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Arizona, the Grand Canyon state, achieved statehood on February 14, 1912, the last of the 48 coterminous United States to be admitted to the union. Originally part of Spanish and Mexican territories, the land was ceded to the United States in 1848, and became a separate territory in 1863. Copper was discovered in 1854, and copper mining was Arizona’s premier industry until the 1950s. After World War II, the widespread availability of refrigeration and air conditioning caused Arizona’s population to boom and Phoenix to become one of the fastest growing cities in America. Arizona is the sixth largest state in the country in terms of area. Its population has always been predominantly urban, particularly since the mid-20th century, when urban and suburban areas began growing rapidly at the expense of the countryside. Some scholars believe that the state’s name comes from a Basque phrase meaning “place of oaks” while others attribute it to a Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indian phrase meaning “place of the young (or little) spring.”

Date of Statehood: February 14, 1912

Capital: Phoenix

Population: 6,392,017 (2010)

Size: 113,990 square miles

Nickname(s):Grand Canyon State

Motto: Ditat Deus (“God enriches”)

Tree: Palo Verde

Flower: Saguaro Cactus Blossom

Bird: Cactus Wren

Interesting Facts

  • Formed by the Colorado River over a period of 3 to 6 million years, Arizona’s Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep. Nearly 5 million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year.
  • Arizona has the greatest percentage of its acreage designated as Indian tribal land in the United States.
  • Oraibi, a Hopi Indian village dating back to at least 1150 AD, is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States.
  • The official state flower is the Saguaro Cactus Blossom. The flower blooms in May and June in the middle of the night and closes the next day—surviving only 18 hours for pollination by nocturnal animals like bats and moths. The blossom grows on the Saguaro Cactus, which can reach more than 50 feet tall and live for over 200 years.
  • Navajo Indians from Arizona were enlisted to transmit secret communications for the U.S. Marines after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Known as Navajo Code Talkers, these young men created an oral code the enemy was unable to decipher, fulfilling a crucial role during World War II and saving countless lives.
  • Arizona is one of only two U.S. states that do not observe Daylight Saving Time. The one exception is the area occupied by the Navajo Nation in the northeast region of the state.
  • Arizona’s diverse climate and geography can yield both the highest and lowest temperatures in the country within the same day.
  • Arizona’s flag features a copper-colored star, acknowledging the state's role as the leading copper producer in the United States.


The Arizona History Convention

Since 1960, the Arizona History Convention has provided a forum for the dissemination of original research and the discussion of topics in Arizona history. Held each April at rotating sites throughout the state, anyone interested in the history of Arizona, the Southwest, or the borderlands region is encouraged to attend. The Convention offers an excellent space for professional historians, graduate students, avocational historians, and anyone interested in history to meet, present their research, and discuss the important topics of Arizona’s past.

Thank You

Sponsors of the Arizona History Convention are very important. We want to acknowledge the following organizations for their continuing support: Arizona Historical Society, Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records, Arizona State Parks, Arizona State University, Friends of The Journal of Arizona History, Heard Museum, Northern Arizona University, Salt River Project, Sharlot Hall Museum, True West Magazine, University of Arizona.

History of Arizona and Population

More than 25,000 years ago, the Navajo and Nomadic Apache Indians made their presence after the fall of the Anasazi and Hohokam civilizations. These Indians were followed in the 16th century by some Spanish treasure hunters from Mexico. This included Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, who established Mexico's claim into the area.

What is now considered Arizona, became part of the Mexican State of Vieja California following the Mexican's independence from Spain in 1821.

The history of Arizona tells us that the United States took possession of most of Arizona at the completion of the Mexican-American War in 1848. Then, in 1853, the land below Gila River was obtained from Mexico through the Gadsden Purchase agreement. Arizona was granted part of the territory of New Mexico until it was organized into a separate territory on February 24, 1863.

If you have paid attention to Arizona, you probably are aware that the state of Arizona has grown rapidly in population over recent decades. Some of the counties here are the fastest growing in the United States and show little, if any sign of slowing down in growth.

There is an estimated one-fifth of the population that speaks Spanish, and five percent is Native American Indian. Native American Indians include the Navajo, Apache, Hopi, Papago, and the Pima tribes.

The history of Arizona goes back many years and certainly includes its agriculture, which attracted many settlers to the area. Today, however, it is sometimes more commonly known to some for its mines, electronics, desert wildlife, aerospace,and certainly the tourism, with an emphasis especially on golf and the continual sunshine.

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Are you a history buff? Then you better plan on making your stay in Arizona a long one.

From American Indian ruins, historic military forts, and pristine white missions dotting the landscape to intricate Victorian mansions, ornate courthouses, and entire Wild West districts in the heart of town, there’s something to fill every era of human history.

A variety of museums and monuments tell the local history through educational displays, artifacts, and interactive exhibits.

Historic Hotels of Arizona

At the start of the 20th century, the railroad, open road and air travel brought a new kind of visitor to Arizona. The well-known and.

Long before Arizona became a state, people were drawn to the area's beautiful weather and stunning vistas. Tracing back at least 12,000 years.

Art, culture, and history museums dot the state of Arizona, offering plenty to see and explore. The state is filled with exceptional museums.

The Life of a State: A Timeline of Arizona's History

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Long before we were officially a state, Arizona was making history &mdash and not all of it bad, though some of it certainly borders on the unbelievable. In 1910, a Maricopa County Sheriff by the name of Carl T. Hayden took part in the first known automobile chase. He caught the bad guys and used the good press to great advantage, winning a seat in Congress and going on to be the first seven-term U.S. Senator. Take that, Sheriff Joe. We leave this project wishing it were the state&rsquos bicentennial, because we certainly could have gone on with another 100 moments in Arizona history. We didn&rsquot even get to mention Bob Corbin&rsquos honesty, Erma Bombeck&rsquos wit, Glen Campbell&rsquos rhinestones or Rose Mofford&rsquos hair, not to mention Pat Tillman&rsquos bravery. This state is young, and sometimes immature &mdash a mess in progress, we like to say &mdash but people here believe what they believe with a passion (and sometimes a vengeance), and no doubt it&rsquos a fascinating place to call home.

1913: A priest is injured during a dynamite explosion at a Morenci church no one is caught, but a "young Mexican" is blamed.

1914: Women in Arizona are given the right to vote, years before the rest of the country.

1917: Murder/rape suspect Starr Daley is lynched near the Superstition Mountains after a chase through Tempe and Mesa.

1917: The "Zimmerman Telegram" &mdash a secret message from Germany to Mexico offering to return Arizona to the nation for aid in World War I &mdash is sent.

1919: Angry over the lack of jobs, white mobs attack people of color in the booming mining town of Bisbee.

1922: Ground is broken for the 113,000-square-foot Mormon Temple in Mesa.

1922: Architect Mary Colter designs Phantom Ranch buildings at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

1926: Passing through Phoenix with a lady friend, Babe Ruth puts on a home run show for some kids near a cotton field.

1927: César Chávez is born in Yuma.

1928: Construction begins on Tovrea Castle in Phoenix.

1928: Leone Jensen jumps from the roof of the Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix and supposedly starts haunting the establishment.

1929: The Detroit Tigers hold the first-ever spring training camp in the Valley.

1930: Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

1930: Killer Eva Dugan loses her head &mdash literally &mdash during her execution by hanging in Florence.

1932: Infamous "trunk murderess" Winnie Ruth Judd is convicted.

1935: The Hoover Dam is dedicated. Ninety-six people had died during its construction.

1939: Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West is completed.

1940: Silent-film star Tom Mix rolls his fancy car into a dry wash near Florence and dies. It is now known as the "Tom Mix Wash."

1941: USS Arizona is sunk by the Japanese in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

1942: Thousands of Japanese-Americans are "relocated" to internment camps around Arizona.

1944: German POWs escape from Phoenix's Papago Park in the largest such escape of the time.

1948: A UFO reportedly crashes at the foot of Squaw Peak in Phoenix.

1948: Native Americans in Arizona win the right to vote.

1948: Phoenix Street Railway, launched in 1887, stops service.

1952: Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymoon at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

1953: Phoenix desegregates its public schools.

1953: The first McDonald's franchise in the country opens on Central Avenue in Phoenix.

1953: Police conduct a raid on polygamists in Colorado City.

1954: The Wallace and Ladmo Show premières on KPHO-TV.

1955: Oklahoma! (the movie) is filmed in Arizona.

1960: Developer Del Webb debuts Sun City, and 100,000 show up for the opening ceremonies. The story makes the cover of Time.

1963: Legend City amusement park opens on Van Buren Street in Phoenix.

1964: U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater runs for president, loses.

1967: The Monkees horse around in Phoenix, performing at Veterans Memorial Coliseum during their first tour.

1968: The Phoenix Suns hit the court for the first time. (A year later, the Suns lost a coin toss for the chance to draft Lew Alcindor, not yet known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

1969: Big Surf, the nation's first wave pool, opens in Tempe.

1970: New Times is founded in Tempe.

1970: Construction on Paolo Soleri's futuristic Arcosanti begins near Cordes Junction. It has yet to be finished.

1970: Fountain Hills' namesake water feature becomes the world's tallest, holding that distinction for more than a decade.

1971: "Trunk murderess" Winnie Ruth Judd freed from custody for the final time.

1974: Gary Tenen and Randall Tufts discover Kartchner Caverns in southern Arizona.

1975: Ruby the "painting pachyderm" becomes a Phoenix Zoo phenomenon.

1975: The nation's first drive-thru McDonald's opens in Sierra Vista.

1976: U.S. Representative Mo Udall runs for president, loses.

1976: Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles dies after a bomb detonates in his Toyota in a Central Phoenix parking lot.

1976: Ernesto "Miranda Rule" Miranda is murdered near the future site of Chase Field in Phoenix.

1978: NBC airs the movie A Fire in the Sky, featuring a comet that annihilates Phoenix.

1978: Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane is murdered in Scottsdale following a dinner theater performance.

1981: Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

1981: Arizona becomes first state west of the Mississippi to authorize a lottery.

1982: KOOL-TV (Channel 10) news anchor Bill Close is held hostage while on the air in Phoenix.

1983: A southern Arizona church group gets into a fatal shootout with sheriff's deputies in Miracle Valley.

1983: The National Guard breaks up a year-long strike at the Clifton-Morenci copper mine.

1985: Arizona's Legislature votes to increase the drinking age from 19 to 21.

1986: Artist Keith Haring creates a 125-foot mural in downtown Phoenix.

1986: Within months of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station opens west of Phoenix as the nation's largest such facility.

1987: The Harmonic Convergence brings thousands of people to Sedona.

1987: Glenn Beck moves to Phoenix to work as a DJ on Top 40 station Y-95 (KOY-FM).

1987: Pope John Paul II performs Mass at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

1987: Restaurant owner Jack Durant dies, leaving his house to an English bulldog named Humble.

1987: Arizona State University beats Michigan to win the Rose Bowl.

1988: Barry Goldwater tells CNN's Larry King that he believes the government is withholding information about UFOs.

1988: Governor Evan Mecham is impeached for being an embarrassment to the state.

1988: Former Governor Bruce Babbitt runs for president, loses.

1989: Two "artists" are arrested in Phoenix for destroying a yucca plant resembling the Virgin Mary.

1989: The Keating 5 savings and loan scandal includes two Arizona politicians &mdash U.S. Senators Dennis DeConcini and John McCain.

1990: A massive Phoenix police sting dubbed "AzScam" hits the jackpot, nailing several members of the Legislature.

1991: Nine Buddhists are murdered execution-style at a West Phoenix monastery. Initially, the wrong suspects were charged with the killings.

1991: Biosphere 2 begins experiment sealing eight people from the world for two years. This lasts several days.

1992: Flights to the moon promised earlier by travel agent Joe Arpaio (before he was sheriff) fail to take off as promised.

1992: Charles Barkley arrives in Phoenix to play basketball, announces he's no role model. (He's right!)

1992: A drunken teenager dies after the saguaro he shot near Fountain Hills falls and crushes him.

1992: Arizona becomes the only state in which voters approve Martin Luther King Day.

1993: Nordstrom's Last Chance clearance center, the only one in the nation, opens for business in Phoenix.

1995: Timothy McVeigh of Kingman is charged in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people. McVeigh later was executed.

1995: Grand Canyon National Park closes for the first time due to a federal budget crisis.

1997: Governor J. Fife Symington III is convicted on seven felony counts of bank fraud and forced to resign from office.

1997: Thousands (including Symington) see strange lights in the night sky over Phoenix "Phoenix Lights" conspiracy theories abound.

1997: The University of Arizona beats Kentucky to win the NCAA men's basketball championship.

1998: Linda McCartney dies at McCartney Ranch in Tucson at age 56.

1999: Dan Quayle, who spent much of his childhood in Arizona and is currently a Paradise Valley resident, runs for president, loses.

1999: Arizona becomes the first state to have five women &mdash the so-called Fab Five &mdash in top offices.

2000: Gannett buys the Arizona Republic from the Pulliam family.

2000: U.S. Senator John McCain runs for president, loses.

2001: President Bill Clinton pardons former Governor Symington as belated thanks for a Cape Cod drowning rescue.

2001: Hani Hanjour flies on a plane into the Pentagon on September 11. He received flight training in Phoenix.

2001: The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in the one of the greatest World Series ever played.

2002: Arizona State University tops Playboy's list of the nation's top party schools.

2002: Baseball great Ted Williams' head is frozen at Alcor Cryonics lab in Scottsdale.

2003: Lori Piestewa of Window Rock is the first woman and first Native American to die in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

2003: Mormon housewife Stephenie Meyer of Glendale has a dream that leads to the best-selling Twilight book series/empire.

2005: Scottsdale becomes the first place where one can have one's ashes made into a diamond.

2007: Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces on CNN that it's an honor to be compared to the Ku Klux Klan.

2010: Senate Bill 1070 terrorizes brown-skinned Arizonans and polarizes the nation.

2010: Pause heard round the world, as Jan Brewer attempts to string words together during a gubernatorial debate.

2010: The dam at Tempe Town Lake bursts.

2010: Arizona voters approve a medical-marijuana initiative smoke shops open immediately.

2011: Jared Loughner guns down 19 people near Tucson, killing a federal judge and seriously injuring U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

2012: Giffords resigns from office, hugs Republican colleagues.

2012: Governor Jan Brewer shakes her finger in President Barack Obama's face during his campaign stop in Chandler.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free. Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

Arizona — History and Culture

Arizona radiates a quintessential, southwestern culture at first glance. However, what makes this corner of the country so unique is its exciting blend of Native American, Mexican, frontier, and contemporary influences. From the bustling streets of Phoenix to ancient Native Indian cliff dwellings, Arizona boasts an eclectic culture which arguably surpasses that of the other 49 states.


Arizona was first traveled by Europeans in the 14th and 15th centuries, when Spanish explorers ventured into the area from Mexico. Most of these expeditions were done for colonization and missionary purposes. Mexico broke free from Spain in 1821, an event which saw the Arizona area fall under the jurisdiction of New California (Neuve California).

After the Mexican-American War in 1847, the United States controlled much of today’s Arizona expanse under the Territory of New Mexico. The southern region of Arizona (acquired from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase of 1853) separated from the territory as a confederate state during the American Civil War. It wasn’t until February 14, 1912, that Arizona became the very last continental state to achieve statehood.

Arizona’s economic boom started with the mining industry of the 17th century. Many thousands of migrants looking to strike it rich in Western United States’ gold and silver fields settled in Arizona during this period. Cotton, copper, and ranching became vital economic stimuli during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Arizona’s famous ‘wild west’ culture cultivated from this frontier expansion.

The ranching and copper industries struggled during the Great Depression, but luckily tourism had already began to blossom. After the turn of the 20th century, the Santa Fe Railroad reached the Colorado River, opening this remarkable area to American eyes for the first time. Over the decades that followed, Arizona’s Grand Canyon became the iconic symbol within the state, and tourism quickly became the center of Arizona’s economy.

Arizona significantly increased its post-war population and economic stability by retiree migration. The warm climate, the creation of air conditioning, and major water networks throughout the state made life more comfortable for aspiring locals. A detailed look at Arizona’s past can be found at the Arizona History Museum (949 East 2nd Street, Tucson), while the state’s pioneering heritage can be traced back at Flagstaff’s Riordan Mansion (409 West Riordan Road, Flagstaff).


The culture of Arizona is a mesmerizing smorgasbord of influences from the neighboring states. Phoenix is the heart and soul of contemporary Arizona, but is better known for its unique desert landscapes, natural landmarks, and Mexican influences. Arizona’s cuisine personifies a concoction of Western and Mexican blends, while Native American crafts are profoundly evident across the landscape.

It is possible to enjoy tours of Native American sites when visiting major settlements like Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff. However, Arizona’s travel culture stems from its sunny climate and its landmarks shaped by Mother Nature. Outdoor adventure in Grand Canyon National Park, San Francisco Peaks, and Meteor Crater await tourists all year round.

Gold discovered in California. Gila Trail becomes one of the main routes to the gold fields.

Compromise of 1850 made establishment of the Territory of New Mexico possible, which included present-day Arizona.

Americans begin navigating the Colorado River by steamer. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers begins surveying Arizona.

Gadsden Purchase gives Arizona the land from the Gila River to present boundary.

American Dragoons (cavalry) occupy Tucson. Arizonans begin petitioning for separate territorial status.

Beale's camels and "Jackass Mail" stagecoach lines cross Arizona Fort Buchanan established on Sonoita Creek.

Butterfield Overland Stage Line crosses Arizona.

Period of gold discoveries, Gila River, Colorado River, and Bradshaw Mountains.

Bascom Affair pits Army against Chiricahua Apaches. The Civil War begins and U.S. military posts are abandoned in Arizona portion of New Mexico Territory.

The Confederate States of America claims Arizona as a confederate territory.

Battle at Glorieta Pass, New Mexico, ends Confederate westward thrust.

Fort Bowie is established at Glorieta Pass. Battle at Picacho Pass, near Casa Grande, is called westernmost battle of Civil War.

California Column occupies Arizona for Union.

Battle of Apache Pass between California Column and Apaches is largest in Arizona history.

Territory of Arizona is established. Provisional capital established at Fort Whipple.

President Abraham Lincoln appoints Arizona Territorial officials.

John A. Gurley is named Territorial Governor, but dies before taking office. Replaced by John N. Goodwin.

Territorial officials take the oath of office at Navajo Springs, Arizona on December 29.

Walker Party discovers gold in Bradshaw Mountains.

Weaver-Peeples party discovers placer gold at Rich Hill.

Wickenburg finds rich lode at Vulture Mine.

Territorial capitol moves from its provisional site at Camp Whipple to Prescott Original four counties are created (Yuma, Yavapai,Pima and Mohave).

Territorial capitol moves from Prescott to Tucson.

John Wesley Powell explores Grand Canyon.

Age of Silver open range cattle industry flourishes.

General Crook subdues central Arizona Apaches and Yavapais.

Territorial prison opens at Yuma.

Territorial capitol moves from Tucson back to Prescott silver discovered at Tombstone copper deposits found at Bisbee.

City of Phoenix incorporates Southern Pacific Railroad crosses southern Arizona.

Atlantic & Pacific (Santa Fe) railroad crosses northern Arizona.

Copper replaces gold and silver in economic importance in Arizona.

Territorial capitol moves from Prescott to Phoenix Legislators meet temporarily in the chambers of the Phoenix City Hall.

Moses H. Sherman and Marcellus E. Collins of Phoenix donate ten acres of land for a territorial capitolsite.

Phoenix linked by rail to northern and southern railroad lines.

Rough Riders fight in Cuba. Arizona resident, William "Buckey" O'Neill is killed in action at San Juan Hill.

Construction begins on a new capitol building in Phoenix completed in 1900 at a cost of approximately $136,000.

Capitol building dedicated on February 25.

Frank Murphy builds "Impossible Bradshaw Mountain Railroad."

Salt River Water Users' Association formed, first of its kind in the nation.

Referendum on joint Arizona-New Mexico Statehood is rejected in Arizona by a vote of 16,265 to 3,141.

Arizona Enabling Act passed by Congress Constitutional Convention meets population of Arizona exceeds 204,000 on the eve of statehood.

Theodore Roosevelt Dam completed President Taft vetoes admission of Arizona over recall of judges Arizona agrees to make the necessary changes in its constitution.

Arizona - HISTORY

Prior to Europeans arriving, Arizona was settled by a number of Native American tribes including the Hopi, Pueblo, Zuni, Apache, Mohave, and Navajo. The Navajo lived in dome shaped homes called hogans and became famous for their woven blankets. The Pueblo lived in adobe clay buildings that were sometimes built into the side of a hill or cave. One Hopi village named Oraibi is thought to have been established as early as 1150 AD and is likely the oldest continuously inhabited town in the U.S.

Grand Canyon National Park
by Gary M. Stolz

The first European to arrive in Arizona was Spanish priest Marcos de Niza in 1539. He was followed by explorers looking for gold as well as more priests looking to establish missions. Eventually the Spanish began to build permanent settlements including Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775.

Becoming Part of the United States

After the Mexican-American War, the United States gained control of much of the southwest including Arizona. They purchased the land for $15 million as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was signed in 1848. Additional land was added in southern Arizona in 1853 through the Gadsden Purchase.

Phoenix, Arizona by John Sullivan

At the start of the Civil War, Arizona was part of the Territory of New Mexico. When the war began, Arizona separated from the United States and joined the Confederacy. Arizona sent men and supplies to support the Confederate states. The westernmost battle of the Civil War was fought at the Battle of Picacho Pass between Union soldiers from California and Confederate soldiers from Tucson, Arizona.

In 1863, President Lincoln signed a bill making the western half of the New Mexico Territory a separate territory named Arizona. On February 14th, 1912 Arizona was admitted as a state. It was the 48th state and the last of the 48 contiguous states to be admitted.

Arizona's history is full of stories of the Wild West before much of the area was settled. Perhaps the most famous story is the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Coral which included gunfighters Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. It took place in Tombstone, Arizona and has been the subject of many Hollywood movies. Arizona was also the location of many battles between the settlers and Native Americans led by famous war chiefs such as Cochise and Geronimo.

Arizona Meteor Crater by D. Roddy

History in Arizona

Early History -- Arizona is the site of North America's oldest cultures and one of the two longest continuously inhabited settlements in the United States -- the Hopi village of Oraibi, which has had inhabitants for roughly 1,000 years. However, the region's human habitation dates back more than 11,000 years, to the time when Paleo-Indians known as the Clovis people inhabited southeastern Arizona. Stone tools and arrowheads of the type credited to the Clovis have been found in southeastern Arizona, and a mammoth-kill site has become an important source of information about these people, who were among the earliest inhabitants of North America.

Few records exist of the next 9,000 years of Arizona's prehistory, but by about A.D. 200, wandering bands of hunter-gatherers took up residence in Canyon de Chelly in the northern part of the state. Today these early Arizonans are known as the Ancestral Puebloans. The earliest Ancestral Puebloan period, stretching from A.D. 200 to 700, is defined as the Basket Maker period because of the large number of baskets that have been found in ruins from this era. During the Basket Maker period, the Ancestral Puebloans gave up hunting and gathering and took up agriculture, growing corn, beans, squash, and cotton on the canyon floors.

During the Pueblo period (700–1300), the Ancestral Puebloans began building multistory pueblos and cliff dwellings. Despite decades of research, it is still not clear why the Ancestral Puebloans began living in niches and caves high on the cliff walls of the region's canyons. It may have been to conserve farmland as their population grew and required larger harvests, or for protection from flash floods. Whatever the reason for their construction, they were all abandoned by 1300. It's unclear why the villages were abandoned, but a study of tree rings indicates that there was a severe drought in the region between 1276 and 1299 perhaps the Ancestral Puebloans left in search of more fertile farmland. Keet Seel and Betatakin, at Navajo National Monument, as well as the many ruins in Canyon de Chelly, are Arizona's best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan sites.

During the Ancestral Puebloan Basket Maker period, the Sinagua culture began to develop in the fertile plateau northeast of present-day Flagstaff and southward into the Verde River valley. The Sinagua, whose name is Spanish for "without water," built their stone pueblos primarily on hills and mesas such as those at Tuzigoot near Clarkdale and Wupatki near Flagstaff, both now preserved as national monuments. They also built cliff dwellings in places such as Walnut Canyon and Montezuma Castle, both also national monuments. By the mid-13th century, Wupatki had been abandoned, and by the early 15th century, Walnut Canyon and pueblos in the lower Verde Valley region had also been deserted.

As early as A.D. 450, the Hohokam culture, from which the Sinagua most likely learned irrigation, had begun to farm the Gila and Salt River valleys between Phoenix and Casa Grande. Over a period of 1,000 years, they constructed a 600-mile network of irrigation canals, some of which can still be seen today. Because the Hohokam built their homes of earth, few structures exist from this period, one exception being the Casa Grande ruin, a well-preserved massive earth-walled building that is now a national monument. Many Hohokam petroglyph (rock art) sites remain as well, a lasting record of the people who first made the desert flourish. By the 1450s, however, the Hohokam had abandoned their villages many archaeologists believe that the irrigation of desert soil over hundreds of years eventually left a thick crust of alkali in fields, which would have made further farming impossible. The very name Hohokam, in the language of today’s Tohono O’odham people, means “the people who have vanished.”

Hispanic Settlement -- The first Europeans to visit the region may have been a motley crew of shipwrecked Spaniards, among whom was an enslaved black African man named Estévan de Dorantes. This unfortunate group spent 8 years wandering across the Southwest, and when they arrived back in Spanish territory, they told a fantastic story of having seen seven cities so rich that the inhabitants even decorated their doorways with jewels. No one is sure whether they actually passed through Arizona, but in 1539 their story convinced the viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) to send a small expedition, led by Father Marcos de Niza and Estévan de Dorantes, into the region. Father de Niza's report of finding the fabled Seven Cities of Cíbola inspired Don Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to set off in search of wealth in 1540. Instead of fabulously wealthy cities, however, Coronado found only pueblos of stone and mud. A subordinate expedition led by Garcia Lopez de Cárdenas stumbled upon the Grand Canyon, while another group of Coronado's men, led by Don Pedro de Tovar, visited the Hopi mesas.

Over the next 150 years, however, only a handful of Spanish explorers, friars, and settlers visited Arizona. In the 1580s and 1600s, Antonio de Espejo and Juan de Oñate explored northern and central Arizona and found indications of mineral riches in the region. In the 1670s, the Franciscans founded several missions among the Hopi pueblos, but the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 (see “Indian Conflicts,” below) obliterated this small Spanish presence.

In 1687, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a German-educated Italian Jesuit, began establishing missions in the Sonoran Desert region. In 1691, he visited the Pima village of Tumacácori, where he planted fruit trees, taught the Natives European farming techniques, and gave them cattle, sheep, and goats to raise. In 1692, Father Kino first visited the Tucson area by 1700 he had laid foundations for the first church at the mission of San Xavier del Bac, although it wasn’t until 1783 that construction began on the present church, known as the White Dove of the Desert.

The Spanish began settling in the area around Tumacácori and nearby Tubac, calling it Pimeria Alta. In 1775, a group of settlers led by Juan Bautista de Anza set out from Tubac to find an overland route to California in 1776, they founded the city of San Francisco. That same year, the Tubac presidio was moved to Tucson. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and Tucson, with only 65 inhabitants, became part of Mexico, which at that time extended all the way to Northern California.

Indian Conflicts -- At the time the Spanish arrived in Arizona, the tribes living in the southern lowland deserts were peaceful farmers, but in the mountains of the east lived the Apache, a hunting-and-gathering tribe that frequently raided neighboring tribes. In the north, the Navajo, relatively recent immigrants to the region, fought over land with the neighboring Ute and Hopi (who were also fighting among themselves).

Coronado's expedition through Arizona and into New Mexico and Kansas was to seek gold. To that end he attacked one pueblo, killed the inhabitants of another, and forced still others to abandon their villages. Spanish-Indian relations were never to improve, and the Spanish were forced to occupy their new lands with a strong military presence. Around 1600, 300 Spanish settlers moved into the Four Corners region, which at the time supported a large population of Navajos. The Spanish raided Navajo villages to take slaves, and angry Navajos responded by stealing Spanish horses and cattle.

For several decades in the mid-1600s, missionaries were tolerated in the Hopi pueblos, but the Pueblo tribes revolted in 1680, killing the missionaries and destroying the missions. Throughout the 1700s, others native peoples followed suit, pushing back against European settlement. Encroachment by farmers and miners moving into the Santa Cruz Valley in the south caused the Pima people to stage a similar uprising in 1751, attacking and burning the mission at Tubac. A presidio was soon established at Tubac to protect Spanish settlers after the military garrison moved to Tucson in 1776, Tubac was quickly abandoned due to frequent Apache raids. In 1781, the Yuman tribe, whose land at the confluence of the Colorado and Gila rivers had become a Spanish settlement, staged a similar uprising, wiping out that first Yuma settlement.

By the time Arizona became part of the United States, it was the Navajos and Apaches who were proving most resistant to white settlers. In 1863, the U.S. Army, under the leadership of Col. Kit Carson, forced the Navajo to surrender by destroying their winter food supplies. The survivors were marched to an internment camp in New Mexico the Navajo refer to this as the Long Walk. Conditions at the camp in New Mexico were deplorable, and within 5 years the Navajo were returned to their land, although they were forced to live on a reservation.

The Apaches resisted white settlement 20 years longer than the Navajo did. Under the leadership of Geronimo and Cochise, the Apaches, skillful guerrilla fighters, attacked settlers, forts, and towns despite the presence of U.S. Army troops. Geronimo and Cochise were the leaders of the last resistant bands of rebellious Apaches. Cochise eventually died in his Chiricahua Mountains homeland. After Geronimo finally surrendered in 1886, he and many of his followers were relocated to Florida by the U.S. government. Open conflicts between whites and Indians finally came to an end.

Territorial Days -- In 1846, the United States went to war with Mexico, which at the time extended all the way to Northern California and included parts of Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. When the war ended, the United States claimed almost all the land extending from Texas to Northern California. This newly acquired land, called the New Mexico Territory, had its capital at Santa Fe, New Mexico. (The land south of the Gila River, which included Tucson, wasn’t included at first after surveys determined that this land was the best route for a railroad from Mississippi to California, in 1853 the U.S. government negotiated the Gadsden Purchase and the current Arizona-Mexico border was set.)

When the California gold rush began in 1849, many hopeful miners from the east crossed Arizona en route to the gold fields, and some stayed to seek mineral riches in Arizona. However, despite ever-growing numbers of settlers, the U.S. Congress refused to create a separate Arizona Territory. When the Civil War broke out, Arizonans, angered by Congress's inaction, sided with the Confederacy, and in 1862, Arizona was proclaimed the Confederate Territory of Arizona. Although Union troops easily defeated the Confederate troops occupying Tucson, this dissension convinced Congress, in 1863, to create the Arizona Territory.

The capital of the new territory was temporarily established at Fort Whipple near Prescott, but later the same year was moved to Prescott itself. In 1867 the capital moved again, this time to Tucson. Ten years later, Prescott again became the capital, which it remained for another 12 years before the seat of government finally moved to Phoenix, which remains Arizona's capital to this day.

During this period, mining flourished, and although small amounts of gold and silver were discovered, copper became the source of Arizona's economic wealth. With each mineral strike, a new mining town would boom, and when the ore ran out, the town would be abandoned. These towns were infamous for their gambling halls, bordellos, saloons, and shootouts. Tombstone and Bisbee became the largest towns in the state and were known as the wildest towns between New Orleans and San Francisco.

In 1867, farmers in the newly founded town of Phoenix began irrigating their fields using canals that had been dug centuries earlier by the Hohokam. In the 1870s, ranching became another important source of revenue in the territory, particularly in the southeastern and northwestern parts of the state. In the 1880s, the railroads finally arrived, and life in Arizona changed drastically. Suddenly the region's mineral resources and cattle were accessible to the east.

Statehood & the Early 20th Century -- By the beginning of the 20th century, Arizonans were trying to convince Congress to make the territory a state. Congress balked at the requests, but finally in 1910 allowed the territorial government to draw up a state constitution. Territorial legislators were progressive thinkers, and the draft included clauses for the recall of elected officials -- provisions that made President William Howard Taft, an opponent of recalling judges, veto the bill. Arizona politicians removed the controversial clause, and on February 14, 1912, Arizona became the 48th state. One of the new state legislature's first acts was to reinstate the clause providing for the recall of judges.

Much of Washington's opposition to Arizona's statehood had been based on the belief that Arizona could never support economic development. This belief was changed in 1911 by one of the most important events in state history -- the completion of the Salt River's Roosevelt Dam (later to be renamed the Theodore Roosevelt Dam). The dam not only provided irrigation water to the Phoenix area, but it also tamed the river’s violent floods. The introduction of water to the heart of Arizona's vast desert enabled large-scale agriculture and industry. Over the next decades, more dams were built throughout Arizona, and, in 1936, the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River became the largest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. This dam also created the largest man-made reservoir in North America, Lake Mead. Arizona's dams would eventually provide not only water and electricity, but also the state's most popular recreation areas.

Despite labor problems, copper mining increased throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and with the onset of World War II, the mines boomed as military munitions manufacturing increased the demand for copper. However, within a few years after the war, many mines were shut down. Today, Arizona is littered with old mining ghost towns that boomed and then went bust. A few towns, such as Jerome and Bisbee, managed to hang on and were eventually rediscovered by artists, writers, and retirees. Today, both Bisbee and Jerome are major tourist attractions known for their many art galleries, interesting shops, and boomtown atmosphere.

World War II created a demand for beef, leather, and cotton, and Arizona farmers and ranchers stepped in to meet the need. Cotton, which was used in the manufacture of tires, quickly became the state's most important crop. Goodyear planted huge fields of the crop and even built the company town of Goodyear, which today is home to one of Arizona's oldest and most prestigious resorts. During the war, Arizona’s clear desert skies also provided ideal conditions for training pilots, and several military bases were established in the state, helping to double Phoenix’s population. When peace finally arrived, many veterans returned with their families, although it wasn’t until air-conditioning was invented that major population growth truly came to the desert.

The Postwar Years -- During the postwar years, Arizona attracted a number of large manufacturing industries and slowly moved away from its agricultural economic base. Today aerospace engineering remains a major industry, and tech-industry growth is slow but steady.

But the economy of the state still relies heavily (too heavily, some say) on real estate, and of course, tourism. The Grand Canyon, which had been luring visitors since the days when they had to get there by stagecoach, was declared a national park in 1919, and by the 1920s, Arizona had become a winter destination for the wealthy. The clear, dry air also attracted people suffering from allergies and lung ailments, and Arizona came to be known as a healthful place. With the immense popularity of Hollywood Westerns, dude ranches began to spring up across the state. From the 1960s on, the rustic guest ranches of the 1930s began to give way to luxurious golf resorts, and “snowbirds” played an increasing role in the state’s economy.

Continued population growth throughout the 20th century resulted in an ever-increasing demand for water. Yet, despite the damming of nearly all of Arizona's rivers, the state still suffered from insufficient water supplies in the population centers of Phoenix and Tucson. It took the construction of the controversial and expensive Central Arizona Project (CAP) aqueduct to carry water from the Colorado River over mountains and deserts, and deliver it where it was wanted. Construction on the CAP began in 1974, and in 1985 water from the project finally began irrigating fields near Phoenix. In 1992, the CAP reached Tucson. However, a drought that began in the mid-1990s has left Phoenix and Tucson once again pondering where they will come up with the water to fuel future growth.

By the 1960s, Arizona had become an urban state with all the problems confronting other areas around the nation. The once-healthful air of Phoenix now rivals that of Los Angeles for the thickness of its smog. Allergy sufferers are plagued by pollen from the nondesert plants that have been introduced to make this desert region look more lush and inviting. However, until the recent economic downturn, the state's economy was still growing quite rapidly. High-tech companies had been locating within Arizona, and a steady influx of retirees, as well as Californians fleeing earthquakes and urban problems, had given the state new energy and new ideas. Things slowed considerably in 2009, but, of course, the sun still shines here, even in January and February when much of the rest of the country is locked in a deep freeze, and that is a powerful lure. As long as winters in Arizona continue to be sunny and warm, you can bet that the state will continue to boom.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

FREE Arizona State History Printable

Despite the desert heat, Arizona has become one of the fastest-growing states in the United States. With its beautiful scenery, electronic and aerospace manufacturing, and natural resources, it’s an amazing state to live in. It’s also the birthplace of many famous individuals including Barry Goldwater, Cesar Chavez, Geronimo, Ira Hamilton Hayes, Lori Ann Piestewa, and many others. Dig deeper into the history of Arizona and see wh at interesting facts you can discover about this state with a free 7-page state history printable. C reate a map of the state, organize events chronologically, and explore more of the state’s exciting past with writing prompts.

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