GILBERT’S EARLIEST HOMESTEAD sold in 1891. Some farms were free if they homesteaded for five years and made land improvements, while others paid the government cash for land, which could be purchased for as little as 50 cents an acre.
William “Bobby” Gilbert sold a right-of-way through his land to Arizona Eastern Railway. In 1910, Gilbert was becoming established, but there were no paved streets, electricity or indoor running water/toilets. There were also no cooling devices, so people built sleeping porches onto their homes.
Gilbert was a prime farming community, fueled by construction of the Roosevelt Dam, and it remained an agricultural town for many years. Known as the “Hay Capital of the World” until the late 1920s, Gilbert is now the fourth-wealthiest town in Arizona.