Maricopa Wells ~ An Oasis in the Desert
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. 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.
Famous Stagecoach Relay Station and Trading Center in 1800s
Maricopa Wells was one of the most important relay stations along the famous Butterfield Overland Mail Routeduring 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.
Maricopaville: Boom Town ~ 1879
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.
Maricopa: Famous Railroad Junction ~ 1887
However, a railroad line was never built from Maricopaville into Phoenix. Tempe wanted to be on the railroad line and was very vociferous about its demands and rights. The powers at the state capitol agreed and Maricopaville lost its moment of glory as a rising Arizona star. It was moved three miles to the east to its present location of Maricopa in the early 1880s, and began its life as a famous railroad junction when the first M&P train left Maricopa for Phoenix on July 4, 1887. Once again, all east-west travelers had to stop at Maricopa, and those who wanted to travel to the north had to board the Maricopa & Phoenix Railroad which took them into Kyrene, Tempe and Phoenix.
City of Maricopa
One of Fastest Growing Cities in the United States
What is life like in Maricopa today? Maricopa is suddenly in the spotlight again. This time it shines, not as a famous stagecoach relay station and trading center, nor as a railroad junction connecting the east and west with all points north, but as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and one of the hottest places in the country to build a business. It officially became an incorporated city on October 15, 2003 making it Arizona's 88th city.
You cannot find a finer or more ideal place to raise your children and live than in Maricopa. If you have lived here for many years you know what I'm talking about. If you are one of the thousands of people who recently moved here! Congratulations! Welcome! You have found the BEST KEPT SECRET in Arizona-Maricopa.
These words of Amelia Earhart can certainly apply to the awesome task that lies ahead for its city leaders, "Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take OFF! But if you don't have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for you and for those who will follow after you." Maricopa's first elected City Council took office with shovels in hand on June 1, 2004, and enthusiastically began the challenge of laying the foundation for the City of Maricopa and its government.
Build It and They Will Come
The City of Maricopa is in partnership with the private business sector, and is actively engaged in recruiting universities, colleges, hospitals and employers to the community. The importance of bringing business and employment growth into the city is of prime importance to the City Council. This area, with its rapid growth, is begging for businesses of all sorts. How can they fail with a projected population growth of over 100,000 in less than four years? It has the additional advantage of being able to pull in patrons from surrounding areas such as Stanfield, Gila Bend, Hidden Valley and Mobile. It's a Field of Dreams for the business world, "Build it and they will come."
Building a City Together
Today, if you are one of the thousands of newcomers, you are the new pioneers, bringing with you a wide array of talents, energy and enthusiasm. You will define the City of Maricopa. Go for it! What are Maricopa's needs? Where are your talents? Find something you are interested in or have a passion for and go for it. You are in the driver's seat! Make a commitment to help in your own special way, whether it is listening to a young child read in the classrooms on a regular basis, teaching art to children/ adults, using your expertise on the city council, or wherever your talents lay. Get involved! You will make a difference!
Reflections of a Desert Town