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.
Download a list of October events at the Presidio HERE ( 360 KB PDF)
Sunday, October 2: Teodoro ‘Ted’ Ramirez Artist-in-Residence Concert Series: Tish Hinojosa
2pm. This is Ted’s 6th season as our artist-in-residence, and he has a phenomenal line-up for us this year. We begin with the fabulous Tish Hinojosa! Tish is back with us for another intimate solo concert. She’s a super-performer and it's an honor to have her grace our stage. A once-in-a-lifetime artist, Tish’s voice is beautiful and her songwriting is of the highest quality. This is a rare opportunty – to hear Tish in an intimate setting with pristine acoustics. Tickets $20 adults, free for children 14 and younger. Seating is limited, please call now for reservations, 520-398-2252.
Thursday, October 6: Living History: Woodworking
11am.-2pm. For generations, humans have used and shaped wood for practical and creative projects. See how it was done before power tools by watching and listening to a knowledgeable volunteer using hand tools to form and split wood to make staves for a bucket, and then try it yourself. Included with park admission: $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
Saturday, October 8: Exhibit Opening Reception: Tubac’s Pioneer Families and the CATASTROPHE of Baca Float No. 3
2pm.-4pm. On October 8, we will open a brand new exhibit curated by members of the Gastellum family and our Presidio staff. This is a topic that has never been addressed before and it tells the story of how local homesteaders lost their lands to real estate speculators and political actions beyond their control. Tubac's Pioneer Families and the CATASTROPHE of Baca Float No. 3 opens at 2pm on Saturday, October 8 with a free opening reception when members of the Gastellum and Cota families will share memories of their family history. Dr. Tom Sheridan will be with us and have copies of his book Ladscapes of Fraud for sale. Regular admission to the Park is $5 adults, $2 youth 7-13, Kids 6 and under FREE
Saturday, October 15 - Anza Days Celebration
8am. - 12pm. This year’s Anza Days celebration has been re-envisioned to reflect more historical accuracy and provide for the educational engagement of youngsters in this most significant event in Tubac’s history, when Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza made the 1775 overland expedition from Tubac to the Pacific. It begins in the cool of the morning at the Tubac Presidio at 9 am with period costumed riders executing cavalry drills. On the command of, “Vayan subiendo”, the Anza riders will assemble along with a host of imaginary settlers and livestock, and proceed to the steps of St. Ann's Church (the site of Tubac’s original church, Santa Gertrudis). There they will receive a blessing for the journey and head north with the first day objective of La Canoa. Subsequently, from 10 am to noon at the Presidio we will unveil our children’s Anza Discovery Program with costumes, activities, props, ponies and superb photo ops. This is a totally FREE EVENT and a wonderful opportunity to engage your children and grandchildren in Tubac’s colorful history. For more information call the Presidio, 520-398-2252.
Frontier Printing Press Demonstrations
11am.–2pm. A knowledgeable volunteer 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. You will get to set type and print small samples to take with you. Included with park admission: $5 adult, $2 youth 7-13, children free.
Sunday, October 16: Book Event: It’s a (Prairie) Dog’s Life by Theodore G. Manno
2pm. A prairie dog town is a busy place. As author and field researcher Theodore Manno explains a prairie dog's life is full of mischief, romantic trysts, antipredator behavior, fighting, kissing, and infanticide. He vividly recounts the daily ups and downs of prairie dogs as well as his own trials and triumphs while observing these rare rodents in Bryce Canyon National Park with other "Dog Squad" researchers from the vantage point of a nine-foot-tall tower. Over time, they came to know the personalities and social structure of the town's inhabitants. His presentation provides a full overview of what is currently known about prairie dogs, a species that you may be surprised to learn is threatened with extinction. His book, The Utah Prairie Dog: Life Among the Red Rocks will be available for signing and sale. Call 520-398-2252 to make your reservation today. $7.50 fee includes admission to tour the Park.
Saturday, October 22: Special Tours of Two Rarely Available Archaeological Sites
9:30am–2:30pm. In celebration of International Archaeology Month, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park will collaborate with Tumacácori National Historical Park to provide special tours of two unique archaeological sites. Join Philip Halpenny at the Tubac Presidio for a tour of the Spanish colonial archaeological site that preserves the remains of the original 1752 Tubac town site. The Archaeological Conservancy protects this site and participants are asked to sign 'An Acknowledgement of Risk Factors' before entering. Meet at the Presidio at 9:30 am. After the first tour, bring your own picnic lunch to enjoy in either Parks’ picnic area. Next, we will meet in the Tumacácori parking lot at NOON and car pool with a National Park Service ranger for a tour of the Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi mission. Established by Father Kino in 1691 where the Pima Revolt began, excavations have revealed evidence of extensive prehistoric habitation on the mission site, along with evidence of mission era corrals and other structures. This site is only available for special guided tours. Fee is $15 per person and includes both tours and admission to both Parks. Tour limited to 15. For reservations call the Presidio at 520-398-2252 or info@TubacPresidio.org.
Saturday, October 23-31: Special Exhibit: Common Ground: Tubac Cemetery and Other Works a special exhibition
A special art exhibition by local artist/printmaker Joyce M. Jackson will be displayed in the 1885 Schoolhouse between 9am and 5pm. From October 23rd to 31st. The exhibition features images inspired by the hand hewn grave markers and memorial tributes found in the historic burial ground at the corner of Burruel Street and Bridge Road, and explores human events and emotions familiar to us all. Included with regular Park admission, $5 adults, $2 youth 7-13, Kids 6 and under FREE.
Sunday, October 30: Tubac All Souls Day Día de los Muertos Festival & Procession
12pm.-4pm. The Tubac celebration of Día de los Muertos is a glorious event, exuberantly honoring our ancestors and our community. Everyone is welcome to create an ofrenda or altar and these will be displayed throughout the community. At Tubac Presidio State Historic Park beginning at noon and running until 4 pm, we’ll have face painting, live music, food vendors with a wonderful variety of offerings, ofrenda exhibits, intention writing, and a special bilingual presentation of the History of Dia de los Muertos by Zandra Pardi. Then a splendid procession will march through the streets to the Tubac Cemetery and end at a symbolic bonfire in the Sculpture Garden at the K. Newby Gallery. There will also be music, dancing, food and drink in the Sculpture Garden. Participants are encouraged to come in costume, have their faces painted and bring mementos of loved ones to memorialize in the parade and at the bonfire. Purchase your tickets at the Presidio by October 29 and receive a discount: Adults $5, children (7-13), $1.50, children (younger than 7) are free. Day of event ticket prices $7.50 adults, $2.50 children (7-13), children (younger than 7) are 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.
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