Marana, at an elevation of 2,055 feet and located one mile
north of Tucson, combines a pleasant rural community with a
bustling commercial expanse. Marana has long been a transportation
center for farming and ranching. Today, Marana blends its traditional
agricultural economy with residential, commercial and
The Marana area has been prime farmland for centuries.
Located where Brawley Wash joins the Santa Cruz River, Indians
used the dependable water supply to grow corn, beans, squash and
cotton. The Spanish came about 1700 and started the first cattle
ranches. “Modern” Marana began in 1881 with the railroad. Back
then the area was overgrown with dense mesquite thickets. Thus
the name Marana is derived from the Spanish word maraña, meaning
“impassable tangle” or “jungle.”
Incorporated in 1977, Marana has approximately 70-plus
square miles within its boundaries and is the main trade center and
community focus for a vast rural area covering approximately 500
square miles. Agriculture remains a major force in Marana's economy.
Irrigated farms grow a variety of crops and a large cotton gin pro-vides
employment. Marana has recently experienced an influx of
residential and commercial development. There are various reasons
for the influx of business: Marana is ideally located between
Phoenix and Tucson along Interstate 10 and the Union Pacific
Railroad, it does not impose property taxes, and it has a business-friendly
Cement production at a plant in Rillito in the Marana area sup-plies
a number of jobs. Some employment in mining is available
with the Silver bell district to the west and the San Manuel copper
mines and smelter to the east.
With the expansion of the town through annexation, more
commercial employment opportunities have been created. The
southern portion, adjacent to Tucson, is rapidly becoming the commercial
business district. The industrial park at Continental Ranch
has recently seen the addition of several organizations, including a
corporate regional headquarters and the local CBS affiliate.
Pinal Air Park (Evergreen), just north of Marana, built in World
War II was then called Marana Army Airfield. Today the repair and
servicing of aircraft, including retrofitting 747s, provides substantial
employment. Marana also accommodates Arizona's first privatized
correctional treatment facility, which employs more than 100.
Many other recreational opportunities are within an hour's drive of
Marana. Picacho Peak State Park, an early landmark and site of
Arizona's only Civil War battle, is 15 miles north. Its camping, picnic
areas and nature trails are noted for colorful spring wildflowers. In
the Santa Catalina Mountains is Catalina State Park, 20 miles east.
Saguaro National Monument (west portion) is a few miles south.
Within the monument is the world famous Arizona Sonora Desert
Museum with native wildlife exhibits. The Marana Chamber of
Commerce offers agricultural tours of Marana’s rich farmland. In
addition, Trico Cotton gin, Quality Aviation’s crop dusting operation,
and Marana Stockyards/Livestock Auction are a few of the
attractions also available for excursions. Other local attractions
include Biosphere II, Kitt Peak, Pima Air Museum, and the San