Maricopa, Arizona

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Maricopa is a city in the Gila River Valley in the U.S. state of Arizona. Incorporated in 2003, it is the seventeenth largest city in the state with an estimated population of 44,691 as of July 2009.[2] Maricopa is the most populous incorporated city in Pinal County and forms part of the Phoenix metropolitan area, the 12th largest metropolitan area in the United States.

Contents

History

Maricopa has had three locations over the years: Maricopa Wells, Maricopaville and Maricopa Junction which gradually became known as Maricopa. Each stage of its life has contributed greatly to the growth and development of the Southwest.[3] Its conception took place at a series of watering holes eight miles north of present day Maricopa, and about a mile west of Pima Butte. It was called Maricopa Wells. Several of Arizona’s rivers, the Gila, Santa Cruz, Vekol and Santa Rosa provided this oasis in the desert with an ample supply of water during this period of time.

Maricopa Wells was one of the most important relay stations along the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and the later more famous Butterfield Overland Mail Route during the 1800s. Although little remains of this once bustling community, it played an important part in the progress and development of the southwest. It was one of the best known spots in Arizona during this period of time because it not only had a reliable source of water, but offered an abundance of food thanks to the peaceful Pima and Maricopa farmers who lived and farmed nearby.

The most prosperous period of time for Maricopa Wells was in the 1870s. During this time the Wells provided water and food for not only the east-west travelers, but those who traveled to the north. Fairly good roads had been built by James A. Moore, the proprietor at Maricopa Wells, to all points north and the Wells was a constant hubbub of activity. With its ample supply of water and prosperous trading center, it truly was a shining beacon and sanctuary in the desert for those thousands of travelers who depended upon its resources for their survival.

Maricopa’s second moment of fame took place eight miles south of Maricopa Wells and about three miles west of present day Maricopa. It was called Maricopaville. In 1879, the Southern Pacific Railroad was in the process of building a railroad line from Yuma to Tucson, and a second railroad line was to be built from Maricopaville, wrapping around the western edge of South Mountain into Phoenix. It didn’t take long for this little desert settlement of Maricopaville to take on the appearance of one of the gold rush boom towns of California with men working day and night building hotels, saloons, warehouses, restaurants, theaters, etc. One newspaper of the times reckoned that with its thousands of people and good location, it would be an ideal choice for the location of the state capitol.

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