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20th Century

“This land of Arizona has had an exciting history, so dramatic and inspiring that it needs no exaggeration or fictional embellishment.” ~Barry Goldwater

<<< 19th Century

1900 – The U.S. Public Health Office reported that people with respiratory problems should move to the desert.

1901 – The new Capitol building was dedicated.

1903 – The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was formed under President Teddy Roosevelt with the intent of developing major irrigation projects to enhance the growth and settlement of the Southwest. This came at a time when the Salt River Valley was in a terrible drought, confirming the need for a water storage system to assure a water supply for farmers and ranchers during dry years.

1904-1906 – Legislation admitting Arizona and New Mexico as a single state was enacted by Congress twice between 1904 and 1906, but was rejected by the Arizona electorate.

1906 – Dam construction began on the Salt River when the cornerstone of Roosevelt Dam was laid on September 20.

1909 – Hydroelectric power from the Roosevelt Dam site was delivered to Phoenix Light and Power Company, establishing the Salt River Project as the nation’s first multipurpose reclamation project.

1910 – Roosevelt Dam, the largest solid masonry dam in the world, was the first major project to be completed under the new federal reclamation program. The dam contributed more than any other dam in Arizona to the settlement of Central Arizona and to the development of large-scale irrigation there. The Kent Decree established guidelines for surface water distribution rights.

1911 – Former President Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Arizona to dedicate Roosevelt Dam. In his speech, Roosevelt named the National Reclamation Act and the Panama Canal as two of the greatest accomplishments of his administration.

1911 – President William Howard Taft vetoed a resolution conferring statehood on Arizona because the proposed state constitution provided for the recall of elective judges. A resolution was drafted making the admission of Arizona to the Union conditional if the state agreed to make the necessary changes in its constitution.

1912 – New Mexico became the 47th state on January 6. Arizona became the 48th state on February 14. Its nicknames include the Grand Canyon State and the Copper State. (New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment.) Soon after Arizona became a state, voters restored the provision for recall to the constitution. Arizona included women as voters even before the 19th Amendment was ratified.

1914 – The coldest temperature recorded in Phoenix was 16°, recorded on January 7.

1914 – Arizona instituted statewide prohibition.

1916 – Thomas E. Campbell was elected Governor, but former Governor George W. P. Hunt demanded a recount of votes. In 1917, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Hunt won the election and Thomas E. Campbell was forced to turn the governorship back to Hunt.

1917-18 – The United States joined World War I against Germany, after intercepting the Zimmerman Telegram that was sent from Germany to Mexico. It said that if Mexico helped Germany fight in the war, Germany would help Mexico regain Arizona. World War I brought economic boom to Arizona, especially in developing cotton farming.

1917 – Labor unrest caused the Phelps Dodge Corporation in Bisbee to deport over 1,000 miners. The striking workers were put into boxcars, shipped off to New Mexico, and told not to come back. Families were evicted from their company housing. The miners filed suit but lost. They took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, but the Law of Necessity was created which ruled that people can be evicted if it’s deemed to be for the good of the community.

1917 – The Salt River Water Users Association took over the operation and maintenance of the Salt River Project, with the United States retaining title to the project dams, canals, and hydropower plants.

1919 – Grand Canyon National Park was established.

1920 – The price of cotton plummets, leading to financial disaster for cotton farmers in the Salt River Valley.

1921 – Citrus trees are planted in the Valley, becoming one of the four C’s that defined Arizona through much of the 20th Century – along with copper, cattle, and cotton.

1922 – The Colorado River Compact is signed, agreeing on water use from the Colorado River between the states that contribute to it: Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Mexico. (Although Mexico doesn’t actually contribute, they were given consideration since the last 65 miles of the river flows through its territory.) The Arizona legislature didn’t actually ratify the Compact until 1944.

1923-25 – Mormon Flat Dam was built, creating Canyon Lake on the Salt River.

1924-27 – Horse Mesa Dam was built, creating Apache Lake on the Salt River.

1928-30 – Stewart Mountain Dam was built, creating Saguaro Lake on the Salt River.

1929 – The stock market crash and the Great Depression weakens farm prices. The effects were not felt immediately in the Salt River Valley, but it did have a major impact on the agriculture business in Arizona that lasted into the late 1930’s.

1930 – The planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

1932 – The global price of copper falls 70 percent and many Arizona copper mines close or curtail operations, leaving thousands of people unemployed.

1933-36 – Hoover Dam, the largest arched dam in the world at the time, is constructed. This provides much needed labor opportunities for unemployed Arizonans.

1934 – Congress passed the Taylor Grazing Act limiting ranchers’ access to Federal lands. Ultimately, fencing became widespread and the range divided into smaller areas.

1936 – The Salt River Project receives approval to dam the Verde River through the construction of Bartlett Dam. Arizona women are allowed to serve on juries for the first time.

1936 – Snow was officially recorded in Phoenix.

1940 – Barry Goldwater, a young man from a family which owned Arizona’s largest chain of grocery stores, became one of the first people to run the Colorado River recreationally through Grand Canyon as a paid customer of Norman Nevills, a pioneer of commercial river-running in the American Southwest.

1941-45 – Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, sinking the USS Arizona and ushering America into World War II. Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps at the Gila River and at Poston on the Colorado River Reservation. Poston was the largest relocation center in the country and the third largest city in Arizona (after Phoenix and Tucson), with a peak population of 18,000 during this time. An abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Mayer was used as an assembly center. World War II sparked an economic boom in Arizona. Many military bases, training facilities, and strategic defense operations were established in the Southwest. Del Webb built Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix.

1942 – Many young Navajo men join the U. S. Marine’s Navajo Code Talkers. They developed a secret code based on the complex Navajo language, which the Japanese were never able to break.

1943 – SRP and Phelps Dodge negotiate the building of Horseshoe Dam, the second dam on the Verde River and the sixth dam in the SRP system. The dam is paid for by Phelps Dodge Corporation with financing from the federal Defense Plant Corporation in order to supply enough water to Phelps Dodge copper mines to meet production needs during World War II.

1944 – Post World War II brought unprecedented growth to Arizona, particularly the Salt River Valley. Hundreds of acres of farmlands were subdivided for home building.

1945 – Arizona State Teachers College is renamed Arizona State College at Tempe.

1946 – Arizona right-to-work law became effective, meaning that joining a union was not necessary in order to work.

1948 – Indians gain the right to vote. The widespread use of air conditioning forever changes the way people live in the desert, and creating new demands for electricity. Motorola built its first plant in Phoenix marking the beginning of the high tech industry in Arizona.

1950’s – Arizona became known for its five C’s: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate.

1950 – The election of Governor Howard Pyle, a Republican, increased the power and influence of the Republican Party in Arizona. Arizonans voted against legal casino gaming because of its link to organized crime. On February 1, a UFO was sighted over Tucson.

1952 – Barry Goldwater, the father of modern-day conservatism, was first elected to the U.S. Senate.

1953 – Governor Howard Pyle authorizes a raid on a polygamous colony in Short Creek.

1956 – A United Airlines passenger plane and a Trans World Airlines plane collided in mid-air over the Grand Canyon on June 30. Both planes plummeted out of control into the canyon, killing everyone aboard. With 128 fatalities, it was at that time the worst aviation disaster in history, and resulted in sweeping changes in the regulation of flight operations over the United States. The Federal Aviation Act was passed into law in 1958, creating the Federal Aviation Agency (later renamed Federal Aviation Administration). The FAA was given unprecedented and total authority over the control of American airspace.

1958 – Arizona voters change the name of Arizona State College at Tempe to Arizona State University. Sun Devil Stadium is built at ASU.

1960 – The federal government built the Painted Rock Dam on the Gila River to protect non-Indian farmers. The dam caused flooding in the Tohono O’odham’s Gila River community, rendering 9,880 acres unusable. A federal law in 1986 allowed the tribe to purchase replacement land in unincorporated areas and apply to have it designated as a reservation.

1961 – Arizona’s population exceeds 1 million.

1961 – Stewart Udall became Secretary of Interior in the J. F. Kennedy administration, the first Arizonan to serve in a Cabinet position.

1963 – The Supreme Court upholds the Colorado Compact, maintaining Arizona’s right to large amounts of Colorado River water, and not allowing California to take more than their fair share.

1964 – Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater gave up his Senate seat to that he could run for President. Although he lost to incumbent President Lyndon Johnson, he remained popular with Arizona voters who re-elected him to the Senate in 1968, 1974, and 1980.

1965 – Lorna Lockwood was elected as the chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. She was the first woman in the United States to head a state supreme court.

1966 – Miranda vs. Arizona is decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that criminal suspects must be informed of their right against self-incrimination and their right to consult with an attorney prior to questioning by police. This is known as a Miranda warning.

1968 – Senator Carl Trumbull Hayden retires after representing Arizona in Congress since 1912. Legislative districts are reapportioned to represent an equal number of people. The Republican Party gains control of the legislature for the first time.

1968 – London Bridge was dismantled brick-by-brick and moved from England to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The Central Arizona Project enabling legislation was passed, authorizing construction of a 330-mile-long canal from the Colorado River along the

Arizona/California border to Phoenix and then Tucson. 1969 – The first college on an Indian reservation, Navajo Community College (now Diné College) was opened.

1970’s – Motorola, Honeywell, and Digital Equipment Corporation all had major manufacturing facilities in the Southwest, especially in Phoenix and Tucson.

1971 – Arizona’s coldest temperature of 40° below zero was recorded at Hawley Lake on January 7.

1972 – Cesar Chavez, founder of the National Farm Workers Association, fasts for 25 days in Phoenix over a new Arizona law that prohibits the right of farm workers to strike or boycott.

1975 – Raul H. Castro became the first Mexican American Governor of Arizona.

1976 – The Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona, was completed, making it one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the United States, generating 2.25 million kilowatts of electricity. Construction on Palo Verde Nuclear Power Generating Station began.

1978-80 – Three years of flooding, the worst of which occurs in February 1980, threatened to flow over top of Roosevelt Dam and breach Stewart Mountain Dam. All of the river crossings were flooded, and every bridge in the valley was closed except Mill Avenue Bridge and Central Avenue Bridge.

1980 – Arizona passes the Groundwater Management Act which mandates that water users in Maricopa, Pinal and Yavapai counties must cease pumping more groundwater than is recharged into the aquifer.

1981 – Arizona Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

1983 – La Paz County became the newest Arizona county after voters approved separating the northern half of Yuma County, making it the first and only new county to be created after Arizona statehood. As a result, Arizona laws were changed to make splitting other existing counties much more difficult.

1984 – The population of Arizona exceeds 3 million and for the first time in its history, SRP’s urban water use (55%) surpasses agricultural use (45%).

1985 – The Central Arizona Project, an aqueduct bringing water directly from the Colorado River for use in Phoenix and Tucson, carried its first water to Phoenix. Unit One of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station produces energy for the first time.

1987 – Arizona governor Evan Mecham rescinds the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as his first act in office, setting off a boycott of the state.

1988 – Arizona Governor Evan Mecham was impeached and removed from office after being found guilty by the Arizona senate on charges of official misconduct for lending state money to his automobile dealership. Since the state does not have a lieutenant governor, Secretary of State Rose Mofford became the first female governor of Arizona. The Phoenix Cardinals begin playing at Sun Devil Stadium and open a training facility in Tempe. Passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows gambling on tribal lands around the country, including in Arizona. Ten casinos were in operation by 1995.

1989-1994 – The Maricopa County Flood Control district channelizes the Salt River.

1990 – The highest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix was 122°F on June 26. After a proposition to recognize a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in Arizona did not pass, the National Football League boycotted hosting Super Bowl XXVII at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

1991 – The Central Arizona Project, an aqueduct bringing water directly from the Colorado River for use in Phoenix and Tucson, was completed. Fife Symington III was elected Governor in special run-off election. The NFL moved the 1993 Super Bowl site from Phoenix, Arizona, to Pasadena, California, because of the Martin Luther King Day boycott.

1992 – Arizonans were given an opportunity to vote on observing a Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Day and it passed.

1994 – The highest temperature ever recorded in Arizona was 128° at Lake Havasu City on June 29.

1995 – In early November 1995 the President of the United States ordered a closure of all National Parks and other federal installations due to the stalemate with the Congress over funding for the federal government. For the first time in the 79-year history of the National Park Service, all 369 national parks, monuments and recreation areas were shut down. This was a crisis of national proportions that played out for weeks. Arizona Governor Fife Symington tried to negotiate some level of opening the Grand Canyon, but the Interior Department rejected his proposal to allow the National Guard to temporarily operate Grand Canyon National Park.

1996 – Super Bowl XXX was held at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Construction began on the Bank One Ballpark and was finished just before the Diamondbacks’ first season began in 1998. It was the first ballpark to feature natural grass in a retractable roof stadium. However, local citizens were furious over being levied an increase in sales tax to fund the stadium because they were not allowed to vote on the issue.

1997 – Secretary of State Jane Dee Hull became Governor when Arizona Governor Fife Symington resigned after was convicted of fraud for filing false financial statements to banks that had backed his real estate development projects, but an appellate court overturned Symington’s conviction in June 1999 and he was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in January 2001.

1997 – On March 13, between 7:30-10:30 pm, thousands of people across Arizona (from the Nevada line through Prescott, Phoenix, and Tucson to Sonora, Mexico) reported seeing a series of strange lights in the nighttime sky and what appeared to be a large slow-moving V-shaped object. The “Phoenix Lights” remain a mystery to this day.

1997 – The Hayden Flour Mill closes after 123 years of operation. The Mill’s last operator was Bay State Milling which purchased the mill in 1981. Limited operations continued until March 1998.

1997 – Hurricane Nora formed off the Pacific coast of Mexico in late September. Taking an unusual path, it veered inland across Baja California and struck Western Arizona. Nora produced nearly 12” of rainfall over the Harquahala Mountains which caused flash flooding, closed highways, and covered the normally dry desert with standing water.

1998 – Jane Hull was elected to a full term as governor in November; in that election, for the first time in U.S. history, women won the top five state executive offices: Governor, Jane Hull; Secretary of State, Betsey Bayless; Attorney General, Janet Napolitano; Treasurer, Carol Springer; and Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lisa Graham Keegan. Governor Hull signed the Electric Power Competition Act into law, allowing power companies to compete for business outside of their traditional service territory. On December 6, Phoenix experienced an unusual weather phenomenon – snow!

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