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Ajo (pronounced ah-ho) is the Spanish word for garlic. The Spanish may have named the place using the familiar word in place of the similar-sounding O'odham word for paint (oʼoho). The Tohono O'odham people obtained red paint pigments from the area.

Native Americans, Spaniards and Americans have all extracted mineral wealth from Ajo's abundant ore deposits. In the early nineteenth century, there was a Spanish mine nicknamed "Old Bat Hole". It was later abandoned due to Indian raids. The first Anglo in Ajo, Tom Childs, on the way to the silver mines near Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, arrived in 1847 and found the deserted mine complete with a 60-foot shaft, mesquite ladders, and rawhide buckets. High-grade native copper made Ajo the first copper mine in Arizona. Soon the Arizona Mining & Trading company, formed by Peter M. Brady, a friend of Childs, worked the rich surface ores, shipping loads around Cape Horn for smelting in Swansea, Wales, in the mid 1880s. The mine closed when a ship sank off the coast of Patagonia. Long supply lines and the lack of water discouraged large mining companies.

With the advent of new recovery methods for low-grade ore, Ajo boomed. In 1911, Col. John Campbell Greenway, a Rough Rider and star Yale athlete, bought the New Cornelia mine from John Boddie. He became general manager of the Calumet and the Arizona mining company and expanded it on a grand scale. In 1921, Phelps Dodge, the nation's largest copper company, bought New Cornelia and the mine became the New Cornelia Branch of Phelps Dodge, managed by Michael Curley. For several decades more than 1,000 men worked for Phelps Dodge in the open pit mine. The mine closed in 1985, following a bitter strike and a depressed copper market.

Allen - ghosttown near Sells

The origin of the name Arivaca remains obscure, but many explanations have been advanced for it. Mrs. Mary B. Aguirre, who arrived in Arizona c.1869, said it was a Papago Indian name, hijovajilla ("son of the great valley"), and the great valley being the wide "avri" valley. On the other hand, Isaac D. Smith in his manuscript history sadi the name was an Indian one meaning "rotten ground". Kirk Bryan advanced the hypothesis that the name was a Mexican corruption of the Indian Alivapk, in which vapk indicated "reeds", plus ali, meaning "little". Riggs says Ali-Bac means "where little people dig holes," the "people" being the way Papago refer to animals. Whatever its origin, the name is very old, appearing as the Indian village of Aribac (or Arivaca) on a map dated 1773. As a direct result of the Pima Indian Revolt in 1751, it was deserted. Mines near it continued to be worked by the Spanish until 1767. In 1812 Agustin Ortiz petitioned for two farming lots of the Aribac Ranch. His petition having been granted, the land was surveyed and auctioned October 10, 1812. Ortiz was the successful bidder at $799.59. He never received title to the land, but his sons obtained the title in 1833 by providing their father had paid for the land. The place was deserted in 1835. Tomas sold his share to his brother Ignacio on June 7, 1856, for $500.00. In December, 1856, Charles Debrille Poston noted in his journal that he had bought the place from Tomas and Ignacio Ortiz for $10,000. The reduction works for the Heintzelman (Cerro Colorado) Mine were then erected at Arivaca. Later still, the Court of Private Land Claims disallowed the Arivaca Land Grant, today a thriving settlement."

Avra Valley
Brownell - ghosttown
Casas Adobes
Catalina Foothills
Cerro Colorado - ghosttown
Clarkston - ghosttown
Continental - ghosttown
Corona de Tucson
Diamond Bell Ranch (Three Points, AZ)

Today’s Diamond Bell Ranch was once part of the vast Robles Ranch, which was established in 1882 by Bernabe Robles (b.1857 in Baviacora, Sonora, Mexico, 1945 in Tucson). Robles Ranch was once one of Arizona’s largest cattle ranching operations: the 1.5 million acre “El Rancho Viejo” stretched from Florence to the Superstition Mountains to the Mexican border from 1889 to 1918. Following severe drought and overstocking of livestock in late 1800s and early 20th century, the ranch began to be sold off. By 1949, Robles Ranch was reduced to only 50 square miles, and by the mid-1980s, the ranch was sold and broken into small parcels.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the area of the current Diamond Bell Ranch was known as the O-Bar-J Ranch. In 1979, the Chilton family bought the ranch, and purchased an additional 4,000 acres to the north around 1990. The northern part of the ranch called Diamond Bell Ranch, was sold after failed efforts in the late 1960s and 1970s to develop the entire ranch into a high- density subdivision. Diamond Bell Ranch became part of the Chilton Ranch and Cattle Company and managed by the Chilton family as a cattle ranch from 1979 to the present.

Drexel Heights
East Sahuarita
Flowing Wells
Greaterville - ghosttown
Green Valley
Gunsight - ghosttown
Helvetia - ghosttown
Kentucky Camp
Las Guijas - ghosttown

Marana has a long and rich history with more than 4,200 years of continuous human occupation in Marana and the surrounding middle Santa Cruz Valley. Long before the coming of the Spanish Conquistadors and missionaries in the 17th Century, the area was inhabited by the Hohokam people who developed extensive canal systems and used waters from the Santa Cruz River to irrigate crops.

The first European to visit the Marana area was a Jesuit Priest, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in 1694. In 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza, Captain of the Presidio of Tubac led an expedition north along the Santa Cruz River to found the city of San Francisco. With the area under the jurisdiction of the United States in 1854, prospectors seeking mineral riches intensified their efforts in the region. Gold was not discovered in abundance, but by 1865, high-grade copper ore was being shipped from mines in the Silver Bell Mountains.

Rail transportation came in 1881 and signaled a major change in the area. It gave Marana its first identification as a specific place by appearing on Southern Pacific Railroad maps in 1890. “Maraña” is a Spanish word meaning a jungle, a tangle or a thicket and was chosen as an appropriate name by the railroad workers as they hacked their way through the dense brush. With the early establishment of mining and ranching, it was not until after WWI that Marana became primarily an agricultural center, producing mainly cotton, but also wheat, barley, alfalfa and pecans.

During World War II, the impact of the rising importance of military power came quickly to Marana. The Marana airfield (1942-1945) was the largest pilot-training center in the world during WWII, training some 10,000 flyers, and five Titan missile sites were later located in the area as part of a complex of ballistic missile installations built around Tucson.

In March 1977, the Town incorporated about 10 square miles and in August the 1,500 townspeople elected their first town council. In early 1979, the town began to grow through an aggressive annexation policy and is nearly 120 square miles with an estimated population of 33,000.

Oro Valley

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.

Pusch's ranch provided respite for settlers and travelers entering and leaving the Tucson area. Pusch Ridge is named in honor of George Pusch.

Ranching in the area continued to flourish as greater numbers of Americans settled in the Arizona Territory. Large ranching families in the Oro Valley area included the Romeros and the Rooneys.

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.

Mineral Hill - ghosttown
Olive - ghosttown
Panama Station - ghosttown
Pascua Yaqui
Picture Rocks
Quijotoa - ghosttown
Robles Junction (Three Points, AZ)

If you listen to the old-timers, they'll tell you that Three Points shouldn't even be called Three Points. They insist the correct name is Robles Junction, after Bernabe Robles. In 1864, at the age of 7, Robles crossed with his mother into Southern Arizona on donkeys, in search of a new home and new opportunities. Eventually, the family opened a market in Tucson, and Robles started a ranch in what was then a way-out desert west of town. Robles worked hard, acquired large tracts of land and got rich--an American success story. But oral and written accounts of early settlers tell of a man given to hard-core business tactics, and they include the charge that Robles loaned money to strapped ranchers, then took their land when they couldn't repay it. His methods reportedly made him few friends, and if history leaves footprints on the land--a sort of genetic trail for those who come later--then the trail from Three Points leads back to hardscrabble, tough-as-bad-jerky Robles.

The Historic Robles Ranch what was once the headquarters of one of the largest ranches in Arizona is located at Robles Junction (Three Points). The old headquarters buildings are north of the highway just as you come to Three Points. They sit among large old eucalyptus trees, with barns and corrals off to the side. The ranch house was established in 1882, as a stage stop, by Bernabe' Robles, who operated a stage line from Tucson to the mining town of Quijotoa on what later became the Papago and then the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Bernabe' Robles was born in Babiacara, Sonora in 1857. In 1864, when he was 7 years old, he moved with his family to Tucson. He established himself as a businessman early on by delivering bread for a local bakery. Prior to establishing the Robles Ranch, which he called Rancho Viejo, Senor Robles was engaged in the saloon business, the general merchandise business, and established a stage line to Quijotoa.

The stage stop was established in the 1880s as a water and rest stop for the horses at a point on the road to Quijotoa where the road to Altar, Sonora branched off to the south. A well was dug and several adobe buildings constructed at what is now the old headquarters. The stage, ranching complex, and the settlement that grew up around it soon became known as Robles Junction. By 1885, the copper, silver, and gold views were exhausted at Quijotoa with a consequent downtown in freighting and stage business. Robles then focused his efforts on building as extensive cattle operation. At the height of the enterprise, the ranch comprised over one million acres reaching from Florence, Arizona on the north to the Mexican border over 100 miles to the south, making it one of the largest ranches in Southern Arizona at the time.

Rosemont - ghosttown

Sahuarita was founded in 1911 and incorporated in 1994.

The first known human inhabitants of the Sahuarita region were the Hohokam people, which may be the ancestors of the modern day Tohono O'odham nation. The Hohokam were known for their highly innovative and extensive use of irrigation. The Hohokam were a very peaceful people, they had extensive trade routes extending to mesoamerica, and showed many cultural influences from their southern neighbors.

The Sobaipuri were possibly related to the Hohokam, and occupied the Southern portion of the Santa Cruz, with the Pima to their North and South. While Coronado passed just East of Sahuarita in 1521, it wasn't until Eusebio Kino's 1691 journey along the Santa Cruz River that he met the leaders of the Sobaipuri people. Kino was a true champion of the indigenous Indians, opposing forced labor in mines by Spanish overseers. Kino would later go on to found the Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1699, just north of Sahuarita. In 1775, Fransico Garcés would follow the same path, laying the groundwork for the founding of Tucson.

In 1775, after building a series of missions in the region, the Spanish established a colony in Tucson, just north of Sahuarita, effectively placing the region under Spanish control. After the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the region came under Mexican control.

In 1854, following the Gadsden Purchase, Sahuarita would become a part of the Territory of Arizona, in the United States of America. In the same year, Andrew B. Gray would travel the region on behalf of the Texas Western Railroad, in order to run a preliminary survey of the region. Meanwhile, the Native American peoples of the region were being pushed onto each other's land through American expansionism. In 1857, the Sobaipuri, who had acted as a buffer between the hostile Spaniards to the South and Apache to the North, finally collapsed under the pressure and vacated the area, generally moving Westward to Papago territory. In 1867, Fort Crittenden was created between Sonoita and Patagonia in order to support the establishment of European settlements in the Santa Cruz Valley. In 1874, the San Xavier reservation was created, presently called the Tohono O'odham Reservation, and Native Americans were forcibly relocated to the reservation.

An 1870 map of Arizona shows an "Indian Village" just north of Sahuarita. The earliest known reference to the town can be found on a German map from 1875, which labels the town "Sahuarito". The first known US map to list the town came in 1879, by the US Department of Interior, calling the town "Saurita". The Saurita town name would continue to be found on successive maps of 1880 and 1890. Finally, a 1925 map of "Auto Trails" (e.g. roadways) of Arizona and New Mexico lists "Continental" instead of Sahuarita. The roadway at the time was an "improved road", one step inferior to a "paved road", laying the route to what today is called the Old Nogales Highway.

In 1879 Sahuarita Ranch was created by James Kilroy Brown. Brown choose the name Sahuarita due to the preponderance of saguaros in the area. The ranch was used as a staging area between Tucson, Arivaca, and Quijotoa. A small community developed in the area named Sahuarito, while the railroad laid tracks through the area (which remain to this day) and established a station and post office. Although originally surveyed by the Texas Western Railroad, the route would soon be run by the Southern Pacific Railroad up until the late 20th century. Brown sold his ranch in 1886 which caused the region to stagnate for three decades.

During this time, the hub of Sahuarita commerce was at the intersection of Sahuarita Road and Nogales Highway, in the form of the One Stop Market and Sahuarita Bar and Grill. These 130-year-old buildings remain intact, but they are scheduled to be demolished for a road expansion: "While some have said the 1 Stop and the shuttered Sahuarita Bar on the north side of Sahuarita Road were long-time fixtures that might deserve historic recognition, the longest-serving council member, Charles Oldham, and the council member who lives closest, Marty Moreno, both said the convenience store should make way for badly needed road improvements. Oldham said, “It’s in the way”."

The Continental Farm of Sahuarita plays a central role in town history. In 1915, worried about the possibility of a German blockade of rubber imports, Bernard Baruch, Joseph Kennedy and J.P. Morgan founded the farm along the Santa Cruz River with hopes of growing guayule: plants that provide rubber. The project was abandoned after the end of World War I, and in 1922, was sold to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. The Queen rented the land to cotton farmers, in what would be the primary crop for the following four decades. In 1948, R. Keith Walden relocated the Farmers Investment Co. (FICO) from California to Arizona, buying the Continental Farm lands from the Queen. In 1965, over fears of a fall in demand for cotton resulting from the advent of synthetic fibers, Walden switched his crop to pecans. Today, the FICO pecan orchard is the largest in the world, with over 6,000 acres (24 km2) and 106,000 trees.

San Xavier

San Xavier del Bac, Arizona, is a beautifully preserved gem of the late Baroque style of New Spain. Completed in 1797, it stands in the San Xavier District of Tohono O'odham Nation, about twelve miles south of Tucson, Arizona. Alone of the Sonoran Desert missions, San Xavier is still served by Franciscans, and still serves the Native community for which it was built.

Santa Rosa
Silverbell - ghosttown
South Tucson

South Tucson is a city in Pima County, Arizona, United States and an enclave of the much larger city of Tucson. South Tucson is known for being heavily influenced by Hispanic, and especially Mexican, culture; restaurants and shops which sell traditional Mexican foods and other goods can be found throughout the city. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 5,562.

Tanque Verde
Three Points

Three Points sits 45 miles from Mexico, at the crossroads of Highway 86 (which runs east to west between Tucson and Ajo) and Highway 286 (which runs south to the border at Sasabe and is called simply The Corridor). Robles Junction is an unincorporated community in Pima County, Arizona, United States. Robles Junction is located at the intersection of Arizona State Route 86 and Arizona State Route 286 southwest of Tucson. Route 286 traverses the center of the slightly northeast-trending Altar Valley; Sasabe is at the southern terminus, and Robles Junction is at the northern. The Altar Valley ends at the area of Robles Junction, with two other valleys converging from the northwest. The Aguirre Valley is west and the Avra Valley is east.

Tohono O'odham
Total Wreck - ghosttown

Tucson was probably first visited by Paleo-Indians, known to have been in southern Arizona by about 12,000 years ago. Recent archaeological excavations near the Santa Cruz River have located a village site dating from 4,000 years ago. The floodplain of the Santa Cruz River was extensively farmed during the Early Agricultural period, circa 1200 BC to AD 150. These people constructed irrigation canals and grew corn, beans, and other crops while gathering wild plants and hunting animals. The Early Ceramic period occupation of Tucson saw the first extensive use of pottery vessels for cooking and storage. The groups designated by archaeologists as the Hohokam lived in the area from AD 600-1450 and are known for their red-on-brown pottery.

Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino visited the Santa Cruz River valley in 1692, and founded the Mission San Xavier del Bac about 7 miles (12 km) upstream from the site of the settlement of Tucson in 1700. The Spanish established a presidio (fort) on August 20 1775 and the town came to be called "Tucson." Tucson became a part of Mexico after Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Following the Gadsden purchase in 1853, Tucson became a part of the United States of America, although the American military did not formally take over control of the community until March 1856. From August 1861, until mid-1862, Tucson was the capital of the Confederate Arizona Territory. Until 1863, Tucson and all of Arizona was part of New Mexico Territory. From 1867 to 1879, Tucson was the capital of Arizona Territory. The University of Arizona, located in Tucson, was founded in 1885.

By 1900, 7,531 people lived in the city. At about this time, the US Veterans Administration had begun construction on the present Veterans Hospital. Many veterans who had been gassed in World War I and were in need of respiratory therapy began coming to Tucson after the war, due to the clean dry air. The population increased gradually to 13,913 in 1910, 20,292 in 1920, and 36,818 in 1940. In 2006 the population of Pima County, in which Tucson is located, passed one million while the City of Tucson's population was 535,000.

During the territorial and early statehood periods, Tucson was Arizona's largest city and commercial area, whereas Phoenix was the seat of state government and agriculture. The establishment of Tucson Municipal Airport increased its prominence. By the 1920s-30s, Phoenix outgrew Tucson and has continued to expand. Tucson has still been growing but at a slower pace.

Tucson Estates
Twin Buttes - ghosttown
Weldon - ghosttown

Templates in Time