Payson, Arizona

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Payson, Arizona
Town
Motto: "Arizona's Cool Mountain Town"
Location in Gila County and the state of Arizona
Location in Gila County and the state of Arizona
Coordinates: 34°14′22″N 111°19′39″W / 34.23944°N 111.32750°W / 34.23944; -111.32750Coordinates: 34°14′22″N 111°19′39″W / 34.23944°N 111.32750°W / 34.23944; -111.32750
Country  United States
State  Arizona
County Gila
Government
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Body Payson City Council
 • Mayor Kenny Evans
Area
 • Total 19.5 sq mi (50.4 km2)
 • Land 19.5 sq mi (50.4 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation[1] 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
Population (2010 census)
 • Total 15,301[2]
 • Estimate (2012) 15,215[2]
 • Density 732.3/sq mi (283.3/km2)
Time zone Mountain (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) no DST/PDT (UTC−7)
ZIP codes 85541, 85547
Area code(s) 928
FIPS code 04-53700
GNIS ID(s) 32746, 2413121
Website http://www.ci.payson.az.us/

Payson is a town in northern Gila County, Arizona, United States. Its location puts it almost exactly in the geographic center of Arizona. Payson has been called "The Heart of Arizona".

According to 2012 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 15,301.[2]

History[edit]

Payson considers its founding year as 1882, at which time it was known as Green Valley or Union Park. On March 3, 1884, the town officially established a post office. Postmaster Frank C. Hise recommended that the town be named after a man named Levi Joseph Payson. Senator Payson was very instrumental in the establishment of the Post Office. In honor of Payson’s help, the town (or quite possibly merely Hise) decided to change the name to Payson.[citation needed]

Payson had its first rodeo in 1884. Payson considers its rodeo the "world's oldest continuous" as it has been held every year since.

In 1918 author Zane Grey made his first trip to the area surrounding Payson. He would come back with regularity through 1929, and would purchase two plots of land near Tonto Creek, including 120 acres (0.49 km2) from Sampson Elam Boles under Myrtle Point. Grey wrote numerous books about the area and also filmed some movies, such as To the Last Man, in the Payson area in the 1920s.

During prohibition the manufacture, sale, and distribution of liquor was plentiful. The transactions took place on historic Bootleg Alley.[3]

During the 1930s an effort began to try to get Payson a better road to connect it to the outside world. At that time Payson was very isolated with a trip from Phoenix to Payson taking four to five hours. Throughout the 1950s work on a paved road from Phoenix to Payson progressed and the paving was completed in 1959. A few years ago this highway, State Route 87 (also known as the "Beeline Highway"), was expanded to four lanes.

Geography[edit]

Located at 34°14′22″N 111°19′39″W / 34.23944°N 111.32750°W / 34.23944; -111.32750 (34.239462, -111.327456),[4] at an elevation of 5,000 feet (1,500 m), the town has a total area of 19.5 square miles (51 km2). The Mogollon Rim lies to the north; there are a few small lakes in the area.

Nearby communities include Star Valley, Pine, Strawberry and Rye, all within Gila County.

Zane Grey Country[edit]

Down the Street Art Gallery on Main Street in Payson

"Zane Grey Country" is a term for the area around Payson, Arizona. This term was most often used in 1970s and 1980s, and appeared in the header of the local newspaper, The Payson Roundup. In recent times it has fallen somewhat out of favor, as the term "Rim Country" has become more popular among locals.[citation needed]

Climate[edit]

Payson has an atypical version of a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa) with a dry period in early summer followed by heavy monsoonal thunderstorms and rain from frontal cloudbands in the cooler months. Like more typical Mediterranean climates, however, forest fires tend to be extremely prevalent during dry summer periods.