Tonopah, Arizona is located on I-10 about 50 miles west of downtown Phoenix. Tonopah is also in the County of western Maricopa. The community is close to the Generating Station of Palo Verde Nuclear Facility, which is the nation's largest power producer.
Tonopah is situation on the Tonopah Desert. Several of the wells in Tonopah are warm, including some temperatures between 70 and 95 degrees F and some are even hot that range between 110 and 120 degrees F. These wells are very common in the area. Before the settlement was named Tonopah, it was being called Lone Peak. The area is known to have been inhabited by tribes of the Yavapai, Patayan, and Hohokam Indians.
In 1944, the building of the Ruth Fisher School demonstrated the determination of the community. Some progress came to Tonopah during the early 1970's. On its way to Phoenix, I-10 was slowly constructed all of the way across western Arizona. When Interstate 10 arrived in the small community of Brenda, travelers had to make a choice of which route to take to Phoenix and beyond. They could both take US-60 to Salome, and then travel south on the old US-80 and then travel the Salome Highway to Buckeye. The establishment of the interstate was moving rather slowly, and the government elected to maintain and pave the Salome Highway as a route for the many different truckers and travelers. In June of 1973, when Interstate-10 finally came to Tonopah, travelers would exit the freeway at 411 Avenue and head towards the Salome Highway. Numerous vehicles, such as automobiles, motorcycles, would arrive into the downtown area of Tonopah nearly every day. At one time this sleepy and small desert community had become a boomtown.
However, this boom didn't last very long. The construction on Interstate-10 didn't stop at 411 Avenue. The interstate highway continued on to Phoenix. The residents of the Tonopah region didn't have to wait very long for the beginning of another large project to start. The construction of Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station that started in 1976 and cost some $9.3 billion Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station started in 1976. This project took some 11 years to finish. When the construction of the plant was at its height, from 1980 through 1981, some 8,500 people gained employment. In December of 1987, the Governor named Evan Mecham was among the 200 people who were present at the official dedication. In 1988, Units 1, 2, and 3 were fully operational.
The Ruth Fisher School had become overcrowded, with the continued growth in the region. A school building was constructed in 1983, at a cost of some $9 million dollars. Originally, this school was intended to be used as a high school. However, the high school wasn't required at that time and the school building remained as an elementary school. While the old school was used to accommodate the lower grades, and the newer school building was the home of the upper grades.
The complex for this school has continued to grow in the past 10 years. These days, the planning region continues to be populated sparsely, although in the coming years it will probably experience increased development. The majority of the region remains agricultural, especially in the Arlington region. There are also regions that have a significant amount of residential development. The agricultural and desert lands define the rural and open feeling of the region. There has been easy access to the highway within the last 10 years. The beauty of the wide open desert and the availability of property have made the Tonopah region a very popular place to live.
A political action committee named TUFF (Tonopah United for Our Future) filed the required paperwork with the county and proposed of the region as a town into a town in 2009. However, when the neighboring community of Buckeye publicly voted to oppose the measure ran into trouble. The reason for this is that State law prohibits the incorporation of a community because Buckeye opposed the measure. State law also that incorporating a new town or city within a certain distance of the existing municipalities without having their approval is prohibited, and the proposed boundary for Tonopah would abridge the corporate boundary of Buckeye, basically providing the community with veto power over any efforts to incorporate by Buckeye.
Eventually the community of approved any effort in the future effort by Tonopah to incorporate Tonopah in 2003. However, the existing town council rescinded the measure, and cited their concern that this measure would increase the boundary of the new town located east of the Hassayampa River and into the Buckeye region that Buckeye intends to annex. Using the river as a boundary, the Council members did indicate that they were open to the future effort of incorporation.
Some concern was also expressed by the residents that the new town wouldn't be able to manage 100 square miles of property that was included in the proposal, and the proposal was simply too ambitious. In 2009, the measure was defeated.