Arizona Centennial: Spectacular book chronicles state's 100 years

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – Arizona is just months away from celebrating a major milestone – 100 years of statehood.

When Arizona became the 48th state in the union, the final addition to the continental United States, on Feb. 14, 1912 (yes, that’s also Valentine’s Day), it happened quietly. Then Gov. George W.P. Hunt did not want any kind of revelry to mark the occasion. He simply walked into State Capitol, signed the necessary papers and that was that.

The transition from territory to state was so understated that many Arizona residents didn’t even know it had happened.

Hunt served seven terms as Arizona’s governor. He died of heart failure on Dec. 24, 1934 and in interred in a white pyramid on top of a hill in Papago Park. Hunt had the tomb built in 1931 for his wife.

Arizona has come a long way in the past 100 years. Nobody knows that better than author Lisa Schnebly Heidinger, the force behind a gorgeous coffee table book that chronicles Arizona’s history. It’s called “Arizona: 100 Years Grand.”

Heidinger’s love for Arizona and its history isn’t academic. Her deep roots here make it intensely personal. How deep are those roots? The town of Sedona was name for her great-grandmother, Sedona Schnebly (née Miller).

Centennial countdown

“Arizona: 100 Years Grand” was five years in the making, and Heidinger couldn’t be more pleased with the final result. Each page in the book represents a single year in Arizona’s history, highlighting the main event of that year, as well as a timeline of other happenings.

Narrowing it down was no easy task.

“I spent months in research,” she said. “There was a constant puzzle-piecing process that went together, but it worked.”

A former reporter, Heidinger, who was born and raised here and has traveled all over the state, said she was amazed by how much she learned.

“I was humbled,” she said. “I thought I knew a lot.” Heidinger said the most fun she had putting the photos for the book together came during a weeklong trip with photographer brother, Lindsay.

“We went everywhere … and shot these wonderful pictures,” she said. “That was marvelous.”

While most people think of cactus when they think of Arizona, it’s so much more than a desert state, and that’s something Heidinger wants to share.

“There is no stereotypical Arizona,” Heidinger said. “We are not like Maine or Texas where you go, ‘That’s in Arizona.’ We’re all over the map, and that’s the good part of it, too – incredible diversity in both the places and the people. … It was really fun to kind of drawstring it into one place that, for now, is pretty representative.”

Not only is the book, which includes forewords by Se. John McCain and Gov. Rose Mofford, among others, about Arizona, it is a true Arizona product, printed and bound by O’Neil Printing and Roswell Bookbinding Phoenix.

The official book of the Arizona Centennial, "Arizona: 100 Years Grand," by Lisa Schnebly Heidinger retails for $39.95 and is available  at www.az100yearsgrand.com or by visiting Barnes & Noble at the Desert Ridge location.