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The largest city in area in the United States is Juneau, Alaska. It covers 3,248 square miles, yet the city population is fewer than 30,000.

A marker on the 13th step of the Colorado capital building in Denver, Colorado is precisely 1 mile above sea level.
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The first settlers in Mesa were probably the Hohokam, who constructed canal systems to make living on the arid land possible. Their probable ancestors, possibly including the Tohono O'odham, remain in the area. Much later, Spanish missionaries and soldiers traveled through the area. Several groups of Latter Day Saints pioneers settled nearby. Eventually, residents from other areas of the Phoenix valley moved into Mesa and the population grew on its own.

In 1865 at a ferry west of present-day Val Vista Road, an establishment called Maryville was created. The ferry was used by soldiers. In 1877, after Maryville was abandoned, a group of LDS pioneers arrived and settled in an area called Lehi. The pioneers were led by Daniel Webster Jones, who had been asked by LDS officials to direct a party of people in establishing a settlement in Arizona.
In 1878 An 85 member LDS pioneer contingent called "The First Mesa Company" arrived from Utah and Idaho. They decided not to stay with Daniel Webster Jones' group in Lehi and moved southward and began to clear out the Hohokam canals.

They marked off land and immediately began work clearing the original Hohokam canals; water entered the canals in April. On July 17 1878, There is some confusion about early names for Mesa because the Post Office used different ones, however, the town itself was always called Mesa City. Postal authorities considered the name Mesa unacceptable at first, as it was thought it would be confused with Mesaville on the San Pedro River. In 1889, the Post Office Department finally allowed the name Mesa City.Dr. A.J. Chandler, who later started the city bearing his name south of Mesa, enlarged the Mesa Canal with heavy machinery in 1895. Dr. Chandler also built the first office complex in Mesa using the first evaporative air cooling system in Arizona. Moreover, he started an electric power plant. The City of Mesa purchased the utility company in 1917, becoming one of the few cities in Arizona to own utilities. It provided the shared funds that allowed construction and service projects to be implemented during the Depression. Some of the improvements were paved streets, sidewalks and curbs in the Town Center, the first hospital not converted from a residence, a recreation department and park facilities, and a modern city hall/library with expanded library hours.

Falcon Field Airport and Williams Air Force Base were built in 1941 to provide training for World War II pilots. After the war, many military families decided to settle in Mesa. Air conditioning came into more common use and tourism also began as a major force in the late 1940's. The decade of the 1950's brought more commerce and industry to Mesa, including early aerospace companies. However, until 1960 more than 50 percent of the residents earned their living directly or indirectly from farming, mainly citrus and cotton. The 1960's through 1990's saw more high-technology companies, now over 100 firms.

The mild winter climate, beautiful environment, and strong economic conditions attract more residents every year. Mesa has developed into the third largest city in Arizona and the 46th largest city in the United States. Mesa's pioneers might not recognize the present-day city, but surely would be proud of what they began.

Historic Figures

Daniel Webster Jones (1830 - April)

Daniel Webster Jones (1830 - April)
Daniel Webster Jones was an American and Mormon pioneer. He was the leader of the group that colonized what eventually became Mesa, Arizona, made the first translation of selections of The Book of Mormon into Spanish, led the first Mormon missionary expedition into Mexico, dealt frequently with the American Indians, and was the leader of the group that heroically wintered at Devil's Gate during the rescue of the stranded handcart companies in 1856.

July 25, 2024

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