Monday, January 16, 2012

A Little About Arizona

January 9, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona will be celebrating its centennial on February 14, 2012. The 48th Annual Lost Dutchman Days, Feb. 24-26, will honor the statewide celebration of Arizona’s 100th birthday by featuring a President Theodore Roosevelt reenactor as the Grand Marshall for the annual Lost Dutchman Days Parade (Feb. 25). After the parade he will drive to locations on the historic Apache Trail to speak about the building of the road to carry materials for the construction of the Roosevelt Dam.

For next few weeks, I am going to write a few columns about Arizona. I am going to try and focus on informative type information and hopefully it will be interesting to old  residents and new alike. There are literally thousands of stories about Arizona from the Spanish period up through the modern industrial period. Arizona has grown rapidly because of it diverse scenery, climate and opportunities. I hope you enjoy these short stories about Arizona.

Arizona’s history has been colorful and enduring. The first conclusive evidence of man living in this land we call Arizona today was probably around 5,000 B.C. when the Folsum Culture evolved. The Folsum man created arrow tips with blood groves in them. This simple piece of stone work helped early man to kill larger animals.

The last major culture in the desert Southwest was the Hohokam, a tribe known for their skill as farmers. They developed an irrigation system using canals and laterals to deliver water to their fields between 800 A.D. and 1400 A.D. Jack Swilling, who founded the city of Phoenix in 1867, came across these canals in the 1860’s and began developing what was already here.

Europeans were crossing the deserts of the Southwest and Arizona before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. The Coronado Expedition entered what is now Arizona in 1540. Francisco Vaquez Coronado camped at the confluence of the Gila and San Pedro Rivers in late May or early June 1540 on his way to the “Seven Cities of Cibola.” Cibola was the Zuni villages northeast of St. Johns, Arizona.

From 1540 to 1821, the land we call Arizona today was part of New Spain, and from 1821 to 1848 was part of Mexico. Father Eusebio Kino introduced cattle raising to southern Arizona while building two Catholic missions along the San Pedro River that still stand today. The missions were San Xavier de Bac and Tumacacori.

In 1848 all of the state north of the Gila River became the Territory of New Mexico and part of the United States under the conditions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Mexican-American War of 1848 forever changed the boundary of the United States and Mexico. Shortly after the area became part of the United States, Charles D. Poston arrived in the territory around Tubac in 1854. Poston formed the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company. He promoted the mineral wealth of the area and helped begin the struggle in Washington to make Arizona a separate territory from New Mexico.

Arizona struggled with its identity for another ten years before becoming the “Territory of Arizona” on February 24, 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln signed a document making Arizona a territory. Charles D. Poston became known as the “Father of Arizona.”

The only Civil War battle fought in Arizona occurred on April 15, 1862, near Picacho Peak about forty miles northwest of Tucson. Once the war was over the mineral resources of Arizona Territory became apparent. Arizona Territory became well known after the American Civil War.

The territory would struggle for the next forty-nine years before becoming a state of the United States on February 14, 1912. The building of Roosevelt Dam and development of the Salt River Valley irrigation system had become one of the engineering feats of the 20th Century, 1900 – 2000. Prior to 1900, the end of hostilities between the U.S. Army and the Apaches finally brought peace to this frontier state with the surrender of Geronimo at Skeleton Canyon in 1886. by 1912, Arizona was known nationally for cattle, copper, citrus, and climate. Over the years, Arizona grew because of the cattle, mining, agricultural and the tourist industry. The future growth in Arizona will probably be  associated with electronics, aviation, solar energy and tourism.

We are now celebrating our first one hundred years of statehood.