The History of Nogales, Arizona

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The following article is sponsored by the sexual abuse law firm in Nogales. We encourage residents and visitors to learn more about the history of Nogales and what it has to offer.

History of Nogales

Nogales is a city in and the county seat of Santa Cruz County, Arizona. Part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area, it also forms the largest transborder agglomeration in Arizona with its adjacent twin Nogales, Sonora, across the Mexican border. The name "Nogales" comes from a Spanish word meaning "walnut" or walnut tree." It is in reference to the black walnut trees that once grew in the mountain pass between the city and its twin sister city.

Nogales got its start when the Mexican government gave a land grant to the Elias family in 1841 to establish Los Nogales de Elias. However, the area was the beginning point of the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition in 1775 and 1776. In 1853, Nogales officially became part of the United States of America after the Gadsden purchase. In 1880, Jacob Isaacson, a Russian immigrant, built the Isaacson trading post in present-day Nogales. The U.S. Postal Service renamed it Nogales, in 1883. On August 27, 1918, a battle between the U.S. Army forces and Mexican militia broke out due to the decade-long tension built up from the Merican Revolution. As a consequence of the 1918 violence, the first permanent border wall was built between Nogales and Nogales, Sonora.

Today, the southern terminus of Interstate 19 is situated in the city at the U.S.-Mexico border. The highways meeting in the area are also a major road intersection in the CANAMEX Corridor that connects the United States, Canada and Mexico. Furthermore, Nogales is the beginning of the economically important trade region, Arizona Sun Corridor, which stretches from Nogales to Prescott and includes the metropolitan areas of Tucson and Prescott. The city is home to the following four international ports of entry:

  • The Morley Pedestrian Port of Entry
  • Nogales International Airport
  • Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry
  • Dennis Deconcini Pedestrian and Passenger Vehicle Port of Entry

Because of its ports of entry and location on the U.S.-Mexico border, Nogales brings around $30 billion worth of international trade annually into Arizona and the U.S. The city has a population of 20,103 people as of the 2019 Census estimate.

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Las Lagunas de Anza

Las Lagunas de Anza was established by the Santa Fe Ranch Foundation as an outreach project with a vision of embracing the community by promoting the continuation of outdoor education at the wetlands. The natural park provides interpretive historical and environmental education, as well as historical and environmental signage, trails and a variety of habitats. Some of which are the riparian forest, marsh and bosque grace. Recently, Las Lagunas de Anza has also opened a new Discovery Garden to house native and heritage plants. Other amenities of the park include the Virgin de Guadalupe Shrine, Mesquite Grove, La Galeria, Entrance Ramada, Clemans Trail, Willow Trail and the wood bird blind, and the Sedwick Trail.

Mariposa Shopping Center

Besides the natural park, Nogales is also home to other recreational amenities such as shopping at its Mariposa Shopping Center. Located on West Mariposa Road, the strip mall offers many stores, services and dining options for residents and visitors of the city. Some of the tenants of the mall are Shoe Carnival, Ross Dress for Less, Hobby Lobby, Boot Barn, Dollar Tree, Forever 21, Annie Nail & Spa, PetSmart, NextCare Urgent Care, McDonald's, Panda Express, Chase Bank, Marshalls, Dragon Buffet, Ragazii International Cuisine, JCPenney, and more.

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