The community was named by the Southern Pacific Railroad, which built a switch here in the early 1900s. The name Eloy is derived from the European name meaning the "Chosen" or the "Chosen One".
The Naming of Eloy
Southern Pacific Railroad built the first railroad across Southern Arizona in 1878/1880. It was known as the East Line of Yuma. In 1902 they added a siding and section house six miles west of Picacho and named the siding Eloy, the acronym for the East line of Yuma. During construction of the railroad it was easier, and faster, to handprint E.L.O.Y. on construction drawings and maps, rather than writing out “East Line of Yuma”, each time the railroad made reference to, or revised a drawing.
Naming of sidings, section houses and train stations by the railroad was always done prior to construction, so as to know where to ship the necessary switches, rails, ties, spikes and equipment. Railroad sidings were also pre-named, mostly after railroad presidents, engineers, wives, girlfriends and/or geographical sites.
A 1903 Southern Pacific Timetable lists Eloy as a train stop and a 1909 SP railroad map is the earliest map found showing Eloy. A 1921 GLO roadmap is the earliest map found displaying Eloy.
John Alsdorf, W. L. Bernard and J.E. Meyer bought land in the area to raise cotton. They also subdivided a half a section of their land in 1918 and proposed to develop "Cotton City". The then un-named roads, or outer boundaries, are present day Alsdorf to Battaglia; Curiel to Sunshine. They also applied for a post office to be named "Cotton City", but the US Postal Service opted instead to use the name of the railroad section house, since that was where the mail would be dropped. Southern Pacific also would not accept the new name and carried all mail for “Cotton City” on through. After a year of heated discussions and some challenges, the small townsite became Eloy for good.
Legend had it that a conductor, stepping from the train, near a rattlesnake, yelled out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani". This statement, (translated from Aramaic), spoken by Jesus during his ninth hour on the cross, means “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me”, is truly just an urban myth. Trains do not stop in the middle of the desert unless there is trouble ahead on the tracks. In 1880, all the railroad sidings between Yuma and Tucson were, pretty much, just as desolate and barren as the other!
Contributed by Dick Myers, President Santa Cruz Valley Historic Museum, 2004/2015, longtime Eloy area resident and an Arizona native.
To learn more about the history of Eloy, please click here
Eloy is located in south central Pinal County which is slightly smaller in land area than the state of Connecticut. We have the 5th largest population center in the County and are strategically located equidistant from Tucson and Phoenix (approximately 50 miles each), at the juncture of Interstates 10 and 8, along the CanaMex Corridor.
The City's existing population (as of July 1, 2015) is approximately 17,787 (Arizona Office of Employment and Population Statistics). However, this population also takes into account our Eloy's resident prison population which is approximately 6,500 inmates so a net year for a 2015 population of 11,287 resident. By the year 2025, Eloy is forecast to contain an estimated population of 31,400 people, and subtracting the potential prison population (estimated at 7,500 inmates) results in a net City-wide population to be served of 23,900 residents.
The leading employers in Eloy are Corrections Corporation of America, Republic Plastics, Schuff Steel, Otto Industries, Elrus USA Ltd., and Travel Centers of America. The City owns and operates its own municipal airport, located approximately three miles north of Downtown, and is internationally recognized for its skydiving facilities.
The City's incorporated area now covers over 113 square miles of land. The City is irregularly shaped, extending north to State Route 287, south to Pretzer Road, east to Trekell Road and west to Citrus Heights Drive as shown on the Eloy City Limits Map (PDF).
The City's Planning Area includes a total of 535 square miles. It is also irregular in shape and extends north to State Route 287, south to the Pinal/Pima County boundary, east to Hearth Road and approximately one mile west of Thornton Road as shown on the Eloy Planning Area Map (PDF).
The city offers a varied range of community facilities, including:
3 recreation centers
2 tennis courts
12 parks (including Eloy Memorial Park)
A skateboard park
A swimming pool with spray park area
Over 700 acres of industrial park space
For information about the City of Eloy, please call 520-466-9201.