/ The Phoenix Traveler
Phoenix — By Heather Wright Schlichting on February 14, 2010 at 10:25 am
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Happy Birthday Arizona!

Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912. It was the last of the 48 contiguous states to be admitted to the union.

As we approach our centennial in 2012 we celebrate a rich and vast history that compares to no other. More than a playground for sun worshippers, Arizona is home to some of the world’s most popular natural wonders including the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell/Rainbow Bridge, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, Monument Valley, Meteor Crater, Sedona Oak Creek Canyon, Superstition Mountains, Saguaro National Park, Chiricahua National Monument, and the Colorado River.

Our history is rich in legends of America’s Old West. It was here that the great Indian chiefs Geronimo and Cochise led their people against the frontiersmen. Tombstone was the site of the West’s most famous shoot-out—the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  And today, Arizona has one of the largest U.S. Indian populations; more than 14 tribes are represented on 20 reservations.

Here are a few more facts that make us unique and that all good Arizonans should know.

1. The saguaro cactus blossom is the official state flower. The white flower blooms on the tips of the saguaro cactus during May and June. The saguaro is the largest American cactus.

2. Arizona leads the nation in copper production.

3. Petrified wood is the official state fossil. Most petrified wood comes from the Petrified Forest in northeastern Arizona.

4. The bola tie is the official state neckwear.

5. The Palo Verde is the official state tree. Its name means green stick and it blooms a brilliant yellow-gold in April or May.

6. The cactus wren is the official state bird. It grows seven to eight inches long and likes to build nests in the protection of thorny desert plants like the arms of the giant saguaro cactus.

7. Turquoise is the official state gemstone. The blue-green stone has a somewhat waxy surface and can be found throughout the state.

8. The amount of copper on the roof of the Capitol building is equivalent to 4,800,000 pennies.

9. Arizona, among all the states, has the largest percentage of its land set aside and designated as Indian lands.

10. At one time camels were used to transport goods across Arizona.

Photo from personal collection.

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