Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is now operated by the Friends of the Tubac Presidio Park & Museum . The park is open 7 days a week from 9 am - 5 pm. Admission $5 adult, $2 youth (7–13), children free (0–6).
March 2: Anniversary of “The Weekly Arizonian”
10 am - 4 pm. A celebration of the 155th anniversary of Arizona’s first newspaper, which was printed in Tubac on March 3, 1859. The original 1858 Washington Hand Press that printed the newspaper is still in operation at the Tubac Presidio. Professional printer James Pagels and his wife Elizabeth will demonstrate the hand press in operation, talk about the history of the press, and print a commemorative edition of the first issue of the Arizonian. $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
Aritst's rendition of Tubac and the Presidio in 1775. This painting shows a typical scene from Spanish Colonial times; the painting is on view in the Visitor Center.
The church and the military were the vanguards of Spanish frontier expansion throughout New Spain. The Jesuit, Eusebio Francisco Kino, established missions from 1687 to 1711 to christianize and control Native Americans in the area. He established nearby Tumacacori in 1691, and Tubac, then a small Piman village, became a mission farm and ranch. Spanish Colonists began to settle here during the 1730s, irrigating and farming the lands along the river and raising cattle, sheep and goats on the northern frontier of Spain's New World empire.
Luis of Saric, a Pima chief stirred by many grievances, led a bloody revolt late in 1751, destroying the small settlement at Tubac. Following a major battle, and subsequent surrender of the Pimans, the Presidio San Ignacio de Tubac was founded in June of 1752. The fifty cavalrymen garrisoned at this remote military post were to prevent further rebellion, protect colonists and the mission, and further explore the Southwest.
Juan Bautista de Anza II, second commander of the presidio, led two overland expeditions to the Pacific, resulting in the founding of San Francisco, in 1776. Several hundred colonists from the provinces of Sinaloa and Sonora, along with sixty from Tubac, made the trip. Over 1,000 head of cattle, horses and mules were also gathered to transport food supplies and tools, provide food on the journey and establish new herds once the colonists settled at their new home on the Pacific.
Following Anza's return to Tubac, military authorities moved the garrison from Tubac to Tucson in 1776, and the unprotected settlers abandoned their homes.
For a decade, Tubac languished from Apache depredation and without military protection. The situation finally resulted in the Viceroy's reactivating the presidio in 1787, this time with Pima Indian troops and Spanish officers. Mexico won her independence from Spain in 1821 and the new Republic of Mexico's flag flew over Tubac until 1848. In that year, a fierce Apache assault caused great loss of life and Tubac was again abandoned. This catastrophe, coupled with the drain of men leaving for the gold fields of California in 1849, turned Tubac into a virtual ghost town.
At the park, visitors can see the above ground remains of structures from the 1920s.
Tubac was part of the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, and was soon being resettled and developed by Eastern entrepreneurs as well as by former landowners. Charles D. Poston was instrumental in forming the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company, and used the abandoned Commandant's house as his headquarters. He performed marriages, granted divorces, baptized children and printed his own money to pay company employees. His company acquired a press in 1859 which printed Arizona's first newspaper.
Tubac's population steadily grew until, in 1860, it was the largest town in Arizona. The American Civil War, however, drained the region of troops, leaving it unprotected from Apaches, and Tubac was again deserted. Although the region was resettled after the war, silver strikes in the Tombstone area and the routing of the railroad through Tucson drew development interests away from Tubac, and the town never regained its earlier importance.
In 1974, archaeologists from the University of Arizona excavated portions of the presidio. In 1976, an underground archaeological display was finished and visitors can now view portions of the original foundation, walls, and plaza floor of the 1752 Commandant's quarters, as well as artifacts representing the various periods of Tubac's unique history.
Two later military installations existed at Tubac. Troop "L" of the 1st California Cavalry established a post in April 1864 and a US Army presence existed until at least October 1867, when reports list seven officers and 237 enlisted men.
One unique military experiment, the heliograph, was a device using mirrors and reflected sunlight. General Nelson A. Miles, in his campaign against the Apache in the 1880's reported that "they (the Apaches) had found troops in every valley, and when they saw heliographic signals flashing across every mountain range, Geronimo and others sent word to Natchez that he had better come in at once and surrender." Tubac was one of the permanent stations in the system including Forts Rucker, Crittenden, Henly and Bowie.
Frontier Printing Press Demonstration
Tuesday, March 4, 11, 12, 13: 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Saturday, March 15: 11 am - 3 pm
Thursday, March 27: 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Professional printer and teacher James Pagels demonstrates the Washington Hand Press used to print Arizona’s first newspaper in 1859 and answers questions about hand press printing, type setting, and other aspects of this marvel of industrial engineering. Included with park admission $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
Walking Tours of Old Town Tubac
Fridays, March 7, 14, 21, & 28
10 am - Noon. Guided tours of the “Old Town” section of Tubac with Alice Keene, every Friday through March 2014. Explore the original adobe buildings and discover the rich heritage of Arizona’s first European settlement. Learn about early Native American inhabitants, Spanish explorers, mining booms, Apache attacks, kidnappings, duels and other episodes in Tubac’s colorful past. Meet at the Park’s Visitor Center. Allow 2 hours for the tour and bring walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. $10 fee includes admission to tour the Presidio Park. Tour limited to 20; reservations requested, 520-398-2252 or info@TubacPresidio.org.
March 7: Living History: Foods of the Spanish Colonial Period
11 am - 2 pm. Volunteers dressed in period clothing describe the combination of native and introduced foods enjoyed by the Spanish soldiers and civilians who lived in Tubac during the Spanish Colonial period (1752-1776). Featuring a special display of the bounty of foods from the Old World, New World and surrounding desert used by Tubac cooks, plus cooking demos with samples. $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
March 8: Secrets of the Spotted Cats: Jaguars and Ocelots in the Southwest
2 pm. Presentation by Pinau Merlin. Deep in the shadows of the night, "el Tigre", the jaguar, slips silently through rugged terrain. They are rarely seen, but we know both jaguars and ocelots are here, as remote cameras document their presence in Arizona. These charismatic cats are so secretive and elusive that most of us know very little about their lifestyles and habits. What are they doing out there in the wild? How (and what) do they hunt? Where do they sleep? What sounds do they make? Join Pinau Merlin for an exciting look into the natural history and ecology of jaguars and ocelots. $7.50 fee includes admission to tour the Park.
March 9: Concert: The Don & Victoria Armstrong Tribute by Don Armstrong and Friends
2 pm. Come join us as Don Armstrong presents a tribute to the 42 year musical marriage of these two brilliant singer-songwriters. Inspired historic Mexican and cowboy songs and evocative, sensitive originals evoke the beauty and mystery of the Southwest. A special treat: surprise guest artists will perform with the Armstrongs. Tickets are $12 for adults, free for children 14 and under. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. For reservations, please call 520-398-2252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 11: Walking Tours of Tubac's Art History
10 am - Noon. Learn why Tubac is the town where "Art and History Meet." Join Gwen Griffin and Nancy Valentine for the Tubac Presidio Park's newest walking tour to discover where Tubac's first artists worked and hear stories of their creative lives. The tour ends at the Tubac Center of the Arts where you will view the work of Tubac’s artists and enjoy light refreshments. Meet at the Park’s Visitor Center. Allow 2 hours for the tour and bring walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. $15 fee includes admission to tour the Tubac Presidio Park and the Tubac Center of the Arts. Tour limited to 10 people; reservations encouraged, 520-398-2252 or info@TubacPresidio.org.
March 12 & 13: Field Trip: Historic Missions of Padre Kino in Sonora, Mexico
7:30 am - 4:30 pm. There is perhaps no more interesting a segment of modern American history than that of the Mexican frontier as it pushed through what is now northern Mexico. Several volunteers and friends of the Presidio have asked about a field trip across the line, and we arranged two in March to mark the anniversary of Father Kino's death and to see three of Fr. Kino's historic missions in Sonora. Both tours sold out quickly. The tours are limited to a maximum of twenty people and passports are required. We will be planning more such trips in the future. If you are interested in coming along, or have ideas on where you'd like to go, please let us know. Email email@example.com or call 520-398-2252.
March 14 & 28: Living History: Chocolate in Spanish Colonial Tubac
11 am - 2 pm. Explore the history, geography, and culture of chocolate in New Spain. A Park Volunteer will guide you through the test kitchens of the Mayan, Aztec and Spanish Colonials, demonstrating how chocolate was processed and discussing its role in the diet, medicine and social customs of the times. Sample the energy drink that fueled the 1775-1776 Anza expedition from Tubac to San Francisco. Included with park admission $5 adult, $2 youth, children free.
March 15: Book Signing: Splendid Expedition Led by Commander Anza By Hattie Wilson
2 pm. Local author Hattie Wilson will introduce and sign her new book, "Splendid Expedition Led by Commander Anza". Based on research in the journals of Father Pedro Font, the book gives personal insight into Anza's extraordinary expedition to found what later became San Francisco. $7.50 fee includes admission to tour the Park.
March 16: Friends of the Presidio 1st Anniversary Party
5 - 7 pm. It's been 150 years since J. Ross Browne, western chronicler, world traveler, and U.S. Treasury agent traveled the southwest through Tubac. The special occasion of the first anniversary of the Friends of the Presidio maintaining and operating the Presidio will be graced by J. Ross Browne's great-great granddaughter, Mary Ellen Fahs. Ms. Fahs will share family lore and speak on Browne's sketches, writing and his remarkable sense of humor, second only to Mark Twain according to several authorities. Good wine and excellent hors d'oeuvres will be served. $35 per person. For reservations call 520-398-2252.
March 18: Guided Tour of the Barrio de Tubac Archaeological Site
2 pm. Special tour by local experts of the Spanish colonial archaeological site just south of the Park which preserves the remains of the original Tubac town site, including residence foundations, plaza area, refuse area and partial irrigation ditch. Meet at the Park’s Visitor Center. Tour involves a walk of about 1-1/4 miles. Bring walking shoes, sunscreen and hat. $10 fee includes admission to tour the Presidio Park. Tour limited to 15; reservations requested, 520-398-2252 or info@TubacPresidio.org. Private tours for five or more can be scheduled; call or e-mail the Park to arrange.
March 21: Living History: Medicine of the Spanish Colonial Period
11 am - 2 pm. When the Spanish soldiers and their families settled Tubac in 1752, there was no doctor or surgeon among them. It was the responsibility of the women to treat their family's physical complaints and wounds. Medicine was basic and dependent on herbs and plants known for their healing properties. This living history program features a display of medicinal herbs and plants, and knowledgeable commentary by an herbalist who will tell visitors how these plants were used by “curanderas” (healers) to treat illness and injuries. $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
March 22: Women on the Arizona Frontier, II
2 pm. Presentation by Jack Lasseter. This is the sequel, Part II if you will, of Jack’s ever-popular talk “Women on the Arizona Frontier”. In that first talk, which many have now heard, he told us the stories and contributions of many Arizona women who came from vastly different ethnicities and backgrounds; and of the famous ones, the politicians, governors, judges, and the last stagecoach robber. Here, he shares with us the stories of many more women on this frontier who had spunk, “grit” if you will, and who helped, each in her own way, to civilize this place. It is the untold, true story of how the West was really won. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served. $15 per lecture. Please call for reservations and future dates, 520-398-2252. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the community effort to “Save the Presidio.
March 23: Presentation: Georges Simenon & the Inspector Maigret mysteries by Jim Turner
2 pm. In 1948, Georges Simenon, Belgian-born author of the Inspector Maigret mysteries, lived at the corner of Santa Gertrudis Lane and the Frontage Road. Here Simenon wrote, "The Bottom of the Bottle", based on his observations of some of the characters living in what was then called "Santa Booze Valley". Let Jim Turner take you through a fascinating look at the life and career of one of the most prolific mystery writers of the twentieth century. $7.50 fee includes admission to tour the Park.
March 29: Presentation: Arizona's First Mining Engineer and Assayer: Guido Kustel, A Talk by Paul Franklin
2 pm. Guido Kustel was an assayer, metallurgist and one of the most important mining engineers in the West during the California Gold Rush, silver mining days of the Arizona Territory, and during the Comstock silver boom in Nevada. He was a prolific author, writing books and articles on mining, which became the standard reference for mining and mill men of the day. Come hear about his adventures (including a narrow escape from Apaches) and the fascinating life of this amazing Tubac resident of the 1850's. $7.50 fee includes admission to tour the Park.
March 30: Spanish Barb Horse Association Event
10 am - 4 pm. Discover The Horse That Discovered America! The Spanish horse proved vital to Spain's explorations and settlement of the Americas. Originally transported by the daring Spanish Conquistadores to the islands of the Caribbean, the Spanish Barb was then introduced into what are now Mexico, the United States, and South America. The Spanish Barb Horse Association (SBHA) is dedicated to the preservation, perpetuation and promotion of the critically endangered Spanish Barb Horse. Riding and jumping demonstrations, educational talks and slideshows and the opportunity to see the horses up close and talk with owners and breeders. Come see the beauty and power of these elegant animals. $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
Educational Curriculum for School Field Trips
A Day in the 1885 Schoolhouse Program: For Grades 3 through 5
An opportunity for children to experience what a day of school would have been like over 100 years ago. The program immerses kids in the experience from the clothes they wear, the chalkboards they use, the homemade lunchpails, to the rules on the chalkboard they must follow. The authentic desks, complete with inkwells and the woodburning stove for heat make this an experience the children and teachers won't soon forget! The schoolhouse can accommodate 25 children at a time. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the park at (520) 398-2252.
Download A Day in the 1885 Schoolhouse Program ( 3.5 MB PDF)
Learn about Curriculums at other Arizona State Parks
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