The Hohokam resided in this region and constructed irrigation canals to help them with agriculture. They abandoned their villages during the 15th century, although a few people and families remained in the vicinity.
In 1864, the upper Salt River Valley was chosen as the site for Fort McDowell, which allowed new settlements to be established farther down the Salt River. The fort’s first settlers were US military personnel and Hispanic laborers who were employed to cultivate food and animal feed for the fort, and within a year, they had established modest camps near the river that became the Valley’s initial permanent communities after the fall of the Hohokam. (It was not until 1867–68 that Phoenix began to develop.) Hayden’s Ferry and San Pablo, located west and east of Hayden Butte, were the two settlements. The ferry became a crucial river crossing in the area. William Kirkland and James McKinney formed the Tempe Irrigating Canal Company in 1864 to supply water for alfalfa, wheat, barley, oats, and cotton.
Tempe was named after the Vale of Tempe in ancient Greece. The name comes from an Englishman who assisted in the creation of Phoenix, Lord Darrell Duppa. He recalled seeing the butte and the wide river, as well as the nearby expanse of green fields, which reminded him of Ancient Greece’s Vale of Tempe.
In 1885, the Arizona Territorial Legislature selected Tempe as the site of the Territorial Normal School, which became Arizona State Normal School, Arizona State Teachers College, and finally Arizona State University.
The Salt River in Tempe was crossed by the Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad, which opened in 1887 and connected the town to the rapidly expanding transportation network. The Tempe Land and Improvement Company was established to sell plots in a fast-growing community. Tempe developed into an economic center for the agricultural region immediately surrounding it. In 1894, it became a city.
In 1911, residents of the Salt River Valley were able to rely on the Roosevelt Dam to provide them with enough water for their needs. Former President Theodore Roosevelt was on his way to dedicate the dam when he praised the achievements of central Arizona’s people and predicted that their cities would become prosperous in future years. Arizona was admitted as a state less than a year after that, and the Salt River Valley continued to expand.
Tempe has grown as a suburb of Phoenix and a center of education and business in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe, Arizona, features 9 acres of water-related attractions, including large wave pools, enclosed tube slides, open flume slides, a children’s play area with small slides, and spray features.