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).
Major New Exhibit at the Presidio!
The newest exhibit at the Tubac Presidio is a rare original 1800’s period carriage called an ambulance. It has been restored and modified to replicate the ambulance that Phocion R. Way, an engraver from Cincinnati, Ohio, rode on from Mesilla on the Rio Grande River to Tucson in June of 1858. Many other figures in Tubac’s Territorial history arrived here on this type of vehicle because of its comfort and speed. Our ambulance was restored over thirteen months by Hanson Wheel and Wagon in Letcher, South Dakota and is the only known vehicle of its type on display anywhere in the world. Included with park admission, $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free. Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, 1 Burruel St., Tubac, AZ (520) 398–2252.
Art Exhibit: The Arizona Cavalcade of History
The Alan B. Davis Gallery is open with 16 paintings by renowned Western artist William Ahrendt, each depicting a significant event in Arizona’s colorful history. The paintings and their historical narratives were featured as a special 16-part “Cavalcade of History” series in Arizona Highways magazine from 1987 through 1990. Arizona Highways remembers this series as “among the magazine's most remembered illustrations.” The giclées reproductions on canvas were donated to the Tubac Historical Society in memory of longtime Tubac resident and businessman Alan B. Davis. The collection is on permanent display at the Tubac Presidio’s Otero Hall. Included with park admission: $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
Saturday, January 14: Book Event: The Courageous Life of Emma Lee by Carol Sletten
2pm. Carol Sletten (who last January did a sold-out performance of Lozen the Apache woman warrior) will return to introduce the audience to Emma Lee, another historical figure from her play and book, Three Strong Western Women. Hear Carol, as Emma, giving a first-hand account about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of this amazing Mormon healer as she pushed a handcart 1,200 miles, became the 17th plural wife of John D. Lee (the only man to be convicted and executed for the Mountain Meadow’s Massacre), raised children, ran Lee’s Ferry, and became one of Winslow’s most beloved citizens. $10 fee includes all day admission to tour the Presidio Park. Reservations recommended, please call 520-398-2252 or info@TubacPresidio.org to reserve your space now!
Sunday, January 15: Teodoro ‘Ted’ Ramirez Artist-in-Residence Concert Series: Peter McLaughlin & Teodoro Ted Ramirez
2pm. Peter McLaughlin, acclaimed acoustic guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, and recording artist will share the stage with Ted. They will present a fine selection of American and Mexican folk tunes. If you love classic and contemporary folk music, stunning guitar work and vocals, do not miss this concert! Admission is $18 for adults, free admission for children 14 and under. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Please call 520-398-2252 or email email@example.com today!
Monday, January 16: Friends of the Presidio Annual Meeting
2pm. The members of the Friends of the Tubac Presidio & Museum, Inc. will gather in the old schoolhouse for their annual meeting and hear reports on the year's activities from members of the Board and the Park director. You're invited to be a part of the ongoing community effort to operate, maintain, and constantly improve the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park by joining the Friends group. Applications are at the desk of the Presidio visitor center or by request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 19: Non-Presidio Event: Tubac Historical Society Speaker and Luncheon
Noon. In celebration of the Tubac Historical Society's 50th Anniversary, Marshall Trimble, Arizona's leading historian and multi-talented entertainer, will speak at the Tubac Golf Resort beginning at noon. To reserve seats, call THS at (520) 398-2020.
Saturday, January 21: The Chiricahua Apaches: A Comprehensive Story of a Famous People - Special Presentation by Jack Lasseter
2pm. This is Jack’s fresh comprehensive story of the Chiricahua Apaches, famous warriors of the Southwest and their leaders Victorio, Lozen, Geronimo, Chatto, Loco, Mangas Coloradas, Cochise and his blood brother Tom Jeffords. He’ll discuss the lives, culture, and tactics of these brave people. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served. $15 per lecture. A portion of the proceeds supports our education and preservation programs. Please call for reservations and future dates, 520-398-2252 or e-mail email@example.com
Sunday, January 22: Teodoro ‘Ted’ Ramirez Artist-in-Residence Concert Series: Run Boy Run
2pm. They brought the house down last season with beautiful harmony and musicianship. Here’s your opportunity to see them again or for the first time! Matt and Grace Roland, Bekah and Jen Sandoval, and Jesse Allen make up this family band. If you love virtuoso fiddle, cello, mandolin, guitar and bass with classic Blue Ridge Mountain style harmony you won’t want to miss this concert. Admission is $20 for adults, free admission for children 14 and under. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Please call 520-398-2252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Friday, January 27: Living History: Spinning
10am. Spinning is one of the oldest surviving crafts in the world. The tradition of weaving traces back to Neolithic times – approximately 12,000 years ago. Watch and learn how fiber and spinning impacted human activity from ancient to modern times. A knowledgeable volunteer will demonstrate how the spinning wheel produces thread from fiber, and you are welcome to experience spinning with a drop spindle. Included with park admission, $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
Saturday, January 28: Chocolate! 1000 Years and Counting
10am. Come discover the rich history of chocolate in the Southwest. Taste a cacao bean, learn how the Mayans and pre-Columbian Native Americans prepared their chocolate, and sample the energy drink that fueled the 1774 and 1775 Anza expeditions from Tubac to Alta California. Included with park admission $5 adult, $2 youth, children free.
Saturday, January 28: Hell Bent for Resurrection: A Hike through Tubac’s Many Layers
10am. Join us for a new program of History Hikes to take advantage of the great outdoors and our amazingly rich cultural heritage. Join Rick Collins, our Interpretive Specialist, for an insightful walk on the Anza Trail. We'll start at the original Plaza de Armas from which the expedition to Alta California departed before walking along the Rio de Tubac (as it then was!) and discussing the native peoples and later arrivals who lived in Tubac and the area along the River. Bring sturdy walking shoes, sunscreen, and water. $10 fee includes all day admission to tour the Presidio Park. The 1 and 1/4 mile hike begins from the Tubac Presidio Visitors Center, rain or shine. Hike limited to 15 people. Call (520) 398-2252 or e-mail to email@example.com to reserve your place.
Sunday, January 29: A Musical Celebration of Tubac’s Territorial Teachers and Times
2pm. Join music and drama students of the Montessori de Santa Cruz School and Lowe House Project artist- in-residence Sharman Nittoli in the 1885 schoolhouse as they perform original songs based on the school days of Tubac’s early teachers and their students. $10 fee includes all day admission to tour the Presidio Park. For reservations, call 520-398-2252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 8-12: 58th Annual Tubac Festival of the Arts
9:00am - 5:00pm. The Tubac Chamber of Commerce is proud to sponsor the 58th Annual Festival of the Arts. The major event of the year for Tubac showcases the work of hundreds of visiting artists and craft persons form around the country and Canada. The food court features a variety of cuisines.
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.
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
- Alamo Lake
- Buckskin Mountain
- Cattail Cove
- Lake Havasu
- River Island
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot
- Yuma Territorial Prison
- Dead Horse Ranch
- Fort Verde
- Red Rock
- Riordan Mansion
- Slide Rock
- Verde River Greenway
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Fool Hollow Lake
- Lost Dutchman
- Lyman Lake
- Tonto Natural Bridge