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Tubac Fireworks in Spanish Colonial Times

 In this photograph a boy is shown cutting carrizo  into open ended tubes for cohete powder cases.

In this photograph a boy is shown cutting carrizo into open ended tubes for cohete powder cases.

For centuries, sky rockets, fire-crackers and noise makers have enlivened both religious and secular life in the small towns of colonial New Spain. Tubac was no exception. Particularly in smaller, outlying towns and pueblos, people were extremely fond of noisy, evil-smelling rockets, squibs and firearms. When fireworks were not available, the soldiers fired their muskets at their own expense, or loaded the small cannon and boomed away to everyone’s delight.


Lighting the fuse in this photo

Lighting the fuse in this photo

Fiestas, royal birthdays, military victories, the arrival of a new viceroy in Mexico City, all of these and more were occasions to celebrate by burning gun powder.  Even during phases of the mass, men standing on the roof or outside along the walls of the church, exploded cohetas (sky rockets), triquitraques (firecrackers), and morteretes or camaras (small mortars).  The sky filled with small fleecy puffs of smoke and the air became alive with scores of sharp explosions. How ancient this practice is, it is difficult to say. Perhaps Jesuit priests, returning from China in times long past, brought this custom with them. The Chinese used fireworks to frighten away evil spirits during festivals and religious ceremonies.


Photo of cane castillo framework and basic figures of the gigantes under an open shed in a small Mexican town, ready to be refurnished for the next fiesta.

Photo of cane castillo framework and basic figures of the gigantes under an open shed in a small Mexican town, ready to be refurnished for the next fiesta.

One of our stalwart volunteers found the makings of a mini-exhibit when she was working in the museum last week. Originally, the exhibit occupied a case with 17 firework rockets attached to the wall and laid out on the floor. An entry on the inventory says, “Deaccessioned & destroyed on 12/30/93 on orders of Park Manager & SafetyOfficer due to dangerous & unstable qualities/condition of the explosives.” We include these 1950s era photographs showing the artisanal nature of Mexican fireworks manufacture, and they are great. We will display them on the big table in air conditioned Otero Hall on July 4th.


Some interesting information is contained in these photos:

Castillos are large cane frames covered with a variety of pyrotechnics and brilliant flares. They can cost between 20,000 to 250,000 pesos depending on size and complexity. Other cane frameworks are called Gigantes, large figures that are most often made to honor patron saints or Mexico’s patriot heroes. The cane is variously called carrizo or arundo.


Another cane work frame with the papier-mache shape of a bull is called a torito, (little bull). Generally painted a bright red and trimmed with green or yellow, these can be carried. During festivals, a man or boy holds the shell over his head and shoulders by the legs of the frame, and runs through the streets. Covered with small rockets, fire crackers and “busca pies” (foot seekers) the fireworks dart like fiery snakes from the torito and scoot along the ground or pavement with whistling sounds.

In this photo, another cane work frame with the papier mache shape of a bull called a torito, (little bull).

In this photo, another cane work frame with the papier mache shape of a bull called a torito, (little bull).


When hung over the door or fastened to a wall, they denote a firework maker’s house.  The fireworks industry was (and remains) artisanal, with production concentrated in family-owned workshops and small factories.


The home manufacture of all sorts of fireworks provides many workers with a means of livelihood, dangerous though it may be.  As with many Mexican crafts, much of the work is done in private homes by men and boys, who, in the course of years, become quite skilled.  Paper being scarce in the hinterlands, many of the cases for the rockets and crackers are small tubes cut from the ever present arundo, carrizo, or cane, which is then wrapped with tough twine and covered with pitch.


Join us on July 4th when admission is free from 10am to noon and step into Otero Hall to check out this mini-exhibit, but don’t stay too long or you’ll miss the free hotdogs and nachos, the lemonade and watermelon, and the various games and activities for the youngsters. A fun, safe and happy holiday to all of our readers!



Tubac Presidio Park online gift shop

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Photographic Exhibition at the Presidio this Summer

QuienesWebQuienes Fuimos, Quienes Somos.  Who we were, Who we are.

A photographic collection

June 1-August 29


Who we were, Who we are presents the work of photographers Jorge Angulo, Carlos Licón , Juan Luis Fernández, Claudia Platt and Juan Casanova and their excursions in the diverse roads of Sonoran geography rescuing images of who we were and who we are.


This collection presents a mosaic of individuals and families of a great part of Sonoran municipalities. The evolutional record of working class, peasant and middle class families was captured in images reflecting not only the faces and personal features of ethnic diversity but also the variety of occupations and customs in our culture.


This work is a window allowing us to see the evolution of Sonoran families as the core of our society and to look into the role of photography as a record of the history of family.


The accompanying book (available only in Spanish) includes 115 historic and contemporary portraits. Two introductory essays by Jose Dr. Antonio Rodríguez and Dr. Ignacio Almada Bay offer a cohesive view to the collection, one offering information about photography and photographers in the period before and after the Mexican Revolution and other exploring the role of family networks in the History of Sonora.


This collection of family portraits offers a reaffirming view of who we were and a view into the intimate spaces of feelings, homes and relations of who we are, and we hope provides an opportunity to see more clearly into our future.


Planned as part of the local projects to celebrate the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence, we present a selection as an opportunity to look into the common realities of family life in the Sonoran Desert region. Enjoy it !


Poly Coronel Gándara

Instituto Sonorense de Cultura / Sonora Culture Institute

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February 2013 Events!




preswrdprsSouthern Arizona’s Historic Farms & Ranches – Saturday, February 2, 2pm

Travel writer Lili De Barbieri will discuss her new book “A Guide to Southern Arizona’s Historic Farms & Ranches: Rustic Southwest Retreats.” Our region’s historic guest ranches include Spain’s first mission in the continental U.S., a World War II prison camp, a boys’ boarding school, and a Butterfield Stagecoach stop. Intimately connected to Arizona’s land and legacy, these unparalleled retreats have hosted artists, movie stars, and politicians and continue to enrich our present-day communities by sharing their rich southwestern heritage, culture and cuisine. $7.50 fee includes admission to tour the Presidio Park.


And on Tuesday, February 5, at 10:30 we will be offering a guided tour of the Barrio de Tubac Archaeological site. If you haven’t yet taken this tour or want to share our rich archaeological heritage with visiting houseguests. Tour guide Phil Halpenny gives a superb interpretation of the area history based on his life as a professional hydrographer.

Guided Tour of the Barrio de Tubac Archaeological Site – Tuesday, February 5, 10:30am

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. $7.50 fee includes admission to tour the Presidio Park. Tour limited to 15; call for reservations, 520-398-2252.


If you plan on coming to the Tubac Festival of the Arts, Arizona’s longest running arts festival,  next week from Wednesday to Sunday, be sure to tell the Rangers and parking guides that you want to park in the Presidio lot.

Tubac Festival of the Arts – February 6 -10, 10am-5pm

Southern Arizona’s longest running art festival! Festival visitors who park in the Tubac Presidio’s paid parking lot ($6 per car) will get an extra bonus – a pass for 1 free admission to tour the Park that day. The paved parking lot is conveniently located to Tubac village. Proceeds from the Presidio’s lot will benefit “Save the Presidio.”

Visit our online Gift Shop and check out the new items

When you purchase, all proceeds go directly to efforts to preserve this cultural treasure.


Jim Turner Book Signing


Join us for this very special event December 18th!

Tubac Presidio Park to Host Anza Documentary Film Premier



     We ask for your support and presence at a special treat coming up at the Tubac Presidio this coming Saturday from 4 to 6. We don’t get many chances to see a world premiere of a film here, but this Saturday we can. Come see the world premiere of a new documentary film, “The Anza Expedition.” It stars our own late Don Garate and over 80 other locals with parts in the film. It documents one of Tubac’s great historical moments, and we are honored that the National Park Service has given the THS volunteer run Tubac Presidio Park the opportunity to show the film as a fund raiser to help us in our efforts to Save the Presidio. We have lined up a delightful late afternoon program of living history, presidio tours, and excellent food and drink in addition to the premiere of the film.  For more information, please contact us at

     Presidio Park Online Gift Shop

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The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and the Tubac Connection


The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail commemorates the 1775-1776 land route taken by Spanish commander de Anza as he traveled from the Sonora y Sinaloa Province of New Spain in Colonial Mexico through to the Las Californias Province.  The goal of the trip was to establish a mission and presidio on the San Francisco Bay and to facilitate the course of Spanish colonization of California by establishing a major land route north for future settlers and others to follow.  Used for about five years, the trail was closed down by the Quechan (Yuma) Indians in 1781 and remained closed for over 40 years.  The trail is a 1,210-mile National Park Service unit in the United States National Historic Trail and National Millennium Trail programs.  The modern trail extends from Nogales on the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona, through the California desert and coastal areas in Southern California and the Coastal Central region to San Francisco. 


Juan Bautista de Anza, leading an exploratory expedition on January 8, 1774, with 3 padres, 20 soldiers, 11 servants, 35 mules, 65 cattle, and 140 horses, set forth from Tubac south of present day Tucson, Arizona. They traveled across the Sonoran desert to California via Mexico by swinging south of the Gila River to avoid Apache attacks until they reached the Colorado River at the Yuma Crossing, which was the only viable place to cross the Colorado River. The 2-3000 friendly Quechan (Yuma) Indians  he encountered there were growing most of their food using irrigation systems and had already imported pottery, horses, wheat and a few other crops from New Mexico. After crossing the Colorado to avoid the impassible Algodones Dunes west of Yuma, Arizona, they followed the river about 50 miles south (to approximately Arizona’s southwest corner on the Colorado River) before turning northwest to  today’s Mexicali, Mexico and then turning north through today’s Imperial Valley and then northwest again before reaching Mission San Gabriel Arcángel near the future city of Los Angeles, California. The Pueblo de Los Angeles would be established in 1781 by eleven families recruited mostly from Sonora y Sinaloa Province. It took Anza about 74 days to do this initial reconnaissance trip to establish a land route into California. On his return trip, he retraced his path to the Yuma Crossing of the Colorado River and then went down the Gila River corridor until reaching the Santa Cruz River (Arizona) corridor and continuing on to Tubac, Arizona, which is located on this river. The hurried return trip only took 23 days and he had now discovered a trail with sufficient water to make land access to California possible. On the Gila river he encountered several extensive villages of Pima (Akimel O’odham) Indians. These were a peaceful and populous agricultural tribe with extensive crops and irrigation systems located along the Gila River.  

In Anza’s second trip (1775-1776) he returned to California via the Gila River path with 240 Frairs, soldiers and colonists with their families. They took 695 horses and mules and 385 Texas Longhorn bulls and cows with them, establishing the cattle and horse industry in California. (In California, the cattle and horses had few natural enemies and plenty of grass.They grew and multiplied as feral animals, doubling roughly every two years.) The trip began in Tubac, Arizona on October 22, 1775 and terminated at San Francisco Bay on March 28, 1776. There they established the Presidio of San Francisco, followed by Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores), the future city of San Francisco, California.

In 1779 Father Francisco Garcés was assigned to establish a mission at the Yuma crossing of the Colorado River. In 1780 the Spanish established two combination missions and pueblos at the Yuma Colorado River Crossing of the Anza trail: Mission San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer and Mission Puerto de Purísima Concepción. Both these pueblos and missions were on the California side of the Colorado River near the mouth of the Gila River but were administered by the Arizona authorities.

The settlement of Los Angeles, California involved two groups totaling 44 persons which included 22 children. One group, under Alfèrez Ramon Laso de la Vega, crossed the Gulf of California on launches and then traveled overland to San Diego and up to the San Gabriel Mission.

The second group, under Fernando Rivera y Moncada, took an overland route over the Anza trail 1,200 miles (1,900 km) through the desert from Sinaloa Mexico. They passed through the new missions on the Colorado River, La Purísima Concepción and Mission San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer. The group arrived at the Colorado River in June 1781. Rivera y Moncada sent most of his party ahead, staying behind to rest the livestock before continuing their drive across the desert. His party would never reach San Gabriel. In July Rivera was killed along with the local missionaries, settlers, and travelers with the revolt of the Quechan Indians (Yuma Revolt) in 1781.

The Quechan and Mojave Indians rose up against the party for encroaching on their farmlands and for other abuses inflicted by the soldiers. On 17-19 July 1781 the Yuma (Quechan) Indians, in a dispute with the New Spain government and church, destroyed both missions and pueblos, killing 103 soldiers, colonists and Frairs and capturing about 80 more. Included in the casualties were Fernando Rivera y Moncada, military commander and former governor of California, and Father Francisco Garcés, founder of the missions on the Colorado River. In four well supported punitive expeditions in 1782 and 1783 against the Quechans, the Spanish managed to gather their dead and ransom nearly all the prisoners; but failed to re-open the Anza Trail. The Yuma Crossing and the Anza trail were closed for Spanish traffic and it would remain closed until approximately 1846. California was nearly isolated again from land based travel. The only way into California from Mexico was once more a 40-60 day voyage by sea.  According to historian David Weber, the Yuma revolt turned California into an “island” and Arizona into a “cul de sac”, severing Arizona-California and Mexican land connections before they could be firmly established. 


The Anza Days celebration is held in Tubac, Arizona each October and features  a living history presentation on Juan Bautista de Anza’s life. On Sunday, Anza (portrayed in the accompanying picture by Don Garate of Tumacacori National Historical Park) and his troops attend mass at Tumacacori mission and then ride up the Anza Trail from Tumacacori Mission and arrive in Tubac. Anza gives a presentation to the awaiting crowd illustrating the journey that he, his troops and courageous settlers will begin in order to establish the Presidio at San Francisco in October 1775.


Along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail route, visitors can experience the varied landscapes similar to those the expedition saw; learn the stories of the expedition’s events, members, and descendants; better understand the Native American diversity of cultures in their homelands and their guidance on the expedition; and appreciate the extensive influences of Spanish colonial settlements in present day Arizona and California. The Trail was designated a National Historic Trail in 1990 and a National Millennium Trail in 1999.

In 2005, Caltrans began posting signs on roads that overlap with the trail route, so that California drivers can now follow the trail.

The National Park Service has developed a printed and online brochure map for driving as well as guides for auto tours, hiking sections, and designated Historic sights, landmarks, and museums open to the public. Schedules of Anza celebrations and other historic events are on an updated NPS: What to Do-Events Guide. The detailed Trail Maps by County show more points of interest, trailheads, and local lore.

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail “project” is ever growing as local, state, and NPS efforts establish more trails, signage, and interpretive programs. The Trail is inspiring activities at existing municipal parks, neighborhood greenbelts, regional parks, and large open space preserves. The ever changing opportunities can be discovered and tracked at the official Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail website.

Material for this article has been taken from Wikipedia, the Arizona State Parks website, and the Bureau of Land Management.

Tubac Presidio Park online gift shop and de Anza gift items

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Tubac Presidio Park-Online Milestone


Tubac Presidio Park On-line Gift Shop was awarded a Pro-Seller badge yesterday, July 13, 2011 from Zazzle, Inc.  It is estimated that over 800,000 sellers are responsible for the 40+ billion products in the Zazzle marketplace and that less than 10% of sellers achieve Pro-Seller status.  It is six months since we launched and we have had over 1500 visitors and posted nearly as many gift items for sale. The Tubac Presidio Park On-line Gift Shop is well on track to becoming a viable enterprise.


On offer at the shop are t-shirts and other apparel, coffee and travel mugs, greeting cards, postcards and postage, tote and grocery bags, mini speakers for laptops and cell phones,  iPhone cases, posters and prints, as well as magnets, key chains and other assorted gift items.  Historical photographs, maps, and documents provide the basis for many of the unique images found on our products.

Contributing Artists

We are so very fortunate to have four outstanding contributing artists associated with the shop:  Roberta Rogers, watercolorist; Richard Lasley, painter and illustrator; Alice Keene, photographer; and William Ahrendt, painter.  Thanks to their generosity we are able to offer beautiful prints of their work as well as other items featuring their work.  Their contributions add another dimension of color, design, and imagination to our product lines, and we are deeply grateful.


The Tubac Presidio Park On-line Gift Shop now has its own Facebook page.  Here you will find news about the Park, information about new items, and the latest discounts and promotions.  Join us!

Our Mission

Preserving the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is our mission and finding ways to raise money is critical to our success as we strive to keep this cultural treasure open for everyone to explore and enjoy.  All proceeds from your purchases at the on-line gift shop go directly to funding this effort and will be greatly appreciated.  Another way to help our cause is to contribute a photo, recipe, or artwork for use  in the on-line gift shop.  Local participation plays a huge part in our plan for success!

Local Photographs Wanted

We would like to see your local photograph, and perhaps use it on a Tubac Presidio Park postcard, mug, or t-shirt.  Email your photo to with your name and information on the photo’s subject matter.   If we are able to use your photo, we will email you a link to our new product featuring your photo and a ‘by-line’ crediting you as the photographer will be placed in the item description box (along with any other pertinent info you provide).

Local Family Recipes Wanted

We would like to feature foodie postcards for the upcoming holidays and we are in need of local or family recipes.  If you can help, please email your recipe, name, and pertinent info to (a scan of a recipe would be an easy and quick way to upload it for emailing).  Send a photo of your dish also, if you happen to have one.  You will be credited, and we will send you a link to our new product featuring your recipe.  Our holidays will be merrier thanks to you.

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Tubac Presidio Park Shop

Edward Cross and Arizona’s First Newspaper

     Edward Cross, born in Lancaster, New Hampshire in 1832, began working as a printer for his local paper, the Coos Democrat, when he was 15 years old.  He then moved on to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked as a printer for the Cincinnati Times. Demonstrating writing skills, he served for a time as the paper’s Washington Correspondent.  He became involved with directors of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company and moved west in 1857.  He settled in Tubac, Arizona Territory, where he invested in the company’s  mines and established the territory’s first newspaper,  The Weekly Arizonian.  The Washington printing press was brought to Tubac by Cross and his associate, William Wrightson, via the “Jackass Mail”, as the mule teams were called, and was used to print the first issue on March 3, 1859.


     Cross, serving as editor of the paper, had strong convictions.  He took exception to a number of articles written by Sylvester Mowry of Tucson that were published in Eastern newspapers. He criticized them for inflating the size of the local population and the magnitude of local mining operations.  Mowry challenged Cross to a duel, which took place on July 8, 1859. Using Burnside rifles, four shots were fired before Mowry’s gun failed, entitling him to another shot.  Cross stood waiting unarmed.  Mowry refused to fire at an unarmed man, thus ending the duel.  Both men exchanged apologies in person and in the Arizonian. The paper was sold a few weeks later, ironically to Mowry.  He moved the press to Tucson where it was used to print the first issue of the Citizen  and possibly the Star.  Later it printed the Tombstone Nugget.  In 1910, the press was donated to the Arizona Historical Society.  The press ultimately returned to Tubac after an absence of 120 years in 1980, where it was installed in the period print shop at the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park Museum.

The Washington Press comes home to Tubac 1980

     In addition to his writing and mining interests, Cross joined the U.S. Army scouts in their efforts against the Apaches.  In 1860, he crossed the border into Mexico to command a Sonoran army garrison supporting the insurgency of Benito Juarez.  At the outbreak of the Civil War, Cross returned to New Hampshire where he accepted a commission as colonel of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment. 

     Cross was reportedly an impulsive and colorful officer, occasionally striking non-commissioned officers with the flat of his sword when angry.  He was known to wear a red bandana on his head instead of the traditional officer’s hat. This was his way of making himself easier to spot on the battlefield by his men.  However, on July 2, 1863 Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock noticed that his bandana was black rather than red.  Cross indicated that he had foreseen his own death and that black was more appropriate.  Cross fought in the Battle of Gettysburg that day and was mortally wounded while helping to stabilize the left flank as it entered the Wheatfield.  He fell near Rose Woods and died the next day at a field hospital.  His body was shipped home to Lancaster and laid to rest in the town’s cemetery.

Material for this article was taken from Images of America:  Tubac by Shaw Kinsley and Wikipedia.

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Visit the Tubac Presidio Park on-line Gift Shop where all proceeds from your purchase go directly to the preservation of this cultural treasure.

Washington Press Postcard from Tubac Presidio Park

Tubac Historical Society–Oral Histories

     The Tubac Historical Society has a fascinating collection of taped oral histories, and THS is looking for more individuals to conduct oral history interviews.  It is important to record the details of the lives of our Tubac residents, (whose common trait of “conspicuous individuality” has served to shape our unique village), so that their stories will be available in the future. 

     The following article by Shaw Kinsley is taken largely from these taped histories and appeared previously in the Villager.

      Personalities of Tubac-Maxine Guy

     It’s been said that “Tubacans, in spite of their conspicuous individuality, love to have fun.”  This is true for many personalities of Tubac, but it is especially true of Maxine Guy, the Nebraska native who came to Tubac as a potter and wildlife rehabilitator after a distinguished career in the Army.

     Maxine graduated from the University of Nebraska with a major in Art before moving to Chicago to attend the Art Institute after a brief spell as a furniture buyer for Marshall Field’s.  When the Second World War broke out, Maxine was in the first graduating class of officer candidates in the Women’s Army Corps.  She had a variety of jobs from quartermaster to processing officer before becoming one of eighteen WAC officers chosen to serve in the Far East.  After she completed a rigorous course of instruction in Asian languages, topography, and sociology, plus firearms training, she was appointed to the staff of General Douglas MacArthur during the postwar occupation of Japan.  Her job was to encourage trade between Japan and the United States in carefully chosen products, and in her oral history at the Tubac Historical Society, she takes great pride in the compliments she received from the Japanese artisans she assisted.  She also tells how she inadvertently slammed the door on General MacArthur himself as she was leaving headquarters in the Daichi building in Tokyo in addition to an amusing riff on the designers of women’s military headgear.

     Maxine rose to the rank of Major and took up the study of pottery in 1953 in Washington, D.C.  She found Tubac in 1965, thanks to the wife of the commanding officer at Ft. Huachuca, who told her about the fledging arts community.

Next week-Maxine Guy in Tubac

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Tubac Presidio Park Gift Shop where proceeds from your purchases help preserve this cultural treasure.

Arizona’s Tubac Presidio Park-Where History Lives!

The Park

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 History

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.

Take the Tubac Presidio Park Walking Tour

Enjoy the Park’s museum

See Arizona’s First Printing Press

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!

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