The Ocotillo area of Chandler has not always been a magnet for high-tech businesses and luxury homes.  In fact, it was one of the first “company towns” in the Valley.

After Dr. Alexander J. Chandler’s successful experiments with long staple cotton led to the development of the wildly popular Pima cotton in the early 1900s, many farmers began planting the crop.  The outbreak of World War I caused shipping lanes to be blocked, cutting off the world’s access to Egyptian cotton and forcing companies to find other sources.  The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was one such entity looking to find new cotton sources.

At that time, Goodyear used cotton to support the sidewalls of their tires.  As cars became more popular and affordable, the company’s need for cotton increased.  By 1917, Goodyear had turned to Arizona and the Pima cotton being grown here as a viable replacement for the lost Egyptian cotton.  Incorporating in Arizona as the Southside Cotton Company, they entered into a long-term lease with Dr. Chandler and the Chandler Improvement Company for 8,000 acres of land on which to develop a cotton ranch.

The ranch, roughly bounded by today’s Hunt Highway, McQueen Road, Ocotillo Road, and Price Road, covered 12 square miles.  A number of individual camps for laborers were set up across the ranch, and near its center Goodyear set up a company town.  The town, known as Goodyear, featured a palm tree lined boulevard that ran along an irrigation canal.  A main square was built just to the east of this boulevard.  Along the boulevard near the square were a grocery, a movie theater, a pool hall, and a church.  A hospital and school buildings sat on the east end of the square.  Residential streets featured housing for Goodyear’s employees.  Executives, managers and foremen lived in houses with cement sidewalks, well-manicured lawns, and beautifully landscaped gardens.  Laborers lived in low slung adobe barracks.  The cotton fields came right up to the edge of the town and went on uninterrupted for miles.

Goodyear experienced great success at first.  With the help of eight caterpillar tractors and 1,200 mules, over 1,300 employees cleared and planted 6,000 acres in the first year.  The high quality Pima cotton produced on the Goodyear Ranch was worth $275 a bale.  By 1919, almost all the acreage under cultivation in the Valley had been planted to cotton. 

Unfortunately for Goodyear, the good times didn’t last.  The end of World War I signaled the reopening of shipping lanes.  The market was flooded with Egyptian cotton, and the price for Pima cotton plummeted to less than twenty cents per pound.  Goodyear, needing to reduce its operations, consolidated to the West Valley, to the communities known today as Litchfield Park and Goodyear.

By 1922, Dr. Chandler and his Improvement Company announced plans to divide the Goodyear Ranch and sell its component parts.  Individuals purchased homes in the neighborhoods.  The school continued to function in the same manner for twenty years before being converted to a segregated school for African American students.  The grocery was purchased in 1932 by two brothers, Ike and Eddie Basha, and became the first grocery store for Arizona’s favorite hometown grocery chain. 

CLICK HERE to view photographs of Goodyear