The Town of Queen Creek’s name originated over a hundred miles away, up in the Eastern mountains surrounding the Town of Superior, the land is rick with supplies of ore. One of the many mines that opened up in those mountains was the Silver Queen and at the base of the mine there was a creek known as the Picket Post Creek. It was named after the oddly shaped mountain above it (the one you can see today about the State Arboretum). When the Silver Queen Mine opened for production, the name of the Picket Post Creek was change to Queen Creek. That creek runs down from the mountains, past the name, through Queen Creek Canyon, into the area surrounding the present-day Town of Queen Creek.
Before the scattered farm community was called Queen Creek, it had a different name. The area was known as Rittenhouse because of the railroad spur located near Rittenhouse and Ellsworth roads. People used to flag down the train to get a ride into Phoenix. As the community grew, and the use of the railroad stop diminished, the community changes its name and took on the name Queen Creek.
Today, the Town’s General Plan calls for the preservation of the Queen Creek Wash and the Sonoqui Wash as public trails and open space. These washes are usually dry and home to many kinds of birds and wildlife. There might have been time when the washes and the creeks throughout the valley had more water in them more often than they do today. But early in the 20th Century, a series of dams and reservoirs changed the waterways in the Southwest. Today, during the rainy season, and when the dams release water from the reservoirs, the creek beds and washes still do fill up and the water will run, event through the Town of Queen Creek. And in the events of a 100-year flood, the washes and creeks will be important to keep the floodwater from damaging homes and property.
Agriculture and the bounty of the land continue to support the foundation upon which Queen Creek plans and builds its future. The fertile valley below the San Tan Mountains offered a safe haven for the early Indian communities and the homesteaders who farmed and ranched along Queen Creek Wash. Citrus, cotton, pecans, vegetables, and other crops still provide for area families, and the wash is a key element in the Town’s plan for future recreational trails and open space.
By the time Arizona became a state in 1912, a true community had been formed in Queen Creek. Residents established traditions of neighborliness and rural fun, some remember street dances, dips in local swimming holes, and sleeping under the stars during the summer. The general store, church, and post office served as community gathering places, a practice still alive today. Many of the Town’s founding families still choose Queen Creek as their home. Their names- Ellsworth, Power, Sossaman, Hawes, Combs, and Schnepf- on area roads help keep Queen Creek’s heritage alive. Town dances, picnics, and celebrations remain popular.
The Town’s 4th of July celebration evokes fond memories for many residents. In 1946, local farmers Raymond and Thora Schnepf invited family and friends to celebrate the holiday with swimming, barbecue, and fireworks at their home. Raymond flew to Texas to purchase the fireworks, which were unavailable in Arizona. The event was later taken over by other community groups. Longtime residents also remember the switch at Rittenhouse and Ellsworth roads where they could flag down a train, called a dinky, which consisted of an engine and coach. After paying their fare, they could hop aboard for a ride into Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, or Tucson. Nearby, the Ellsworth family-built housing for farm workers and a general store where workers used their script pay to shop for goods.
In the 1920s, Queen Creek experienced an influx of immigrants who had moved from Mexico to work as miners in southern Arizona. They picked the local cotton crop by hand until the cotton gin came to Queen Creek during the 1920s. In the 1940s, former German prisoners of war from the P.O.W. camp in Queen Creek and Philippine immigrants joined farm laborers in local fields.
Today Queen Creek is preparing for new additions to its rich cultural diversity. The rapid expansion experienced by nearby cities in the 1980s continues today. The Town of approximately 24,000 citizens faces inevitable growth. It incorporated in 1989 to preserve the benefits of rural life while providing an avenue for managed change. Residents seek to preserve the Town’s friendly, small town spirit while providing economic and recreational opportunities and a high quality of life.
In 1928, the Rittenhouse property was sold to Leo Ellsworth, who lived on the north side of Ocotillo Road. He and his brothers formed The Ellsworth Brothers Farms, an operation that soon consisted of cotton, large acreages of farm produce, cattle, sheep, and a dairy head. Leo is credited with bringing in the first phone line to Queen Creek. The Ellsworth Store was located on the southwest corner of Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads.
Historic places in Queen Creek.
The Old Rittenhouse Elementary School located on the S.E. corner of Ellsworth and Queen Creek roads was built in 1925. Used as a school through 1982, this building is now on the National Registry for Historic Places. The museum is open to the public every Saturday morning. Take some time to view the exhibits and ask questions.
Mansel came to the Queen Creek area in 1948 with his prospecting buddy, Marion. They set up camp about 5 miles south of town in what is currently San Tan Mountain Regional Park. They never struck it rich, but they lived the life they wanted. Mr. Kennedy passed away in 1960, and Mansel buried him near their camp. Mr. Carter was buried next to his friend in 1987.
Queen Creek demographics and key quick facts about Town.
Find your way around Town with these important links.