Cochise County Community Profile

Cochise County is a county in the southeastern corner of the U.S. state of Arizona. It is named after Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache who was a key war leader during the Apache Wars. The county has a rich and diverse history, spanning from the prehistoric times to the present day.

The earliest evidence of human occupation in Cochise County dates back to about 13,000 years ago, when Paleo-Indians hunted mammoths and other megafauna in the area. The San Pedro Valley was home to several Native American cultures, such as the Hohokam, the Sobaipuri, and the Apache. The Hohokam were known for their irrigation systems and pottery, while the Sobaipuri were allies of the Spanish missionaries and settlers. The Apache were nomadic warriors who resisted Spanish, Mexican, and American encroachment on their lands. Cochise was the leader of the Chiricahua Apache band that lived in the Dragoon Mountains. He fought against the U.S. Army for more than a decade, until he signed a peace treaty with General Oliver O. Howard in 1872. He died in 1874 and was buried in a secret location in the mountains.

The first European explorers to visit Cochise County were Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Estevanico, and Fray Marcos de Niza in 1528. They were looking for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold, but instead found Native American villages and pueblos. In 1539, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led a large expedition through Cochise County, following the San Pedro River northward. He encountered the Sobaipuri people, who told him about a large pueblo called Cíbola, but he was disappointed to find it was not made of gold. In 1775, the Spanish established Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate on the west bank of the San Pedro River, to protect the natives and the settlers from Apache raids. The presidio was abandoned in 1780 due to lack of supplies and personnel.

Cochise County was created on February 1, 1881. The county seat was Tombstone until 1929 when it moved to Bisbee. Tombstone was founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin, who discovered silver in the area. The town became famous for its mining boom, its lawlessness, and its gunfights, such as the O.K. Corral shootout in 1881 between Wyatt Earp and his allies and the Clanton-McLaury gang. Bisbee was founded in 1880 by Judge DeWitt Bisbee, who invested in a copper mine in the Mule Mountains. The town became one of the largest copper producers in the world, attracting thousands of miners from various ethnic backgrounds. Bisbee also witnessed labor unrest, such as the Bisbee Deportation of 1917, when over a thousand striking miners were forcibly removed from town by armed vigilantes. Sierra Vista was founded in 1956 as a residential community for Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army post that dates back to 1877. The fort played an important role in the Indian Wars, World War II, and the Cold War. Today, it is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM). Once known as the Cattle Capital of the nation, Willcox is the home of the largest weekly cattle auction in Arizona. Specialty crops and livestock, including exotic animals, are also important to the local economy.

According to the 2020 census, Cochise County had a population of 125,447 people, with a density of 20 people per square mile. The racial composition was 75% white, 18% Hispanic or Latino, 4% Native American, 3% black or African American, 2% Asian, and 4% other races or two or more races. The median age was 40 years and the median household income was $50,165. Cochise County has a diverse economy that includes agriculture, tourism, mining, military, education, health care, and government. Some of the major employers are Fort Huachuca, Cochise College, Canyon Vista Medical Center, Freeport-McMoRan, and Cochise County. Cochise County offers many attractions and activities for visitors and residents alike, such as hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching, hunting, fishing, golfing, and wine tasting. Some of the popular destinations are the Chiricahua National Monument, the Kartchner Caverns State Park, the Tombstone Historic District, the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, and the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Cochise County is a county with a fascinating history and a vibrant present.

Labor Force Data:
2019
2020
Labor Force
50,158
51,319
Unemployment Rate
5.9%
6.3%
Source: Arizona Dept. of Economic Security

Property Tax Rate
Elementary / High Schools
5.85
City / Fire District
0.10
County
5.92
Total
$11.66
Source: Arizona Dept. of Revenue & Arizona Tax Research Association

Top Employers…

1. U.S. Army Fort Huachuca
7,956
2. Cochise County
816
3. Sierra Vista Unified School District
707
4. Wal-Mart
643
5. Canyon Vista Medical Center
623
6. Arizona Department of Corrections
615
7. Cochise College
521
8. Chiricahua Community Health Centers
500
9. Douglas Unified School District
492
10. Copper Queen Community Hospital
430
11. U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245
12. Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative
174

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