History of Apache Junction Arizona

Reference & Education

  • Author Josiah Eloy
  • Published December 30, 2022
  • Word count 905

Location 35 miles out of Phoenix and Mesa, at the intersection of 60 and 88 freeways, on the eastern edge of the Phoenix metro area.

The city of Apache Junction, located near the Superstition Mountains at the intersection of the Historic Apache Trail and the historic Apache Trail, along U.S. 60, in the Superstition Mountains, was incorporated on November 24, 1978. Apache Junction is bordered on the east by the Superstition Mountains (a federal wilderness area and home to the Lost Dutchmans Gold Mine) and to the north by the Goldfield Mountains, with Bulldog Recreation Area. The Apache Trail is a stunningly scenic drive through the mountains, leading up to recreation areas like Canyon, Apache, and Roosevelt Lakes, all located within Salt River Canyon.

The Apache Trail is known as one of the most scenic drives in Arizona, and was built to help meet construction needs for the Theodore Roosevelt Dam -- completed in 1911, a year before the statehood. It was not until 1903 that the trail was developed and used to transport supplies from Mesa to Roosevelt Lake to build the Roosevelt Dam, which was supposed to provide water and power for the Salt River Valley. Early in the 1900s, the Mesa-Roosevelt Road (later called Apache Trail) was built, followed by the large Salt River dam.

By the 1850s, nearly all Native American tribes, about 360,000 people, lived to the west of the Mississippi. The tribes were scattered throughout America for centuries before the terms Native American or Indian were considered.

Nearly every Native American tribe met with hardship, as a steady flow of European immigrants to northeastern American cities brought an inflow of immigrants to western lands already filled with these varied groups of Indians. Through the regulations of the United States Government, Indian Americans were forced out of their living spaces because of their Native lands being divided up. As settlers needed more land in the Native American tribal-populated West, the U.S. government often reduced the size of Native reservations.

About 7.3 percent of families and 11.6 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.4 percent of those under 18 years old and 7.4 percent of those 65 years old and older. The racial composition of Apache Junction was 89.5 percent white, 1.2 percent black or African-American, 1.1 percent Native American, 0.8 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Pacific Islander, 4.9 percent from other races, and 2.4 percent from two or more races.

Stories included lore of significant cultural and natural resources across the town, including the Superstition Mountains and Dirtwater Springs Restaurant. The Superstition Mountain Museum has a lot of fun facts about the start of Apache Junction, and devastating tragedies that were discovered from the Mine Wars and Territory. From their web site: The Superstition Mountain Museum collects, preserves, and displays artifacts, history, and folklore of the Superstition Mountains, city of Apache Junction, and surrounding areas.

Even before damming, Apache Junction (AJ) (before its name) gained notoriety for being gold-rich from an obscure prospector named Jacob Waltz, who claimed he had extracted an enormous amount of gold from the magnificent Superstition Mountains in the late 1800s.

Since then, AJ has grown from a small town with an intriguing history into a town with exciting plans for its future. The Apache Sentinels earned the highest honors in January 2014, during the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet, winning the award for small business person of the year, due to their contributions to the chamber and their support for events and activities within the community. Sixty years ago, the city of Apache Junction had yet to incorporate; Apacheland's Western Movie Studio was announced for construction in 1959 --- at the site that is now Apache Junction/Gold Canyon; and the rumors about the famous Lost Dutchman gold mine were a trove, but were not celebrated yet with Lost Dutchman Days.

Sixty years ago, the City of Apache Junction had not yet been incorporated ; the Western-movies studio of Apacheland was announced 1959 to be constructed -- - in what is now Apache Junction/Gold Canyon ; and talk of the famed Lost Dutchman Gold Mine was treasured but not yet feted with Lost Dutchman Days. The AJ Bayless Supermarket was planned for construction on the northwest corner of that same junction, the former location of Apache Trail General Store, which is shown here, pictured, in 1919. While five acres of land at Apache Junction had little going for it, partners purchased the Goldfield mill site, a neighboring five-acre parcel, in 1984, and spent almost five years meticulously rebuilding the town at Goldfield. Goldfield Ghost Town, a tourism site preserved from former prospecting days, is located near the west face of Superstition Mountain, off of Arizona State Route 88. Goldfield Ghost Town is a tourism site featuring information on the historic city of Goldfield, Arizona.

This approach was chosen as one that supported the ethos of Positively Apache Junction, and as the ghost stories were a notable resource in the history of Apache Junction. One of the approaches that Apache Junction considered in developing the Positively Apache Junction campaign was supporting a community theatre program that can highlight the strengths and rich history of the city. The Superstition Horsemen's Association helped ensure that Apache Junction is still a horse-friendly community today, said Apache Junction resident Betty Swanson.

Being near todays cities, but somewhat remote, being unincorporated and located in Pinal County, people came to Apache Junction to do their thing, sometimes that involved doing things that were illegal, such as setting up chop shops and drug deals.

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