University of Arizona

Mapping Arizona: From Mexican Territory to U.S. State

“Mapping Arizona: From Mexican Territory to U.S. State” details the path Arizona took to become a state – first as part of the Territory of New Mexico, then as the Territory of Arizona, finally attaining statehood in 1912. In addition to an array of historical maps, “Mapping Arizona” also includes books and unique documents selected from Special Collections extensive holdings. These additional materials offer insight into the stories that accompany the lines, boundaries, and borders within the maps.

In addition the maps, the history of private land grants is also highlighted within in the exhibit. Originally granted by the Spanish and then the Mexican government, private land grants, after the Mexican-American War and the Gadsden Purchase, were adjudicated by the U.S. government. Although some of these land grant cases were ruled as attempted fraud, other cases were denied due to technicalities (according to the Treaty of Mesilla, grants had to be “located and duly recorded in the Mexican Archives”).

“Mapping Arizona” showcases a number of unique items including:

-An 1858 map showing the U.S. boundary after the Treaty of Mesilla and the Gadsden Purchase in 1854. The U.S. boundary was chosen partly due to mineral wealth, siting of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and various established white settlements in southern Arizona;

-An 1866 map of the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico. It shows Pah-Ute County in northwestern Arizona that later became part of Nevada;

-A 1906 map showing the boundaries of the Baca Float No. 3 land grant in the Santa Cruz Valley;

-A review of the fraudulent claim by James Reavis for the Peralta land grant. If approved, the Peralta land grant would have been the largest private land grant in Arizona – 12 million acres.