REGION 9 HISTORY:(The Southwest) Fun Facts


Central & Southern California * Texas * Arizona * Utah * New Mexico


The American Southwest sure does have its share of nature’s wonders and National Parks! Chocked full of mesas, caverns, deserts, arches, sand dunes, monuments and red rocks, the American Southwest has always drawn in travelers for its unusual rock and sand formations, incredible distinctiveness and one-of-a-kind scenery.  Here you will also find the history of the people who first inhabited the area and can actually see their ancient dwelling places and rock art. Here are the roots of the Hispanic, Latino and American Indian cultures with lots of ruins and artifacts to discover and enjoy.  You will also find lakes, craters, wilderness, mountains and forests making the American Southwest one of the most diverse areas of the world.

For our ‘Focused Events’ we’ll spend most of our time between the years 1845 and 1930.

We’ll call this the ‘Age of Acquisition and National Parks.’




*Adding the Southwestern areas of North America into the United States has been instrumental in forming both the Nation’s personality and its diversity.

*Human habitation in the Southwest dates to further back than recorded history.

*By A.D. 100 the most notable cultures that had emerged were the Hohokam, Mogollon, Anasazi and Hopi people groups.

*Mid 1500’s: Spain begins exploration of the American Southwest.

*1610-1800: Spain establishes forts, missions and towns at Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Trampas and Taos.

*1810: Mexico gains independence from Spain.

*1836: Texas gains independence from Mexico.

*1845: Texas in annexed to the U.S. setting off the Mexican-American War.

*1846-1848: Mexican-American War.

*1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago ends the War.

*1848: Mexico cedes Texas, California and all lands north of the Rio Grande (equaling 525,000 square miles) to the U.S. for 15 million dollars.


 *Formation of the National Parks System now helps protect and preserve the Nation’s incredible natural wonders for future generations.

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  *Mid 1800’s: The idea of a National Park system was conceived by a few eloquent, outspoken and persuasive men who sought to preserve these national treasures, including writer Wallace Stegner and naturalist John Muir.

*During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln put Yosemite under the protection of California.

           *1872: President. U.S. Grant made Yellowstone the world’s first National Park.

*1901-1909: Pres. T. Roosevelt created 5 new parks, 18 national monuments, 51 bird sanctuaries, 4 national game refuges, and over 100 million acres of national forest.

*1916: The National Park Service was created, spearheaded by millionaire Stephen Mather.

*Today there are 392 national parks, monuments, battlefields, seashores, recreational and other protected areas.


           There are 58 National Parks in the U.S.  (You can find the list in the Fun Facts Category under Landscapes)



1). SOUTH/CENTRAL CALIFORNIA: Motto: “I have found it”

*1535-1542: Spanish are first Europeans on California soil.

*1579: Sir Francis Drake claims land north of San Francisco for England.

*1769: First of many Spanish missions established.

*1769: Discovery of the entrance to the San Francisco Bay.

*1776: Presidio of San Francisco founded.

*1812: Russian fur traders establish Ft Ross in Sonoma Cty.

*1820: First settlers from the East Coast arrive.

*1821: California becomes part of Mexico.

*1845: California missions sold at auction.

*1846: U.S. invades Mexico reaching San Diego.

*1848: California is ceded by Mexico to the U.S.

*1849: California gold Rush begins at Coloma.

*1850: California becomes 31st state admitted to the Union.

*1890: Sequoia National Park established.

*1892: The Sierra Club is founded by 182 charter members. John Muir is elected president. In its first conservation effort, the Sierra Club leads a campaign to defeat a proposed reduction in the boundaries of Yosemite National Park.

*1909: John Muir was the leader of the movement to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from despoliation at the hands of the City and County of San Francisco, which wanted the valley for a municipal water supply… Published in late 1909, outlines the preservationist’s cause, and was distributed by Muir acting as president of the Society for the Preservation of National Parks…

*1933, 1980, 1994: Death Valley, Channel Islands & Joshua Tree Natl Parks open (respectively).

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California has 9 National Parks

(5 northern, 4 southern)




2). TEXAS: Motto: “Friendship”

*1519: Spain explores and maps the Texas coastline.

*1541: Coronado is the first white man to explore Texas.

*1685: Texas claimed for France.

*1700: Spain establishes Catholic missions in Texas.  By 1745, the missions at San Antonio are producing thousands of pounds of cotton annually.

*1817-1820: Galveston Island becomes a base for privateering and smuggling.

*1821: Mexico gains independence from Spain.

*1823: Stephen Austin is given permission to bring 300 families into the Bravos River region to start a colony.

*1830: Mexico bans immigration by U.S. citizens into Texas.

*1830: First German immigrants settle in Austin.

*1835: Revolution begins.

*1836: Texas declares independence from Mexico.

*1837: The republic of Texas is recognized by the U.S., France, Belgium, England and the Netherlands.

*1845: Texas accepts the U.S. proposal to annex.

*1845: Texas becomes the 28th state admitted to the Union.

*1846: Mexican American War establishes southern boundaries at the Rio Grande.

*1856: The U.S. Army imports fifty-three camels for an experiment using them for pack animals in the arid areas of the Southwest.

*1861: Texas secedes from the Union and is readmitted after the Civil War.

*1873: ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ are first posted to Texas.

*1944: Big Bend National Park established.

*1962: NASA opens the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.  It is renamed Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973.

*1972: Guadalupe Mountains Natl. Park Established.



Texas has 2 National Parks





3). ARIZONA: Motto: “God enriches”

*1500’s: Arizona explored by the Spanish.

*1539: Area claimed for Spain.

*1512: First permanent settlement established at Tubac.

*1692: Jesuit priests arrive in Arizona.

*1776: Fort is built at Tucson.

*1821: Mexico takes control of Arizona while trappers and traders from the U.S. come in.

*1848: U.S. wins war with Mexico and gains Arizona north of Gila River in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

*1853: Gadsden Purchase makes the rest of Arizona part of the U.S.

*1854: Copper is discovered in Arizona.

*1862-1872: Ten year war with the Apache.

*1863: Arizona is established as a territory.

*1869: John Wesley Powell explores the Grand Canyon.

*1881: Famous ‘Gunfight at OK Corral’.

*1881: Railroad crosses the state.

*1886: Final Apache surrender.

*1906: Petrified Forest National Park established.

*1912: Arizona becomes the 48th state.

*1919: Grand Canyon National Park is established.

*1948: Indians gain the right to vote.

*1985: Central Arizona Water Project begins.  The Project is completed in 1991 and secures rights to water from the Colorado River.

*1994: Saguaro National Park established.


Arizona has 3 National Parks





4). UTAH: Motto: “Industry”

*700 A.D. Anasazi people build pueblos in the area.

*1600’s: Utah area is under the control of the Shoshone.

*1776: Spain explores Utah

*1821: Mexico breaks from Spain and claims Utah.

*1822: Discovery of a central route to the Pacific goes through Utah bringing in trappers and traders.

*1824: Jim (Old Gabe) Bridger discovers Great Salt Lake.

*1832: First trading post in Utah basin established.

*1843: John Fremont & Kit Carson explore the Great Basin.

*1846: Brigham Young leads first Mormon settlers into Utah

*1846-1866: Over 70,000 Mormons relocate into Utah to escape persecution.

*1848: U.S. win war with Mexico and Utah is ceded to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

*1850: Utah is established as a Territory.

*1857-1858: The ‘Utah War’ happens as Brigham Young is removed as governor by force by Pres. James Buchanan is favor of Alfred Cumming.

*1865: The Ute Blackhawk War is last major Indian conflict in Utah.

*1869: The world’s first transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met.

*1873: Polygamy is outlawed by Congress.

*1890: Mormon Church President issues Manifesto ending church-sanctioned polygamy.

*1896: Utah is admitted the Union as the 45th state.

*1919: Zion National Park is dedicated.

*1928: Bryce Canyon National Park is established.

*1929: Arches National Park established.

*1952: Uranium discovered near Moab.

*1965: Canyonlands National Park opens.

*1971: Capitol Reef National Park established.

r910 Utah has 5 National Parks


5). NEW MEXICO: Motto: “It grows as it goes”

*1540: Coronado discovers the Grand Canyon.

*1598: 1st Spanish capitol is established at San Juan de los Caballeros.

*1626: The Spanish Inquisition comes to New Mexico.

*1776: Franciscan Friars explore a new route from New Mexico to California.

*1807: Zebulon Pike leads first Anglo expedition into New Mexico.

*1821: Mexico gains independence from Spain.

*1821: The Santa Fe Trail opens between Missouri and New Mexico.

*1828: Gold is discovered in Ortiz.

*1835: Las Vegas is the last Spanish settlement established in North America.

*1841: Texans invade New Mexico and claim all lands east of the Rio Grande.

*1846: New Mexico is annexed to the U.S. during the Mexican-American War.

*1848: End of Mexican-American War.

*1850: New Mexico becomes a Territory.  This territory initially included Arizona, Southern Colorado, Southern Utah and southern Nevada.

*1854: The Gadsden Purchase adds 45,000 sq. miles to the territory.

*1861-1863: New Mexico is divided and the territories of Arizona and Colorado are created.

*1878: The railroad arrives in New Mexico.

*1881: Billy the Kid shot.

*1886: Geronimo surrenders ending the Indian hostilities in the SW.

*1912: New Mexico admitted to the Union as the 47th State.

*1930: Carlsbad Caverns National Park established.





New Mexico has one National Park


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