Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Valentine State

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Arizona went from a territory to a state on February 14, 1912. As a result, its nickname for many years was The Valentine State.

I'm glad that got shucked. Now its nickname is The Grand Canyon State; a wise tourism magnet to counter the belief of some that the Grand Canyon is in Nevada.

Anyway, when you think about it, 1912 wasn't really that long ago. [My grandfather voted for statehood and I'm still remarkably youthful, in thought if not in body.] The state lingered in territorial status for an unusual amount of time possibly because of its sparse, pre-air conditioned, population and the fact that visits from local characters such as Geronimo tended to discourage development. Not too many years before statehood, there were times when walking twenty paces outside of Tombstone was a risky endeavor.

In other words, Arizona territory had a wild reputation.

The dedication of Roosevelt Dam in 1911 was a major turning point in the territory's growth. While other parts of the country worried about getting water off the land, the Phoenix area had the opposite concern. There was also another: along with its dependence on irrigation came occasional floods from a river that could not be controlled. Roosevelt Dam provided a predictable source of water and power to the area. It was a foundation for enormous growth.

By 1912, the territory was more than ready for statehood.

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