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Payson is a town in northern Gila County, Arizona, United States. Its location puts it very near to the geographic center of Arizona. Payson has been called "The Heart of Arizona". The town is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest and has many outdoor activities year round. As of the 2010 census, the population of Payson was 15,301.HistoryPayson considers its founding year as 1882, at which time it was known as "Green Valley". On March 3, 1884, a post office was established with the help of Illinois Representative Levi Joseph Payson. The first postmaster was Frank C. Hise. In honor of Representative Payson's help, the town's name was changed to "Payson".Payson had its first rodeo in 1884. Payson considers its rodeo the "world's oldest continuous", as it has been held every year since.In 1918 author Zane Grey made his first trip to the area surrounding Payson. He would come back with regularity through 1929, and would purchase two plots of land near Tonto Creek, including 120acre from Sampson Elam Boles under Myrtle Point. Grey wrote numerous books about the area and also filmed some movies, such as To the Last Man, in the Payson area in the 1920s.During Prohibition the manufacture, sale, and distribution of liquor was plentiful. The transactions took place on historic Bootleg Alley.During the 1930s an effort began to try to get Payson a better road to connect it to the outside world. At that time Payson was very isolated, with a trip from Phoenix to Payson taking eight to twelve hours. Throughout the 1950s work on a paved road from Phoenix to Payson progressed, and the paving was completed in 1958. A few years ago this highway, State Route 87 (also known as the "Beeline Highway"), was expanded to four lanes.Plan a United States trip in moments using our itinerary builder.
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