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Arizona 1890-1930


The joint creation of the University of Arizona (with the College of Agriculture being the first of its initial two schools) and an Agricultural Experiment Station (funded by the 1887 Hatch Act) made possible the evolution of agricultural practice in the Arizona Territory through scientific research. The growth of a rural population made this a pressing need, as residents from more humid states were struggling with the difficulties of old farming practices in an alien climate.

Frank A. Gulley was appointed both Dean of the College of Agriculture and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES). A 15 acre AES site was established on campus in Tucson, with branch sites at Phoenix, Tempe, and Yuma. As the staff undertook research projects, the results were published and information disseminated in the Bulletins (the first one dated December 1890) and were provided free of charge to any who requested them. Initial research focused on irrigation, soil analysis and fruit growing.

In October 1885, an agricultural conference jointly sponsored by the AES and the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, brought together farmers, ranchers and scientists, and saw the founding of the Arizona Agricultural Association.

Robert H. Forbes assumed the joint appointment as Dean of the College and AES Director in 1899. His philosophy was one of adaptation rather than imposition. That is to say, he believed that residents should try to adapt to the land, rather than trying to adapt the land to crops and practices from other areas and climates. Forbes lead AES research in new directions: (1) native plants; and (2) crops from parallel climates and soil types in the "Old World" -- particularly olives, cotton and dates.

The most successful of these experiments was with cotton, especially the more expensive and increasingly demanded Egyptian long-staple cotton. In 1907 the USDA Bureau of Plant Industry established the Cotton Research Center on the Pima Indian Reservation at Sacaton, where they developed the now famous strain named Pima cotton. By 1917 it was a major state crop. In 1925, cotton accounted for $9,063,040 of the Maricopa County crop valuations; by 1928 that amount had soared to $14,700,000.

Farming in Arizona has always been largely dependent upon irrigation. The completion of the Roosevelt Dam in 1911 opened up vast new acreage to irrigation and farming in the Salt River Valley area surrounding Phoenix. In the Tucson area, pumps were built adjacent to the main river beds. Now more farmers were needed.

The new state of Arizona had to import most of its food from other states. Area chambers of commerce and business organizations published pamphlets to attract farmers to the area. They emphasized the rich soil and abundant water supplies, the mild climate that made it possible to grow crops year round and lessened the need for expensive shelter for animals and grain storage, the lower land prices, the specialty crops unique to the area (e.g. Egyptian cotton and dates), and the higher prices paid for produce because of local demand and availability during other areas' off-season. They quoted scientists, successful residents and President Roosevelt, to convince farmers of the better life that awaited them in Arizona. Presented here are examples of these pamphlets from The University of Arizona's Special Collections.

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Pamphlet Descriptions

Detail of front cover Fruit, Berries and Truck Farming in the Salt River Valley, Maricopa County, Arizona
Phoenix: Arizona Securities and Investment Company
[circa 1913]. 32 p.
NH9791 Pam. 1
[2.3 MB]

This is a publication meant to attract small-scale farmers to the area. "We need farmers here by the hundreds" it proclaims to those in search of "ten acres and independence" in the "Garden Spot of the World". Returns to be expected from various crops, raising poultry and bee keeping are described.

Front cover Deciduous Fruit Farming and Vegetable Gardening on Chandler Ranch: Under Roosevelt Dam, Salt River Valley, Ariz.
Mesa: Mesa Improvement Company
[1917?], 8 p.
NH9791 Pam. 2
[1.9 MB]

"A modern Eden" is this pamphlet's description of the 18,000 acre Chandler Ranch area in the Salt River Valley: "the most attractive location for the fruit-raiser and gardener in the United States today." Climate, soil, abundant water and lower land prices than in other fruit-producing states of the western coast are touted as inducements to small-scale farming. As with the previous pamphlet, there is the emphasis on how "even 10 acres of this land will bring you independence," with a modest investment of capital and industry.

Detail of front cover Tucson's Farm Lands
Tucson: Chamber of Commerce
[1915-1920?]. 1 p. folded
N9791 Pam.7
[2.5 MB]

This pamphlet takes its message from the report of Dr. Warren E. Taylor (b.1854), soil expert of the John Deere Company, as delivered to the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, supporting their claim that "Tucson's farm lands are among the richest in the world."

Detail of front cover Phoenix Arizona Club
Little Stories of Success in Salt River Valley-Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix: Republican Print Shop
1925, 14 p.
N9791 Pam. 32
[4.4 MB]

The Phoenix Arizona Club was an organization composed of citizens and businessmen interested in the development of the area. This pamphlet presents success stories of 12 area farmers in their own words, including specifics on original land costs and final annual profits. It is a group representative of the wide variety of products and sizes of farms: alfalfa, cotton, lettuce, dairy, citrus, poultry, cantaloupes, dates, grapes and truck farming.

Detail of front cover

Santa Fe Railroad
Great State Arizona
Chicago: Rand McNally & Co.
[1925], 46 p.
C9791 Pam. 89

Cover in color [4.2 MB], remainder in greyscale [1.1 MB]

"This folder is published for the purpose of presenting briefly some facts which may be of interest to homeseekers and other investors whose attention has been drawn to Arizona." This pamphlet begins with a general introduction, with many illustrations, to the state's climate, industries and resources. This is followed by a particular description of each county and its cities, attractions, and primary agricultural products.

Detail of front cover County Immigration Commissioner Agricultural Bureau Tucson Chamber of Commerce
Farming in Pima County Arizona: Bulletin No. 1
Tucson: [Tucson Chamber of Commerce]
[1926], 1 p. folded
N9791 Pam. 4 [1926]
[0.3 MB]

"Certified climate on alfalfa, cotton, cattle, truck farming, and poultry, brings success, contentment and health to our farmers" (cover). Describes conditions in the Tucson area in regard to: climate, soil, irrigation, dry farming, livestock, crops, dairying, poultry, bees, labor, roads, education, churches, natural resources, land prices and informational support for the newcomer. A chart details agricultural income from nine categories for the years 1920-1925.

Detail of front cover County Immigration Commissioner and Agricultural Bureau Chamber of Commerce
Agriculture in Pima County Arizona: Bulletin No. 2
Tucson: [Tucson Chamber of Commerce]
1937, 1 p. folded
N9791 Pam. 4 1937
[0.4 MB]

Detail of front cover Agricultural Committee, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Agricultural Arizona: the Salt River Valley
Phoenix: Immigration Commissioner, Maricopa County
[1929], 7 p. folded
N9791 Pam. 20
[2.1 MB]

Describes "[t]he special advantages for agriculture and horticulture in the Salt River Valley", due to the soil fertility, long growing season, and ample water available for irrigation. Descriptions for different types of farming -- dairy, poultry, date, cotton, and citrus -- are written by the presidents of local organizations for those products. General information concerning climate, crop values, start-up costs and quality of life is also included.

Detail of front cover Agriculture in Arizona's Valley of the Sun.
N9791 Pam. 12
[2.9 MB]

While lauding the benefits of the area and the establishment of a vast irrigation system, the writer cautioned that "the peak of central Arizona's irrigation development has been reached for the present." Federal lands in Arizona were withdrawn from homesteading in 1934; further opening up of those lands was dependent on additional water supplies. The cost of irrigation is now a consideration for farmers, but the writer says the costs are not proportionately high given the possibilities of double crops. The decline in the number of sheep raised is attributed to a decline in the number of herders, most of whom were Spanish American or Basque. High-value, perishable crops can now be flown to markets on the East Coast in hours, saving shipping loss. To the advantages of area living touted in earlier years are added: large department stores, shops, theaters, medical facilities, nearby deep-sea fishing and big game hunting, winter skiing in Flagstaff, summer camping trips in pine forests, rodeos, and year-round home gardening, not just of vegetables, but of flowers and ornamental trees and shrubs.

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