Florence, Arizona

Last updated

Florence, Arizona

O'odham: S-auppag
Main Street original town-site of Florence Arizona National Register of Historic Places.jpg
Main Street of the original town-site of Florence. The town-site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on October 26, 1982, reference #82001623.
Pinal County Arizona Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Florence Highlighted 0423760.svg
Location of Florence in Pinal County, Arizona
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Florence, Arizona
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°2′19″N111°23′13″W / 33.03861°N 111.38694°W / 33.03861; -111.38694 Coordinates: 33°2′19″N111°23′13″W / 33.03861°N 111.38694°W / 33.03861; -111.38694
Country United States
State Arizona
County Pinal
   Mayor Tara Walter
  Total62.62 sq mi (162.20 km2)
  Land62.59 sq mi (162.09 km2)
  Water0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
1,490 ft (454 m)
 (2010) [2]
(2016) [3]
  Density411.90/sq mi (159.04/km2)
Time zone UTC-7 (MST (no DST))
ZIP codes
85132, 85128, 85179
Area code(s) 520
FIPS code 04-23760
Website http://www.florenceaz.gov/
The Ruins of Levi Ruggles House. The house was built in 1866 and the ruins are located in Ruggles St. between Quartz and Willow Streets. Florence-Ruins of Levi Ruggles House-1866.JPG
The Ruins of Levi Ruggles House. The house was built in 1866 and the ruins are located in Ruggles St. between Quartz and Willow Streets.
The Tombstone of Josephus "Joe" Phy. Florence-Florence Cemetery-Tombstone of Joseph Phy-1888.JPG
The Tombstone of Josephus "Joe" Phy.
The historic Florence Bridge originally built in 1885 over the Gila River and rebuilt in 1909. Florence-Bridge over Gila River.JPG
The historic Florence Bridge originally built in 1885 over the Gila River and rebuilt in 1909.

Florence (O'odham: S-auppag) is a town, 61 miles (98 km) southeast of Phoenix, in Pinal County, Arizona, United States. [4] Florence, which is the county seat of Pinal County, is one of the oldest towns in that county and is regarded as a National Historic District with over 25 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The population of Florence was 30,770 at the 2015 census. [5]

Pinal County, Arizona County in the United States

Pinal County is a county in the central part of the U.S. state of Arizona. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates in 2018, the population of the county was 447,138, making it Arizona's third-most populous county. The county seat is Florence. The county was founded in 1875.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Taiwan and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and historically in Jamaica.



The area where the current town of Florence is located was once inhabited by the Hohokam, ancestors of the O'odham people. [6] Prior to the establishment of the town, the Gila River served as a part of the border between the United States and Mexico. In 1853, the Gadsden Purchase extended American territory well south of the Gila. [7]

Hohokam ethnic group

Hohokam was a society located in the present states of Arizona, U.S.A., and Sonora, Mexico. Hohokam practiced a specific culture, sometimes referred to as Hohokam culture, which has been distinguished by archaeologists. People who practiced this culture can be called Hohokam as well, but more often they are distinguished as Hohokam people to avoid confusion.

The O'odham peoples, including the Tohono O'odham, the Pima or Akimel O'odham, and the Hia C-ed O'odham, are an indigenous Uto-Aztecan peoples of the Sonoran desert in southern and central Arizona and northern Sonora, united by a common heritage language, the O'odham language. Today, many O'odham live in the Tohono O'odham Nation, the San Xavier Indian Reservation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Ak-Chin Indian Community or off-reservation in one of the cities or towns of Arizona.

Gila River river in the United States of America

The Gila River is a 649-mile (1,044 km) tributary of the Colorado River flowing through New Mexico and Arizona in the United States. The river drains an arid watershed of nearly 60,000 square miles (160,000 km2) that lies mainly within the U.S. but also extends into northern Sonora, Mexico. Indigenous peoples have lived along the river for at least 2,000 years, establishing complex agricultural societies before European exploration of the region began in the 16th century. However, European Americans did not permanently settle the Gila River watershed until the mid-19th century.

Levi Ruggles, a veteran of the American Civil War, founded the town of Florence on the south bank of the Gila River. He came to Arizona Territory in 1866 as a U.S. Indian Agent. Recognizing the agricultural potential of the valley, he found an easily fordable crossing on the Gila River and surveyed a townsite there. With the aid of Governor R.C. McCormick, he secured a post office in August of the same year. Ruggles held numerous public offices including that of Territorial Legislator. [8] Florence became the county seat in the newly formed Pinal County. Silver was discovered in 1875 in the nearby mountains which led to the creation of the famous Silver King Mine. [9]

Levi Ruggles

Levi Ruggles (1824-1889) known as the " Father of Florence, Arizona" was a soldier and pioneer who founded the town of Florence, Arizona.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy). The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.


In 1870, Fred Adams founded a farming community two miles west of the original Florence townsite. The farming town had stores, homes, a post office, a flour mill, and water tanks, It was named Adamsville. In the 1900s (decade), the Gila River overflowed after a storm and ran over its banks. Most of the small town was wiped out and the residents moved to Florence. The area where the town was established is now a ghost town and is currently within the boundaries of Florence. At the junction of Highway 79 and 287 there is a historical marker about Adamsville. [10]

Ghost town City depopulated of inhabitants and that stays practically intact

A ghost town is an abandoned village, town, or city, usually one that contains substantial visible remains. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, prolonged droughts, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, pollution, or nuclear disasters. The term can sometimes refer to cities, towns, and neighbourhoods that are still populated, but significantly less so than in past years; for example, those affected by high levels of unemployment and dereliction.

A canal was built in the 1880s which enabled water from the Gila River to be diverted for irrigation. Farming and ranching then played a major role in Florence’s economy. All of the federal land transactions for Southern Arizona were conducted in Florence until 1881, when the Federal Land Office was moved to Tucson.

Tucson, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Tucson is a city and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and home to the University of Arizona. The 2010 United States Census put the population at 520,116, while the 2015 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 980,263. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 1,010,025 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second-largest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.–Mexico border. Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 58th largest metropolitan area in the United States (2014).

Tunnel Saloon Gabriel-Phy shootout of 1888

One of the most notable gunfights in the Old Southwest occurred in Florence. Sheriff Pete Gabriel hired thirty-nine year old Joseph (Joe) Phy as his deputy in 1883. Gabriel decided to not run for sheriff in 1886 and supported his deputy Phy for the job. Later Gabriel withdrew his support because of personal differences with Phy. The two friends became bitter enemies and had a confrontation on May 31, 1888 in the Tunnel Saloon. A gunfight ensued and spread to the street. Both men received gunshot wounds. Phy died a few hours after the gunfight, but Gabriel survived the encounter and died 10 years later. [11]

Second Pinal County Courthouse

The second Pinal County Courthouse was built in 1891. It was the site where the trials of three notorious women were presented. They were Pearl Heart, Eva Dugan and Winnie Ruth Judd, known as the "Trunk Murderess". Pearl Heart (birth surname: Hart) was an outlaw of the American Old West. She committed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies in the United States; her crime gained notoriety primarily because of her gender. She was tried in 1899 and was acquitted, however the judge ordered a second trial and she was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. [12]

In the 1930s Eva Dugan was convicted of murder. She was sentenced to be executed by hanging. However, it resulted in her decapitation and influenced the State of Arizona to replace hanging with the gas chamber as a method of execution. [13]

Winnie Ruth Judd was a Phoenix medical secretary who was found guilty of murdering and dismembering her friends Agnes Anne LeRoi and Hedvig Samuelson over the alleged affections of her lover Jack Halloran. The jury found her guilty of first-degree murder on February 8, 1932. An appeal was unsuccessful. Her trial was marked by sensationalized newspaper coverage and suspicious circumstances. Judd was sentenced to be hanged February 17, 1933, and sent to the Arizona State Prison in Florence. The sentence she received raised debate about capital punishment. [14] Her death sentence was overturned after a ten-day hearing found her mentally incompetent; she was then sent to Arizona State Asylum for the Insane on April 24, 1933. [15]

Tom Mix Monument

In 1940, the cowboy movie star Tom Mix was killed when he lost control of his speeding Cord Phaeton convertible and rolled into a dry wash (now called the Tom Mix Wash) in Florence, Arizona. Mix, who was a regular tenant in the Ross/Fryer-Cushman House, was returning to Florence from Tucson. There is a 2-foot–tall iron statue of a riderless horse with a plaque on the site of the accident. [16]

Geography and climate

Florence is located at 33°2′32″N111°23′4″W / 33.04222°N 111.38444°W / 33.04222; -111.38444 (33.042204, −111.384521). [17]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 8.3 square miles (21 km2), all land. The city has the typical hot desert climate of lowland Arizona, with brutal summers and warm winters.

Climate data for Florence, Arizona (1971 to 2000)
Record high °F (°C)89
Average high °F (°C)66.3
Average low °F (°C)38.3
Record low °F (°C)11
Average rainfall inches (mm)1.07
Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 inch)
Source: National Climatic Data Center [18]


Historical population
1880 902
1890 1,48664.7%
1910 807
1920 1,16143.9%
1930 1,31813.5%
1940 1,3834.9%
1950 1,77628.4%
1960 2,14320.7%
1970 2,1731.4%
1980 3,39156.1%
1990 7,510121.5%
2000 17,054127.1%
2010 25,53649.7%
Est. 201625,779 [3] 1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [19]

As of 2015, [5] there were 30,770 people, and 6,832 households in the town. There were 9,319 housing units in an incorporated are of 8.8 square miles. The racial makeup of the town was 82.2% White, 6.0% Black or African American, 4.5% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 4.1% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. 36.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,832 households [20] out of which 22.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the town, the population was spread out with 13.2% under the age of 18, 86.8% from 18 years and over, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years.

The median income for a household in the town was $47,891. About 12.3% of families and 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.7% of those under age 18 and 10.6% of those age 65 or over. [21]


As of 2016 Florence is home to multiple state, federal, county and private prisons:

Located just north of Florence during World War II was a large prisoner of war camp for German and Italian prisoners of war, mainly captured during the North Africa campaign. [27] Japanese Americans arrested as "enemy aliens" after the U.S. entered the war, were also interned nearby at the Gila River War Relocation Center. [28] The prisoners were paid 50 cents an hour to pick cotton. The men were not allowed to buy cigarettes with their prison wages. However, they could buy tobacco which they rolled themselves. [29] McFarland State Historic Park on Ruggles Ave. has a display and information on this period of Arizona history.


Points of interest

Historic properties

Florence has various historic structures. Some are listed in the National Register of Historic Places while others are considered historical by the Florence Historic District Advisory Commission.

See also

Related Research Articles

Gila County, Arizona County in the United States

Gila County is a county in the central part of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census its population was 53,597. The county seat is Globe.

Fremont County, Colorado County in the United States

Fremont County is one of the 64 counties in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 46,824. The county seat is Cañon City. The county is named for explorer and presidential candidate John C. Frémont.

Globe, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Globe is a city in Gila County, Arizona, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 7,532. The city is the county seat of Gila County. Globe was founded c. 1875 as a mining camp. Mining, tourism, government and retirees are most important in the present-day Globe economy.

Top-of-the-World, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Top-of-the-World is a census-designated place (CDP) in Gila and Pinal counties in the U.S. state of Arizona. The population was 231 at the 2010 census, down from 330 at the 2000 census.

Winkelman, Arizona Town in Arizona, United States

Winkelman is a town in Gila and Pinal counties in the U.S. state of Arizona. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 353, all of whom lived in Gila County.

Eloy, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Eloy is a city in Pinal County, Arizona, United States, about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Tucson and about 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Phoenix. According to the U.S. Census estimates in 2017, the population of the city is 19,168.

Cañon City, Colorado Home Rule Municipality in Colorado, United States

Cañon City is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Fremont County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 16,400 at the 2010 United States Census. Cañon City straddles the easterly flowing Arkansas River and is a popular tourist destination for sightseeing, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing. The city is known for its many public parks, fossil discoveries, Skyline Drive, The Royal Gorge railroad, the Royal Gorge, extensive natural hiking paths, and the tropical-like weather year-round."

Arizona Department of Corrections

The Arizona Department of Corrections is statutory responsible for the incarceration of inmates in 10 prisons in the U.S. state of Arizona. As of December 2015, the ADC manages over 42,643 imprisoned inmates and over 5,466 inmates who have been paroled or that are statutorily released. ADC is also in involved in recruitment and training of Correctional Officers at the Correctional Officer Training Academy (COTA). It has its headquarters in Downtown Phoenix.

Supermax prison Most secure levels of custody in the prison systems of certain countries

A super-maximum security (supermax) or administrative maximum (ADX) prison is a "control-unit" prison, or a unit within prisons, which represent the most secure levels of custody in the prison systems of certain countries. This is often the most secure form of security within a certain prison system. The objective is to provide long-term, segregated housing for inmates classified as the highest security risks in the prison system—the "worst of the worst" criminals—and those who pose an extremely serious threat to both national and global security.

Winnie Ruth Judd American murderer

Winnie Ruth Judd, born Winnie Ruth McKinnell, also known as Marian Lane, was a medical secretary in Phoenix, Arizona, who was accused of murdering her friends, Agnes Anne LeRoi and Hedvig Samuelson, in October 1931. The murders were discovered when Judd transported the victims' bodies, one of which had been dismembered, from Phoenix to Los Angeles, California by train in trunks and other luggage, causing the press to name the case the "Trunk Murders". Judd allegedly committed the murders to win over the affections of Jack Halloran, a prominent Phoenix businessman.

Alaska Department of Corrections

The Department of Corrections of the state of Alaska is an agency of the state government responsible for corrections. The Department manages institutions, parole and probation. The current commissioner is Dean Williams. The agency has its headquarters in the Douglas area of Juneau and offices in Anchorage.

Arizona during World War II

The history of Arizona during World War II begins in 1940, when the United States government began constructing military bases within the state in preparation for war. Although far removed from the frontlines in Europe and the Pacific, Arizona's contribution to the Allied war effort was significant. Multiple prisoner of war camps and Japanese internment camps were established across the state, as well as several new airbases and associated sites, resulting in the birth of Arizona's aviation and manufacturing industries at the end of the Depression-era. The population of the state also experienced a major increase; many veterans returned to Arizona after the war ended in 1945, laying the foundations for the large metropolises of Phoenix and Tucson.

The Central Arizona Detention Center is a privately owned and operated managed prison for men located in Florence, Pinal County, Arizona, run by the Corrections Corporation of America housing prisoners for the United States Marshals Service, TransCor America LLC, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Pascua Yaqui Tribe government, and the United States Air Force. CADC does not house Arizona state prisoners.

Pinal, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Pinal is a census-designated place (CDP) in Gila County, Arizona, United States. The population was 439 at the 2010 census.

Rock House, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Rock House is a census-designated place (CDP) in Gila County, Arizona, United States. The population was 50 at the 2010 census.

Six Shooter Canyon, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Six Shooter Canyon is a census-designated place (CDP) in Gila County, Arizona, United States. The population was 1,019 at the 2010 census.

Wheatfields, Gila County, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Wheatfields is a census-designated place (CDP) in Gila County, Arizona, United States. The population was 785 at the 2010 United States Census. It is one of two places in Arizona with this name, the other being a populated place in Apache County.


  1. "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  2. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. 1 2 "ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates". American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015 5-year estimates. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  6. Arizona Republic
  7. Peterson, Charles S. (1992). "Pioneer Settlements in Arizona". Light Planet. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  8. Levi Ruggles, Founder of Florence
  9. About Florence
  10. Ghost towns
  11. Shootout at the Tunnel Saloon
  12. "Pearl Hart Acquitted". New York Times. November 17, 1899. p. 9.
  13. 1930: Eva Dugan, her head jerked clean off, Executed Today
  14. Goldstein, Richard (October 27, 1998). "Winnie R. Judd, 93, Infamous As 1930's 'Trunk Murderess'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2010. Winnie Ruth Judd, who spent three decades in an Arizona state mental hospital as the notorious trunk murderess in one of the most sensational criminal cases of 1930s, died in Phoenix on Friday. She was 93.
  15. Arizona State Hospital History http://www.azdhs.gov/azsh/history.htm
  16. History
  17. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  18. "FLORENCE, AZ" (PDF). Weather.com. 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  19. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  20. "Selected Social Characteristcis". American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015 5-year estimates. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  21. "Selected Economic Characteristics". American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015 5-year estimates. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  22. "Death Row Information and Frequently Asked Questions Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine ." Arizona Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 16, 2010.
  23. "Central Arizona Correctional Facility". GEO Group. Archived from the original on August 12, 2016. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  24. a subsidiary of CCA
  25. "Central Arizona Detention Center" . Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  26. "Florence Correctional Center". Corrections Corporations of America. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  27. "Camp Florence Days", a book and blog by a WWII guard at the Florence POW camp.
  28. "Florence (detention facility)" Densho Encyclopedia (accessed June 17, 2014)
  29. Star
  30. http://www.countrythunder.com/ct_2003/assets/07web/az/mainaz.html
  31. florencejrparadarodeo.com http://www.florencejrparadarodeo.com/.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
  33. https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2017/09/22/officials-dedicate-florence-post-office-wwii-veteran/