 % of the daylight hours, probably making Yuma the sunniest place in the US.  On July 28, 1995, Yuma reached its all-time high of 124 °F…that’s why we are here in December.

Yuma County was one of four original Arizona Counties.  The original county seat was the city of La Paz until 1871 when it was moved to Arizona City, later renamed Yuma in 1873 .  Its original boundaries remained the same until 1982, when La Paz County  was created from its northern half.   When I went to school in Arizona, there were only 14 counties, so as we started this journey I was surprised to see that a new county had been added and didn’t even know where it was located until we started touring all the county seats.

Because we do not tow a car with the RV we stopped by the courthouse as we were leaving town.  The good thing about Yuma is that all the main attractions of the city are all in the center of town.  The bad thing is that in order to find them everyone is going the same way and Yuma is full of round a bouts.  So after several turns around the center of town we reached the courthouse.  It was a very quick stop and then we were on our merry way.  Like I said earlier we will be back, but we wanted to at least complete something on our journey after spending a week just relaxing and enjoying the Yuma winter.

Thelma Speaks:

Prescott, Yavapai County, AZ

100_5724Louise Speaks:  As part of our journey, you may have noticed that we are trying to visit all the county seats of Arizona. In Arizona there are 15 counties and as we travel through the state we make it a point to visit the county seats.  Prescott, is the town in which we live and is in Patricia’s book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” but we have a few things left to do in Prescott from Patricia’s book before I blog about Prescott.  However, since we are doing the county seats, I can do Yavapai County Seat which is Prescott separately.

Yavapai County is located near the center of the state of Arizona.  As of the 2010 census, its population was 211,073.  Since Prescott has been voted the #3 place in the country to retire for the past 6 years, I’m sure that number has increased.  Yavapai County was one of the four original Arizona Counties .   The county territory was defined as being east and north of the Gila River.   Soon thereafter, the counties of Apache, Coconino, Maricopa and Navajo were carved from the original Yavapai County.  Yavapai County’s present boundaries were established in 1891.  The county has a total area of 8,128 square miles, of which 8,123 square miles  is land and 4.4 square miles  is water.   It is larger than three U.S. States; Rhode Island, Delaware & Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.  The county’s topography makes a dramatic transition from the lower Sonoran Desert  to the south to the heights of the Coconino Plateau  to the north, and the Mogollon Rim to the east.  The Highest point above sea level  in Yavapai County is Mount Union  at an elevation of 7,979 ft and the lowest is Agua Fria River drainage, now under Lake Pleasant.

courthouseThe Prescott Courthouse is in a way the center of Prescott.  Built in the 1800s, the courthouse helps maintain the history of Prescott, giving reason to appreciate and respect the beauty of the life of Prescott, Arizona.  The courthouse is right next to whiskey row, with historic taverns and shops that have nearly as much history as the courthouse itself.  During the summer months, nearly every weekend there are street fairs and other events happening in the courtyard area of the Prescott Courthouse.  Among other great stores and restaurants in the area, the Prescott Brewery is a fantastic restaurant with great food and locally brewed beer.  Prescott’s tree-lined Courthouse Plaza is the pivot around which the town was designed and built.  Today, quaint boutiques, fantastic restaurants and an eclectic array of galleries featuring local, regional and national artists surround this famous landmark.

Known as the “jewel” of downtown Prescott, Arizona, the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza is a majestic, man-made urban forest in the heart of a historic commercial district. For more than 140 years it has served as a gathering place for celebrations, commemorations, campaign kick-offs, concerts, movies, and festivals.

whiskey rowThe plaza’s success is rooted in Prescott’s original town site plat, which was recorded in 1864.  The traditional grid pattern had as its centerpiece the 4.1-acre courthouse plaza.  Adjoining the courthouse is the city’s commercial district and businesses — many of which are located along Montezuma Street’s, known as historic Whiskey Row.  Whiskey Row keeps the area alive after 5 p.m.  In this photo you can see the trees of the courthouse plaza on the left and the pubs of Whiskey Row on the right.


rowThe fact that this historic district exists today is testament to the community’s determination.  A fire in 1900 destroyed eight blocks, including Whiskey Row, and resulted in $1.5 million in losses.  Despite the fact that many merchants were uninsured, most rebuilt.  There is an incredible story of the bar located in the Palace that I will blog about when I blog about Prescott.

Citizens are protective of the plaza and its four-story courthouse. In 2004, residents sued to block construction of an 80-foot-high contemporary office building just two blocks from the plaza. Although allowed by city code, residents protested the intrusion of a building so out-of-scale with the rest of the neighborhood. Three years later, the community rallied on the courthouse steps to dissuade the county from moving the courtrooms elsewhere.

treesMore than 170 trees, including 127 American elms, grace the plaza. In addition to the extensive tree canopy, the plaza features large expanses of curbed grass lawn, interlocking pavers, a painted historic timeline, and a historic well and bandstand.  Public restrooms were installed under the western steps.  The north courthouse steps provide natural seating for performances.  It was from those steps that Barry Goldwater announced his candidacy for president in 1964 as well as John McCain in 2008.

The plaza hosts more than 130 activities annually.  Dancing, outdoor movies, concerts, or poetry readings are attended by as few as 50 or as many as 600 people each weekday evening during the summer.  The plaza is regularly home to joggers, workers on lunch break, dog walkers, tourists, Frisbee players, and parents pushing strollers.  Other communities may have courthouses of greater architectural significance gazeboand grander displays of colorful plant beds, but not all such plazas are so appreciated by its residents, carefully maintained, or so heavily used.  There is also a gazebo at the corner of the plaza where many activities are held including weddings.  I myself was married inside this gazebo.

Again, since this is where I live I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy the Courthouse Plaza.  There is something going on all the time.  And even if there is no planned activity, the plaza or the square as we call it, is just a place to go.  There are business on all 4 sides of the square and walking around the square is enjoyed by everyone.  A trip to Prescott is not complete without a day at the square, whether you just walk around, stop for yogurt, or do some shopping or drinking.

Thelma Speaks: