Safford, Arizona

The Mormon founders of Safford first arrived in the winter of 1873-1874 after having spent several years in the area of Gila Bend trying to establish themselves as farmers. Problem in Gila Bend was the extreme variability of the river flows: alternately flooding and then going dry. No amount of dam construction and digging of irrigation canals made any amount of difference. Finally, the folks decided to move upstream and settle in the Valley of the Old Viejo (as Safford Valley was then known).

Safford was named in honor of the sitting Arizona territorial governor at the time, Anson Pacely Killen Safford, by Joshua Eaton Bailey, one of the town's first merchants. As farming got established in the area and the folks began selling their products to the local military posts, Safford began to grow. The first school was built in 1875, about the same time mail delivery started. For many years the primary trade route between El Paso and Phoenix went through Safford, however, when the I-10 was built, that trade route never came closer than about 35 miles (to the south), leaving Safford as a peaceful little city at the foot of the beautiful Mt. Graham (10,713'). The mountain is home to the Mount Graham International Observatory, a complex of astronomical observatories operated by the University of Arizona in conjunction with several national and international universities and other organizations.

Not too long ago, Freeport-McMoRan opened 2 new copper (and gold) mining facilities just north of Safford. These are probably the largest new mining operations in North America. There is also a cotton gin in Safford to service the many acres of cotton planted throughout the valley.

Safford, Arizona
Monsoon showers to the west of Safford over Mt. Graham
Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope
The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope on Mt. Graham