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One of the most historic and oldest communities in the state of Arizona is Maricopa. The community is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges including the Haley Hills, the Saddleback mountains, Palo Verde, as well as the beautiful Sierra Estrella's and is hidden in the center of the Sonoran Desert. Over the years, Maricopa has had three and each played an important role in the development and growth in the Southwest.
The first location of Maricopa was known as Maricopa Wells, which was located on the southernmost banks of the Gila River. The community was a haven for numerous immigrants who, during the 1800's, traveled the southern trail to the gold fields in California after crossing Arizona. This trail was comprised of a many different of watering holes that many rivers, which included the Santa Rosa, the Vekol, and the Gila, all of which are located in Arizona. These rivers provide an oasis in the desert with an abundant supply of water.
Maricopa Wells was the primary relay station for the stagecoach line between the 1850's and the 1860's, which was the first organized quasi-public transportation system in Arizona. It was known as the San Diego and San Antonio Mail Line and after that became known as the Butterfield Overland Mail Line. At that time, almost all of the residents of Maricopa Wells was either employed by the trading or the stagecoach line.
It was during the 1870's, that was the most prosperous period of time for Maricopa Wells. During this period of time, food and water were provided to those who were traveling to the north as well as to those who were traveling east-to-west. With its prosperous trading center and significant supply of water. The community became a critical sanctuary as well as a shining beacon in the desert for numerous travelers who relied on its resources for their survival.
In 1879, the name of Maricopa Wells was changed to simply Maricopa, and in order to hook-up with the Southern Pacific railroad, and to serve as a junction for the two Rail lines, it relocated its post office and telegraph office some eight miles directly south. This new location called Maricopaville, had men working around the clock constructing theaters, restaurants, saloons, and hotels and had the look of one of those boom towns during the California gold rush days. However, this small community in the center of the desert that virtually grew up overnight was never a junction for the two railroads. When the routes were changed, the dream of being a railroad terminus was over.
The final relocation of Maricopaville was some three miles directly east, which enabled the town to once again take on the challenge of being a junction for two railroads, which were the Phoenix and Maricopa Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad. This situation was maintained for the next 40 years. The economy of Arizona was revolutionized by the railroad as products traveled into the Phoenix area by rail rather than by wagon and local merchandise reached markets in the west and east more rapidly.
It was necessary to rebuild the railroad lines after much destruction was caused by some major flooding. The railroad redirected a line into Maricopa and Phoenix from Picacho and Maricopa lost its importance as a junction. However, the community learned that its desert lands were perfect for farming. The raw desert in Maricopa was cultivated into rows of green plants, that offered up snowy white blossoms of cotton from 1948 through the 1960's. Cattle became the most important industry throughout the years, while farmers were experimenting with, and grew, many different other crops that included pecans, citrus, melons, peas, and alfalfa.
The year 2003 brought the incorporation of Maricopa, which at that time had a population of some 1,040 people. However, in the next two years, the population exploded to 15,934 people, which earned the community the title of one of the fastest growing communities in the U.S. These days, that population has more than doubled again. The residents of Maricopa are international and depict the same cultural diversity as its birthplace. It is a community that has lived its history as well as witnessed it.
Maricopa continues to celebrate and honor its cultural diversity, and is the only community in the country that is bordered by two Native Indian communities. Maricopa embraces the pioneering spirit and American ingenuity that has been an integral part of Maricopa for 100's of years.
Although Maricopa hasn't lost its sense of community or it identity, it has grown tremendously. The community is rich in friendly people, innate beauty and history. Maricopa is a wonderful place to build a business and raise a family. It is also a great place to watch the amazing desert sunset with an many different bright colors across the sky in the evening that gradually disappear behind the rugged western mountains, or simply enjoy the warm winter climate.
These days, Maricopa is continually celebrating its cultural diversity, and prosper and grow as a regional economic development partner and community that provides several incredible amenities that its residents use and value every day.
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