Fun Facts & History of Fountain Hills
Fountain Hills’ heritage adds to its future
While Fountain Hills is relatively young as a community, it was developed on a site that is indeed rich in history. This region has a much-storied past ranging from ancient Native Americans farming these lands to the creation of new communities.
Arizona itself has only been a state since 1912, and the town’s official date of incorporation is Dec. 5, 1989.
The expanses surrounding Fountain Hills, including the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Salt River-Pima Maricopa Indian Community, the Verde Communities and the nearby mountain ranges, present a rich and fabled background that includes Native American migrations, mining tales, trappers, gun battles, wagon trails and the rise of a modern city today known as Phoenix. The “early day” history dates back centuries when the area was a lush desert environment for Native Americans who inhabited the region. Different Indian cultures occupied the lands over the years, drawn mainly by the area’s two major rivers, the Verde and the Salt. The confluence of the two rivers is just a few miles southeast of Fountain Hills.
Founding of a Community
The “modern” history of Fountain Hills goes back to the late 1960s, when a development company envisioned an old cattle ranch as a potential “model city.” Most of this local history is captured in the entertaining and educational L. Alan Cruikshank River of Time Museum located at the current Community Center Complex.
The community’s founding birthday is considered Dec. 15, 1970, when the famous “World’s Tallest Fountain” was turned on for the first time at Fountain Park. Work started on the first residences in the fall of 1971, and by February 1972, the first homeowners were moving in. Today, more than 23,000 people call FountainHills home.
The community itself is full of fascinating local history, but the land and surrounding territory are abundant with colorful stories as well — from wagon trains and military outposts to sheep ranchers and miners seeking to strike it rich.
About 800 years ago, the area near the confluence of the Salt and Verde rivers was home to between 4,000 and 10,000 Hohokam Indians. Although the tribe later disappeared, remnants of its canals, pottery and other artifacts show it was a thriving civilization.
Arizona was an unorganized territory in 1865 when Fort McDowell was established as a military outpost for the US Calvary. Through most of the 20th century, a part of this area was known as the P-Bar Ranch, a working cattle ranch, and in 1968 Page Land and Cattle Co. sold 4,500 acres of it to the McCulloch Oil Corporation, the parent company of the community’s developer MCO Properties.