Tubac, in the far southern part of Arizona, is 40 miles south

of Tucson on Interstate 19, and 23 miles north of the international

border at Nogales. It lies in the Santa Cruz River Valley and is bordered

by the Santa Rita, Tumacacori and San Cayetano mountains.

At a high desert elevation of 3,200 feet, it possesses a mild climate.

The origin of the Tubac name has never been successfully interpreted.

Some say it means “place of brackish water,” while others

claim the meaning is “low ruins or houses.”

 

Tubac has been home to at least five distinct cultures: the

Hohokam between 300 and 1400 AD; the Ootam (Pima and

Papago) arrived sometime in the 1500s; the Spaniards arrived with

Father Campos in 1726, according to a baptismal record; Mexico

claimed it during the 1821 Mexican War of Independence; and it

was bought by the United States under the 1853 Gadsden

Purchase.

 

Tubac was first settled by the Spanish in 1752 at a Presidio, or

military fort, to protect the settlers around Tumacacori and San

Xavier. Tubac then became the first European community in Arizona

and the second oldest west of the Mississippi.

 

This internationally known artist colony and historic site hosts a variety

of special events, including the Anza Days Celebration, Art Walk

in March, and the oldest art fair in the country, the annual Tubac

Festival of the Arts held in February. There are more than 80 retail

shops, working studios, galleries, and restaurants.

 

Tourism and retirement play important roles in the economy of

Tubac. Although most of Tubac’s population has been represented

by retirees and winter visitors, it is growing to include professionals

who commute to Tucson or Nogales, or entrepreneurs who own

and operate local businesses. In addition to wages and salaries,

other income not related to tourism includes Social Security payments,

private retirement benefits, and stock dividends. All of Santa

Cruz County is an Enterprise Zone.

 

Tubac, where the Spanish and Indian families lived generations

before the American Revolution and where Arizona history actually

began, is home of the Tumacacori National Monument mission.

Visited by Father Kino in 1691, the mission had its most active years

from 1791 to 1812. On weekends, the mission offers a glimpse of

life during Spanish colonial times with interpretative specialists in

native dress, language and cuisine. History also lives at the Tubac

Presidio State Park. Los Tubaquenos, volunteers making history

come alive, offer a realistic view of frontier life.

 

Excursions to the Tumacacori National Monument, historic Tubac

State Park, Mt. Hopkins Observatory, the Smithsonian Institution at

Amado, the ruins of old Fort Crittendon, and the Duquesne and

Washington Camp ghost towns can all be made within a two-hour

round trip. Nearby recreational areas include Pena Blanca and

Patagonia Lakes, Madero Canyon and Mt. Wrightson (9,453 feet),

and the Coronado National Forest. The Santa Rita and Tumacacori

mountains offer hiking opportunities. Hunting and fishing are avail-able

nearby.