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Historic boon for the copper industry

The inextricable link between copper and the Grand Canyon State dates back more than 70 million years, even though it was not mined locally until 1854 in Ajo.

In an effort to resuscitate what ultimately became a lagging industry, the Arizona State Motor Vehicle Division authorized the production of copper license plates for automobiles beginning July 21, 1931.

Despite just 112,000 registered vehicles, more than 70,000 pounds of Cu were used in the production of plates the following year – a trend that continued until 1934.

Today, a mix of aluminum and steel is tacked to the rear of nearly 2.5 million vehicles.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The Arizona 100

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Celebrating deep educational roots

According to the Grand Canyon Historical Society, this month marks an auspicious milestone in Arizona’s deep commitment to public education: July 10 marks 112 years since the first school at the Grand Canyon was founded in 1911 – one year before Arizona achieved statehood.

The inaugural schoolhouse, loaned by Ralph and Niles Cameron, was situated south of the current head of Bright Angel Trail; Miss Grace Miller and County Circuit Judge Layton served as the first teacher and superintendent, respectively.

By 1913, a larger building (with quarters for the teacher) was constructed and the 1914-15 academic year commenced with 29 students.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The Arizona 100

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The Grand Canyon’s deep history as a tourist destination

While President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 visit to the Grand Canyon was an historic precursor to it receiving National Park status in 1919, a local entrepreneur was onto the tourist destination a decade prior.

John G. Verkamp began selling souvenirs in 1898, from a tent near the Bright Angel Trail, before opening a proper shop. Verkamp’s Curios operated for a century before the historic structure – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – was transformed into Verkamp’s Visitor Center in November 2008.

Today, the locale remains rife with exhibits profiling the eponymous family’s history and integral role in the park’s deep history.

– Staff report, The Arizona 100

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Hottest June in Arizona history

While extreme temps in the desert southwest are par for the course, June 1974 proved to be historic.

For a period of 18 days (between June 12-25), the mercury rose to a whopping 100+ degrees, with the apex hitting 116.1°F June 24. Only one day that month (whose mean temperature hovered around 83°F ) was under 100°F.

Still, the hottest day in Arizona history came two decades later – a sizzling 128°F – recorded in late June 1994 (the National Weather Service reported the epic high on the 29th, which means it likely occurred one day prior).

And July is, ahem, (historically) even hotter.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The Arizona 100

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Memorial Day started with same sentiment, different name

Always the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a day to honor men and women who served in the U.S. military.

It was originally known as Decoration Day and was started after the Civil War by General John A. Logan.

He proclaimed, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

I wish you an enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend.

– Brenda Jones Barwick, APRJones PR, The Oklahoma 100

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Infamous Arizona steamship captain

Yuma’s most infamous steamship captain, Isaac Polhamus, was born almost two centuries ago – on April 27, 1828 – in Poughkeepsie, New York, where his father was a riverboat captain on the Hudson River.

At the dawn of steamship traffic on the mighty Colorado River, Polhamus was at the helm of The Colorado – a 120-foot, stern-wheel steamboat – tasked with delivering goods and materials (up to 70 tons of cargo at a time) to the United States Army Depot, now the Colorado River State Historic Park.

Polhamus, equally feared and admired, later captained the steamship Mojave, among others, during his extensive 50-year career.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The 100 Companies

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Looking back at the ‘Fiata,’ the Miata’s forgotten Italian twin

Back in 2015, Fiat Chrysler sought to revive the legendary Fiat 124 Sport Spider convertible from the late 1960s. Their formula was foolproof: take a Mazda Miata and add two things every gearhead loves – power and Italian styling.

The result was the stunning Fiat 124 Spyder, a vehicle that offered high-revving Italian romance for $30k – less than a tenth of the price of a Ferrari. Sadly, it did not sell. Critics called it a less-focused Miata that lacked precision and practicality.

But I adore the “Fiata” and pray they try again, perhaps this time leaving well-enough alone under the hood.

Chris Butsch, Contributor

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The history of Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott

On May 4, 1917 – at the urging of Sharlot Hall – the Arizona State Legislature appropriated funds to purchase the former governor’s mansion at Prescott with the caveat it be used as a museum.

The original structure, built in 1864, was little more than a pine-log manse in the wilderness – albeit upscale and permanent when compared with the myriad tents and shanties surrounding it.

The “Gubernatorial Mansion Museum” opened its doors to the public in 1928 where a vast array of artifacts, collected by Hall, were displayed; following her death in 1943, the museum was renamed in the late historian’s honor.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The 100 Companies

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The history of baseball in the desert

Thursday, April 6 marked opening day for the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose first crack at the 2023 MLB season came against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 7:10PM start at Chase Field.

The D-Backs rose to quick acclaim when the expansion team – after just four seasons in the dugout – won the 2001 World Series, becoming the fastest to clinch a title after stealing the series from the favored New York Yankees 4-3.

The team’s top pair of pitchers, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling (pre bloody sock fame which, ironically, came during his 2004 season with the Red Sox), earned co-MVP honors.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The 100 Companies

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Arizona Wildcats – a history of March Madness

Earlier this month, the University of Arizona men’s basketball team fell to No. 15 Princeton in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Division I Tournament – becoming legendary as the first program in NCAA history to net multiple first-round defeats as a No. 2 seed.

The Wildcats made 25 consecutive tournament appearances between 1985-2009, one trip shy of North Carolina’s record 27; on four occasions in the same period, they reached the Final Four.

Arizona, who ended the current season at 28-7, became the first team in Pac-10/12 conference history to win 18 conference games in a season last year.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The Arizona 100