Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Arizona, a Valentine's Day Birthday

by Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by Wing-Chi Poon, Wikimedia Commons
Arizona is one of two States accepted into the union on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Oregon joined in 1859, and Arizona in 1912. Since this is Valentine’s month, and Arizona is my home State, I thought it would be fun to see some of the wonderful benefits gained when we became part of the United States of America.

In 1528, the land mass that includes modern day Arizona, came under Spanish rule, or conquest. Then in 1821, Mexico gained control of the territory including Arizona. That is the same time period when the first trappers and traders came west from the United States of America. 

Lavender Pit: Bisbee
Wikimedia Commons
Then in 1848, the USA won the Mexican-American War, taking possession of all the country in Arizona north of the Gila River. That means where I live and Tucson, which is south of me, still belonged to Mexico. Then in 185,4 the Gadsden Purchase claimed all of modern day Arizona. Arizona became a territory of the United States of America in 1863.

In 1854, copper was first discovered in Arizona. Copper has been a major industry of the State and continues to be important today. Copper is extracted and exported and is one of three major exports we are known for: copper, cattle, and cotton. There are several productive mines still active and viable, though not as many as there used to be.

Grand Canyon: by Murray Foubister, Wikimedia Commons
In 1869 John Wesley Powell did the first trip through the Grand Canyon by boat. Powell lost an arm during the Civil War, but still had the heart of an explorer. He traveled from Green River, Wyoming, through Utah and through the Grand Canyon, mapping the way. The Grand Canyon became a National Park in 1919 and in 1940, Arizona became the Grand Canyon State.

Interesting fact: There have been almost 700 deaths at the Grand Canyon. Some of them have been accidental falls from the rim of the canyon. Several have been men jumping from one rock to another to get the best spot for a picture.

Meteor Crater by Tsaiproject, Wikimedia Commons
In Northern Arizona, you can find a geographical treat if you visit Meteor Crater. The crater is almost 4,000 feet across and over 550 feet deep. The enormous crater was first named Canyon Diablo crater when discovered in the 19th century. Scientists call it Barringer Crater after the man who first suggested a meteor impact caused the formation. The Barringer family owns the crater, which you can visit.

Wyatt Earp
Wikimedia Commons
Arizona added to the western gunfighter appeal when in 1881 Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday took on the Clanton gang who had been rustling cattle. The shootout has been written about and made into movies many times. The town of Tombstone, where the shootout took place, is a major tourist attraction. You can still visit that alley and see where the gunfight happened. Although this is the most famous old west gunfight, the actual fight only lasted thirty seconds.

Another legend of Arizona was the reign of Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches he led. They fought hard to
Geronimo (far right) and warriors
Wikimedia Commons
maintain their way of life, but on September 4, 1868, Geronimo surrendered and the fighting ceased. In 1905, Geronimo published his autobiography. He also met with President Theodore Roosevelt and tried in vain to convince him to allow the Apaches to return to their land. He was an incredible warrior who grieved the loss of his land and way of life.

Hoover Dam 1941 by Ansel Adams
Wikimedia Commons
Arizona is home to some famous dams. Roosevelt Dam, Coolidge Dam and Bartlett Dam were very important, but Hoover Dam was a major feat of engineering. At the time, Hoover Dam was the tallest in the world. The concrete used in the construction would have stretched across the country. The first summer of construction was extremely hot and they needed the poured concrete to cool quickly, so the engineers designed the world's largest refrigerator to put out enough ice to cool the freshly laid concrete and help speed the building process. 

The name of the dam was very controversial. After being named, Hoover Dam, after President Hoover, there was opposition. For years, the name was changed to Boulder Dam, until President Truman made the Hoover Dam the official name.

There are so many unique features in Arizona. From the mountains in the north to the deserts in the south, Arizona is a beautiful State and a wonderful addition to our country. Happy Birthday, Arizona.

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.


  1. Thanks for the interesting post about the wonders of your state! I enjoyed the tour!

  2. Interesting history of your state, Nancy. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I've only driven through Arizona once, but we saw some incredible things like the Petrified forest and the petroglyphs.
    We actually made a stop at the Meteor Crater. It's quite amazing. I'd like to return some day and visit Tombstone and some other towns.

    1. Vickie, if I included all the interesting bits about Arizona this post would have been too long. There is so much to see. I hope you get back some time.

  4. Hi Nancy - Your state has a very interesting history! I've been to the Four Corners and Hoover Dam. One of my sister-in-laws is from Page. One of these years I'd like to go to the Grand Canyon.

    (I'm sorry to hear about your cat, my last one passed away Feb 7th.)