Yucca in transition since its founding in 1880s

Yucca has always been a town in transition.

Founded in the 1880s, it was once a drowsy little cow town and then a train station located on a lonely stretch of mainline between Kingman and Needles.

Constructed by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in 1883, the station was important for controlling train movement and as a necessary water and fuel stop.

But in 1904 the townspeople where ordered to move buildings 600 feet back from the depot grounds.

Wells Fargo began making deliveries in 1885, and later it became a booming silver camp.

"The town of Yucca is growing.

There is one hotel, two saloons, one general merchandise store, one restaurant, a blacksmith shop and a general forwarding business," an unidentified source wrote in April 1908.

Today Yucca is still in transition, struggling to find itself.

The once bustling motels and cafes have long been abandoned, and all but the most loyal residents have left the area.

But Yucca residents Rulen and Joyce Hancock believe things are beginning to turn around for the town that time forgot.

"Things are starting to look better here in Yucca.

John Knight recently cleaned up the half burned motel mess and other people are starting to fix up their places," Rulen Hancock said.

Mary Barbour, one of 128 residents that live within the townsite of Yucca agrees.

"Wonderful things are happening at the school," said Barbour, a 30-year Yucca resident and the administrative assistant at the Yucca Elementary School District, which consists of one school.

The old multi-purpose building will be torn down and replaced with a new one, a new basketball court will be built and new doors and ceilings in the three-room school building will bring it up to code, she said.

The 20 kindergarten to eighth-grade students go to school all year round, Barbour said, and high school students are bused to Kingman.

Thanks to a grant from Rural Development the townsite has a new 100,000-gallon water storage tank and a new well drilled to 570 feet, said Yucca resident Rickie Todd.

"We also have five new fire hydrants and replaced all the distribution lines from the main water line to customer's meter boxes," Todd, a secretary with both the Yucca Fire Department and the Yucca Water Association said.

"Some lines were 40, 50 and 60 years old."

Water is not taken for granted in Yucca.

"There's lots of water, and its good water," Hancock said.

"But it's deep.

You have to drill about 600 feet down to get water.

A lot of days my water comes up hot."

Kevin Davidson, a Mohave County planner, said the county has not forgotten Yucca.

In January 2000 the Mohave County supervisors approved a 20-year plan for population growth and development of 100 square miles along both sides of the highway, he said.

"The plan is to improve the image of the town, and try to bring in more industry along the highway," he said.

Located about 25 miles from Kingman, the wide open Yucca desert is what attracted Arizona Ford Proving Ground to a 4,000-acre site in Yucca that was once the Yucca Air Base, a sub-base for the Kingman Army Airfield, during World War II.

Other new businesses, such as the Don Guthrie Service Center, for auto repair and septic systems, are welcome additions to the community.

"If everyone would work together we could really turn this place around," he said.

"We are on the map."