Greenlee County, Arizona's 14th county was created from the eastern part of Graham County by an act of the 25th territorial assembly on March 10, 1909. There was great resistance to the formation of this new county because Graham County would lose considerable revenue. As a compromise Greenlee County assumed $146,000 debt that Graham County had and Greenlee County was smaller than originally proposed.
The County was named after Mason Greenlee, an early day mining man. The County is 120 miles long and 20 miles wide it covers 1,837 square miles. The majority of the land is government owned. The Forest Service controls 63.5 percent; the Bureau of Land Management controls 13.6 percent; the State of Arizona controls 14.8; and individual or corporate ownership is 8.1 percent.
Greenlee County has a population of 8,605 (2002 Census). Clifton's population is 2,595; Duncan's population is 825; Morenci's population is 1,882. Clifton is the county seat.
The topography consists of desert terrains, river valley, and high mountain ranges. In about a four-hour drive you can experience dramatic environmental changes ranging from the cacti of the upper Sonoran desert to spectacular and sweeping slopes of mountains covered with pine, fir, and aspen. The life zones that exist in the 127 mile trip from Clifton to Springerville are the same as what you would see on a road trip from Mexico to Canada.
Mining and stock raising are the principal industries. The copper industry has been an important industry in Greenlee County and the State of Arizona for more than 130 years. The Morenci mining district has evolved into a world class operation providing approximately 18% of the world copper production.
In recent years, more people are discovering the many rich and varied scenic and recreational delights to be found here. Greenlee County is becoming increasingly important as a travel attraction in the State of Arizona.