Historical Sites in Tucson
The beautiful city of Tucson, AZ has much to offer for history buffs. Sometimes referred to as “The Old Pueblo,” Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city, trailing only Phoenix in population. The name “Tucson” is an Americanized version of the Spanish word “Tucsón,” which is derived from a Native American phrase that means “base of the black hill.” This refers to Tucson’s location near a basalt-covered hill known as Sentinel Peak.
The original settlers of the area that eventually became Tucson were the Paleo-Indians, who arrived approximately 12,000 years ago. A Jesuit missionary named Eusebio Francisco Kino founded a settlement near the Tucson area in the late 17th century. Tucson’s “founding father” is Hugo O’Connor, who was appointed governor of the Texas territory by the Spanish viceroy in 1767 and authorized the construction of a military fort called Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón in 1775.
This unique convergence of Native American, Spanish and Mexican heritage has resulted in numerous historical sites throughout the Tucson area. One of the best things to do in Tucson for any history fan is to check out these popular attractions:
- Presidio District – Located in historic downtown Tucson, the Presidio District is the site of the partially restored Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón fort. The Historic Block represents the heart of the Presidio District and includes the Tucson Museum of Art and numerous older homes dating back to the 18th century. The museum showcases a permanent exhibit of pre-Columbian, Western, Latin American and Asian art.
- Arizona Historical Society Museum – This museum is adjacent to the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. It’s filled with artifacts from the days of the arrival of Tucson’s first settlers through Arizona’s time as a U.S. territory in the 19th century until attaining statehood in 1912.
- Tumacácori National Historical Park – A part of the U.S. National Park Service, this former Native American village eventually became the site of the mission established by the Jesuit priest, Eusebio Francisco Kino. The site includes the mission’s ruins, which is a well-preserved adobe church. There is also a visitor center that houses a small museum containing artifacts from the era.
- Tombstone – The city of Tombstone is firmly embedded in Western lore. Located about 70 miles southeast of Tucson, Tombstone was the site of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. Today, Tombstone is a major tourist town that includes a host of shops, restaurants and B & B’s, as well as Western-themed attractions such as horseback and stagecoach tours, gunfight shows, museums and more.
- Tubac Presidio State Historic Park – Located about 50 miles south of Tucson near the town of Tubac, this state park dates back to the mid-18th century. The site includes numerous archeological exhibits that capture the history of the area. You can also hike the breathtaking three-mile Anza Trail, which connects the park with the neighboring Tumacácori National Historical Park.
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Updated by Titan Alarm on October 31, 2018.