Ranching is an important part of Arizona’s history. Due to its consistently mild climate, Arizona has attracted many ranchers over the years. However, ranching has become more popular recently because the product is often grown as food and because it allows people to indulge in a more environmentally sound lifestyle. Much of Arizona is now ranching areas, and lively Southwest cities like Mesa, Phoenix, and even Glendale have grown in prominence as major ski resorts.
Unlike many other states, Arizona has a long history of ranching, which was initially made by the Native Americans. The Roosevelt Ranch, discovered in the late 1800s, was eventually bought and expanded by John C. Smith and is now grazing cattle on over 700 acres in southwest Arizona. Smith eventually homesteaded 600 acres of land from the Santa Cruz River to the Colorado River and today is one of the largest private landowners in Arizona.
Ranching in Arizona is a sustainable lifestyle. To ensure that their flames are kept mild, farmers and ranchers protect and control the native wildflowers, plants, and trees that decorate the countryside. Wild huckleberry, sweetgum, and desert spruce are just some of the species of plants that have been found in Arizona.
John Smith’s original stretch of land, which today borders the city of Mesa, was built around 1865 by settlers who were trying to improve their farmlands in the otherwise arid area of north-central Arizona. However, from 2000 to 1800, Mesa, often referred to as the Phoenix of the southwest, was the site of a trading post called Central City.
The city, which was established around 1809, did not have a formal city government or any other buildings for that matter. It was controlled by a board of directors who were all members of the Arizona Courthouse. While the post did have a building, it was used as a jail until it was torn down in the year 1880.
Around the same time, a trading post was established by Marshall Smith. Smith, who had come from Texas, wanted a hub for his cattle and other livestock in this new area. Building a square structure to allow his cattle feed and teaching school was the brainchild of Smith. The building they built was in the shape of a pyramid and contained classrooms, dorms, salons, and even a hotel after completion.
After the Southwest was formally organized in 1869, Marshall Smith chose the area because of its natural drainage ditches and other landmarks, like Castle Garden Cave, Little Italy, and Lake Elsinore, which are all still there today.
By the early 1900s, the messy environment of many big cities like Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and San Diego began to settle in, creating a more established pattern of urban development. The Southwest had yet to be formally organized, but it was becoming more firmly rooted in place.
The historical city of Mesa, which today occupies part of the University of Arizona’s Mesa campus, was built around 1873. When it was originally built, Mesa was one of the few cities in Arizona not to have a city government. The people of Mesa were called “Mesa Citizens” and the elected city officials lived in homes called “citizen’s houses.”
Today, Mesa residents are proudly known as people who “stay that side of town.” With a population of fewer than 20,000 people, Mesa is one of the smallest cities in Arizona with a significant percentage of its population being Hispanic. Another aspect that makes Mesa so unique is that it is one of the only universities not to have a bookstore in the heart of the downtown area.
By 1915, Mesa was growing along with the rest of Fountain Hills as people purchased homes in the growing city. Then, in the early 1900s, there were serious financial disasters, which broke the support of the local banking interests.
Because of these problems, many of the buildings in the city of Mesa needed to be torn down. However, when they were re-engineered they were made into artist’s homes.
A major part of the city’s growth was the creation of schools. Because of the city’s size, it actually had to build several new schools simply to serve the urbanized area.
There are many monuments and buildings throughout Mesa that reflect the history of the city. However, there are some structures that can be viewed on foot or even by airplane that have architectural beauty and are still considered historic features of the city.
The central area of Mesa, where the streets have been named, also has a lot of history. Many of the streets pass through these parts of the city naturally, but there are also a few that you cannot miss if you take your stroll around the city.
Just walking through Mesa on any given day will take you through these streets that were once the homes of respected landowners and ranchers.