Next time you drive between Phoenix and Tucson, you may want to stop by the Sacaton Rest Area for more than a good stretch or a little relief.
Located on the Gila River Indian Reservation off 1-10 on Exit 181 (eastbound), this seemingly low-key rest stop holds some special historical significance. It marks the international border of the United States and Mexico from 1848 to 1854.
In 1854, present day Arizona took shape following the ratification and approval of the Gadsden Purchase. James Gadsden, the American ambassador to Mexico, negotiated to purchase 38,000 square miles of “wild country” for $15 million in gold, which was later amended to $10 million for 29,640 square miles. The purchase was the last major territorial acquisition in the contiguous United States.
The Gadsden Purchase maintained southern railroad and wagon routes but preserved Mexico’s link to Baja California. Today, the Gadsden Purchase comprises 24 percent of Arizona’s total land area.