In 1200, a tribal village was established in the area of present-day Show Low, but was later abandoned for unknown reasons.
Three centuries later, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado left his footprints in the area searching for the Seven Cities of Gold. He was followed another three centuries later by mountain men Ewing Young and Kit Carson, as they led a trapping party down to the Salt River Canyon in 1829.
In 1856, Show Low’s founder, Corydon Cooley, left Virginia at age 20 to come to the New Mexico Territory. After service in the Union Army and as a scout and interpreter for General George Crook, Cooley married into the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Chief Pedro became his father-in-law. The tribal center is located in White River and old Fort Apache approximately 40 miles from present day Show Low.
In 1873, Cooley moved his family to a small cabin on the banks of what is now Show Low Creek and became a ranching partner with Marion Clark. After the legendary card game of 1876, Cooley named his newly-acquired ranch “Show Low” and hired Mormon settlers David Adams and Alfred Cluff as workers on the ranch. Adams and Cluff would soon have their own ranches.
In 1880, Cooley and the Huning brothers became partners in the Show Low Ranch property and opened the first store in Show Low three years later. Cooley and the Hunings dissolved their partnership in 1888 and the ranch was sold to Henry Huning.
In her book, Show Low Dreams, author and historian Jane Stump wrote: “In 1903, the Huning Ranch was sold for $13,500 to a group of six Mormons (Flake, Willis, Owens, Hansen and two Ellsworths).
The sale was negotiated by William Flake…the property had increased to more than one half million acres…”
Show Low was incorporated in 1953.