Bagdad Arizona

Post-Urban Culture

Horace Greely once counseled a younger subordinate to ‘go west young man.’ It was holding with the great American tradition of reinvention and finding a place in the world by moving into the wide-open spaces of the vast western frontier of the fledgling United States.

As these pioneers followed Greely’s advice, they found the French and English influence replaced by the Spanish. Cities no longer bore the names of British cities or French missionaries or important Gaelic saints. Now the names were Saints important to Spain and cities were named after the hardscrabble men who founded them.

There were some similarities but on the not found in the west is the Northeastern reverence for biblical municipal names. Towns called Goshen, Salem, Jericho were no longer in vogue in the American west. These names had been replaced, not with New Testament monikers but with name based on observation: Last Chance Gulch, Tombstone, Blackwater, Bluewater, Surprise, and Carefree.

There is one notable exception: Bagdad, Arizona. Bagdad is a copper mining town in western Yavapai County with a population of 1,578 and is one of the two remaining company towns in the Grand Canyon State.

A company town; it appears Bagdad hasn’t strayed far from it’s Iraqi namesake, circa formation during the Babylonian Empire until the present.

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