Alcohol had just been outlawed in Arizona, so a compromise was struck when the new state’s namesake battleship was launched on June 19, 1915. Two bottles were used to christen the USS Arizona — one filled with champagne, the other with water from Roosevelt Lake on the freshly dammed Salt River.
The champagne bottle from that ceremony has spent the past few decades on display inside the student union at the University of Arizona.
The water bottle lives a quieter life these days, tucked away inside Box 43-A in the climate-controlled basement of the UA Libraries’ Special Collections.
That’s where the university keeps some 15,000 historical items connected to the battleship, which was destroyed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 79 years ago today, killing 1,177 people on board.
The UA’s USS Arizona collection includes thousands of photos, documents and audiovisual files, as well as 150 artifacts.