The Arizona History and Timeline for Kids is a detailed timeline of the major events that influenced the state of Arizona. The state of Arizona is unique in that it is home to one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.
Arizona has been influential to the United States as a territory and as a state. It has its beginnings with the Spanish as they searched for gold. It was home to a proud Native American population and played a critical role in the development of the West.
Now, Arizona has become a center for tourism and a destination for seniors looking to escape the cold weather up north.
During their eight-year-long trek to Mexico City, they encountered natives along the way who told them about cities with great riches. Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan friar, supposed that the stories pertained to the "Seven Cities of Cibola."
1538-39: Marcos De Niza led an expedition to find Cibola and took Esteban as his guide. They entered what is now Arizona near the New Mexico border. Continuing northward, they met the people of Zuni in west-central New Mexico, who coincidentally did have seven pueblo cities.
Estevan was killed by Zuni Indians, and Fray Marcos abandoned the mission after visiting only one village but believed he saw in the distance what appeared to be a city as great as Tenochtitlan, the capital of the conquered Aztec empire, shimmering in the sunlight.
1540-42: Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led a large armored military expedition to take possession of the wealthy city that the monk had described. Coronado claimed all of the lands as part of New Spain and conquered the Zuni pueblo.
Coronado sent Pedro de Tovar to lead an expedition westward, and they visited the Hopi pueblos. Garcia Lopez de Cardenas left from there in search of a river that the Hopi tribe had spoken about and was the first European to view the Grand Canyon. Coronado continued eastward on his epic journey, discovering the Rio Grande and continuing as far east as the Great Plains of Kansas.
1558: Marcos De Niza dies. He would carry the blame for Coronado's failed expedition.
1583: Antonio de Espejo explores eastern Arizona and discovers mines near present-day Jerome.
1598-99: Juan de Onate, the first governor of Spain's New Mexico territory, led colonists up the Rio Grande and established El Paso del Norte and a fort at Santa Fe.
1609: Santa Fe is established as the capital of New Mexico.
1629: Franciscans, the first Europeans to live in Arizona, tried to establish missions in the north around the Hopi, but their venture failed.
1680: Colonists flee New Mexico after a Pueblo Rebellion.
1687: Jesuit priest Eusebio Kino establishes missions among the Tohono O'odham people along the Santa Cruz River
1691: Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit priest, established Mission Tumacacori, the first European settlement in Arizona.
- Diego de Vargas goes north to reclaim earlier settlements in New Mexico.
- Father Kino starts work and founds Guevavi mission.
1694: Kino explores Arizona and discovers the ruins of Casa Grande.
1700: San Xavier del Bac mission (White Dove of the Desert) is founded.
1736: Silver was discovered on the ranch of the Basque settler Bernardo de Urrea near the Guevavi mission. The name of Urrea's ranch was Arizona, meaning "the good oak tree."
1751: The O'odham people rebel against the Spanish, but the rebellion is put down.
1752: After many revolts from the Pima and Papago tribes, the first permanent settlement was established in Tubac.
1768: Arizona becomes part of the Provincia de las Californias under Spanish rule.
1775: Southern Arizona was explored by Juan Bautista de Anza while leading an expedition from Mexico to San Francisco.
1776: A Spanish presidio (fort) is built in Tucson.
December 6, 1779: First Battle of Tucson.
1781: Yuma Indians massacre Spanish settlers and missionaries.
May 1, 1782: Second Battle of Tucson
December 25, 1782: Third Battle of Tucson
March 21, 1784: Fourth Battle of Tucson, Sonora, New Spain.
1789: One of the first Spanish land grants is bestowed to Toribio de Otero, a 63-acre ranch that remained in the Otero family until 1941.
1821: Mexico gained military control of Arizona. That same year, trappers and traders from the United States came into the area.
1848: The United States won the Mexican War and gained all of Arizona north of the Gila River...
1853: By Gadsden Purchase, the rest of Arizona became part of the United States.
1854: Copper is discovered in Arizona.
1857: First stagecoach in Arizona.
1858: Gold is discovered on the Gila River near the Maricopa Indian Tribe.
1862: Chief Cochise and Apaches attack soldiers at Apache Pass, beginning a ten-year war with settlers.
February 14, 1862: Confederate Arizona officially becomes a territory of the Confederate States of America, consisting of the portion of the New Mexico Territory below the 34th parallel, with Mesilla, New Mexico as the territorial capital. During the month of February, the Confederate State of America occupies Arizona.
May 20, 1862: Tucson is captured by Union troops.
1863: The territory of Arizona is created by Congress, with Prescott as the capital.
1864: Kit Carson captures approximately 7,000 Navajo Indians in Canyon de Chelly, forcing them to leave Arizona.
1867: The capital was first established in Prescott, 1867 changed to Tucson, and was eventually moved in 1889 to Phoenix.
1869: John Wesley Powell explores the Grand Canyon by boat.
1881: Railroad crosses the state.
February 25, 1881: Phoenix officially incorporated when Governor John C. Frémont signed "The Phoenix Charter Bill" and instituted a mayor-council form of government.
October 26, 1881: Wyatt Earp and three of his brothers, together with Doc Holliday, became famous in the O.K. Corral gunfight in 1881, when they killed several suspected cattle rustlers.
March 20, 1882: Wyatt Earp kills Frank Stillwell
1886: The great Apache Chief Geronimo surrenders to soldiers on September 4. Indian fighting is over.
1880: Phoenix becomes the capital of Arizona Territory.
1889: The capital moved to Phoenix.
1890: Arizona Republican newspaper begins publication
1891: The first telephone of the territory arrives in Phoenix. A territorial convention is held in Phoenix. The idea of becoming a state is discussed but is voted down.
June 22, 1892: Casa Grande Reservation was created by President Benjamin Harrison. The first prehistoric and cultural reserve in the United States
July 14, 1900: Downtown Prescott is mostly destroyed by fire.
1908: Prescott National Forest is established
1911: President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated a dam that was named after him. The Coolidge Dam, the Bartlett Dam, and the Hoover Dam followed.
February 14th, 1912: Valentine's Day, Arizona becomes the 48th State. The capital is Phoenix, first Governor is George W. P. Hunt. Arizona would be the last state admitted that was directly connected to the United States. The following states, Alaska and Hawaii, would be admitted later in the century.
1917: The United States joined World War I against Germany. The Zimmerman Telegram was one reason we joined the war. It was sent from Germany to Mexico and said that if Mexico helped Germany fight in the war, Mexico would regain Arizona.
1919: Grand Canyon National Park is founded.
1929: Arizona hosts Spring Training for the first time when the Detroit Tigers host the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both teams now have their Spring Training in Florida.
1930: The planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
1936: Hoover Dam is completed.
1940: Arizona becomes known as the Grand Canyon State.
January 2, 1941: Construction begins on Thunderbird Field in Glendale, funded by a collaborative group of Hollywood personalities, including James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, and Margaret Sullavan. The field opens in April.
1941: In 1941, the United States entered World War 2, and Arizona would play an important role in training pilots and other military units. The large amount of space that the state could provide allowed for multiple branches of the military to train. It would also serve as a location where Japanese-Americans were relocated.
- Luke Air Force Base opens, and its first class graduating in June.
- Williams Air Force Base opens in December.
- Falcon Field opens in Mesa as a training location for British RAF pilots.
- Kingman Airport opens as the Kingman Army Airfield.
- Ernest A. Love Field opens near Prescott
- The Desert Training Center, formed by General George S. Patton, was created. The base, located in the Mojave Desert in Southern California and the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona, stretched to within 50 miles of Phoenix
- Thunderbird Field #2 opens in Scottsdale. Later renamed Scottsdale Airport.
- Gila River War Relocation Center, an internment camp for Japanese-Americans, opens southwest of Phoenix on the Gila River Indian Reservation
- Japanese-Americans from Phoenix are relocated to internment camps at Sacaton and Poston.
- Williams Auxiliary Army Airfield #5 is built near Chandler. Would become Chandler Memorial Airport and is currently known as Gila River Memorial Airport.
- Camp Papago Park (POW camp) opens in Phoenix in June.
- Litchfield Naval Air Facility opens
- The new airport at Douglas is designated the first international airport in the United States.
- The Marana Army Air Field opens in Marana as a training site for the Army Air Corps. Currently named the Pinal County Airpark
December 23, 1944: Great Papago Escape of German prisoners, the largest single escape by POW in any camp in the United States.
1948: Indians obtain the right to vote.
1963: The United States Supreme Court decision maintains Arizona's right to large amounts of Colorado River water.
March 13, 1963: Phoenix Police arrest Ernesto Miranda without informing him of his rights. This leads to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona
1964: Barry M. Goldwater, Senator from Arizona, runs for president and is soundly defeated by Lyndon Johnson.
1965: Judge Lorna Lockwood is elected as Chief Justice of the Arizona State Supreme Court.
- London Bridge (which was falling down) is moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
- Congress authorizes Central Arizona Project to bring Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson.
- The Phoenix Suns join the NBA
1974: US Congress divided the Hopi Reservation between the Hopi and the Navajo Indians.
1975: Raul H. Castro became the first Mexican-American Governor of Arizona.
1981: Arizona Justice Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman on the United States Supreme Court.
1985: The Central Arizona Project brought more water from the Colorado River by pipeline to Phoenix and, in 1991, to Tucson.
- Governor Evan Mecham becomes the first United States Governor in 59 years to be impeached.
- Acting Governor Rose Mofford was sworn in as the 18th Governor on April 5, the first woman in the state to hold the office.
- The Phoenix Cardinals join the NFL
- Fife Symington was elected Governor in the special run-off election.
- Central Arizona Project brought more water from the Colorado River by pipeline to Tucson.
1994: The Phoenix Cardinals changed their name to the Arizona Cardinals.
1996: The Winnipeg Jets of the NHL move to Phoenix and change their name to the Coyotes.
1997: Secretary of State Jane Hull becomes Governor on September 5, 1997, after Fife Symington resigns after being convicted of bank fraud. The conviction was overturned in 1999, and in 2001, President Bill Clinton pardoned him.
1998: The Arizona Diamondbacks join the MLB
2001: The Arizona Diamondbacks win the World Series
2003: Lori Piestewa is the first woman to die in the Iraq invasion. A member of the Hopi tribe, she's also the first Native American to die in combat. Gov. Janet Napolitano stirs controversy while pushing for Phoenix's Squaw Peak to be renamed Piestewa Peak, but the change is made.
2009: Arizona Cardinals lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
March 6, 2020: The first known Covid-19 case in Arizona.