CALIFORNIA (KTXL) — It was on Sept. 9, 1850 that California joined the Union as the 31st state. This Friday, the Golden State celebrates its 172nd birthday as a state.

In early 1848, Mexico and the United States ended the Mexican War, which led to Mexico ceding its most northwestern territory to the United States.

Congress then took up consideration of the newly acquired territory, which included parts of other southwestern states. Two years later, California was admitted as the 31st state.

Sept. 9 is observed across the state and different state departments in various ways, including the California State Parks observing Admission Day, with free entry to most state parks and monuments.

California trivia

It is theorized that California got its name from one of the oldest surviving major pieces of French literature, La Chanson de Roland, which translates to The Song of Roland.

When it was still part of Mexico, California’s capital was Monterey. Its first capital as part of the U. S. was San Jose before it was moved to Vallejo, Benicia and finally Sacramento.

Sacramento had been a long-standing town due to the establishment of Sutter’s Fort in 1846 and the discovery of gold in the nearby foothills in 1849.

However, Sacramento would prove to be extremely prone to flooding, and this led to massive changes in the Capital City’s design and even forced the state legislature to convene in San Francisco for a short time.

California started as a state with 27 counties, including Butte County, Sacramento County, San Francisco County, Sutter County, and Yolo County.

One of the largest counties was Mariposa County which was later divided into Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Mono, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo and Tulare Counties.

California also has the distinction of creating the nation’s first state park and being the state to create the nation’s first environmental law, due to mining.

More stories about California history

Happy birthday, California!