Neighbors

Signs of the past

Sun City history actually started with Marinette

Posted 9/19/21

It almost looks like a tombstone, but a plaque commemorating the Historic Site of Marinette, Arizona is not in Sunland Cemetery.

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Neighbors

Signs of the past

Sun City history actually started with Marinette

The plaque commemorating the community of Marinette remains at the spot where it was placed.
The plaque commemorating the community of Marinette remains at the spot where it was placed.
Posted

It almost looks like a tombstone, but a plaque commemorating the Historic Site of Marinette, Arizona is not in Sunland Cemetery.

It’s found along 105th Avenue just south of Grand Avenue.

The plaque reads:

Historic Site

Marinette Arizona

The unincorporated town of Marinette, Arizona existed in this area prior to 1957 when the United States Post Office serving the town was moved to

Youngtown, Arizona.

Marinette, owned and operated by the Southwest Cotton Company, symbolized the importance played by the cotton industry in the early development of the State of Arizona.

Dedicated by the Arizona Questers in 1985

Local history began in the 1890s when a wealthy lumberman and his chief engineer acquired adjoining 640-acre parcels from the government. This was at the same time that a railroad was being extended from Prescott to Phoenix. It crossed their land and a deal was struck for a water stop. The men named it “Marinette” for their hometown in Wisconsin.

A land speculator later bought up their parcels, along with others in the area, and sold them to the cotton business of Goodyear Tire in the 1920s. When cotton became a less important ingredient for them, the Marinette Ranch was sold to the Boswell Company — America’s largest farming operation.

Learning of the Webb Corp’s plan to build an active adult community, Jim Boswell II flew to Phoenix to offer the 10,000-acre Boswell Ranch for the development. He and Del Webb formed a joint venture, DEVCO, which developed Sun City and Sun City West.

The accompanying drawing shows Marinette in the late 1950s. Grand Avenue cut diagonally across today’s 111th, 107th and 103rd avenues. The Boswell offices were located on 103rd Avenue about where Menke Funeral Home, 12420 N. 103rd Ave., sits today. The cotton gin was across the street on land now occupied by Sun Valley Lodge, 12415 N. 103rd Ave.

Stores, a post office and pool hall were clustered around 105th and Grand avenues, which is where today’s marker is located. A grade school sat where Fry’s, 10660 W. Grand Ave., is today. Camp Hollywood on the left side of the map in the drawing was one of the sites where field workers lived. It had a number of attractive women, hence its name. Other camps were spread throughout the cotton fields, generally located at well sites for a convenient source of water.

There’s much more to the story. Visit the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum, 10801 W. Oakmont Drive, a block west of Fry’s, or pick up a copy of “Jubilee” – the story of Sun City’s first 25 years.

Editor’s Note: Ed and Loretta Allen recently moved to Royal Oaks in Sun City. They have been active in the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum for many years.

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