Central, Arizona

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Central, Arizona
Census-designated place
Central, Arizona is located in Arizona
Central, Arizona
Central, Arizona
Coordinates: 32°52′03″N 109°47′34″W / 32.86750°N 109.79278°W / 32.86750; -109.79278Coordinates: 32°52′03″N 109°47′34″W / 32.86750°N 109.79278°W / 32.86750; -109.79278
Country United States
State Arizona
County Graham
 • Total 1.887 sq mi (4.89 km2)
 • Land 1.887 sq mi (4.89 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 2,884 ft (879 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 645
 • Density 340/sq mi (130/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
ZIP code 85531
Area code(s) 928
GNIS feature ID 2693[3]

Central is a census-designated place in Graham County, Arizona, United States. Its population was 645 as of the 2010 census.[2] It is part of the Safford Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Central is located between the towns of Thatcher, Arizona and Pima, Arizona, all west of the Graham County seat, Safford, Arizona. US Highway 70 is the main thoroughfare.

Central has a ZIP Code of 85531; in 2000, the population of the 85531 ZCTA was 404.[4]


Central is at 32°52′13″N 109°47′35″W / 32.87028°N 109.79306°W / 32.87028; -109.79306, at an elevation of approximately 2900 feet above sea level.[5] From this location just south of the Gila River within the Upper Gila Valley, Mount Graham of the Pinaleño (Pinaleno Mountains) range dominates the southern skyline.


Central was first homesteaded by the Cluff family in 1880. The Cluffs extended the Central Canal to their lands on the eastern side of Central. Later settlers extended the canal west and north. In 1883 construction began on a one-room white rock building to be used as a church meeting house and school house. By 1884 twenty families, including Cluff, Norton, Shurtz, Bigler, and Webster households resided in Central. In 1978 the streets were named after these early Mormon pioneers. In December of 1883 the Central Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized and Joseph Cluff was ordained the first bishop. A new red brick church was built in 1885. It was the first regular meeting house built in this part of Arizona and was also the first home of the L.D.S Academy from December 1890 to May 1891. A plaque east of Hwy 70 on Central Road commemorates the original home of the St. Joseph Stake Academy that moved to Thatcher and became Eastern Arizona College.

In 1894, L.D.S Church historian Andrew Jensen reported on the Central Ward: "Thirty-five families or 178 souls, constitute the Mormon population, and there are only two other families in the district. Central excels in point of large orchards, extensive alfalfa fields and good grain. The meeting house is the only public building in the settlement, in which there is also a small store and a post office. There are a number of fine and comfortable private residences, built mostly of brick and adobe."[6]

A railroad through Central was completed in 1896. The head of the Central Canal washed out in 1905. Since then, the Smithville and Union Canals have been used exclusively.[7]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints constructed The Gila Valley Arizona Temple here. This was only the third temple built in Arizona and the first temple announced by Pres. Monson after he became prophet. The temple was dedicated on May 23, 2010 by Thomas S. Monson.[8]

Notable people[edit]

  • James Martin Smith 1892-1970, local rancher, farmer, church leader, and politician, was a Democratic party candidate for Arizona governor and owner of the Arizona Journal newspaper.
  • Rhonda White was named Miss Graham County and 1984 Miss Arizona delegate to the Miss America pageant.
  • Jack Elam, an actor in 119 movies and 260 television appearances was briefly a resident of Central as a child.[9] He received a 1977 daytime Emmy nomination. Then in 1983 Jack received the Golden Boot Award and in 1994 he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.[10]
  • Dale Smith, rodeo cowboy,[11] won consecutive world team roping championships in 1956-57. In 1959 he went to the National Finals Rodeo in three events—becoming the first man in ProRodeo history to accomplish that feat. Dale was inducted in ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979. He served as president of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) for 16 years, longer than any other person.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  3. ^ "Central". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  4. ^ http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFPopulation?_event=Search&_zip=85531
  5. ^ "Map of Central, AZ". Google Maps. 
  6. ^ Jensen, Andrew. History of Central, LDS Church Historian.
  7. ^ Hooper, ed., Talana S. (1983). A Century in Central 1883-1983. Central, Arizona: Central Centennial Book Committee. 
  8. ^ http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/gilavalley/ - Gila Valley Arizona LDS (Mormon) Temple - LDS Church Temples - 2008
  9. ^ Hooper, ed., Talana S. (1983). A Century In Central 1883-1983. Central, Arizona: Central Centennial Book Committee.  pp.52-53.
  10. ^ Magers, Boyd. "Characters and Heavies". Western Clippings. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Hooper, ed., Talana S. (1983). A Century in Central 1883-1983. Central, Arizona: Central Centennial Book Committee. , p. 201.
  12. ^ "Dale Smith". ProRodeo Hall of Fame. RCA/PRCA. Retrieved 16 October 2015.