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Safford, Arizona
—  City  —
Location in Graham County and the state of Arizona; with San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation overlapping the county in north and extending to north and west (into southeastern Gila and eastern Pinal counties), marked with fine-line boundary.
Coordinates: 32°49′24″N 109°42′53″W / 32.82333, -109.71472Coordinates: 32°49′24″N 109°42′53″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]
 • Total 9,566
 • Estimate (2013)[2] 9,602
 • 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
Website City of Safford

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.[1] 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, to the east, Greenlee counties.


Safford is located at 32°49′24″N 109°42′53″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.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 173
1910 929
1920 1,336 43.8%
1930 1,706 27.7%
1940 2,266 32.8%
1950 3,756 65.8%
1960 4,648 23.7%
1970 5,493 18.2%
1980 7,010 27.6%
1990 7,359 5.0%
2000 9,232 25.5%
2010 9,566 3.6%
Est. 2013 9,602 4.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
2013 Estimate[2]

As of the census[7] 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 2000 census 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 warm high desert climate, much hotter than most places in eastern Arizona due to its relatively low elevation of 2,953 feet (900 m) at the Agricultural Center where records are kept, and often reaching temperatures almost as hot as found in Phoenix. 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 averages around 9.8 inches (250 mm), and snowfall is exceptionally rare: the mean is around 0.8 inches (0.020 m) but the median is zero.

Climate data for Safford, Arizona
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 79
Average high °F (°C) 60.2
Average low °F (°C) 29.0
Record low °F (°C) 9
Rainfall inches (mm) 0.74
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.01 inch) 5.0 4.8 4.5 2.1 2.2 2.2 7.8 8.0 5.3 4.4 3.5 5.1 54.9
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration[8]


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, Bowman Consulting Group, and Walmart. 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. A billboard along US Highway 70 announces "Safford .... Copper, Cattle & Cotton".


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 the Eastern Arizona College's Discovery Park Campus, a unique public educational destination facility that provides tours of the world-class telescopes at the Mt. Graham International Observatory, a public access observatory with a research grade 20" Cassagrain telescope, the World's largest permenant mount "Camera Obscura", a full motion Shuttle simulator that takes you on an exciting ride through the Milky Way galaxy, and galleries of historical artifacts from Graham County and the "History of Astronomy" Gallery, as well as a beautifully restored Sonoran riparian area featuring a one-acre ecology education pond and over four miles of trials that take you through the habitat of native and migratory birds, reptiles, and mammals.

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 Joe Brugman.[9] 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.[9]


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 people[]

  • Brenda Barton — politician
  • D. J. CarrascoMLB pitcher
  • Michael Ensign — actor
  • Elliot JohnsonMLB second baseman for the Atlanta Braves
  • Fred Mortensen — former NFL quarterback for the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins
  • David James — internationally acclaimed rapper


  • 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 0-8165-0953-0.

External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Safford, Arizona. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.