The accepted year for the "founding" or establishment of the Town of Clifton is 1873. That means that this year, 2023, marks our town's 150 years of existence - its "sesquicentennial" anniversary. In honor of this benchmark anniversary, the Town of Clifton has designated November 4, 2023; to hold community events and celebrate our 150th Founder's Day!
As of today, the following information related to this event has been determined - the event date (November 4, 2023) is from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm at Fernandez Park with the Town sponsoring the following activities - provide the public FREE hot dogs, soda's, water, popcorn, entertainment, and speakers/guests of honor.
Other organizations also have the opportunity to plan or host their own particular events/programs in conjunction with the Founder's Day Event. The Town, however, will limit its involvement with these other events only to the extent of including these activities in the final advertisement/program. Also, outside vendors wishing to participate will not be under Town direction and will be responsible for setting up at locations where permission has been approved by the respective property owners. The Town will not have a designated vendor or booth set-up venue for this event.
During the next few weeks and months, we will update the community on added and/or confirmed activities for our Founder's Day Event through the Town of Clifton's Facebook and Web page. We will also be posting some historical facts and Clifton "trivia" that have left a mark on our Town's history in the past 150 years!Our vision at Town of Clifton Arizona is to become the leading provider of government services in the industry. We strive to achieve this by continually improving our services, investing in our team, and fostering long-term relationships with our clients.
UPDATE: Clifton 150th “Founder’s Day” Celebration – Nov. 4, 2023
Clifton’s “Founder’s Day” Celebration on November 4 will include other events occurring at the same time. The annual “Colors of Copper” Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. Other organizations (i.e., American Legion, Tourism Council, Social Club, Vietnam Vets, Historical Society, Greenlee County, etc.) have indicated an interest in holding activities that weekend to help celebrate the Town’s sesquicentennial birthday. All are encouraged to let the Town know when plans are finalized and we will promote them and include them in the Founder’s Day Program. The deadline for posting in the program is October 1, 2023.
Also, the “Founder’s Day” Committee is now working on the program to be held at Fernandez Park from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and anyone wishing to be included in this program should reach out with their suggestions – singing, dancing, speaking, or any other kind of entertainment is welcomed. Unfortunately, the Town is not in a position to compensate or make payments to anyone participating in the program.
Finally, we are currently in the process of seeking our Founder’s Day “royalty”, which will be the oldest male and female currently living within Clifton Town limits. Anyone wishing to nominate themselves or someone else should contact the Town of Clifton and provide a birthdate for their nominee.
Please continue to visit this site for updated information.
1873-first founded as a mining camp after prospectors found lucrative copper deposits in the area.
1873-Lesinsky Brothers built a primitive smelter at the confluence of Chase Creek and the San Francisco River. (Lesinsky Building remains oldest building in Clifton to this date.)
1874-Clifton’s “partial” first census boasted 124 inhabitants – excluded many Mexican miners and other persons working claims outside of Clifton at the time.
1875-Post Office established in Clifton. Return address for mail posted as “Clifton, A.T.” meaning Clifton, Arizona Territory.
1878-narrow gauge railroad completed between Longfellow Mine and Clifton. This was the first railroad in Arizona. (The Copper Head locomotive located by Clifton’s “cave jail” was one of the engines used on this first railroad.
1882-John Ward (Ward’s Canyon) started the first school in Clifton. (Only one-room elementary at the beginning.)
1884-Clifton connected to Lordsburg via railroad where the Southern Pacific connected with the rest of the country.
1890-Considerable damage done to Clifton by a devasting flood.
1897-“Santa” Teresa de Cabora, a noted faith healer, moved to Clifton after expulsion from Mexico. (She remained in Clifton until her death and is buried in the Ward Canyon Cemetery.
1902-Prettyman’s Opera House; was built in North Clifton. Ellen Beach Yaw; hailed as the world’s greatest soprano, gave a concert in Prettyman’s. Shannon Copper Co. built a smelter/concentrator on Shannon Hill.
1903-Flood in Clifton claimed 19 lives.
1904-Forty orphans were brought to Clifton from New York for adoption; many by Mexican families. Non-Mexican Clifton citizens forced Mexican adopted parents to give up the children and send them back, due to the Mexican families being deemed “unsuitable.” Only 29 of the children were sent back.
1904-First telephone was installed in Clifton.
1905-Another flood in Clifton – 18 died and $1,000,000 in damages.
1908-First graduating class of Clifton High School – 3 graduates, all girls – Henrietta Martin, Mary Terrell and Mollie Liles. Graduation was held at Prettyman’s Opera House.
1909-Greenlee County is created from Graham County – after a short verbal conflict between Duncan and Clifton, Clifton emerged as Greenlee County seat. Clifton High School started organized sports – 3 football games played – lost twice to Douglas and once to Bisbee. The town of Clifton was incorporated.
1910-Clifton’s population stood at 5,000 – Clifton Schools had around 825 students. The first streetlights were installed in Clifton.
1912-Clifton’s student population was over 1000 pupils – Hallie Martin was the first African American to graduate from Clifton High School.
1913-Chase Creek fire destroyed 25 structures and 5 persons lost their lives. Clifton Train Depot was built.
1914-Separate schools in Clifton were consolidated and Henry Clay Williams became the first City Superintendent of Schools.
1915-Labor strike by miners against mining firms in the area. Arizona Governor Hunt, sent state militia to maintain order.
1917-Clifton High School football team went undefeated (6-0) under Coach Pierson (a mine employee) and claimed the state championship but had to share it with Phoenix who was also undefeated.
1919-school enrollment in Clifton exceeded 1400. (This is the most students ever enrolled in the Clifton School system.)
1920-Clifton Town Hall/Fire Station built on Park Avenue – used as Town Hall until 1979.
1921-with the purchase of all Arizona Copper Company holdings, Phelps Dodge gained sole control of all mining operations in Clifton.
1922-Clifton’s Colored School was closed, followed by the closure of Shannon Hill School in 1923.
1925-Arizona State University had its first female African American graduate… Stella McHenry a graduate of Clifton High School holds that honor.
1929-Clifton Hot Springs and Spa was built on Park Avenue.
1932- All underground mining was ceased – due to the Depression all smelter operations were closed and Clifton began losing citizens in great numbers.
1932- Using the Repatriation Act and unemployment as an excuse, many Mexican-American families (some being full U.S. citizens) were arrested, loaded on a train in Clifton and deported to Mexico.
1936-Under Superintendent H.A. Liem, the Clifton Schools used W.P.A. programs to build a football field (Stanton Stadium) and expand the size of the Old Clifton Gym.
1937-Phelps Dodge began restoring operations with the start-up stripping of the open pit mine in Morenci. Began recalling workers and Clifton began to alleviate some of its unemployment woes.