The earliest inhabitants of the Colorado River Valley were the Mojave people. The rich soil and plentiful water provided the valley's natives with the necessities to create a prosperous farming community. According to Mojave legend, life began on Spirit Mountain (Nevada), the highest peak visible from the Bullhead City area. The first account of European contact was with Spanish explorer Melchor Díaz. He documented his travels in Northwestern Mohave County in 1540. He accounts of meeting a large population of natives who referred to themselves as the Pipa Aha Macav, meaning "People by the River". From "Aha Macav" came the shortened name "Mojave" (also spelled "Mohave"). While Mohave County uses the modern English spelling, the tribe retains the traditional Spanish spelling "Mojave". Both are correct, and both are pronounced "Moh-hah-vee".
In 1774, Father Garces crossed the Colorado River in the Bullhead City area.
In the 19th century, the current site of Bullhead City was called Hardyville, named for early resident and politician, William Hardy. A New York native and an entrepreneur, Hardy established a ferry service across the Colorado River and raised Angora goats. He was a colorful and somewhat controversial figure. He was a postmaster, county supervisor and a member of the Arizona Territorial Legislature. In 1864, his personal worth was over $40,000.00, making him the second richest man in Arizona.
From 1852 to 1909, steamboats made regular trips up the Colorado River from Port Isabel, Sonora, and passing Hardyville regularly. These stern-wheeler riverboats played an important part in the early development of the areas bordering the Colorado River. The small town saw the construction of a general store, a saloon, a blacksmith shop, a quartz mill, a billiard hall, and a respectable public hall.
Although the 19th century saw a population boom in Hardyville as mining became more