Navajo County, AZ

By Michael Liddy on September 13th, 2008

navajo countypngNavajo County is located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of 2000, its population was 97,470. The county seat is Holbrook.

Navajo County contains parts of the Hopi Indian reservation, the Navajo Indian Reservation and Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

Navajo County was split from Apache County on March 21, 1895. The first county sheriff was legendary gunman Commodore Perry Owens, who had previously served as the sheriff of Apache County. It was the location for many of the events that played out during the Pleasant Valley War.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 9,959 square miles (25,795 km²), of which, 9,953 square miles (25,779 km²) of it is land and 6 square miles (16 km²) of it (0.06%) is water.

Many people think that Arizona is a vast, open desert without vegetation. However, Navajo County offers not only the infamous Monument Valley, but Keams Canyon, part of the Petrified Forest National Park, and the largest stand of Ponderosa Pines in North America.(1)

navajo-county-courthouse-300x225Navajo County was formed on March 21, 1895, as the final act of the Territorial Assembly before it adjourned at midnight. What is now Navajo County was first included in Yavapai County, but in 1879, the area was added to the newly formed Apache County.
By the time it became Navajo County, the railroad had crossed the county for more than a decade, and North America’s third largest ranch, the Aztec Land and Cattle Company near Holbrook, had been established. Backed by Easterners, Aztec bought 1 million acres of land from the railroad at 50 cents an acre. A company, known as the Hashknife Outfit because of its brand, brought 33,000 longhorn cattle and 2,200 horses into northern Arizona from Texas. The county seat, Holbrook, was founded in 1881.
In the north is Kayenta, founded in 1909 as a trading post, and now the gateway to the Navajo Tribal Park at Monument Valley and a thriving Navajo community. Farther south is the Hopi Indian Reservation, which is completely surrounded by the Navajo Reservation. The Hopi Pueblo of Oraibi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the United States.
Almost 66 percent of Navajo County’s 9,949 square miles is Indian reservation land. Individual and corporate ownership accounts for 18 percent; the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management together control 9 percent; and the state of Arizona owns 5.9 percent. All of Navajo County is an Enterprise Zone.

Today, Navajo County’s principal industries are tourism, coal mining, manufacturing, timber production and ranching.(2)

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