Modern Development

Irrigation spurred by the Desert Land Act and by Mormon immigration, promoted farming in the southern part of the territory. By 1900, diverted streams were irrigating 200,000 acres (80,940 hectares). With the opening of the Roosevelt Dam (1911), a federally financed project, massive irrigation projects transformed Arizona’s valleys. Although Arizona’s mines were not unionized until the mid-1930s, strikes occurred at the copper mines of Clifton and Morenci in 1915 and at the Bisbee mines in 1917.

During World War II, defense industries were established in Arizona. Manufacturing, notably electronic industries, continued to develop after the war, especially around Phoenix and Tucson; in the 1960s, manufacturing achieved economic supremacy over mining and agriculture in Arizona. During the 1970s and 80s the state experienced phenomenal economic growth as it and other Sun Belt states attracted high-technology industries with enormous growth potential.

Arizona has contributed several major figures to national politics. Among them, Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the unsuccessful 1964 Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency, was long the standard bearer for American conservatism. Democrat Stewart L. Udall served as secretary of the interior under presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

With the development of irrigation and hydroelectric projects along the Colorado River and its tributaries, water rights became a subject of litigation between Arizona and California. In 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona had rights to a share of the water from the Colorado’s main stream and sole water rights over tributaries within Arizona. In 1968, Congress authorized the Central Arizona Project, a 335-mi (539-km) canal system to divert water from the Colorado River to the booming metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson. The canal, which uses dams, tunnels, and pumps to raise the water 1,247 ft (380 m) to the desert plain, was opposed by environmentalists, who feared it would damage desert ecosystems. Construction was completed in 1991, at a cost of over $3.5 billion.

In 1992 a six-year political controversy ended when Arizona voters approved a proposal to observe an annual state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

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