Friday, September 5, 2014

Tubac: a part of Arizona's Spanish past

Rocks outline where presidio walls were once
Tubac Presidio State Historical Park is a great introduction to the Spanish influence in what is now southern Arizona.

Father Kino, a Jesuit priest from Spain, arrived in the 1690s to establish a mission at Tumacacori and Tubac. He later would go on to found the San Xavier del Bac Mission just nine miles from downtown Tucson.

In 1752, Spanish soldiers built the presidio, or fort, at Tubac. The Presidio Real San Ignacio de Tubac became the first European settlement in what is now Arizona. Friendly Indians, from the Pima and Papago tribes, lived in the area. In 1775, Spanish soldiers from the garrison were sent further west where they founded what is now San Francisco, California.  Their departure left the fort unable to defend itself from unfriendly Indians, so the fort was closed and everyone moved to Tucson. The presidio would be re-established there in the 19th century, but was vulnerable to attacks from the invading Apaches.
First printing press in Arizona
And then the area became part of the United States with the 1858 Gadsden Purchase. The following year the first press in the new Arizona Territory was brought to Tubac and a weekly newspaper was published. The press is housed in the presidio museum, and still used for printing park publications.

Little is left of the presidio today. Rocks form an outline of where some buildings used to be. A section of the presidio can be seen underground where it was excavated in the 20th century. Buildings were constructed over the presidio; only a few remnants of these buildings remain. Park staff says they are being allowed to deteriorate naturally since they were not their when the presidio was constructed.
A chalkboard in the old schoolhouse
Three of the park’s buildings – all open to the public – are on the National Registry of Historic Places: the old school house, built in 1885; Otero Hall, built in 1914 and now home to an art gallery, and Rojas House, built in 1890 and left as it was when Luisa Rojas died.

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park was the first state park in Arizona. It was established in 1958. Old adobe houses surround the park. Many of these old buildings have been converted to art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

The park charges an admission fee and is handicapped accessible. It is located about 45 miles south of Tucson. Take exit 34 off Interstate 19 and follow the signs.

No comments:

Post a Comment