For over a century and a half, from Coronado's search for Cibola in 1540 until Padre Eusebio Kino came on the scene, that region now known as Arizona was an enigma even to the Spaniards who claimed to possess it. Braving Native Americans, a treacherous climate and unbelievably rugged landscapes, it would take a man of Kino's courage and compassion to learn that Arizona provided a viable land link from Mexico to California.
It would be another seventy five years before Kino's knowledge would be put to use in guiding the group destined to settle San Francisco across the desert wasteland. Fifty more years would pass before the Americanos, in the form of mountain men. would trap their way down the Gila River. Only then could Kino's accomplishment be put to good use as the Army of the West and eventually California-bound Gold Seekers crossed Arizona on their way to the Golden State.
But this was only the beginning. Explorers and surveyors would trudge from east to west or west to east to learn the value of what the United States had won and purchased from Mexico. A railroad was envisioned, but instead, the first overland stage was completed prior to the start of the Civil War. As the war progressed California Volunteers would race to Arizona to reclaim the new territory from the secessionists. Finally, men and eventually families returned from California to Arizona to exploit its mineral wealth and range lands.
Portions of thirty diaries or journals by people who actually crossed Arizona are included to depict how Arizona was perceived from 1699 until 1863. Maps of the region show their routes while pen and ink sketches reveal the person who came this way. Landscape sketches by artists accompanying the government expeditions are also included. Forty six color photographs round out the presentation.
Added October 1, 2015