History of Apache County
On February 24, 1879 the Tenth Territorial Legislature created Apache County out of Yavapai County, one of the four original Arizona Counties. The newly created county encompassed all of the present day Navajo and Apache Counties as well as parts of Graham and Greenlee Counties.
The 20,940 square miles of the County in 1879 was mostly inhabited by the Navajo and Apache tribes, along with a few Texas cattlemen and Hispanic sheepherders from New Mexico. For the most part the County was wild and empty country.
The land area assigned to Apache County was not to remain undisturbed for long. In 1881 the part of the County between the Black and Gila Rivers was taken to form part of what is now Graham County. The County also lost significant territory when Navajo County was formed. Apache County’s present area is 11,174 square miles.
Snowflake was designated the first County Seat. After the first election in the fall of 1879, the County Government was set up in St. Johns. In 1880 the County Seat was moved to Springerville. In 1882 St. Johns again became the County Seat and has remained so until the present time.
Apache County is unique among all counties in the United States in many ways. Particularly because it is the longest county in the country, 211 miles from the Utah border to just south of Alpine. Two-thirds of the population, and over one-half of the land area is comprised of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe.
It is a County of contrasts, starting from the blue spruce and aspen covered mountains near Alpine and Nutrioso, to the Greer Valley with the clear, cold waters of the Little Colorado River flowing northward to Round Valley and St. Johns. The Navajo Nation begins near Sanders and is a world apart. It is a country of long, pinon covered mesas, red sandstone cliffs, huge open valleys and hidden canyons. The main population centers are Window Rock and Fort Defiance in the South, Ganado in the center and Chinle in the north, with many small towns in between.
Apache County is growing. Our current population is 70,000. With the new Units three and four being constructed at the Springerville Generating Station, new permanent jobs are being created along with all of the required support services needed for an expanding population in the surrounding communities. Land values are increasing as a result of many new subdivisions being approved and the desire for rural property and second homes by those living in the more metropolitan parts of the state.
The County is being discovered as a place rich in culture with many varied scenic and recreational opportunities. Apache County is becoming more and more important as a travel destination in the State of Arizona. We welcome you and hope you use this site to gain useful information.
-- Delwin Wengert (County Manager) --