Safford, Arizona

Safford, Arizona
City of Safford, Arizona
—  City  —
Location in Graham County and the state of Arizona
Coordinates: 32°49′24″N 109°42′53″W / 32.82333°N 109.71472°W / 32.82333; -109.71472Coordinates: 32°49′24″N 109°42′53″W / 32.82333°N 109.71472°W / 32.82333; -109.71472
Country United States
State Arizona
County Graham
 – Mayor Chris Gibbs
 – Total 8.6 sq mi (22.2 km2)
 – Land 8.6 sq mi (22.1 km2)
 – Water 0.02 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 2,917 ft (889 m)
Population (2010)[1] [2]
 – Total 9,566
 – Density 1,112.3/sq mi (429.5/km2)
Time zone MST (no DST) (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 85546, 85548
Area code(s) 928
FIPS code 04-62000

Safford (Western Apache: Ichʼįʼ Nahiłtį́į́)[3] is a city in Graham County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 Census, the population of the city is 9,566.[2] The city is the county seat of Graham County.[4]

Safford is the principal city of the Safford Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Graham and Greenlee counties.



Safford is located at 32°49′24″N 109°42′53″W / 32.82333°N 109.71472°W / 32.82333; -109.71472 (32.823266, -109.714613).[5] The Pinaleno Mountains sit prominently to the southwest of town. The Pinalenos have the greatest vertical relief of any mountain range in Arizona.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.6 square miles (22 km2), of which, 8.6 square miles (22 km2) of it is land and 0.03 square miles (0.078 km2) of it (0.18%) is water.


As of the census[6] of 2010, there were 9,566 people, 3,385 households, and 2,358 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,112.3 people per square mile (429.5/km²). There were 3,908 housing units at an average density of 454.4 per square mile (181.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.4% White, 1.2% Black or African American, 1.6% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 11.1% from other races, and 3.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 43.6% of the population.

There were 3,385 households out of which 33.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 17.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.3% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.0% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 23.6% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.6 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city from Census 2000 was $29,899, and the median income for a family was $36,696. Males had a median income of $35,915 versus $20,138 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,052. About 13.9% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.5% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.


Safford has a temperate high desert climate. In January, the average high temperature is 60°F (16°C) with a low of 29°F (-2°C). In July, the average high temperature is 98°F (37°C) with a low of 68°F (20°C). Annual precipitation is just over 9.5 inches.[7]

Climate data for Safford, Arizona
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 60
Average low °F (°C) 29
Precipitation inches (mm) .74
Source: The Weather Channel[7]


Safford was founded by Joshua Eaton Bailey, Hiram Kennedy and Edward Tuttle, who came from Gila Bend, in southwestern Arizona. They left Gila Bend in the winter of 1873-74; their work on canals and dams having been destroyed by high water the previous summer. Upon arrival early in 1874, the villagers laid out the town site, including a few crude buildings.

The town is named after Arizona Territorial Governor Anson P.K. Safford.

The Town of Safford was incorporated October 10, 1901, and changed to City of Safford in 1955.


The city's largest employers are Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Safford Unified Schools, and Wal-Mart. Recently, Freeport-McMoRan opened two mining facilities just north of the city that make up the largest new mining operation in North America. Arizona State Prison Complex - Safford also employs many residents, as does the Federal Correctional Institution, Safford. Agriculture is considered to be a main economic product with cotton fields and a gin located in the city.


The community is served by a freight rail line, the Arizona Eastern Railway, and hosts an air facility, Safford Regional Airport. Additionally the Arizona Department of Transportation is upgrading U.S. Route 191 from Interstate 10 into a full four lane highway. ADOT is considering putting a U.S. Route 70 loop south of the city that would run from Swift Trail Junction to Thatcher.


The Safford Unified School District serves the entire city of Safford and some minor outlying areas. The nearby Eastern Arizona College provides higher education services, and a University of Arizona agricultural extension is located to the east of the city.

Legislation has been suggested in state committee to transform the nearby Eastern Arizona College from its present status as a two year community college into a full four-year educational institution.

Safford is also home to Discovery Park, a unique public educational destination facility with features such as a Hall of Science, a small railway, and a restored Sonoran riparian water feature.

The Safford City-Graham County Library provides citizens of Safford with books, computers, free classes, childhood literacy programs and entertainment. It serves 13,625 total citizens between Graham, Greenlee and Gila counties.

Public safety

The city of Safford is served by the Safford Police Department, headed by chief John Griffin.[8] Additional law enforcement services are provided by the Graham County Sheriff's Office.

Fire protection is provided by the Safford Volunteer Fire Department. The department was organized August 7, 1907, with a Fire Chief and seven other town volunteers. Today, Safford’s volunteer Fire Department consists of a Fire Chief and twenty-seven other city volunteers. The department responds to more than 200 calls per year. The department services the city’s 5 square miles (13 km2) as well as encompassing an area of 110 square miles (280 km2) outside the city.[8]


Due to Safford's relatively isolated position, the area has been chosen as a prime spot for hosting observatories. Safford and Thatcher's street lights are even low-output to improve the quality of the images taken by the observatories atop the mountain to the southwest of the city. The mountain for which the county is named, Mount Graham, is just a few miles southwest of the city. The mountain is home to the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) and Large Binocular Telescope, or LBT. It, when completed, will be the largest binocular telescope in the world. The mountain also is home to the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, or VATT. It is also home to the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope, or SMT. The Mount Graham International Observatory complex is operated by the University of Arizona.

In popular culture

Safford is the setting for the 1985 Albert Brooks comedy Lost In America. Safford is also the setting for the Jim W. Coleman book Omens.

Notable natives

See also

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Arizona


  • Hayden, Carl T., & Arizona State University (1997). Hayden Arizona Pioneer Biographies Collection. Tempe, Ariz.: Arizona Collection, Dept. of Archives and Manuscripts, Arizona State University Libraries. Biography of Joshua Eaton Bailey. OCLC 38130259.
  • McClintock, James H. (1985). Mormon Settlement in Arizona. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816509530.

External links

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