The area of Oro Valley has been inhabited discontinuously for nearly two thousand years by various groups of people. The Native American Hohokam tribe lived in the Honeybee Village located in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains on Oro Valley's far north side around 500 AD. Hohokam artifacts continue to be discovered in the Honeybee Village that the Hohokam inhabited continuously for nearly 700 years, and studied by archaeologists around the globe.
Early in the 16th century, Native American tribes known as the Apache arrived in the southern Arizona area, including Oro Valley. These tribes inhabited the region only a few decades prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors, including Francisco Coronado. The Spanish established forts in the area, including the Presidio at Tucson (1775) beginning in the late 16th century.
Beginning in the 19th century, Americans increasingly settled in the Arizona Territory, following the Mexican-American War and the subsequent Gadsden Purchase including Southern Arizona. George Pusch, a German immigrant, settled in the area of Oro Valley in 1874, establishing a cattle ranch. This ranch was unique because it utilized a steam pump to provide water, eventually popularizing Pusch's property as the Steam Pump Ranch on the Cañada del Oro. The steam pump was one of only two in the Arizona Territory.
Gold rushers into the American West also were attracted to southern Arizona, where gold was said to be in abundance in and around the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. Fueled by the legend of the lost Iron Door Gold Mine in the mountains, those in search of gold trekked through the Oro Valley area focusing their attention along the Cañada del Oro washbed.
After World War II, the Tucson area experienced dramatic population growth, impacting Oro Valley as well. In the early 1950s the Oro Valley Country Club opened at the base of Pusch Ridge, affirming the area's future as an affluent community. Although one tract housing development was built in the area in the early 1950s, the majority of homes in the Oro Valley area were built by individual land owners on large lots in a low density residential style.