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 November events at the Presidio ( 470 KB PDF)
Download a list of December events at the Presidio ( 315 KB PDF)
Saturday-Sunday, December 3-4: Non Presidio Event: La Fiesta de Tumacácori
10am.–4pm. In recognition and celebration of the many cultures that were historically and are presently associated with Santa Cruz Valley, the Tumacácori Fiesta presents the traditional creations of these cultures. The fiesta features around fifty food and craft booths, continuous live entertainment on stage, and children’s activities each day. On Sunday, the day begins at 10 am in front of the Visitor Center with a procession through the Fiesta grounds to the historic church, followed by a traditional Mariachi Mass. The mission grounds and park are open throughout the weekend and admission is FREE.
Saturday, December 3: Women on the Arizona Frontier - Special Presentation by Jack Lasseter
2pm. The history of the West is not just the story of men. Jack tells us the fascinating story of some of the women on the Arizona frontier, who were as tough and hardy as the men, but who also brought civilization to this land. He focuses on three women: an Apache, a Spaniard, and a New Englander. Their stories are all pertinent to the development of Arizona. Jack will also talk about other women including governors, judges, a bridesmaid of Eleanor Roosevelt, the Captain of the “Arizona Navy”, the first territorial historian, a famous painter and architect, and a stagecoach robber! 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.
Sunday, December 4: Teodoro ‘Ted’ Ramirez Artist-in-Residence Concert Series: Dolan Ellis
2pm. Dolan Ellis returns celebrating 50 years as Arizona's Official State Balladeer. Dolan has graced the national folk music stage for many years, both as a member of the New Christy Minstrels, as a solo performer and has contributed to folklore preservation - one of the most notable aspects of his work. He has dedicated his life to the art of music and storytelling - please call 520-398-2252 today to reserve your seat and join us for this very special concert "Dolan Ellis - Arizona's Official State Balladeer - Celebrates 50 Years". Tickets are $20, children 14 and under are free. Seating is limited, so please make your reservations early, 520-398-2252.
Friday, December 9: Dipped in Tubac
10am- 1pm. In celebration of the village-wide “Dipped in Tubac” Chocolate Festival, everyone is invited to come and 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, December 10: Presentation: Apollo 8 Mission to the Moon by Bob Zimmerman
2pm. Robert Zimmerman, an award-winning science journalist and historian, tells the hidden story behind the Apollo 8 mission, describing its background and how this one mission changed both American and world history forever. It was Christmas Eve, 1968, and the astronauts of Apollo 8 -- Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders -- were participants in a mission that took them faster (24,000 mph) and farther from the Earth (240,000 miles) than any human had ever traveled. More importantly, Apollo 8 was the mission that broke humanity's absolute bond to the Earth, the first mission to leave the Earth's orbit and go to another world. Don’t miss this fascinating talk! Call (520) 398-2252 to make your reservation. $10.00 fee includes admission to tour the Park.
Thursday, December 15: Guided Tour of the Barrio de Tubac Archaeological Site
11am.–1pm. Special tour by Phil Halpenny and Gwen Griffin 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. The Archaeological Conservancy protects this site and participants are asked to sign 'An Acknowledgement of Risk Factors' before entering. Wear walking shoes, sunscreen and hat. $10 fee includes admission to tour the Presidio Park. Tour limited to 15; reservations encouraged, 520-398-2252 or info@TubacPresidio.org.
Living History: Spinning, Saturday, December 17,
10am.–1pm. 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, December 17 and Friday, December 30: Walking Tour of Old Tubac
10am.-Noon. Come explore colorful Old Tubac that even some of the locals don’t know about! Guided by Connie Stevens, you’ll discover fascinating facts about the town’s early adobe buildings and learn about Arizona’s first European settlement. Topics from early Native American inhabitants, Spanish explorers, American pioneers, Apache attacks, kidnappings, and other exciting episodes are discussed. Meet at the Park’s Visitor Center. Allow 2 hours for the tour and wear 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.
Sunday, December 18: Southwestern Christmas Concert with Ted Ramirez and Special Guests
2pm. Our own Artist-in-Residence Teodoro ‘Ted’ Ramirez will give his annual “Holiday Season Concert” in the 1885 Territorial Schoolhouse, sharing the stage with several outstanding musical friends: Nancy Elliott (storyteller/singer/seamstress), Blaine McIntyre (musician/songwriter for Ian Tyson), Michael Markowitz (mandolinist, physician), Ellen Edmonson Murphy (singer/songwriter/bi-lingual teacher and daughter of Southwest music legend Travis Edmonson), and Ted’s beautiful and talented grandniece Leah Frost Blue (ballerina). Experience the joy of the holiday season Southwest style. Don't forget to invite visiting friends and neighbors. Tickets $18 adults, free for children 14 and younger. Seating is limited, please call now for reservations, 520-398-2252.
Tuesday, December 27: 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.
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