Mohave County was the one of four original Arizona Counties created by the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864. The county territory was originally defined as being west of latitude 113° 20′ and north of the Bill Williams River, and actually included portions of present day Nevada. In 1865, the northern portion of Mohave County was split off as Pah-Ute County.
In 1867, parts of both counties – including the present site of Las Vegas – were attached to the State of Nevada. Before the Civil War, Arizona was larger than that of Nevada, but Nevada sided with the Union during the war given them the political advantage. In retaliation for Arizona’s involvement in the confederate fight, The United States Congress removed the northwest corner from Arizona Territory, which included parts of of both Pah-Ute and Mohave counties, and gave that land to the State of Nevada. Nevada used that land by adding to Lincoln and Nye counties. But Arizona held to its previous claim on that land and opposed this transfer, twice petitioning congress to repeal the law. Up thru 1868, representatives from Pah-Ute County attended the Arizona Legislature. After four years of trying to gain the land back, Arizona had exhausted all their legal resources and eventually let it go.
The much reduced Pah-Ute County was merged with Mohave County in 1871, and is remembered as “Arizona’s Lost County.” The county’s present boundaries were established in 1881. The area that is now Mohave County began to attract settlers shortly after it was brought into the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The 1860’s saw an influx of miners after gold was discovered and Mormons who were sent south from Utah by their church.
As of the 2010 census, Mohave County’s population was 200,186. The county seat is Kingman. While the largest single city is Lake Havasu City, the area with highest population is the Bullhead City/Fort Mohave/Mohave Valley area. Kingman, the county seat, was not founded until the 1880’s with the coming of the railroad. Before being moved to Kingman in 1887, the county seat had been in Mohave City, Hardyville, Cerbat, and Mineral Park – none of which exist today. Although these communities did not survive, the forces that led to their establishment – mining, the Colorado River, and the railroad – are still important to the county’s economy.
Mohave County is the second largest county in the state, and the fifth-largest county in the United States by land area. Most of it is classified as desert, but of its 13,479 square miles, 186 square miles are water. The county boasts 1,000 miles of shoreline and is a great water sports recreation center. The Colorado River and man-made lakes play an important role in the growth of Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City.
Some fun facts: The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management own 55.2 percent of the land; Indian Reservations, 6.7 percent; the State of Arizona, 6.6 percent; individual or corporate, 17.2 percent; and other public lands, 14.3 percent.