Chandler and Its Founding

The often told story about Chandler’s beginnings features the arrival, and almost immediate departure, of town founder Dr. Alexander John Chandler.  The story begins on August 8, 1887, when the 28 year old Chandler, an up-and-coming Canadian veterinarian who had made a national reputation for himself at his private practice in Detroit, arrived in the territorial capital of Prescott.  He came to Arizona to accept the position of Territorial Veterinary Surgeon. What he found was a land that was experiencing one of the most severe droughts in its history. For the year and a half before his arrival, the territory had only experienced 6.7 inches of cumulative rain. He found that cattle were dying at an alarming rate, and all the vegetation was burned up.  After 30 days on the job, Chandler resigned his post to pursue greener options in California. A board member convinced Chandler to visit his ranch in southeast Arizona prior to making his final decision.  After an arduous two day stagecoach ride, the monsoon rains arrived in Phoenix at the same time that Chandler did, preventing him from proceeding to California for three weeks. What Chandler saw was that the rain had turned the desert into a veritable garden. He decided then that after visiting California he would return to Arizona, not to care for livestock but to green the desert. As with all founding stories, there is as much myth as truth in this story of A. J.  Chandler’s arrival. The real story is of an intelligent businessman who had a plan for the future.