Patagonia, Arizona

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Patagonia, Arizona
The post office in Patagonia
The post office in Patagonia
Location of Patagonia in Santa Cruz County, Arizona
Location of Patagonia in Santa Cruz County, Arizona
Coordinates: 31°32′22″N 110°45′22″W / 31.53944°N 110.75611°W / 31.53944; -110.75611Coordinates: 31°32′22″N 110°45′22″W / 31.53944°N 110.75611°W / 31.53944; -110.75611[1]
CountryUnited States
CountySanta Cruz
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • BodyPatagonia Town Council
 • MayorAndrea Wood[2]
 • Vice MayorMike Stabile[2]
 • Town Council
 • Total1.29 sq mi (3.35 km2)
 • Land1.29 sq mi (3.33 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.01 km2)
Elevation4,058 ft (1,237 m)
 • Total913
 • Estimate 
 • Density678.6/sq mi (262.1/km2)
Time zoneUTC-7 (MST (no DST))
ZIP code
Area code(s)520
FIPS code04-53490

Patagonia is a town in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States. As of the 2010 census Patagonia had a population of 913.[4] Patagonia developed in the mid-19th century as a trading and supply center for nearby mines and ranches. In the 21st century, it is a tourist destination, retirement community, and arts and crafts center.


The town is located in the valley of Sonoita Creek between the Santa Rita Mountains to the north and the Patagonia Mountains to the south. State route 82 passes through the town. Nogales lies to the southwest and Sonoita to the northeast.

The former mining camps (now ghost towns) of Harshaw, Duquesne and Lochiel lie to the southeast along the eastern margin of the Patagonia Mountains. The high San Rafael Valley also lies to the southeast. Patagonia Lake State Park, around Patagonia Lake, lies about six miles southwest of the town.[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.3 km2), all land.


The area where Patagonia is located provided the Anasazi, an early Native-American tribe, with plentiful hunting and fishing opportunities. Ruins of the ancient settlements and petroglyphs of the Anasazi have been found by archaeologists. The area was known as a Tohono O'odham ranchería, or seasonal village, called Sonoitac.[7][8][9][10]

In 1539, Spanish explorer Fray Marcos de Niza entered the area near Lochiel on the Mexican border.[11] He continued on his journey to Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico also known as the Seven Cities of Cibola. Marcos de Niza is credited with being the first European in what is now the State of Arizona.[12] The main Native American tribes in the area at that time were the Sobaipuri and Papago (Tohono O'odham).[7][8][9][10]

In 1692, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino came to the area as a missionary. His main objective was to convert the natives to Catholicism. The area became part of his Mission Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi. By 1698, Father Kino encouraged his group to make their way up to Sonoita Creek. When they arrived in Sonoita Creek they encountered groups of indigenous people living along the area in which the creek was located. In the future that area would become known as Patagonia.[7][8][9][10]

According to Gilbert Quiroga, president of the Patagonia Museum, Welsh miners that had come from Patagonia in South America came to this region. Patagonia in South America is a region encompassing the vast southernmost tip of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile, with the Andes Mountains as its dividing line. The mountains in the area of Arizona, which the Native Americans called Chihuahuillas, reminded them of those mountains in Patagonia, South America and as such they began calling them the Patagonia Mountains.[13][7][8][9][10]

The mission period was ended in 1768 by a decree of Charles III of Spain.[14] In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence between Mexico and Spain came to an end and the territory of New Spain, which included Arizona, was ceded to Mexico.[15][16][17][7][8][9][10]

By the mid-1850s prospectors were mining the silver-rich mountains east of Sonoita. By the 1860s vast amounts of silver and lead were retrieved from the Patagonia Mountains each year. In 1854, the United States purchased the region from Mexico in what is known as the Gadsden Purchase. Americans of European descent from the East Coast of the United States began to arrive in the area. They were protected from the constant attacks of the Apaches by the United States Military. However, The majority of the troops were withdrawn from the area upon the outbreak of the American Civil War. Fort Buchanan, a small garrison established in 1856 near Sonoita, was overrun by the Apaches.[18] Thus, the miners, ranchers and farmers in the region were without protection from the Apaches and many of them moved to other areas.[7][8][9][10]

The Civil War between the North (the Union) and the South (the Confederacy) ended in 1865. In 1867, the United States Army established a military post called Camp Crittenden close to Sonoita. The camp, which later was renamed Fort Crittenden, was involved in a campaign against the Apache with the intention of protecting the American pioneers in the area.[19] The miners, ranchers and farmers returned to the area once more.[7][8][9][10]

Rollin Rice Richardson, a veteran of the Civil War, made a fortune in mining. In 1896, Rollin hired J.C. Green, a surveyor from Tucson, to plot the settlement. As a result, he founded the town that same year and in 1899, he applied to open a post office. Richardson wanted the town to be named "Rollin" in his honor, however the residents of the area opposed. They petitioned the United States Post Master General to name the town Patagonia after the nearby mountain. Patagonia was recognized as the official name of the town in 1900 by the United States Postal Office Department in Washington, D.C.[7][8][9][10]

That same year, a two-story railroad depot was built and Patagonia became the commercial center of the mining district in the Santa Cruz County. The ranching and cattle industry also played an important role in the economy of Patagonia. The arrival of the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad to Patagonia gave the ranchers and miners a new outlet for their products and access to manufactured goods.[20][7][8][9][10]

By 1917, Patagonia had running water, an Opera House, three hotels, a schoolhouse, two parks and several stores and saloons. Richardson practically ruled the town until his death in 1923. Patagonia was formally incorporated in 1948.[7][8][9][10]


Patagonia's Commercial Hotel in 1937.
Historic railroad depot built in 1900.
Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)874[5]−4.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[21]

At the 2000 census there were 881 people, 404 households, and 239 families in the town. The population density was 738.7 people per square mile (285.8/km²). There were 498 housing units at an average density of 417.5 per square mile (161.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 86% White, 1% Native American, <1% Asian, 11% from other races, and 2% from two or more races. 39.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[22] Of the 404 households 23% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47% were married couples living together, 9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41% were non-families. 35% of households were one person and 15% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.2 and the average family size was 2.8.

The age distribution was 21% under the age of 18, 5% from 18 to 24, 20% from 25 to 44, 32% from 45 to 64, and 21% 65 or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.9 males.

The median household income was $25,795 and the median family income was $31,000. Males had a median income of $25,625 versus $24,844 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,325. About 18% of families and 25% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36% of those under age 18 and 17% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2010 Patagonia had a population of 913. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 56% non-Hispanic white, <1% African American, 2% Native American, <1% non-Hispanics reporting some other race, 1% reporting two or more races and 42% Hispanic or Latino.[23]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Patagonia, Arizona
  2. ^ a b c d e "Council Members". The Town of Patagonia Arizona.
  3. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  6. ^ Arizona Atlas & Gazetteer, DeLorme, 4th ed., 2001 ISBN 0-89933-325-7
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j History
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Town of Patagonia
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j WESTERN MINING HISTORY
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Area History
  11. ^
  12. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Marcos de Niza". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  14. ^ Benson History
  15. ^ Mine Tales: Smelter in Benson operated until 1914
  16. ^ Desert USA
  17. ^ Benson Historic Barrio, Cochise County, Arizona
  18. ^ Forts
  19. ^ Arizona Forts of the American West
  20. ^ Patagonia, Jewel of the Sonoita Valley
  21. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  22. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  23. ^ 2010 population chart for Patagonia

External links[edit]

Media related to Patagonia, Arizona at Wikimedia Commons