Oracle, Arizona:    A Community Guide Pinal County, Oracle, AZ 85623
Oracle Land & Homes
1812 W. American Ave. Oracle
(520) 896-9099
    Sue & Jerry's Trading Post
1015 W. American Ave., Oracle
(520) 896-9200
Sky Island Roasters
1575 W. American Ave. Ste C, Oracle
(520) 896-2048
    US Route 89 Appreciation Society
(602) 944-3286

Description and Early History of Oracle

Oracle is a small, unincorporated, Arizona mountain town dating from 1880. Its population was 3686 in the 2010 census, not including cattle, horses, llamas and wild critters. The town is located in Pinal County, 30 miles north of Tucson city limits. Situated on the northeastern slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Oracle lies at an elevation of 4500 feet.

The story of how Oracle got its name begins with Albert Weldon of New Brunswick, Canada. Weldon made the trip to the Western United States around South America aboard a ship named Oracle.

In 1878, Albert Weldon, Jimmy Lee of Ireland, and Alex McKay of Scotland joined forces to prospect for gold and silver. Starting from Tucson, they began to explore the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Weldon, Lee and McKay staked gold mine claims in 1878. Weldon, who discovered the first mine, named it Oracle. According to McKay, interviewed some 50 years later, Weldon had been impressed by the sea-worthiness and good fortune of that ship in withstanding the fierce storms usually encountered on a voyage around Cape Horn.

Word of the mining claims by Weldon, Lee and McKay caused prospectors to flock to the north side of the Catalina mountains. Nearly 70 gold mine claims were staked from American Flag Ranch to Apache Peak,3 south of Oracle. The American Flag Ranch house opened a post office to serve the gold field tent city in 1880,1 and today is Arizona's oldest existing building that once housed a territorial post office.

Edwin S. and Lillian Dodge started Acadia Ranch and also opened a post office in 1880.1 Dodge had wanted call his post office Acadia Ranch, but that name was rejected and he chose Oracle instead. Thus, the town of Oracle was named after its first mine, and indirectly, after a ship.

Oracle, like many small towns, is plagued by fanciful stories about the origins of its name. For example, one story is that Oracle would have been named American Flag if only some government agency had not rejected a two-word name. But the Post Office accepted the two-word name American Flag, and that post stop closed in 1890 because its mining population melted away while the community of Oracle grew.2 For those who would prefer a town name of American Flag, that post office was just in the wrong place.

  1. Alan H. Patera and John S. Gallagher, (1988), Arizona Post Offices, Lake Grove, OR: The Depot
    Both post offices opened December 3, 1880.
  2. Alan H. Patera and John S. Gallagher, (1988), Arizona Post Offices, Lake Grove, OR: The Depot
    Postmaster compensations:
    1881 - American Flag $24.40, Oracle, $3.77.
    1883 - American Flag $24.63, Oracle closed.
    1885 - American Flag $48.55, Oracle $22.90.
    1887 - American Flag $67.08, Oracle $138.29.
    1889 - American Flag $38.22, Oracle $183.24.
  3. American Security & Trust Company, (1890), New Gold Field Near Oracle, Arizona [Map], archived at Arizona Historical Society Museum, Tucson, Arizona.