Camp Verde

Founding


Just two months prior to the historic meeting at Appomattox Court House, which would bring an end to this county's darkest days, a group of pioneer families from Prescott decided to take their chances and settle the Verde Valley.

Against the better judgment and persuasive overtures of the military authority in Prescott, the group established farms along the banks of West Clear Creek just upstream of where it empties into the Verde River.

Their new community, known for many years as Lower Verde, would be the first white settlement in the Verde Valley.

Camp Verde sign

Native American Raids


Perfectly aware that the area was Native American country and that Yavapai and Apache tribes would not welcome them, the families built a subsistence community and for the first few months fended for themselves.

Eventually the harassment from the Native American raids became too much. The loss of cattle, crops and lives forced them to seek the help of those who just a year earlier had cautioned them not to attempt the venture.

Arizona Volunteers


In February 1866, a reported 129 members of the Arizona Volunteers arrived in the Verde Valley to protect the settlements. Their presence would forever change to face of the entire Verde Valley.

Not only would they serve to protect the white settlers, their very presence would also develop the valley's first economic base through their need for both food and forage. They would also give the little community a new name, Camp Verde.

Agricultural and Ranching Center


The combination of a military presence and the burgeoning precious metal mines in the Bradshaw Mountains, and eventually in Jerome, would establish Camp Verde as the agricultural and ranching center for the county. Camp Verde would remain an agriculturally based community until the 1980s when retirees from the Phoenix area began to move into the area.
Diversified Economy
Today the town has a diversified economy with low unemployment and a feeling that it on the verge of blossoming into one of the state's most desirable locations in which to live. Its location adjacent to Interstate 17 gives it the transportation access needed to attract good paying jobs and desirable businesses.

Being less than an hour from numerous tourist and outdoor recreation destinations has put the community on the radar screen as a destination and not just a place one passes through on the way to somewhere else. Recently, Out of Africa Wildlife Park moved from its 17 year-old home outside of Phoenix to a new location in Camp Verde. The facility, which is six times larger than the old one, features over 350 animals including big cats, bears and a variety of indigenous African and North American wildlife.

Festivals


In 2002, the State of Arizona built a bypass around the town center. The trade off was an agreement to rebuild and beautify the downtown Main Street. That project has been completed and is serving to make the district a model rural main street.

Taking advantage of the situation, the Town of Camp Verde has initiated a number of downtown festivals, which are spread throughout the year and have grown significantly in popularity. The festivals, which include the Pecan, Wine and Antique Festival (February), the Crawdad Festival (June), the Corn Fest (July) and Fort Verde Days (October), have developed a reputation for the town as a welcoming and vibrant community.

Growth


The town has grown geographically over the last 5 years. Its borders now extend seven miles west of the interstate along Arizona 260, almost touching the borders of Cottonwood.

With the recent passing of the town's General Plan, the Arizona 260 corridor going towards Cottonwood has been designated as the town's future commercial zone. The town is expected to continue growing its tourist business. Montezuma Castle, Out of Africa, and Cliff Castle Casino are all serving to make the town a stop on anyone's tour of central and northern Arizona.
Courtesy of The Verde Independent - Thursday, June 19, 2008.

For more information, view the Camp Verde Community Profile (PDF), prepared by the Arizona Department of Commerce.