How did Show Low Get its Name?

Excerpt from Arizona Adventure by Marshall Trimble, the state’s official historian.

Statue commemorating card game in which Show Low derived its name.
Statue commemorating card game in which Show Low derived its name.

Early day settlers Corydon E. Cooley and Marion Clark had been neighbors for a short time, living among the lush, green ponderosa forestland along Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. The two became concerned about one encroaching on the other’s privacy. Perhaps on a clear day one could see a wisp of smoke rising from other’s country. Whatever the reason Cooley and Clark agreed it was getting too crowded and one of the two parties had to move.

The issue was to be settled, not by intimidation or gunplay, but with a deck of cards. The game, called Seven-up, where low card wins, was a favorite among frontiersmen. The game reached its climax when Clark said to Cooley as he dealt the last hand, “If you can show low, you win.” At this point Cooley turned up the deuce of clubs and declared “Show Low it is.” Marion Clark moved on down the road a piece and Cooley named the settlement that grew up near his ranch, “Show Low,” in honor of the now-famous card game.

The main street in thriving Show Low today is called the “Deuce of Clubs” and whenever there is a runoff for mayor the issue is settled by the two political opponents sitting down with a deck of cards. The first to draw the deuce of clubs is mayor for the next term.


  1. Joe Schallan says

    It is “Show Low,” not “Showlow,” at least according to the Arizona Dept. of Commerce, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names of the United States Geological Survey, and the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Yes, I checked.

  2. says

    Hi Joe, thanks for reading. Please remember that humans run Arizona Oddities, and despite precautions, there will occasionally be errors that sneak by. I have inserted a note at the bottom of the post about the error. and I am working on finding out why the original book text included “Showlow.”

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