Arizona’s Tubac Presidio Park-Where History Lives!
The Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is Arizona’s first state park and is situated on the grounds of the state’s oldest European community. Visit the underground exhibit of the Presidio ruins, tour the museum, see Arizona’s first printing press or visit the furnished 1885 schoolhouse. The schoolhouse, Otero Hall and Rojas House are all on the National Register of Historic Places. The Anza Trailhead and a picnic grounds are also featured.
The church and the military were the vanguards of Spanish frontier expansion throughout Mexico. The Jesuit, Eusebio Francisco Kino, established missions in Pimeria Alta (part of which is southern Arizona) from 1687 to 1711 to convert and control Indians in the area. He established Tumacacori in 1691, and Tubac, then a small Pima village three miles to the north, became a mission, farm or visita. Spaniards began to settle here during the 1730s, and eventually controlled the land and the lives of the Indians.
In 1751, Luis Oacpicagigua, a Pima chief stirred by many grievances, led a revolt which drove the Spaniards southward. A military detachment was sent to the area, and peace was reestablished within three months.
The Presidio (fort) de San Ignacio de Tubac was founded in 1752. The fifty cavalrymen garrisoned at this remote outpost were to control the Pimas, to protect the frontier from Apaches and Seris, and to further explore the Southwest.
Juan Bautista de Anza II, the second commander of the presidio, organized two overland expeditions consisting of 240 colonists from the provinces of Sinaloa and Sonora (63 of whom were from Tubac), military personnel and 1000 head of cattle, horses and mules, which resulted in the founding of San Francisco in 1776. When the military authorities moved the garrison from Tubac to Tucson, the settlers were unprotected from the persistent threat of Apaches and soon left their lands. In 1787, Spanish officers were once again posted at Tubac along with Indian soldiers. Apache reservations were established and the government provided supplies in an effort to keep the peace. In 1821, Mexico won independence from Spain and the new government lacked the funds necessary to continue supplying the Apaches, many of whom returned to a life of raiding . Between the raids and the lure of California gold, the area was abandoned once again.
Tubac was included in the Gadsen Purchase of 1853, and was soon being resettled and developed by adventurers from the States as well as former landowners. Charles D. Poston was instrumental in forming the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company, which acquired a printing press in 1859 which printed Arizona’s first newspaper, The Weekly Arizonian.
Tubac’s population grew steadily until , in 1860, it was the largest town in Arizona. The American Civil War, however, drained the region of troops and Tubac was deserted again. The town never regained its earlier importance.
In 1974, archaeologists from the University of Arizona excavated portions or the presidio and was then backfilled as a preservation measure. In 1976, a section was reexposed in an archaeological display enclosure where visitors can view the portions of the original foundation, walls, and plaza floor of the 1752 structure.
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is located amid art galleries, gift shops, clothing boutiques, restaurants and the scenic beauty of Southern Arizona. Visitors from around the world, as well as from all over the United States, come yearly to take in the mixture of historical charm and southwestern hospitality of this fascinating place.
Own a piece of history and help preserve this cultural treasure. Visit the Tubac Presidio on-line Gift Shop and find postcards, t-shirts, stainless steel mugs, maps, historical photographs and more! All proceeds from purchases go directly to the park and are greatly appreciated.
Donate your original drawing, photograph or art work by email ( giftshp@tubacpresidio,org ) and we will feature it on products in the gift shop. You will be credited and your website promoted. We could use anything from a nature snapshot to an artistic masterpiece. This is a fun and painless way to help a worthy cause. Thank you!