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
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