Today's complex of 6,000 miles of roads, highways and freeways in Arizona began in the mid-1800's when two rough roads were carved across the northern and southern parts of the territory. The southern route was popular with those in search of gold. The northern route was used by hunters, trappers and military units.
In 1864, the first Territorial Legislature stimulated road development by authorizing toll road companies. The Legislature also declared that certain existing roads, developed solely by usage, were free county roads not subject to tolls. Subsequently, the Legislature authorized counties to levy a road tax for construction. The counties did most of the construction even after the appointment of a Territorial Engineer in 1909 and the establishment of the Office of State Engineer at the time of statehood in 1912.