Yavapai County, located in the central part of the U.S. state of Arizona, has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. The area has been inhabited by Native American tribes, explored by European settlers, and witnessed the growth of mining towns and communities. Let’s delve into the history of Yavapai County.
The region that is now Yavapai County was home to Native American tribes for thousands of years. The Yavapai and Apache tribes were the predominant indigenous groups in the area. These tribes relied on hunting, gathering, and agriculture to sustain their communities, utilizing the natural resources of the region.
European Exploration and Settlement
In the 16th century, Spanish explorers, including Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, ventured through the present-day Yavapai County area while searching for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. However, permanent European settlement did not occur until much later.
In the mid-19th century, as the United States expanded westward, the region came under American control through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848. The U.S. government began exploring and surveying the newly acquired territory.
Mining and Ranching Boom: Yavapai County witnessed a significant mining boom in the late 19th century. Gold and silver discoveries attracted prospectors and miners from across the country. Prescott, the county seat, became the territorial capital of Arizona in 1864. The city served as a hub for mining activities and attracted settlers who built businesses, homes, and institutions.
Mining camps and towns, such as Jerome, Crown King, and Congress, sprouted throughout Yavapai County, contributing to its growth and economic prosperity. These mining operations extracted copper, gold, silver, and other minerals, fueling the development of the region.
Meanwhile, ranching also played a vital role in the county’s history. Large cattle ranches emerged, and cattle drives became a common sight. Ranchers found vast grasslands and ample water sources in the county, making it an ideal location for raising livestock.
Native American Relations
The Native American tribes in Yavapai County faced significant challenges during the settlement period. As settlers moved into their traditional lands, conflicts arose over resources and territorial rights. The U.S. government pursued a policy of reservation system, leading to the relocation of Native Americans onto designated lands.
In the late 19th century, conflicts between Native American tribes and the U.S. government erupted. The most notable of these conflicts was the Apache Wars, led by legendary Apache leaders such as Cochise and Geronimo. These conflicts resulted in the forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands and the establishment of reservations.
Yavapai County National Forests
- Apache Creek Wilderness (Prescott NF)
- Arrastra Mountain Wilderness (BLM) mostly in Mohave County; also partly in La Paz County
- Castle Creek Wilderness (Prescott NF)
- Cedar Bench Wilderness (Prescott NF)
- Fossil Springs Wilderness (Coconino NF) mostly in Coconino County
- Granite Mountain Wilderness (Arizona) (Prescott NF)
- Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness (BLM)
- Hells Canyon Wilderness (Arizona) (BLM) partly in Maricopa County
- Juniper Mesa Wilderness (Prescott NF)
- Mazatzal Wilderness (Tonto NF / Coconino NF) partly in Gila County; Maricopa County
- Munds Mountain Wilderness (Coconino NF) mostly in Coconino County
- Pine Mountain Wilderness (Tonto NF/Prescott NF)
- Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness (Coconino NF) partly in Coconino County
- Sycamore Canyon Wilderness (Prescott NF/Coconino NF / Kaibab NF) mostly in Coconino County
- Tres Alamos Wilderness (BLM)
- Upper Burro Creek Wilderness (BLM) partly in Mohave County
- West Clear Creek Wilderness (Coconino NF) partly in Coconino County
- Wet Beaver Wilderness (Coconino NF) partly in Coconino County
- Woodchute Wilderness (Prescott NF)
Yavapai County Trail Map