The community was named by the Southern Pacific Railroad, which built a switch here in the early 1900’s. 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 Sunland Visitor Center.
Regional Location and Population and Job Profile
Eloy is located in south central Arizona at the intersection of Interstates 10 and 8, along the proposed CanaMex Corridor and strategically located equidistant from Tucson and Phoenix (approximately 55 miles each way). Eloy’s current population is just under 18,000 which includes Eloy’s resident prison population of approximately 6,800 inmates in four facilities privately owned by CoreCivic. By 2025, Eloy is forecast to contain an estimated 31,400 people. Subtracting the potential prison population (estimated at 7,500) results in a net City-wide population of 23,900 residents. Eloy Street Map
Initially established as a railroad town in the late 1800’s and incorporated in 1949, Eloy has served as a regional trade center for a vibrant agricultural economy transitioning over the last 30 years to a more diverse economy that includes transportation services, manufacturing and logistics. To better serve its residents and businesses, Eloy owns and operates its own water and sewer services and municipal airport. The Eloy Municipal Airport is located approximately three miles northwest of downtown and encompasses approximately 91 acres. With two active runways, the airport is available to general aviation from dawn to dusk. Hangars and T-shades are located on airport properties and aviation fuel is available for sale. The Eloy Municipal Airport is home to Skydive Arizona™, a world-class facility attracting skydivers from around the world. The City also owns approximately 280 acres adjacent to the airport for a future business/industrial park.
Downtown Eloy is the heart of the City and home to City Hall, the U.S. Post Office, and the police and fire stations. Wrapping around the city’s governance complex and Main Street Park, the downtown area offers a host of investment opportunities for new construction and building renovation serving residential, office and retail uses. The area is also home to a number of community services, including Sun Life Family Health Center, Pinal Hispanic Council, Community Action Human Resources Agency and Eloy Veterans Center, among others.
Eloy’s business corridor is home to many of Eloy’s retail and industrial employers. Historic Frontier Street runs parallel to the Union Pacific Rail line and Interstate 10 creating an area of large industrially-zoned and utility-served properties known as Eloy’s business corridor. Numerous sites are available for development and the area is currently home to many leading employers including Republic Plastics, Schuff Steel, Otto Industries, Owens Corning, National Gypsum, Elrus USA Ltd., and Travel Centers of America. Employers in Eloy draw from a base population of 117,000 residents living within 30 minutes of the City. The City’s incorporated area covers 113.7 square miles of land with a planning area that encompasses almost 535 square miles. Just west of Eloy is the City of Casa Grande, with a current population of over 50,000 serving as an additional source of employees and retail opportunities.
Eloy’s Sonoran Desert climate is ideal for companies that prefer a low humidity, dry environment with low winter utility rates and large manufacturing and warehousing areas that can be efficiently and cost effectively cooled through evaporative technologies.
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 .
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
The city offers a varied range of community facilities, including:
- 3 recreation centers
- 2 tennis courts
- 12 parks (including Eloy Memorial Park)
- A library
- A skateboard park
- A swimming pool with spray park area
- An airport
- Over 700 acres of industrial park space
For information about the City of Eloy, please call 520-466-9201.